Professor Charles West (MA, MPhil, PhD, FHEA, FRHS)

Professor of Medieval History

Background

My fascination with history perhaps began during the summers I spent working  in Lincoln Cathedral as a teenaged tour guide, taking adventurous visitors up the fourteenth-century tower's 388 steps. I did my first degree at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, and then went to the University of Birmingham for an MPhil. I returned to Cambridge for a PhD, during which I studied for a few months in Paris, affiliated with Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. After finishing the PhD in 2007, I subsequently spent a year as a Junior Research Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford. In 2008 I took up a lectureship at the University of Sheffield, where I taught in the Department of History for 15 years. I served as Director for Recruitment and Director for Post-Graduate Affairs, and was promoted to a professorship in 2022. I have also held visiting positions at the universities of Cambridge (Sidney Sussex College), Münster and Tübingen. I joined the School of History, Classics and Archaeology in Edinburgh with a personal chair in medieval history in 2023.

Responsibilities & affiliations

Co-ordinating Editor, Early Medieval Europe

Editorial Board, Reti Medievali Rivista

Collective, History Workshop Journal

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome PhD applications that relate to my research interests and expertise in continental European history, c. 700 to c. 1100.

Please bear in mind that academic research in this field usually requires some familiarity with at least one of Latin, French, German and Italian (as well as English) before starting a PhD.

Past PhD students supervised

James Chetwood, 'Tom, Dick and Leofric: The Transformation of English Personal Naming, c.800–c.1300', 2016

Richard Gilbert, 'Power, Community and the Manor Court in Sixteenth-Century English Society', 2022

Alex Traves, 'Kinship in Early Medieval England, AD 600 - 1050', 2022

Tianpeng Zhang, 'Social Crisis and Temporalities in Thinking: A Comparative Study of Einhard, Dhuoda and Nithard, 817–843', 2024

Research summary

I am a historian of Carolingian Francia and its successor societies into the eleventh century.

Much of my research concerns change in ideas and practices of public order. I am interested in how different scales of activity were interlinked (e.g. the practical and theoretical mechanisms through which local villages were connected to royal courts), in how distinctions between religious and secular norms evolved, and in how political process worked and evolved at different levels of society.

Current research interests

  • Eleventh-century Europe

I am finishing a book on eleventh-century Europe for Oxford University Press, provisionally titled Beyond Revolution and Reform. This book takes an inclusive view of Europe, based on contemporary geographical notions, and looks at why one network within Europe - the Latin West - grew so fast at this point.

  • Local Priests in the Tenth Century

I am co-writing a book on local priests in the tenth century, with Dr Alice Hicklin, Professor Steffen Patzold, and Dr Bastiaan Waagmeester. Our goal is to use the figure of the local priest to shed light on the links and disjunctures between 'Carolingian' and 'Gregorian' reform.

  • Corruption and simony

I am continuing to develop my published interests in simony (the illicit purchase of ecclesiastical office) as a form of corruption.

Affiliated research centres

Current project grants

Priests in a Post-Imperial World (AHRC/DFG), 2021-2024

Past project grants

Europe in the Eleventh Century (British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship), 2022/23
Humbert of Moyenmoutier and his “Letter Book”: Eleventh-Century Church Reform between the Local and the Trans-European (Humboldt Experienced Research Fellowship), 2014-2016
Turbulent Priests. The Problem of Royal Jurisdiction over Clerics, c. 600 – c.1200 (AHRC Leadership Fellowship), 2014-2016

Books

  1. The Fall of a Carolingian Kingdom: Lotharingia, 855–869 (University of Toronto Press: Toronto, 2023)
  2. Neighbours or strangers? Local societies in early medieval Europe, co-written with Bernhard Zeller, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock (Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2020)
  3. Capetian France, co-written with Elizabeth Hallam (3rd edition, London, 2019)
  4. Writing the Early Medieval West: Studies in Honour of Rosamond McKitterick, edited with Elina Screen (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2018)
  5. Hincmar of Rheims: Life and Work, edited with Rachel Stone (Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2015)
  6. The Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga: Hincmar of Rheims’s De Divortio, translated and annotated with Rachel Stone, Manchester Medieval Sources (Manchester University Press: Manchester, 2016)
  7.  Reframing the Feudal Revolution. Political and social transformation between Marne and Moselle, c. 800–1100, Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought, Fourth Series, 90 (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2013)

Articles

  1. ‘The Earliest Form and Function of the “Admonitio synodalis”’, Frühmittelalterliche Studien 57 (2023), 347–380 https://doi.org/10.1515/fmst-2023-0019
  2. ‘The Simony Crisis of the Eleventh Century and the Epistola Widonis’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 73 (2022), 229–253  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022046921000063

