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Research in Early Modern History

Click on the titles to find out more:

Jonathan Chandler - The Continental Army and American Identities, 1775-1783

Lucy Dow - British Cookery Books and British Identities, 1747 - 1860

Misha Ewen - The Foundation of a “Common-Wealth”: The Exchange of Political Ideas in Colonial Virginia and England, 1607-1642

Alice Ferron - Female Authorship, Censorship, and Silence, in England C. 1546-1640

Jaap Geraerts - The Catholic Nobility in the Dutch Republic, c. 1580-1700

Daisy Gibbs - Mercantilism and Citizenship in the English and French empires, 1660-1770

Eilish Gregory - Under Duress: The Plight of English Catholics, c. 1640-1680

Mads Jensen - Political order and authority in Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon 1525-1547

Ed Legon - Remembering Rebellion: Seditious memories of the English Revolution, 1660-1685

Philip Loft - Peers, policy and power under the revolution constitution, 1685-1719

Guido van Meersbergen - Ethnography and trade in South Asia: Dutch and English East India Company policymaking and cultural discourse (c.1595-1700)

Estelle Paranque - The words of a monarch: power, authority and self-representation: Elizabeth I of England and Henry III of France, 1562-1589

Keith Stapylton - The Parliamentary Privilege of Freedom from Arrest, 1603–1629

Stewart Tolley - The Whig Oligarchy: Representation and Imagery 1700-1733
Jurriaan van Santvoort - The Idea of Chivalry in Eighteenth-Century Britain

  • Jonathan Chandler

chandler jonathan


The Continental Army and American Identities, 1775-1783

Biography: Having previously completed both a BA and MA in History at UCL with a particular emphasis on eighteenth century British North America, I am now embarking upon my PhD and seventh year within the department. I completed my MA with a dissertation on the concept of military fraternity in North America during the Seven Years’ War, and other essays on migration and denationalisation in the Irish Brigade and periodization in US political history. In the course of my PhD, I have been the very fortunate recipient of the Richard Chattaway scholarship, which alongside a scholarship to the Library of Congress allowed me to undertake valuable research in the United States. My interests are broadly in the field of military, political and cultural history in eighteenth-century Britain and North America.

In 2011-2012 I was a teaching assistant on HIST 6301: British History 1689-1860. In 2012-2013 I will teach on HIST6313: Building the American Nation: 1789-1920 and, at Queen Mary, on HIST4301: Building the American Nation: The United States 1756-1896.

Thesis abstract:As the colonial military establishment which contested the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army has been described by numerous scholars as a ‘national institution,’ as ‘identifiably American,’ and as a ‘nationalising factor’ in the development of the United States. Yet this was a conflict that was as much a civil war as a war of independence, where the form and philosophy of national government were very much in dispute, and social, cultural and ideological identities constantly overlapped and intersected. My project examines how colonists perceived and articulated their relationships with the Continental Army, looking at personal accounts such as letters and journals, and popular printed media in the shape of newspapers and pamphlets. I hope to explore how changes in situation and context influenced how colonists viewed the army, and altered or reinforced conceptions of their identities. Through this study, my research aims to clarify our understanding of early American identity.

Primary Supervisor: Professor Stephen Conway

  • Lucy Dow

Lucy Dow


British Cookery Books and British Identities, 1747 - 1860

Biography: I have a BA in History from Oxford and a MA in History from UCL. Other than history my main interest is food and cooking and it was this that led me to research the changing food culture of Britain as seen through cookery books. Between my BA and MA I worked for a food distribution company and between my MA and PhD in digital media and film production for Tate. As well as analysing a range of text and visual sources I also try to cook (and eat) the recipes I encounter in my research.

Thesis abstract: My research looks at how cookery books reflect changing British identities between the publication of two key cookery books, Hannah Glasse's ‘The Art of Cookery’, in 1747 and Isabella Beeton's, ‘Beeton's Book of Household Management’, in 1860. I analyse not only how recipes changed in terms of what they tasted like and in the range of cuisines they represented but also how they were interpreted and understood within the cookery books and how this represents changing and multiple ideas of British identity in the period. Stemming from this central theme I look at how cookery books interacted with their audiences, the centrality of gender to this particular form of domestic experience, and the constant negotiation of a variety of influences on British food culture in this period. Engaging with a significant body of anthropological investigations into the role of food in determining cultures and expressing identity my intention is to emphasise how cookery books are an important facet in understanding the relationship between domestic culture and wider British identities.

