Personal profile

Research overview

My research interests lie in the political and social history of late medieval France, focusing on the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Prior to beginning my doctoral research, I obtained a BA Hons in History and an MPhil in Medieval History at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where my undergraduate and MPhil dissertations focused on the urban histories of Lyon and Rouen in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.

I moved to St Andrews in September 2021 to begin my PhD project under the supervision of Professor Justine Firnhaber-Baker and Professor Frances Andrews, and with the generous funding of the Dorothy Miller Scholarship in History. My project is focused on the relations between the urban and royal spheres of ‘political society’ in late medieval France, during the period from the French conquest of Normandy in 1204 through to the death of the last Capetian king, Charles IV, in 1328. This follows a comparative approach, examining the important cities of Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse, all of which transitioned into royal hands during my period of study. These three case-studies offer one localised lens onto broader questions of political communication, shifts in urban ‘policy’, and state formation during a period of vital significance for the French crown and wider polity.

My focus is on the intermediary actors and institutions occupying the vital but contested space between ‘town’ and ‘crown’ and who were involved in the navigation, brokerage, and maintenance of their relationships. Amongst these varied actors, I am interested in ‘secondary’ royal officers across all three cities, who were key representatives in a given locale but have not hitherto received they attention they merit. I am exploring one group of officers from each of my case-studies: the viscounts/vicomtes/vicecomites of Rouen; the vicars/viguiers/vicarii of Toulouse, and the guardians/gardiateurs/gardiatores of Lyon.

My comparison has two central agendas. The first is typological and functional, examining when and why these officers are acting, what kinds of moments of encounter we see them enmeshed in, what themes these revolve around, and what their place was in the fabric of royal-urban relations. The second is biographical and prosopographical, compiling lists of these officers and their subordinates, to compare these three groups in terms of backgrounds- social, intellectual, and geographical- as well as career trajectories, length of service, and other factors.

These two key avenues of enquiry- the pragmatic and the biographical- give me a view of these officers in the round, allowing me to zoom in to a localised incident or dispute or out to a more supra-regional picture, as well as to engage in broader historiographical debates concerning trust, accountability, and legitimacy. My current (and very provisional!) thesis title is: The Capetians and their Cities: Navigating Royal-Urban Interactions in late medieval Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse, c.1204-c.1328.

I spent the academic year 2022-2023 in France conducting archival research, facilitated by the generous funding of the Society for the Study of French History and the Berenike Walburg Travel Scholarship provided by the School of History at St Andrews. This included a period as a visiting doctoral student at Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès, and extended stays in Lyon, Rouen, and Toulouse, as well as visits to other archives including in Paris.