  3. ‘Three Notes on Alessio Fiore’s Seigneurial Transformation’, Journal of European Economic History 50:3 (2021), 203–213

  4. ‘Pope Leo of Bourges, Clerical Immunity and the Early Medieval Secular’, Early Medieval Europe 29 (2021), 86–108 https://doi.org/10.1111/emed.12450
  5. (with Giorgia Vocino) ‘“On the Life and Continence of Judges”: the Production and Preservation of Imperial Legislation in late Ottonian Italy’, Mélanges d’école française de Rome 131:1 (2019), 87–117 https://doi.org/10.4000/mefrm.4763
  6. ‘Bishops between “Reforms” in the long Tenth Century – the case of Verdun’, The Medieval Low Countries 6 (2019), 73–92 https://doi.org/10.1484/J.MLC.5.118363
  7. (with Matthew Innes) ‘Saints and Demons in the Carolingian Countryside’, in ‘Kleine Welten. Ländliche Gesellschaften im Karolingerreich’, ed. Thomas Kohl, Steffen Patzold and Bernhard Zeller, Vorträge und Forschungen 87 (2019), 67–99 https://doi.org/10.11588/vuf.2019.0.85074
  8. ‘Lotharingia viewed from West Frankia’, Publications de la section historique de l’Institut grand-ducale de Luxembourg 126 (2018), 201–217
  9. ‘Quelle place pour l’ecclesia dans l’Europe médiévale?’, Médiévales 74 (2018), 165–178 https://doi.org/10.4000/medievales.8743
  10. ‘Religious Exemption in pre-modern Eurasia, c. 300-1300 – introduction’, Medieval Worlds 6 (2017), 2–7 https://doi:10.1553/medievalworlds_no6_2017s2   
  11. ‘Monks, Aristocrats and Justice: Twelfth-Century Monastic Advocacy in a European Perspective’, Speculum 92.2 (2017), 372–404   https://doi.org/10.1086/690661
  12. (With Steven Vanderputten) ‘Inscribing Property, Rituals, and Royal Alliances: The “Theutberga Gospels” and the Abbey of Remiremont’, Mitteilungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 124.2 (2016), 296–321 https://doi.org/10.7767/miog-2016-0202 
  13. ‘“Fratres, omni die videtis cum vadit istud regnum in perdicionem”: Abbo of Saint-Germain and the Crisis of 888’, Reti Medievali Rivista 17 (2016) http://www.serena.unina.it/index.php/rm/article/view/5007
  14. ‘Visions in a Ninth-Century Village: an early medieval Microhistory’, History Workshop Journal 81 (2016), 1–16​​​​ https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/dbv040
  15. ‘Knowledge of the Past and the Judgement of History in Tenth-Century Trier: Regino of Prüm and the Lost Manuscript of Adventius of Metz’, Early Medieval Europe 24 (2016), 137–59 https://doi.org/10.1111/emed.12138
  16. ‘Lordship in Ninth-Century Francia: The Case of Bishop Hincmar of Laon and his Followers’, Past and Present 226 (2015), 3–40  https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtu044
  17. ‘Count Hugh of Troyes and the Territorial Principality in early Twelfth-Century Western Europe’, English Historical Review 127 (2012), 523–548 https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/ces080
  18. ‘Unauthorised Miracles in mid-ninth-century Dijon and the Carolingian Church Reforms’, Journal of Medieval History 36 (2010), 295–311 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmedhist.2010.09.006
  19. ‘The Significance of the Carolingian Advocate’, Early Medieval Europe 17 (2009), 186–206 (winner of the Early Medieval Europe Essay Prize 2009) https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0254.2009.00259.x