Primary Supervisor: Professor Stephen Conway

  • Misha Ewen



‘The Foundation of a “Common-Wealth”: The Exchange of Political Ideas in Colonial Virginia and England, 1607-1642.’

Biography: In 2012 I graduated from the University of Nottingham with a BA Jt Hons in English and History, followed by an MA in History at the University of Manchester in 2013. My MA thesis was inspired by my literary interests; I explored concepts of ‘self’ and ‘otherness’ in the accounts written by seventeenth-century European travellers in Mughal India. I began my PhD at UCL in 2013, having been awarded an AHRC studentship.

Thesis Abstract: It is possible to view the Virginia colony, and those that participated in its creation, as operating between two interconnected spheres of political thought and culture – one in England and the other in the New World. My research aims to illuminate the reciprocity of political ideas across the Atlantic during this period of English colonisation in Virginia. In recent years historians have given precedence to the idea that many Virginia colonists, who were also active in English political life, aimed to eliminate experiences of domestic political disorder through the creation of an overseas ‘commonwealth’. Therefore, I want to explore how New World experiences of political innovation may have subsequently impacted upon domestic political and cultural life.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Jason Peacey 

  • Alice Ferron



"The ornament of a woman is silence”: Female Authorship, Censorship, and Silence, in England C. 1546-1640

Biography:  I enjoy using print culture and literary sources to explore early modern social and cultural history. I work in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and am particularly interested in women, the history of children and childhood, the family, death and childbirth. I hold a BA in History and English Literature from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia and an MA in European History from UCL. Born in Norway and raised in Scotland and Texas, I benefit from both dual British and American nationality as well as a unique educational perspective.

Thesis Abstract: My research focuses on how early modern censorship and societal expectations of female silence affected English women's writing from 1546-1640. I seek to challenge current male centered historiography, which views censorship as a governmental and ecclesiastical tool, to instead demonstrate that a range of different institutions and individuals manipulated women’s texts. My dissertation will not only give women a voice in current historiography but will also demonstrate how authoresses were touched by censorship and why some women chose to break with convention and write in a society that emphasized female silence as a woman’s best accessory.

Primary Supervisor: Dr. Jason Peacey

  • Jaap Geraerts



The Catholic Nobility in the Dutch Republic, c. 1580-1700

Biography: I completed a BA and research MA in History at Utrecht University and started a PhD at UCL in September 2010. I have always been interested in the history of religious tolerance and intolerance, and I wrote a MA dissertation about the prosecution of Anabaptists in sixteenth-century Holland, supervised by Jo Spaans (Utrecht University) and Ben Kaplan, who now supervises my PhD thesis.

Thesis abstract: Both as a result of the Reformation and of the Revolt against Habsburg Spain, Catholicism was outlawed throughout the various provinces of the Dutch Republic in the early 1580s. This thesis studies a part of the Dutch Catholic community, namely the Dutch Catholic nobles in the provinces Utrecht and, to a lesser extent, Guelders, in the seventeenth century. The Catholic nobility is placed in the wider context of the Dutch society, by analyzing the interaction of Catholic nobles with society at large and studying how and to what extent the position of Catholic nobles in Dutch society was affected by the prevailing form of religious tolerance. As the Dutch Republic became mission territory, the role of the Dutch nobility within the Missio Hollandica - e.g. the way in which Catholic nobles were able to support Catholicism - is another focal point of this thesis. Other key topics include the analysis of the believes of Catholic nobles as well as the religious life and culture on their estates. As such, the thesis intends to contribute to the history of religious tolerance, of the Dutch nobility, and of post-Reformation religious culture in the Dutch Republic.

