Events Archive

RHS Prothero Lecture with Peter Frankopan

About the event

The 2024 Prothero Lecture, given by Peter Frankopan (Oxford), was on the theme ‘On the Challenges and Purposes of Global History’.  Peter asked what is global history; should historians think globally – and is it even possible to do so? How does macro-history fit alongside microhistories and regional and periodic specialisations; and what do these questions mean for the teaching of history at school and university?

The RHS Prothero Lecture was followed, from 8.00pm, by the Society’s Annual Summer Party at Mary Ward House.

About the speaker

Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University, where he is Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research and Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. He is also Professor of Silk Roads Studies and a Bye-Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge.

Peter is co-host of a new podcast produced by Goalhanger Productions and Wondery alongside Afua Hirsch called Legacy. Launched at the end of 2023, Legacy looks at the lives of some of the extraordinary men and women who have ever lived – and ask whether they have the reputations they deserve.

His publications includeThe Silk Roads: A New History of the World (Bloomsbury, 2015)The New Silk Roads: The Future and Present of the World (2018) and The Earth Transformed: An Untold Story (2023). Silk Roads was named The Daily Telegraph‘s History Book of the Year 2015 and was lauded as one of the ‘Books of the Decade’ 2010-20 by the Sunday Times. His latest book, The Earth Transformed: An Untold History, was named History Book of the Year by The Times in 2023. His books have have been translated into forty languages.


RHS Training Event — ‘Getting Published: A Guide to Monograph Publishing for Early Career Historians’

About the event

‘Getting Published: A Guide to Monograph Publishing’ is an online training event hosted by the RHS designed for early career historians. The focus of this ‘Getting Published’ session is monographs, with specific attention on how to move from a completed PhD to book proposal to a published monograph.

The event brings together publishers, series editors, academics and early career historians. It seeks to demystify the process of monograph publishing and provide practical advice and tips on how best to succeed.

The workshop combines brief presentations on the stages of the publishing process and the experience of getting published. We will include time for active audience participation in which your questions and concerns will be raised and discussed.

Recorded 14 June 2024.

About the speakers

  • Professor Jane Winters (Vice-President, Publications for the Royal Historical Society), chair
  • Meredith Carroll (History Commissioning Editor, Manchester University Press)
  • Professor Elizabeth Hurren (Series Editor for the RHS’s ‘New Historical Perspectives’ book series for early career historians, published by University of London Press)
  • Professor Miri Rubin (Queen Mary University of London)

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RHS Sponsored Lecture: ‘Country Walks Through Colonial Britain’


‘Country Walks Through Colonial Britain’


RHS Lecture with Professor Corinne Fowler

held on 23 May 2024
at Brunel University London, and online



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The countryside is cherished by many Britons. There is a depth of feeling about rural places: moors and lochs, valleys and mountains, cottages and country houses. Yet the British countryside, so integral to narratives of nationhood and belonging (and also exclusion), is rarely seen as having anything to do with colonialism.

Focusing on the many connections between imperial wealth and British landscapes, this lecture explores how empire affected rural labour and country life. The profits of overseas colonial activities, and the select few who benefited, heralded change which was not merely expressed in the designed landscapes of country estates but also by enclosure, landownership and dispossession. Generally considered separately, this talk considers how these intertwined histories continue to shape lives across Britain today.

Corinne’s lecture is a partnership between the Royal Historical Society and Brunel University. It forms the concluding event in the Society’s day visit to historians at Brunel.

Speaker Biography

Corinne Fowler is Professor of Colonialism and Heritage in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester. In 2020 Corinne co-authored an audit of peer-reviewed research about National Trust properties’ connections to empire, which became a major news story. The report won the Museums and Heritage Judges’ Special Recognition Award 2022, and the Eastern Eye Community Engagement Award , in 2023.

Between 2018 and 2022, Corinne directed Colonial Countryside: National Trust Houses Reinterpreted, a child-led history and writing project with 100 primary pupils and commissioned writers. Her recent publications include Green Unpleasant Land: Creative Responses to Rural England’s Colonial Connections (2020, Peepal Tree Press) and Our Island Stories: Country Walks Through Colonial Britain (Penguin Allen Lane: May 2024).