Book chapters

  1. ‘Paschasius Radbertus, Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew’, in The Bloomsbury Reader in Christian-Muslim Relations, 600-1500, ed. David Thomas (London, 2022), 228-230
  2. ‘The “Schism of 1054” and the Politics of Church Reform in Lotharingia, c. 1100’, in Thomas Kohl (ed.), Konflikt und Wandel um 1100, Europa im Mittelalter 36 (Berlin 2020), pp. 195-215
  3. ‘“And how, if you are a Christian, can you hate the Emperor?”. Reading a seventh-century Scandal in Carolingian Francia’, in Criticising the ruler in pre-modern societies – possibilities, chances and methods, ed. Karina Kellermann, Alheydis Plassmann and Christian Schwermann (Bonn: V&R Unipress, 2019), pp. 411-430
  4. ‘Royal estates, Confiscation and the Politics of Land in the Kingdom of Otto I’, in Francois Bougard and Vito Loré (eds.), Biens publics, biens du roi. Les bases économiques des pouvoirs royaux dans le haut Moyen Âge, Seminari internazionali del Centro Interuniversitario per la Storia e l’Archeologia dell’Alto Medioevo (2019), pp. 155-175.
  5. ‘Hincmar of Reims’, in Great Christian Jurists and Legal Collections in the First Millennium, ed. Philip Reynolds (Cambridge, 2019), pp. 429–443.
  6. ‘Carolingian Kingship and the Peasants of Le Mans: the Capitulum in cenomannico pago datum’, in Rolf Grosse and Michel Sot (eds.), Charlemagne: les temps, les espaces, les hommes. Construction et déconstruction d’un règne, Collection Haut Moyen Age 34 (Turnhout, 2018), pp. 227–245.
  7. ‘From Co-opetition to Competition? Relations between the Laity and the Religious in the Moselle Valley, c. 1050–1120’, in Régine Le Jan, Geneviève Bührer-Thierry and Stefano Gasparri (eds.), Coopétition. Rivaliser, coopérer dans les sociétés du haut Moyen Âge (500-1100), Collection Haut Moyen Age 31 (Turnhout, 2018), pp. 269–281.
  8. ‘“Dissonance of Speech, Consonance of Meaning” – the Council of Aachen (862) and the Transmission of Carolingian Conciliar Records’, in Elina Screen and Charles West (eds), Writing the Early Medieval West (Cambridge, 2018), pp. 169–182.
  9. ‘Hincmar’s Parish Priests’, in Rachel Stone and Charles West (eds.), Hincmar of Rheims, Life and Work (Manchester, 2015), pp. 228–246.
  10. ‘Competing for the Holy Spirit: Humbert of Moyenmoutier and the Question of Simony’, in Francois Bougard, Philippe Depreux and Régine Le Jan (eds.), Compétition et sacré au haut Moyen Âge: entre médiation et exclusion (Brepols, Collection du Haut Moyen Age: Turnhout, 2015), pp. 327–340
  11. ‘Le saint, le charpentier et le prêtre: l’Apparitio Sancti Vedasti et les élites dans la Francia du IXe siècle’, in Laurent Jégou, Sylvie Joye, Thomas Lienhard and Jens Schneider (eds.), Faire lien. Réseaux, aristocratie et échange compétitif au Moyen Âge. Mélanges en l’honneur de Régine Le Jan (Paris, 2015), pp. 237–245
  12. ‘Group Formation in the Long Tenth Century: a View from Trier and its Region’, in Christine Kleinjung and Stefan Albrecht (eds.), Das lange 10. Jahrhundert – Struktureller Wandel zwischen Zentralisierung und Fragmentierung, äußerem Druck und innerer Krise (Mainz, 2015), pp. 49–59
  13. ‘Meaning and Context: Moringus the Lay Scribe and Charter Formulation in late-Carolingian Burgundy’, in Jon Jarrett and Allen McKinley (eds.), Problems and Possibilities of Early Medieval charters (Turnhout, 2013), pp. 71–87
  14. ‘All in the Same Boat? East Anglia, the North Sea World and the 1147 Expedition to Lisbon’, in David Bates and Robert Liddiard (eds.), East Anglia and its North Sea World in the Middle Ages (Woodbridge, August 2013), pp. 287–300
  15. ‘Dynastic Historical Writing’ [Byzantium, China and the Latin West], in Sarah Foot and Chase Robinson (eds.), The Oxford History of Historical Writing, Volume II: 600–1400 (Oxford, 2012), pp. 496–516
  16. ‘Evaluating Conflict at Court: a West Frankish perspective’, in Matthias Becher and Alheydis Plassmann (eds.), Streit am Hof im frühen Mittelalter (Göttingen, 2011), pp. 317–330
  17. ‘Principautés et territoires, comtes et comtés’, in Michèle Gaillard, Michel Margue, Alain Dierkens and Herold Pettiau (eds.), De la Mer du Nord à la Méditerranée. Francia Media, une région au cœur de l’Europe (c. 840 – c. 1050) (Luxembourg, 2011), pp. 131–150
  18. ‘Legal Culture in Tenth-Century Lotharingia’, in Conrad Leyser, David Rollason and Hannah Williams (eds.), England and the Continent in the Tenth Century (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 351–375
  19.  ‘Urban Populations and Associations’, in Julia Crick and Elisabeth van Houts (eds.), A social history of England, 900-1200 (Cambridge, 2011), pp. 198–207