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Dr Harold Mawdsley

Assistant Professor of History in the period c.300 to c.950

Assistant Professor of History in the period c.300 to c.950 in the Department of History


About me

I’m a historian of late antiquity and the early middle ages. My research interests range widely across the first millennium, but my work is mainly concerned with the legal, social and political histories of the post-Roman successor states. I’m particularly drawn to Vandal North Africa, and I’ve published on the conflict between Vandal kings and the Catholic church. In general, though, my research favours comparative approaches to explore similarities and differences between the various polities of the early medieval west.

I completed my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2019. During my doctoral studies, I was attached to the AHRC-funded international project, ‘The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity, c.325-c.600’. Some of my research contributed to a freely accessible, online database of late antique clerical exiles, hosted here by the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.

Before joining Durham in 2020, I held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Eberhard Karl University of Tübingen. I’m currently working on my first monograph, provisionally entitled Strangers in Strange Lands: Penal Exile in the Early Medieval West c.400-c.700. As the first systematic study of exile during the period, it will demonstrate the punishment’s centrality to the workings of criminal justice, politics, and church-state relations.


[Review], ‘C. Grifoni, W. Pohl, C. Gantner, and M. Pollheimer-Mohaupt (eds), Transformations of Romanness. Early Medieval Regions and Identities (Berlin, 2018)’, Early Medieval Europe (forthcoming: scheduled for publication in issue 29.2, April 2021)

'Hermenegild’, in David Hunter, Paul van Geest, and Bert Peerbolte (eds), Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online (available here, January 2020)

‘Prosopographical Database of Clerical Exiles’, inJulia Hillner, Dirk Rohmann, L. Dagnall and H. Mawdsley, Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity (available here, July 2018)

‘Mapping Clerical Exile in the Vandal Kingdom, 435-484’, in J. Engberg, J. Hillner, and J. Ulrich (eds), Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016), pp. 67-94

Research interests

  • Crime and Punishment
  • Europe & the Mediterranean c. 300-1000 CE
  • Late antique/early medieval legal history
  • Religious conflict
  • The pre-modern ‘state’