RHS Lecture: ‘Possible Maps: Ways of Knowing and Unknowing at the Edge of Empire (Newfoundland, c. 1763-1829)’

‘Possible Maps: Ways of Knowing and Unknowing at the Edge of Empire (Newfoundland, c. 1763-1829)’


RHS Lecture with Professor Julia Laite

held on 3 May 2024
at the Mary Ward House, London, and online


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Consigned to the cold and watery edge of empire, Newfoundland was more of a work-camp than a colony. To the colonial officials in their mahoganied offices in London and the merchants in their mansions in Poole, the island was (in the words of Patrick O’Flaherty) a ‘a sub-colonial fishing berth, an outlying cod abattoir’.

The interior was thought too barren and empty for landward expansion, but its foreshores and coastal waters were of vital economic and strategic importance to the British Crown, and this created a unique form of negligent colonization, which produced one of the Empire’s oldest and most isolated settler populations and led to one of its most totalizing genocides.

This lecture will examine some official and unofficial, and colonial and Indigenous, ways of mapping and knowing this hinterland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; and will reconsider the place of this ‘unknown’ island and its difficult history within the British Empire.

Speaker Biography

Julia Laite joined Birkbeck in 2010 after holding postdoctoral fellowships at Memorial University of Newfoundland and McGill University, Canada. Her research examines the history of migration, gender, sex and crime, as well as family history, creative history and public history. She is the author of The Disappearance of Lydia Harvey (2021), Wolfenden’s Women (2020), and Common Prostitutes and Ordinary Citizens (2012), and was principal investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘Trafficking Past’. Her current work examines critical family history, settler colonialism and migration, and she currently holds an ISRF Mid-Career Fellowship to pursue a new book project.


RHS Workshop – ‘Podcasting History’

‘Podcasting History: An Introduction and Guide’, 25 April 2024



Podcasting History: 25 April 2024 Podcasting has recently emerged as one of the most popular formats for presenting history to the public. But what makes for a compelling history podcast? And how are these podcasts made? This session features two perspectives on the podcast-making process. Dr Bob Nicholson, writer and presenter of the 7-part podcast series ‘Killing Victoria’ (BBC Sounds, 2023), outlines how the series was made and what he learned about the art of developing a documentary-style podcast. Bob walks you through the process of scripting the series, identifying locations/interviews, recording segments, and then editing everything together.

Dr Dave Musgrove launched, produces and co-presents the long-running HistoryExtra podcast. His part of the session builds on Bob’s series scripting advice and then talk about building a podcast presence and identifying a likely audience, how to make interviews work, and ways to really harness the power of podcasting as a tool to spread the word about your research.


  • Dr Bob Nicholson is a historian based at Edge Hill University. He works on the history of nineteenth-century popular culture, and is particularly keen on unearthing surprising new stories about the Victorians. He has written and presented items for BBC Radio 4, Radio 3, ‘History Today’, and ‘BBC History Magazine’. Most recently, he wrote and presented the podcast documentary series ‘Killing Victoria’ for BBC Sounds (2023), which explored the lives of seven men who attacked Queen Victoria and reached the top 5 in the UK History charts.
  • Dr Dave Musgrove is content director of ‘BBC History Magazine’ and the HistoryExtra podcast and website. His PhD was in medieval archaeology, and he has worked for ‘BBC History Magazine’ for over 20 years. He has written popular history books on British heritage and the Bayeux Tapestry, He launched the HistoryExtra podcast in 2007 and has worked on it ever since. This online event was hosted by Dr Andrew Smith (Queen Mary University of London) and a Council member of the Royal Historical Society.

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RHS Panel – ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’

‘Finding the Funny in Public History’

In conversation with Greg Jenner


Greg Jenner

in conversation with Emma Griffin
held on 2 February 2024
at the Mary Ward House, London, and online




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One of the UK’s best known public historians, Greg has brought history to new audiences through his engagement with popular culture. In ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’, Greg discussed his approach to communicating history, via different broadcast technologies, and also through comedy which is a common theme in his public history. As Greg shows with reference to his own work, the relationship between historical subject, medium and format is key for effective engagement with a chosen audience. How these elements are chosen and combined is an essential part of a series’ success or otherwise.

