Alexander Prize

The Alexander Prize was endowed in 1897 by L.C. Alexander, Secretary of the Society at its foundation in 1868 and a Life Member from 1870. The original endowment offered “to provide yearly a Gold Medal to be called ‘The Alexander Medal'”. The gold medal was later changed to a silver medal and now the successful candidate is awarded a prize of £250.

The prize is awarded for an essay or article based on original historical research, by a doctoral candidate or those recently awarded their doctorate, published in a journal or an edited collection of essays.

Winners are invited to submit another paper to the Literary Directors within nine months of the award, with a view to publication in Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.

The Society is delighted to announce that the Alexander Prize for 2018 has been awarded to Marcus Colla for his article ‘Prussian Palimpsests: Architecture and Urban Spaces in East Germany, 1945-1961,’ Central European History, Vol. 50, (2017), 184-217.

The judges commented:

 .”This was an exceptional piece of work, on an arresting topic in contemporary history, deftly and elegantly handled and showing considerable analytic subtlety. The author examines the complex interaction of architecture, history and ideology in the political culture of the emerging German Democratic Republic, and considers the ways in which the past and its physical traces proceeded in inherent union with reflections about a future socialist Germany as the new state sought self-legitimation. The treatment of historic architecture was an inherently divisive issue, even within the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), as not even a self-professed revolutionary regime could avoid the need to deal with the symbolic urban landscape it had inherited: through a number of case studies the author shows how the treatment of sites of memory considered in any way ‘Prussian’ (and therefore regressive) in fact varied substantially over time, and just how tenuous and contingent was the reciprocity of old and new in generating political legitimacy. This article was a distinctive and distinguished piece of historical analysis, elegantly expressed and argued throughout.


The proxime accessit is Stephen Spencer for his article ‘Like A Raging Lion: Richard the Lionheart’s Anger during the Third Crusade in Medieval and Modern Historiography’, English Historical Review 132/556 (2017), 495-532

The judges commented:

“This article impressed the judges with its forensic reassessment of the character of Richard I, and of how popular understandings of the Lionheart have developed over more than 800 years. The author explores contemporary descriptions of the king’s displays of anger during the Third Crusade, but more importantly questions the ways in which modern historians have interpreted those descriptions to develop a picture of a monarch who was out of control, ruled by his temper. The article considers the performative nature of medieval royal rage, and the ways in which onlookers distinguished between different kinds of anger, deployed for different purposes and valued accordingly. It demonstrates that the view of Richard’s temper as uncontrollable is very much a modern one, arguing strongly for the importance of memory in the study of medieval emotions. The article makes a significant contribution to our knowledge of a much-studied royal figure, as well as to the history of emotions more generally. It is exceptionally engaging and well written.

How to enter

  • Candidates must be doctoral students in History in a UK institution, or be within two years of having completed a doctorate in History in a UK institution at the time of the closing date for entries.
  • The article or essay must have been published in a journal or edited collection during the calendar year 2018.
  • Please note that an electronic copy of your article or essay will need to be uploaded to the entry form.
  • For further information on how to enter, please refer to the Guidelines.
  • Once you have read the guidelines, please complete the Entry Form.

Closing date for entries: 31 December 2019

Past Winners of the Alexander Prize

All enquiries about the Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Imogen Evans, at: