Staff profiles

Dr Bill Aird

MA (Hons.) History (Edinburgh) PhD (Edinburgh), FRHS

Lecturer; Medieval History


Summary of research interests

  • Britain & Ireland
  • Europe
  • Mediterranean
  • Scotland
  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Migration
  • Politics
  • Religion
  • Society
  • War
  • Medieval

Research interests

My research interests include the history of the European Central Middle Ages, focusing on the Norman diaspora of the period, c. 900-1200, in Northern France, the British Isles and Ireland, and Southern Italy. They also include aspects of medieval ecclesiastical history, such as the role of the bishop; saints and their cults, and the history of monasticism. In addition, I have an interest in representations of the the Medieval ‘Other world’ in dream narratives, ghostly apparitions and descriptions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. Further research areas concern the problems and possibilities of historical biography; masculinities and the gendered representation of men in medieval sources, particularly in the period, c.1000-1200. Finally, I have an interest in the Victorian and early twentieth-century historiographical foundations of the study of medieval history in Britain and North America: particularly through the work of Edward A. Freeman (1823-92), and Charles Homer Haskins (1870-1937).

Current research activities

I am currently working on an edition of The Life of St Margaret of Scotland. The text in question details the life of Queen Margaret (d. 1093), the Anglo-Saxon wife of Malcolm III and mother of kings Edgar, Alexander I and David I of Scotland. This is a key source for the history of Scotland in the later eleventh and early twelfth centuries. In addition, I am compiling a study of Charisma and medieval leadership. This employs the concept of charisma to examine the characteristics of medieval political and religious leadership. Utilising interdisciplinary research on the concept of leadership and organisations, this project examines the articulation of medieval social groups, including royal and ecclesiastical hierarchies. Continuing the interest in medieval biography, I am writing a biography of the notorious royal administrator and later bishop of Durham Rannulf Flambard (d. 1128). Provisionally entitled Factotum: Ranulf Flambard and the origins of medieval royal administration, the book will examine Rannulf's career as King William Rufus's procurator and his acquisition of the bishopric of Durham in 1099. His career offers a route to understanding the development of royal bureaucracy in the late eleventh century, as well as illustrating the many functions of bishops in the early Central Middle Ages.


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