As well as drawing on Greg’s own work and approach, our event also considered popular media more broadly as a vehicle for public history. How can formats constrained by running times, deadlines and budgets reflect the balance and nuance required of effective historical work? What is the place of the trained historian in popular media representations of the past? And what are the possible formats by which future audiences will engage with historical subjects? On Tuesday 20 February, Greg was in conversation with Emma Griffin, President of the Royal Historical Society.

Speaker Biography

Greg Jenner is a public historian, author, and broadcaster well known for his work in podcasts, radio, TV, and publishing. He is the host and creator of the chart-topping comedy BBC podcast You’re Dead to Me, as well as the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Past Forward: A Century of Sound, the BBC’s award-nominated children’s podcast Homeschool History, and the Audible series A Somewhat Complete History of Sitting Down. From 2008-2019, Greg was responsible for the research and historical accuracy of the BBC’s multiple-BAFTA and EMMY-award-winning TV comedy sketch series Horrible Histories, and its BAFTA-nominated spinoff film Horrible Histories: The Movie – Rotten Romans.

Greg’s publications include Ask A Historian: 50 Surprising Answers to Things You Always Wanted to Know (2021) and Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity, From Bronze Age To Silver Screen (2020). His bestselling illustrated children’s book You Are History: From the Alarm Clock to the Toilet, the Amazing History of the Things You Use Every Day was published in 2022, and his new children’s book series ‘Totally Chaotic History’ – cowritten with expert historians – will be published by Walker Books in 2024. In 2021 Greg was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society for his contribution to historical scholarship and understanding.


RHS Lecture — ‘Convicts, Creolization and Cosmopolitanism: Aftermaths of penal transportation in the British Empire’

‘Convicts, Creolization and Cosmopolitanism: Aftermaths of penal transportation in the British Empire’


Clare Anderson (Leicester)

RHS Lecture
held on 23 January 2024
at the German Historical Institute, London and online



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Between the late eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, the British transported over a quarter of a million convicts to colonies and settlements including in Australia, the Andaman Islands, Indian Ocean, and Southeast Asia. About one percent of the approximately 167,000 convicts shipped to the Australian colonies (1787-1868) were of Asian, African or Creole heritage; convicted either in Britain or British colonies. Most of the c. 108,000 convicts sent to penal settlements in Penang, Mauritius, Singapore, Malacca, Burma, and the Andamans (1789-1945) were from British India or Ceylon.

This paper will explore some of the histories and aftermaths of these convict flows, including their relationship to experiences and legacies of enslavement and other forms of imperial labour, and to Indigenous dispossession. It will draw on research in archives and with descendants and communities in Australia, Mauritius, Penang, and the Andamans to show how over time penal transportation broke and remade families, and to think through the ways in which economic, social, and cultural factors relating to race, ethnicity, religion and (for Hindus) caste, social background, education, and status intersected in the formation of convict and convict-descended societies. It will suggest that through genealogical research in recent years these societies have become connected to sending (and origin) locations and to sites of onward migration in Britain and the settler world. In some cases, descendants of ‘colonial’ descent are together creating new histories and forms of kinship to make sense of complex and sometimes elusive pasts.

Speaker Biography

Clare Anderson is a Professor of History at the University of Leicester, where she is dean for research excellence (interim) and director of the Leicester Institute of Advanced Studies (LIAS). Clare is a scholar of the history of empires and global history and focuses on the history and legacies of colonial prisons, penal colonies, and forced migration and labour. She has given public and keynote lectures in many countries and has been a visiting fellow at UT Sydney and the University of Tasmania. Clare has held both the Caird Research Fellowship and Sackler-Caird Senior Research Fellowship at the National Maritime Museum. She is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Higher Education Academy, and British Academy.