Primary Supervisor: Professor Ben Kaplan

  • Daisy Gibbs

gibbs daisy


Working title:

'The world must be peopled.' Mercantilism and Citizenship in the English and French empires, 1660-1770

Biography:Having graduated from a BA in History at UCL, I then returned to my hometown of Cardiff and did an MBA. That was the closest I came to the world of work, as I promptly returned to UCL to begin my research. I especially enjoy colonial history and intellectual history, and in particular I like to look at the history of economic thought.

Abstract: English and French colonies represented a meeting point of vastly different peoples. Between 1660 and 1770, while Ireland and its people experienced an influx of English and Scottish ‘improvers’ and refugees, the New World was peopled, and its indigenous population overrun, by political and religious dissenters from England, Scotland and other European nations; by eager adventurers and indentured servants and by profiteer planters and their forcibly imported African slaves. Because of this heterogeneity and due to the very nature of colonies, these societies raise questions about national belonging and citizenship. At this time early economists such as Petty and Defoe surmised that the wealth of a nation was derived from the size of its workforce. Humble citizens were in fact a national economic resource. Many of those settlers of the peripheries, the American continent, the Caribbean Islands and Ireland, together with some members of the indigenous populations, made an economic contribution to the colonial centre. Therefore they might be seen as economic citizens of the centre. I intend to investigate whether the convergence of economic goals was indeed enough to confer a notion of citizenship on the variety of peoples who dwelled or came to dwell in the colonies of England.

Supervisor: Julian Hoppit

  • Eilish Gregory

Eilish Gregory

Under Duress: The Plight of English Catholics, c. 1640-1680
Biography: I completed a BA (Hons) in History, and an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, both from the University of Kent, before beginning my PhD in History at UCL in September 2013. My MA dissertation explored the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis during the 1670s, demonstrating that the fear of Catholics were just as strong as the concern over arbitrary rule  in England, while arguing that popery was not only a religious construct, but also a political one.

Thesis abstract: My research focuses on the relations of English Catholics with their Protestant contemporaries, and the implementation of anti-Catholic sanctions from 1640 to 1680. I aim to establish in my research whether the laws, administrative penalties, and government sanctions imposed upon domestic Catholics were effective, and to what extent they were enforced in different counties from the first Civil War to the Popish Plot and Exclusion Crisis.  I will also be examining the attitude towards Catholics, from the state and local authorities’ attitudes towards them, to their association with local Protestant families, through case studies of particular Catholic gentry families. By focusing on these decades which saw Civil War, a Republican regime, and the return of the Stuart monarchy, I hope to discover whether these decades caused Catholics and their relations with their Protestant contemporaries to disintegrate or to strengthen in times of political and religious hardships.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Jason Peacey

  • Mads Langballe Jensen



Political order and authority in Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon 1525-1547

Biography: I am a PhD candidate at the History Department at UCL under the supervision of Dr Angus Gowland. I have previously completed the BA in History of Ideas at Aarhus Universitet (Denmark) in 2009, and the intercollegiate MA in the History of Political Thought and Intellectual History at the University of London in 2010. My interests include early-modern and reformation political thought as well as the methodology of the historical and social sciences.

Thesis abstract: The subject of my PhD thesis is the political thought of the Wittenberg reformers Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) as it developed from 1525 to 1547. In so doing it will focus on the conceptions of political authority and order and how the two are related. By analysing the writings of Luther and Melanchthon in their polemical and ideological contexts, the thesis seeks to understand how the two reformers conceptualised political order and authority, and how they drew on both theological and non-theological theories and concepts in doing so.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Angus Gowland

  • Ed Legon


Remembering Rebellion: Seditious memories of the English Revolution, 1660-1685

Biography: I graduated from the University of Warwick with a BA in History in 2010 and received my MA from UCL a year later. Under the supervision of Dr Jason Peacey, my MA thesis concerned the "popular" communicative practices associated with remembering the English Revolution (1640-1660) during the reign of Charles II. I began my PhD at UCL in the autumn of 2011, again with Dr Peacey as my supervisor.

Thesis abstract: Building on my MA thesis, my research considers memories favourable to the English Revolution ("seditious memories") which were expressed in speech and writing during the reign of Charles II, but have been almost completely ignored by historians of the seventeenth century. I contend that seditious memories evidence individual and collective strategies used to come to terms with and to confront "experiences of defeat" associated with the end of the English Republic. I illustrate and explain how, over time, these seditious memories became an important aspect of oppositional (later "Whig") political cultural identity and began to be expressed by people who did not experience the Revolution to which they referred.

