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Dr Tom Hamilton

Associate Professor (Early Modern European History)

Associate Professor (Early Modern European History) in the Department of History+44 (0) 191 33 47352
Member of the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 



I work on the social and cultural history of early modern Europe, especially France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the history of crime and criminal justice. 

My first book, Pierre de L’Estoile and his World in the Wars of Religion, showed how this major diarist’s decisions about preserving or destroying records shaped the way historians have interpreted the period ever since. Published in the Past & Present book series, it was shortlisted for the R. Gapper Book Prize of the Society for French Studies.

My second book, A Widow's Vengeance after the Wars of Religion: Gender and Justice in Renaissance France, demonstrates how plaintiffs like the powerful widow Renée Chevalier revitalized the practice of justice after the troubles, and reshaped the laws of war in the process. An earlier article on this subject was awarded the Nancy Lyman Roelker Prize by the Sixteenth Century Society. My critical edition of the trial records is published with Criminocorpus. I have also published public-facing articles with History Today and History Workshop, and recorded podcasts with New Books Network and Not Just the Tudors.

Much of my research relies on criminal archives, which give access to people who lived at a time when few could sign their name, let alone write at greater length. As a result I have developed wider interests in the place of criminal justice in the legal culture of the Old Regime. My recent publications on this subject have focused on hearsay and oral evidence, public execution rituals, political justice, quantitative approaches, the sexual crimes labelled as ‘sodomy’ from both macro- and microhistorical perspectives, theft prosecutions, and visual depictions of criminal law.

Book covers
Graduate supervision

I am happy to supervise graduate students working on topics in early modern French history, and in early modern social and cultural history more generally. 


Before I moved to Durham in 2018, I studied as an undergraduate at the University of Cambridge and as a graduate student at the University of Oxford. After completing my doctorate, I held a lectureship at Oxford then a research fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge. I have also been a visiting research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory, Frankfurt am Main, and a visiting professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. In Easter Term 2024 I am a fellow at the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt as part of the project Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Among other external roles, I serve as co-editor of the journal French History and a member of the committee of the Society for the Study of French History.

French History cover image


Authored book

Chapter in book

Journal Article

Supervision students