RHS Lecture — ‘Charting Authority after Empire: Documentary Culture and Political Legitimacy in Post-Carolingian Europe’

‘Charting Authority after Empire: Documentary Culture and Political Legitimacy in Post-Carolingian Europe’



Levi Roach (Exeter)

RHS Lecture
held on 1 February 2024
at Mary Ward House, London, and online





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Research over the past three decades has transformed our understanding western Europe in the years between the late ninth and early eleventh centuries. It was in this period that recognisable kingdoms of France, Germany, England and (to an extent) Italy were born; it was also in this period that many of the dynasties which would shape the future of the European mainland were established. Above all, it was in these years that the Carolingian dynasty which had ruled much of western Europe since the mid-eighth century was decisively eclipsed.

But while elements of these transitions are now well understood, models of change continue to be constructed primarily within the context of national master narratives: the weak origins of France, the precocity of urban associations in Italy, the fateful experiments with empire in Germany. Truly comparative work, though growing in volume, continues to represent the exception. This is unfortunate, since many of the shifts observable clearly spanned what Heinrich Fichtenau memorably called ‘the sometime Carolingian Empire’ (das einstige Karolingerreich), a massive region encompassing France, Germany, the Low Countries, Switzerland, Austria and Northern Italy.

In this lecture, Levi Roach uses the charters issued by rulers of these regions as a window into the processes whereby new dynasties and kingdoms established themselves on the basis of existing traditions. In doing so, he focuses on a remarkable set of shared changes in the layout and appearance in these documents, which reveal much about the nature and significance of these transitions.

Speaker Biography

Levi Roach studied at the universities of Cambridge and Heidelberg, earning his PhD at the former in 2011. Since 2012, he has lectured at the University of Exeter, where he is presently Associate Professor (Reader) of Medieval History and Deputy Head of the newly constituted Department of Archaeology and History (and Head of Discipline for History within this). His research interests lie in the political and religious history of western Europe in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries, often from a comparative perspective.

Levi has published three research monographs, Kingship and Consent in Anglo-Saxon England (CUP, 2013), Æthelred ‘the Unready’ (Longman-History Today Prize 2017; Labarge Prize 2017); and (Yale UP, 2016) and Forgery and Memory at the End of the First Millennium (Princeton University Press, 2021). He has also recently published a popular history of the Normans (Princeton UP, 2021). He is presently at the early stages of preparing a new edition of the royal charters of the rulers of East Francia/Germany from the years 911 to 1002 for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Munich).


RHS Presidential Lecture — ‘European Exploration, Empires, and the Making of the Modern World’

European Exploration, Empires, and the Making of the Modern World’



Emma Griffin

RHS 2023 Presidential Lecture
held on 24 November 2023
at Mary Ward House, London, and online





The British industrial revolution has long, and rightly, been regarded as a turning point in world history, and the question of why it all began in Britain has produced a large and lively literature.

In the past twenty years, our understanding has been considerably enhanced by the repositioning of events in eighteenth-century Britain within global history frameworks. Yet this has resulted in some unwieldy comparisons between Britain, a small island, on the one hand; and very large, continental land masses – India, China, and North America – on the other.

In this lecture, Emma Griffin suggests a far more meaningful comparative approach may be developed by turning to some of Britain’s nearest neighbours in continental Europe. By looking at European nations, similar in size, existing outside Britain’s empire, and indeed in some instances with imperial holdings and ambitions of their own, it is possible to shed new light on the complex and contested relationship between empire and industrialisation, and offer new answers as to why Britain industrialised first.

Emma Griffin is President of the Royal Historical Society, and Professor of British History and Head of School at Queen Mary University of London.


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RHS Public History Lecture — ‘Pilgrimages, Pandemics and the Past’

‘Pilgrimages, Pandemics and the Past’


Tom Holland

RHS 2023 Public History Lecture
on 7 November 2023






The Society’s 2023 Public History Lecture, held in association with Gresham College, is given by the historian and broadcaster Tom Holland. In this lecture Tom reflects on walking in London during the Covid pandemic, and how this experience might inform historians better appreciate and understand the perspectives and expectations of those who undertook pilgrimages in the past.