Personal profile

Research overview

Caroline Humfress is Professor of Medieval History, a Co-Director of the Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research and the Founding / Current Convenor of the MLitt in Legal and Constitutional Studies. She has published widely on Ancient, Late Antique and Early Medieval law and religion, placing historical questions in dialogue with legal, anthropological and sociological concepts and approaches.

Most recently she has edited The Cambridge Comparative History of Ancient Law (Cambridge University Press, 2024): the first project of its kind in the field of comparative ancient legal history, working with an international team of experts across the fields of Ancient Greek, Roman, Indo-European, Near-Eastern and Chinese law. She is currently completing a monograph for Oxford University Press (Laws' Empire. Multilegalism in Late Antiquity), in addition to working on ancient constitutionalism and ideas of legal ordering in Late Antiquity and beyond. 

Research interests

  • Legal history and legal practice (Classical, Post-classical, Medieval); Roman law; Modern legal theory; law and anthropology.
  • Religious and cultural history of Late Antiquity (c.200-c. 600 AD).
  • History of ideas (Classical, Medieval and Modern periods).
  • Concept of legal identity

Academic/Professional Qualification

BA (Cantab) Historical Tripos, Part I (1*, Distinction) and Part II (1*, Distinction)

MA (Cantab) and PhD (Cantab)

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society; Fellow of the Society for Legal Scholars; Member of the Roman and Hellenic Societies; Fellow of the Ecclesiastical History Society

Future research

Ancient Law and Constitutionalism; Southern Epistemologies and Legal History; 'Ordering the Cosmos'; Defining 'Legal Identity', Ancient, Modern and Beyond

Teaching activity

Undergraduate:

Legal Cultures in Late Antiquity (Hons)

Holy Lives in Late Antiquity (Hons)

The Fall of Rome and the Origins of Europe 400 - 1000 (Sub-Hons)

Postgraduate:

The Idea of Law (MLitt Legal and Constitutional Studies)

Comparative Studies in Legal History (MLitt Legal and Constitutional Studies)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

External positions

L. Bates Lea Global Professor of Law, University of Michigan

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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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  • Cambridge comparative history of ancient law

    Humfress, C. (ed.), Ibbetson, D. (ed.) & Olivelle, P. (ed.), May 2024, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 744 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • Conclusion

    Humfress, C., May 2024, Cambridge comparative history of ancient law. Humfress, C., Ibbetson, D. & Olivelle, P. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 598-614 17 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

  • Law and religion

    Wells, B., Bickart, N., Davis, D., Harris, E., Humfress, C., MacCormack, G., Osborne, R. & Vandorpe, K., May 2024, Cambridge comparative history of ancient law. Humfress, C., Ibbetson, D. & Olivelle, P. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 231-302 72 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Legal procedure

    Olivelle, P., Gagarin, M., Humfress, C., MacCormack, G., Manning, J. G. & Wells, B., May 2024, Cambridge comparative history of ancient law. Humfress, C., Ibbetson, D. & Olivelle, P. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 303-375 73 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Legal science

    Mantovani, D., Caldwell, E., Démare-Lafont, S., Humfress, C., Ibbetson, D., MacCormack, G., Olivelle, P., Osborne, R., Pitchard, R., Tooman, W. A. & Wells, B., May 2024, Cambridge comparative history of ancient law. Humfress, C., Ibbetson, D. & Olivelle, P. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 73-145 73 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter