Associate Professor
Telephone: (01792) 513514
Room: Office - 107
First Floor
James Callaghan
Singleton Campus

My research focuses on early modern Europe, including Britain, and particularly on Italy. I've published on the history of diplomacy, on material culture and on political life in this period more broadly. My first book, Our Man in Rome: Henry VIII and his Italian Ambassador, was published in 2012 and explored the diplomacy behind Henry’s first divorce. An academic monograph, Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome followed in 2015. My new project looks at the cultural history of handguns during the early sixteenth century, when they were a new technology. 

Alongside my work in early modern history I'm interested in the presentation of this past to the public: in popular literature, films, on TV and at heritage sites. In recent work I've explored the use of performance and narrative to communicate historical research. The Black Prince of Florence, my biography of Alessandro de’ Medici, first Medici duke of Florence and said to be the illegitimate son of an enslaved African woman, was published in 2016. It was an Evening Standard book of the year and shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2017. I’m currently working on a related creative writing project.

I was a 2015 BBC Radio 3 'New Generation Thinker' and regularly contribute to radio and TV programmes including Radio 3’s Free Thinking. I was an adviser to the set team on the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall and have appeared on Radio 4’s In Our Time

I studied Politics and Communication Studies at the University of Liverpool and went on to work in the media before returning to academia to study for a PhD in History at Royal Holloway, University of London. I held fellowships at the Institute for Historical Research, the British School at Rome and the European University Institute, and taught at Durham and Sheffield Universities before taking up my post at Swansea in 2015.

Areas of Expertise

  • Renaissance history


  1. & (Eds.). Queenship and Counsel in Early Modern Europe. Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. The Black Prince of Florence: The Spectacular Life and Treacherous World of Alessandro de' Medici. London / New York: Bodley Head / Oxford University Press.
  3. Diplomacy in Renaissance Rome: The Rise of the Resident Ambassador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  4. Mere emulators of Italy: The Spanish in Italian diplomatic discourse, 1492-1550. In Piers Baker-Bates and Miles Pattenden (Ed.), The Spanish Presence in Sixteenth-Century Italy: Images of Iberia. Farnham: Ashgate.
  5. Performing Henry at the court of Rome. In Suzannah Lipscomb and Thomas Betteridge (Ed.), Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance. (pp. 179-196). Farnham: Ashgate.

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  • HIH122 Making History

    History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television. This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.

  • HIH2692 The Tudor Dynasty 1485-1603: History and Heritage

    The Tudor dynasty supplied some of the most iconic monarchs in British history. Related heritage sites and projects continue to attract large audiences to this day. This module will enhance students¿ knowledge of the Tudor monarchy and court, and develop students¿ skills through a heritage workplace task. The first half of the course will introduce key debates and sources for the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I. The second half will focus on the interpretation of Tudor heritage at sites including Pembroke Castle and Hampton Court Palace. The module concludes with an intensive work simulation in which students design their own Tudor-related heritage project.

  • HIHM06 Appalachian State University (Semester of Study Abroad)

    This module is delivered at Appalachian State University for those students who participate in the Extended MA Programme in Public History and Heritage.


  • An Oral History of the Archival Profession in Oklahoma«br /»«br /» (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr David Anderson
    Other supervisor: Dr Catherine Fletcher
  • The Tuscan contest. Trade and diplomacy between Britain and Tuscany (1688-1715) (current)

    Student name:
    Other supervisor: Dr Leighton James
    Other supervisor: Dr Catherine Fletcher