Gladstone Prize

“History is among the most potent and effective of all the instruments of human education. It introduces us to forms of thought and action which are infinitely diversified.” (Gladstone’s Rectorial Address at the University of Glasgow, 1879).

In honour of the value William Gladstone placed on the study of history, the Gladstone Memorial Trust made it possible for the RHS to launch the Gladstone History book prize in 1998 on the centenary of Gladstone’s death. The prize offers an annual award of £1,000 for a work of history on a topic not primarily related to British history that is the author’s first sole book publication. The prize has been made possible by a generous grant from the Gladstone Memorial Trust and was first awarded in 1998, the centenary of Gladstone’s death. In 2015, the Linbury Trust made a donation of £12,500 in support of the Gladstone Prize.

2020 Winner

The Gladstone Prize for 2020 was awarded to Caillan Davenport for A History of the Roman Equestrian Order  (Cambridge University Press, 2019). 

Judges’ citation:

“This social and institutional history of the ordo equester is a most impressive work of profound scholarship. Combining written sources with archaeological studies, and also drawing on insights derived from cognate disciplines in the sociological sciences, it spans over a thousand years of ancient history, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. The book offers a new way of looking at the rise of the mounted warrior aristocracy and its subsequent transformation into a landed elite. Through this prism it analyses the political and social changes of Rome from the republic to the Principate and the Empire, culminating in the remaking of the Roman state in the 3rd century and some further observations on the continuities between Rome and the Frankish empire that succeeded it in Western Europe. It is a work of great ambition, erudition and sophistication.”



To be eligible for consideration for the prize, the book must:

  • be its author’s first solely written history book;
  • be on any historical subject that is not primarily related to British history;
  • be an original and scholarly work of historical research by an author who received their doctoral degree from a British or Irish university;
  • have been published in English during the calendar year 2021.

Only printed and e-books bearing a 2021 copyright date are eligible for consideration in the current round. Books issued by publishers in the final weeks of 2021 which bear a copyright date of 2021 will be eligible for nomination in 2021.

Books nominated for the Gladstone Prize may include those which focus on Atlantic World, British imperial, and trans-national contexts for British and Irish history. However, books focused on all other aspects of British and Irish history should be entered for the Whitfield Prize. The Chair of the Gladstone Prize Committee will make the final decision as to the eligibility of each submitted volume. The Chairs of the Gladstone Prize Committee and the Whitfield Prize Committee will together decide which competition is most appropriate for any books falling between the criteria for each prize.

Publishers are invited to nominate their books. (Please note authors cannot submit their own work.)

The publisher should complete the Entry Form and submit one copy (non-returnable) of the eligible book by 31 December 2021. Books should be sent to the Administrative Secretary, Royal Historical Society, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT. Should the book be short-listed, two further copies will be required.

The prize-winner of our round for books published in 2020 will be announced at the Society’s Annual Reception in July 2021.

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

Past Gladstone prize winners