Dr Regina Poertner
Associate Professor
Telephone: (01792) 602391
Room: Office - 122A
First Floor
James Callaghan
Singleton Campus

I started out as a historian of early modern religion and its interaction with politics, law, society, and the economy, and have written monographs on the Counter-Reformation in the Habsburg monarchy (OUP 2001), and on continental influences in the constitutional debates of the British Civil Wars (Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 2009). I am currently Principal Investigator for an AHRC-funded collaborative project in early modern British history with the National Portrait Gallery London. My other main research projects deal with the economic and legal history of the Anglo-Scottish Union, c. 1750-1850, and the history of Civil Wars and their modern legacies. I would be delighted to supervise postgraduate theses that relate to any of my research interests, and am happy to advise on suitable topics. I have experience in working with the media, schools, and partner institutions in the UK, Europe, and the United States, and am interested in developing further collaborations with the public and private sector.

Positions Held:
Current: Associate Professor in History. I studied General and Medieval History, Economic History, and German, at the universities of Bochum and Oxford. I gained a First Class with Distinction for my Joint Honours MA, was elected a Rhodes Scholar in 1991, and hold a D.Phil. in Modern History from Oxford University. From 1998 to 2003, I was Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute London, where I was editor of the journal Research on British History in the Federal Republic of Germany. From 2003-5, I was Lecturer in History at the University of Bochum. I joined Swansea in September 2005, and was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010. I am a Council Member of the Society for Renaissance Studies, and a founder member of Swansea’s Centre on Digital Arts and Humanities (CODAH). In 2009, I was Helmut Coing Fellow at the German Max-Planck-Institute for Legal History in Europe and the Common Law World, and I have since retained my affiliation with the MPI.

Select recent conference papers and invited lectures:
'”Our Indies”? Conceptualising nationhood and ethnicity in the Counter-Reformation', Ioannou Centre, Oxford, 24 April 2015
'Law, finance, and landed property in eighteenth-century Scotland’, Leeds, 5 July 2013
'Landed property, enlightened reform, and the fiscal-military state in ancien régime Europe', Paris, Sorbonne-Panthéon, 2 July 2012


  1. (2018). Review of: Karl Gunther, Reformation Unbound. Protestant Visions of Reform in England, 1525-1590 (Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History), Cambridge 2014, Cambridge University Press, x + 284 pp. (Zeitschrift fuer Historische Forschung No. 44 (2017)). Berlin: Duncker and Humblot.
  2. 'The highest of time': Verfassungskrise und politische Theorie in England 1640-1660 (transl.: 'The highest of time': Constitutional crisis and political theory in England, 1640-1660). Berlin: Duncker and Humblot Publishers, Berlin.
  3. (Eds.). Regina Pörtner (ed.), Research on British History in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1998-2000. London: German Historical Institute London.
  4. Genealogy, public history, and cyber kinship. The Public Historian n/a(n/a), n/a-n/a.
  5. Mapping early modern centres and peripheries: 'marginality' in an east-central European context. Studia Historia 58(1), 1-14.

See more...


  • HI-M80 Directed Reading in History

    Under the guidance of an expert supervisor, students analyse developments in research and historiography relating to a topic in History which they choose from a wide range of options.

  • HIH246 The Enlightenment and the Eighteenth-Century World

    'The Enlightenment' is a broad term denoting the development of new ideas in the late 17th to late 18th centuries on what it means to be human, on society, human progress, social and economic change, and the natural world. Enlightened belief in the power of reason was the starting point for a new form of 'rational' and 'scientific' inquiry into all aspects of human activity and the natural environment. Enlightenment meant finding out how societies needed to change to move forward and achieve the greatest possible happiness and prosperity for the greatest number of the population. Reforms and innovative ideas were presented to the public by writers, philosophers, government officials and lawyers, artists and architects. In the early stages, most 'enlightened' people were male, white, and European. However, in the second half of the 18th C, women, European colonists, and native colonial populations increasingly played a part by appropriating and radicalizing key concepts such as liberty, justice, and natural rights. This module will look at what the Enlightenment was, what it meant in practice for European and colonial societies, and where it fell victim to its own limitations. Subjects typically covered include: war and society, culture, arts, travel, communication and sociability, legal reform, social philosophy, ideas on race, the emergence of modern natural sciences and medicine, economic thought, the situation of minorities.

  • HIH396 From Machiavelli to Mussolini: Government and society in Western political thought

    This module offers a guide to the history of ideas on government and society which continue to influence political thought and action in the 21st century. The lectures will start by looking at the origins of democratic thinking in Athens, 5th Century BC, and will then give a brief account of medieval political thought and the impact of Christian-Muslim encounters. The main part of the course will deal with modern ideas on government as developed by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, the political authors of the Enlightenment and American Revolution, and Marx and Lenin. The final part will focus on the Italian and German national socialists' assault on the liberal state and Western democratic tradition. Students will have the opportunity to read and discuss a representative selection from the 'classics' of Western political thought and reflect on their contemporary political relevance. As will be shown, some of today's best-known early modern texts on the nature of state power were misinterpreted by contemporaries and brought into disrepute by fascist ideologues who claimed them in defence of dictatorship.


  • 'The Rational Apocalypse of Latitudinarians in Restoration England.' (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof John Spurr
  • Redeeming Death: Mortality, Portraiture and the Quest for Salvation in Tudor England and Wales (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Prof John Spurr
  • Analysis of the textile trade of the EIC prior to the Calico Acts (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Stefan Halikowski-Smith

Key Grants and Projects

  • AHRC CDP 2016 - 2019

    'Redeeming death: mortality, portraiture, and the quest for salvation in Tudor England and Wales', with Dr Tarnya Cooper, Chief Curator, National Portrait Gallery London. Professor John Spurr, Swansea, AHRC £ 68,648