Primary supervisor: Jason Peacey

  • Philip Loft


Title: Peers, policy and power under the revolution constitution, 1685-1719

Biography: I hold a BA and MA in History from UCL, where my dissertations focused on parliamentary-information gathering and legislation respectively, both during the last quarter of the seventeenth century. I began my MPhil/PhD in September 2012.

Thesis Abstract: My research aims to explore how the peerage functioned and interacted as a ‘point of contact’ for themselves, lobbyists and petitioners seeking judicial or legislative redress in parliament. It explores the extent the physical space of parliament was accessible, extra-parliamentary groups were participating in law-making, and ‘virtual representation’ meant that those formally outside the political nation felt they had a right to expect redress from parliament. It also assesses the impact of new patterns of information collection, particularly that of ‘political arithmetic’, on decision-making, and the relationship between information collection and the chamber’s judicial culture and business.

Together, these approaches allow an examination of the role of the peerage in England and Wales, and later Britain, after the Glorious Revolution.

Primary Supervisor: Professor Julian Hoppit.

  • Guido van Meersbergen



Ethnography and trade in South Asia: Dutch and English East India Company policymaking and cultural discourse (c.1595-1700)

Biography: I completed a BA and a Research Masters in History at the University of Amsterdam before joining UCL in 2009, where I completed the MA in European History and subsequently started a PhD upon the award of a Graduate Research Scholarship (GRS). My research interests lie primarily in the fields of colonial history, cross-cultural encounters, and representations of otherness in early modern travel writing. I am also an active member of the publicity committee of the Hakluyt Society.

Thesis abstract: My research focuses on the approaches towards cross-cultural contact in South-Asia developed by the 17th-century Dutch and English East India Companies (VOC and EIC). Textual analysis of reflections on the supposed character of South-Asian peoples in VOC and EIC correspondence serves to highlight the centrality of ethnological notions to Company policy making. Using a comparative perspective, my thesis explores how Company agents represented the people they encountered in varying social and political circumstances, and seeks to discover to what extent their assumptions about these ethnically and religiously diverse people informed their commercial, diplomatic, and political strategies. Similarities and differences between English and Dutch discourses and policies are examined, as well as discursive connections with contemporary European geographic literature and travel writing.

Supervisor: Professor Ben Kaplan

  • Estelle Paranque



The words of a monarch: power, authority and self-representation: Elizabeth I of England and Henry III of France, 1562-1589

Biography: I am originally from France where I graduated of the Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille I. I have a Licence (BA equivalent) in English Language, Literature and Civilisation and a Master degree (2 years in the French educational system) specialised in Early Modern English History. For this Master degree, I wrote two dissertations. During the first year, the dissertation was about the Birth of an English National Identity under Elizabeth I of England. The next year, I focused on the self-representation of Elizabeth I's through her speeches, letters and prayers. French sources and relations with England were both part of these dissertations. Therefore, I became more and more interested in comparative history.

Thesis abstract: My research focuses on the succession crisis that occurred in France and England at the end of the sixteenth century. Indeed, in 1589, the French Valois dynasty came to and end, fourteen years later the English Tudor dynasty knew the same fate. This study will mainly focus on the words of princes but also on other important materials (French General Estates records, Calendar of State Papers, contemporaries writings). In a comparative approach, I will pay attention to English monarchs’ (Elizabeth I and James I) speeches, letters, prayers and any other forms of expression as well as their French counterparts (Henri III and Henri IV). The aim will be to identify and understand the stakes of the succession crisis. Parallels and differences will be drawn between the different monarchs’ rhetoric and uses of language. It is important to point out that we need to understand the term rhetoric in its broader sense. It is not only about linguistics tricks but how rhetoric was part of monarchs’ politics and the process of decision-making.

