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Research in Medieval and Renaissance History

  • Katherine Cross

Kathereine Cross


Enemy and Ancestor: viking ethnicities in England and Normandy, c.1000

Biography: I began my PhD research at UCL in 2009, supervised by Dr Antonio Sennis. My interest in medieval history developed during my BA in History and interdisciplinary MSt. in Medieval Studies at Balliol College, Oxford. I'm interested in the adaptation and politicisation of historical narratives, a theme I explored in my undergraduate thesis through the legend of Lady Godiva, and in my master's thesis through the reputations of saints and heroes killed by the vikings in England. 

During my PhD I have continued to explore the twin approaches of History and literary studies. To this end, I was fortunate to receive a UCL Graduate Cross-Disciplinary Training Scholarship in 2011-12, which I undertook in the Scandinavian Studies department.

Thesis abstract: My research focuses on the effects of Scandinavian migration to early medieval Normandy and England, where vikings and their families settled as a result of extended periods of piratical raids and warfare. The existing inhabitants of these regions were used to fearing the vikings as their alien enemies; now they had to accept them as neighbours and rulers.  My PhD project compares the ways in which people living in tenth-century Normandy and England perceived ethnic relations in the Viking Age. The ongoing negotiation of ethnic identity in these mixed societies led to the creation, and re-formulation, of narratives of the viking past.

Primary supervisor: Dr Antonio Sennis

  • Aaron Hope

Hope Aaron


Hireling Shepherds: English bishops and their deputies, c. 1186-c. 1323

Biography: I began my doctoral research at UCL in 2008, under the supervision of Prof. David d’Avray. Although technically I have remained a full-time student, I have been working simultaneously as a qualified archivist, first at Lambeth Palace Library (until 2011) and more recently as project officer for the Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire sections of the revised online Manorial Documents Register. My interest in medieval history began during my BA at York University (Toronto, Canada) and developed further, particularly along palaeographical and ecclesiastical lines, in the course of a MA in Archives and Records Management at UCL, which I completed in 2005. I have been fortunate enough to obtain the support of a London Goodenough Association of Canada Scholarship (2004-5), an Overseas Research Student Award (2008-2011) and a Wingate Foundation Scholarship (2010-2011), without which my research would not have been possible. My main interests are canon law, historical record-keeping, and the evolution of dioceses and the episcopal office in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. 

Thesis abstract: The purpose of my thesis is to investigate how and why bishops began to employ specially empowered deputies to run their dioceses around the turn of the thirteenth century. It consists of two main sections: first, an exploration of the legal background, including the relevant substantive law (canon and civil) and the accompanying glosses, and second, a case study based on the bishops of Lincoln from St. Hugh (1186-1200) through to the episcopate of Richard Gravesend (1258-1279). An edition of the acta produced by episcopal deputies in the diocese of Lincoln forms an integral part of the thesis.

Primary supervisor: Professor David d’Avray

  • Alison Ray



The pecia system and its use by the cultural milieu in Paris 1250-1330

Biography: In 2011 I began my MPhil/PhD in Medieval History at UCL, working under the supervision of Prof. David d'Avray. I previously completed my MA in Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the same department in 2010. My interest in codicology and examining manuscripts grew during my undergraduate studies in History and English Literature at the University of Glasgow, where I graduated in 2009.

In the 2012/13 academic year I am the grateful recipient of the Carol Chattaway Scholarship.

Thesis abstract:I study a unique form of book production known as the pecia system that operated in Paris from c1250 to 1330 and the use of this system in the cultural milieu of the city during this period. Paris and its university was the intellectual centre of Western civilisation during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, with scholars travelling from across Europe and further afield to the city for the gaining of knowledge and the exchanging of ideas. The aim of my research is to examine the popular themes of study and sermons amongst the cultural community during this period by comparing the codicological and textual evidence of individual manuscript users found in pecia manuscripts.

Primary Supervisor: Professor David d'Avray

  • Matthew Ross


The papal chapel 1288-1304: a study in institutional and cultural change

Biography: I began my PhD at UCL in 2009, supervised by Prof. David d'Avray, after completing my BA in Modern and Medieval Languages at Clare College, Cambridge, and my MA in Medieval Studies at UCL.  I am especially interested in the relationship between cultural and institutional change in late medieval court societies, with particular emphasis on the curia.  I am grateful for the support of a UCL Research Studentship in the academic years 2009-2012, and currently hold the Thornley Junior Research Fellowship at the Institute of Historical Research.

Thesis abstract: My doctorate is a study of the structure and personnel of the papal chapel, and the administrative, governmental, legal, liturgical and cultural activities of papal chaplains in the period 1288-1304. Papal chaplains were multi-functional high-level churchmen, very many of them with significant governmental, diplomatic, legal and cultural careers. I analyse papal chaplains' functions at the curia in light of broader structural changes affecting the whole papal court, and compare the papal chapel with its counterpart in England; the English chapel royal. I aim to determine whether the papal chapel had a distinct place in curial court culture, and how its cultural life changed in line with developments in its administrative, legal and governmental functions.  More broadly, I also consider the papal chapel's place in cultural exchange between major courts and centres of learning in western Europe and the importance of institutional change for cultural history.

Primary Supervisor: Professor David d'Avray

Page last modified on 24 apr 13 10:00 by Joanna Fryer