Professor in European History, University of Essex

I have been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember, although my specific enthusiasm for the early modern period (1450-1750) developed during my undergraduate years at St. Hilda’s College, Oxford. After graduating with a First Class degree in 1987, I went on to Cambridge to undertake doctoral research in early modern German history at Clare College under the supervision of Bob Scribner. I completed my Ph.D. thesis, Women, Gender and Power in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and its Rural Environs, 1500-1618, in 1995.

I taught part-time at the University of Durham from 1990-92, then joined the Department of History at the University of Essex as a Lecturer in European History in 1992. I became a Senior Lecturer in 2002, Director of the Centre for Local and Regional History in 2008, Professor in 2014, and was Head of Department from 2011-14.

I am currently working on the following projects:

A study of the concept of the 'witch-family' in the early modern German context.

Clerics as accused witches and as 'father confessors' in German witch-trials.

Elite masculinity in early modern Germany, espeically in the urban/clerical context.

A history of the discovery and fates of the St Osyth 'witch' skeletons of 1921.

Research interests
My main areas of research interest are:

The history of the German, former imperial city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and its rural hinterland, with particular focus on witchcraft, magic, gender, crime, midwifery, religion, prostitution, and the Thirty Years War.

The history of witchcraft, magic and witch-persecution in early modern Germany, England, and Europe. I am especially interested in these histories in the local contexts of Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Franconia in Germany, and Essex and East Anglia in England.
The modern resonances of early modern witch-hunting (ie: the ways in which early modern witch trials are remembered and commemorated in modern culture).


  • –present
    Professor in European History, University of Essex