Primary supervisor: Dr Jason Peacey

  • Keith Stapylton



The Parliamentary Privilege of Freedom from Arrest, 1603–1629. Biography: My first degree was a BA in Economic History at the University of East Anglia, followed several years later by an MA in the History of Education at the University of Reading, and a research project on primary school assessment at the University of Southampton. Retirement from paid work in education has given me the opportunity to undertake research for a PhD at UCL.

Abstract: The early seventeenth century was when issues of parliamentary privilege in England assumed greater importance. The historiography of the period has concentrated particularly on ‘freedom of speech’, yet another privilege had a similar significance for contemporaries, and is the focus of the thesis. This privilege exempted members of parliament, peers, and their respective servants from arrest or imprisonment for civil processes, especially those involving debt. The research approach is to use records of parliamentary debates, the personal diaries of parliamentarians, and state papers, to trace developments. In particular, the thesis explores how the House of Commons increasingly asserted their own authority to free members who had been imprisoned for debt, rather than invoking any outside agency, such as the monarch or the Chancery courts, or relying on specific legislation. It also uses the contemporary material to identify the extent to which the privilege was abused, and the steps taken to limit such abuses. The intention of the research is to clarify how far the understanding that contemporaries brought to privilege, and the way in which it was progressively widened, reflected the outlook and ambition of parliament, and cumulatively contributed to a stronger institutional confidence through the early Stuart period.

Primary Supervisor: Dr Jason Peacey

  • Stewart Tolley



The Whig Oligarchy: Representation and Imagery 1700-1733

Biography: After completing my BA in Modern History and Politics at Royal Holloway I decided to move into the early modern period, completing an MA in Early Modern History, Literature and Culture in 2009. My previous studies helped develop my strong interest in the role of public opinion and reputation in politics. I joined UCL in the autumn of 2009 under the supervision of Prof Julian Hoppit, concentrating on printed and visual representations of leading figures in the early 18th century.

Thesis Abstract: My thesis looks at the popular representation of four key political figures of the early 18th century, Charles 2nd Viscount Townshend, James 1st Earl of Stanhope, Charles 3rd Earl of Sunderland and Sir Robert Walpole. The current historiography largely looks at the period in the context of the rise of Walpole as ‘prime minister’. This research attempts to set Walpole in the milieu of his contemporaries, reassessing the importance of these statesmen in a cultural context. This will be achieved by utilising contemporary literature such as ballads, pamphlets and newspapers, as well as visual forms of representation. By analysing how these statesmen were portrayed in different literary forms and imagery I will attempt to shed light on how the early 18th century public perceived their political masters

Primary Supervisor: Prof Julian Hoppit 


  • Jurriaan van Sanvoort


The Idea of Chivalry in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Biography: An Anglophile Dutchman, I began my first tentative foray into history at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, obtaining a BA in History and a MA in the History of International Relations before coming to UCL in 2009. I proceeded to study for another MA in History and am now studying for a PhD in History. I am interested in almost all aspects of British history, in particular the influence and power of literature in history and politics. I also have a soft spot for royalty, monarchy and heraldry throughout history.

Thesis abstract: Chivalry, the wondrous idea of knights in gleaming armour, their swords a-glitter, their lances lowered, defending the weak and charging undaunted onto the serried ranks of their enemy in the sacred cause of honour and duty, is a concept not often associated with the eighteenth century. It belongs, so it is often envisaged, to the Middle Ages and the Romantic nineteenth century. My thesis challenges this mistaken preconception by exploring the idea of chivalry in eighteenth-century Britain in all its various guises and garbs, literary, historiographical, cultural and political. Far from being an out-dated concept, scorned by Enlightened intellectuals, my research will show that the Romantic and Victorian champions of chivalry owe a debt of honour and gratitude to their eighteenth century forebears, those poets, historians, scholars and politicians, who revived it and passed it on, armed and ready for the modern world. It will also show that interest in chivalry in the eighteenth century was not the concern of a narrow political or national faction, but that it spread across political and national boundaries and was studied and used by radicals and conservatives, Englishmen and Scots. This suggests the existence of a British cultural and intellectual sphere that needs to be considered, in addition to any English or Scottish dimension.

Supervisor: Professor Stephen Conway

Page last modified on 03 jul 14 11:43 by Joanna Fryer