Robert Tombs

Professor Emeritus of French History
Fellow of St John's College
Professor Robert Tombs
I read History at Cambridge and worked for several years in Paris, both researching my PhD and working for the OECD. I returned to Cambridge as a research fellow at St John's, and was appointed to Junior Lectureship in the History Faculty. I have remained in Cambridge ever since. Most of my career was spent working on 19th century French history, and included publications on the Paris Commune and on French nationalism. Later, I turned to Franco-British relations since the 17th century, and later still made a foray into the history of England. I have held various Faculty and College posts, and served as co-editor of the Historical Journal. I also served on the Franco-British Council. I remain a Fellow of St John's.
Nineteenth-century French political history, with special focus on the Paris Commune (1871)
Franco-British relations since the 1680s
The history of England. I hope to write a short history of Brexit.
If time permits, I hope to write in future on the intellectual history of monotheism.
I supervise for Part I papers 17 and 18, and Part II dissertations if requested.
As an emeritus professor, I am not permitted to supervise new graduate students.


Tags & Themes


St John's College, St John's Street, CB2 1TP


Key publications

The War Against Paris 1871 (Cambridge: CUP, 1981), pp. 256.
Thiers 1797-1877: A Political Life, with J.P.T. Bury (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), pp. 307
France 1815-1914 (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 590
La guerre contre Paris, 1871 (Paris: Aubier, 1997 ; new edn, Flammarion, 2009), pp. 380
That Sweet Enemy: The French and the British from the Sun King to the Present, with Isabelle Tombs (London: Heinemann, 2006 and Pimlico, 2007; New York: Knopf, 2007 and Vintage, 2008; Taipei: Acropolis, 2019)
Paris, bivouac des revolutions (Paris: Libertalia, 2013) pp 470
The English and Their History (Allen Lane, 2014; Penguin, 2015; New York, Knopf, 2015; Beijing, forthcoming) pp 1,012

Other publications

L’Entente Cordiale dans le Siècle (Paris : Odile Jacob, 2004), co-editor, pp 364
La France et le Royaume-Uni: Des ennemis intimes (Paris: Armand Colin, 2013) pp 490
Britain and France in Two World Wars: Truth, Myth and Memory, co-editor (London: Bloomsbury, 2013) pp 219
"The Thiers government and the outbreak of civil war in France, February-April 1871", Historical Journal, 23,4 (1980), pp. 813-31
"Harbingers or entrepreneurs? A workers' cooperative during the Paris Comune", Historical Journal, 27,4 (1984), pp. 969-77
"Paris and the rural hordes: an exploration of myth and reality in the French civil war of 1871", Historical Journal, 29,4 (1986), pp. 795-808
"Prudent rebels: the 2nd arrondissement during the Paris Commune of 1871", French History 5, 4 (1991), pp. 393-413
"Victimes et bourreaux de la Semaine Sanglante", in 1848: Révolutions et Mutations du XIXe siécle, no. 10 (1994), pp. 81-96
"Lesser breeds without the Law: the British Establishment and the Dreyfus Affair, 1894-1899", Historical Journal, (June 1998)
"Les Communeuses", Sociétés et Réprésentations, 6 (juin 1998) pp 47-65
"How bloody was la Semain Sanglante of 1871? A revision” Historical Journal, 55, 3 (2012)