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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  • HIHD00 Heritage Dissertation (Practice-Based)

    This module affords students the opportunity to complete their MA in Heritage by undertaking a practical heritage project. The project, worth 67% of the marks, may be undertaken independently, or via a placement with a heritage project or organisation. It will be accompanied by a reflective commentary worth 33% of the marks.

  • HIHD01 Heritage Dissertation (Written)

    Students produce a dissertation on a heritage topic, chosen and developed in conjunction with their supervisor in line with the standard College MA requirements.

  • 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