Dr Paul Cavill

Senior lecturer in early modern British history
Fellow of Pembroke College
Paul C
I grew up in the London suburb of Wimbledon and then studied at Oxford University (first at Corpus Christi College and second, as a junior research fellow, at Merton College). I then held lectureships at Bangor University and the University of Leeds, before joining the Faculty in 2013.
I study the political and ecclesiastical history of early modern England, concentrating on the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. My research focuses on governance and the constitution, principally in the context of the Wars of the Roses and of the Break with Rome. I have a particular interest in the history of parliament. Much of my scholarship is based on analysing legislation. I work mostly with manuscript sources and specialise in legal records.
For undergraduates, I teach the outline paper on ‘Early modern Britain’ (first year), topic papers on ‘Crown and parliaments under the Tudors and Stuarts’ and on ‘The British Reformations and their discontents’ (second year), and the advanced topic paper on ‘The “rule of law” in early modern Britain: state power, criminal justice, and civil liberties, c.1500c.1800’ (third year). At postgraduate level, I am one of the convenors of the Early Modern British and Irish History research seminar series.
I am co-editor of the journal Parliamentary History and a member of the editorial board of the History of Parliament Trust. I serve on the advisory group of the Fifteenth Century Conference and on the editorial board of the Historical Journal.
I supervise Master's and doctoral research on fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English constitutional, political and religious history. Anyone interested in undertaking postgraduate research in my field is welcome to contact me ahead of submitting a formal application. I am particularly eager to hear from anyone wanting to work on legal records. Conversely, I am not so keen on supervising research into Tudor history in a strict or literal sense (i.e., into the personal lives of the royal family).


Tags & Themes


Pembroke College, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, CB2 1RF



‘The prosecution of heresy in the Henrician Reformation’, Journal of Legal History, 45 (2024), pp. 1–33. (Open access)
‘The business of the southern convocation in 1462’, in Linda Clark (ed.), The Fifteenth Century XIX: Enmity and Amity (2022), pp. 137–47.
‘The first readers of Lyndwood’s Provinciale’, Ecclesiastical Law Journal, 24 (2022), pp. 2–13. (Open access)
‘A.F. Pollard’, Parliamentary History, 40 (2021), pp. 45–58 (= special issue on Historians and Parliament, ed. David Hayton and Linda Clark).
‘Mortuary dues in early sixteenth-century England’, Continuity and Change, 36 (2021), pp. 285–308. (Open access)
‘Perjury in early Tudor England’, in Rosamond McKitterick et al. (eds.), The Church and the Law, Studies in Church History, 56 (2020), pp. 182–209. (Open access)
‘Church, state, and Corpus: the founder’s years’, in John Watts (ed.), Renaissance College: Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in Context, 1450–1600, History of Universities, 32 (2019), pp. 40–58.
‘Polydore Vergil and the first English parliament’, ibid., pp. 37–59.
‘Preaching on Magna Carta at the end of the fifteenth century: John Alcock’s sermon at Paul’s Cross’, in Linda Clark (ed.), The Fifteenth Century XV: Writing, Records and Rhetoric (2017), pp. 169–89.

‘Anticlericalism and the early Tudor parliament’, Parliamentary History, 34 (2015), pp. 14–29 (= special issue on Managing Tudor and Stuart Parliaments: Essays in Memory of Michael Graves, ed. Chris R. Kyle).
‘The Essex inquisitions of 1556: the Colchester certificate’, Historical Research, 87 (2014), pp. 751–63.

‘The Grebills of Benenden, the prior of Leeds, and the heresy trials of 1511’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 134 (2014), pp. 283–92.
‘Heresy, law and the state: forfeiture in late medieval and early modern England’, English Historical Review, 129 (2014), pp. 270–95.

‘Heresy and forfeiture in Marian England’, Historical Journal, 56 (2013), pp. 879–907.
‘A Lollard of Coventry: a source on Robert Silkby’, Midland History, 38 (2013), pp. 226–31.
‘A perspective on the church–state confrontation of 1515: the passage of 4 Henry VIII, c. 2’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 63 (2012), pp. 655–70.

‘“The enemy of God and His Church”: James Hobart, praemunire, and the clergy of Norwich diocese’, Journal of Legal History, 32 (2011), pp. 127–50.
‘The enforcement of the penal statutes in the 1490s: some new evidence’, Historical Research, 82 (2009), pp. 482–92.
The English Parliaments of Henry VII, 1485–1504 (2009).
‘The debased coinage of 1492’, British Numismatic Journal, 77 (2007), pp. 283–6.

‘Debate and dissent in Henry VII’s parliaments’, Parliamentary History, 25 (2006), pp. 160–75.

‘The problem of labour and the parliament of 1495’, in Linda Clark (ed.), The Fifteenth Century V: Of Mice and Men: Image, Belief and Regulation in Late Medieval England (2005), pp. 143–55.