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Robin Whelan

Departmental Lecturer in Early Medieval History
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I am currently Departmental Lecturer in Early Medieval History at Balliol College, Brasenose College and the Faculty of History, and Stipendiary Lecturer in Medieval History at St Peter’s College, on secondment from a Hulme Humanities Fellowship at Brasenose and TORCH. My research and teaching focus on the cultural and political history of the late ancient and early medieval Mediterranean (c. 250-900). I am particularly interested in the intersection of the two major ‘transformations of the Roman world’: the transition from the Roman Empire to the barbarian successor kingdoms in the west, and the Christianization of institutions, social relationships and patterns of thought across the Mediterranean in the centuries following the conversion of Constantine.

My first book, Being Christian in Vandal Africa: the politics of orthodoxy in the post-imperial West (forthcoming), examines controversy over the definition of Christian orthodoxy in the Vandal kingdom, the successor to Roman rule in the province of Africa (the modern-day Maghreb) from 439 to 533 CE. It argues that disputes between Christians in Vandal Africa retained the sophistication and socio-political consequences evident from the notoriously passionate (and often violent) ecclesiastical conflicts of the later Roman Empire.

For my new research project, ‘Forming a Christian state in the late ancient Mediterranean, c. 400-600 CE’, I seek to reconsider the longer-term consequences of the Christianisation of the Roman world. My aim is to understand how contemporaries rethought the ‘state’ in Christian terms, not only in the Eastern Roman Empire and its fragmenting western counterpart, but also in the first successors to Roman rule in the West. I am particularly interested in how service to late ancient states—as a courtier, bureaucrat or general—was recast to take into account Christian ideals.

I am a member of the Oxford Medieval Studies steering committee.