Accessibility statement

Simon Ditchfield
Professor of Early Modern History



BA (York), MPhil and PhD (Warburg Institute), FRHistS

Simon Ditchfield is a Professor in the History Department. His research interests all relate to perceptions and uses of the past in previous societies, but particularly within the context of urban and religious culture in the Italian peninsula from c. 1300-1800.



Simon enjoys a long-standing international reputation. He has been a member of the Accademia Ambrosiana, Milan and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, both since 1998. In 1996-99 he was director of the HEFC-funded Heritage Studies as Applied History project. From 2010-13 he was co-director (with Helen Smith of the Department of English and Related Literature) of the AHRC project: Conversion Narratives in Early Modern Europe. He collaborates extensively with scholars in Europe and beyond and is on the international editorial boards of 'Rivista di storia de Cristianesimo' (Brescia), 'Church History and Religious Culture' (Amsterdam), 'Cheiron' (Milan) and 'Sanctorum: rivista dell'associazione per lo studio della santita, dei culti e dell'agiografia' (Rome), and is a co-editor of the series Sacro/santo (published by Viella, Rome).

Simon is also an advisory editor of the Washington DC-based Catholic Historical Review (2009-), the Archivum Societatem Societatis Iesu (2016-), Church History (2016-) and the Archivum historiae pontificiae (2017-). In 2015-16 Simon was President of the Ecclesiastical History Society. Simon is a member of the Faculty of Archaeology, History and Letters of the British School at Rome (2018-2020). From 2010-2021 Simon was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Early Modern History. 


For the two-year period 2006-08 Simon was holder of a British Academy Research Leave fellowship. The projected outcome of this award will be the volume Papacy and People: The Making of Roman Catholicism as a World Religion, 1500-1700 for the Oxford History of the Christian Church series (published by OUP) which he is currently bringing to completion. In the academic year 2014-15 he was holder of a Leverhulme research fellowship to carry out an exciting project: Discovering how to describe the world: Danielo Bartoli SJ (1608-85) and the writing of global history. He is also co-editor - with the art historians Pam Jones (Boston) and Barbara Wisch (New York) - of the Companion to Early Modern Rome to be published by Brill in 2018.


Simon Ditchfield welcomes enquiries from those interested in doing research on any aspect of the religion and cultural history of early-modern Italy, particularly Rome.

Since 2004 his co-supervised research students have completed doctorates on:

  • 'The Reform of Christian Doctrine in the Catechisms of Peter Canisius' (2021)
  • 'Inhabiting New France: Bodies, Environment and the Sacred, c.1632-1700' (2014)
  • 'The Role of Music in the English Catholic Community, c.1560-1620' (2014)
  • 'A second Counter-Reformation? Aspects of the pontificate of Pius VI reconsidered' (2014)
  • 'Un Ordine, una città, una diocesi. La giurisdizione ecclesiastica nel principato monastico di Malta in Eta' Moderna, 1523-1722' (2012) with the Universita degli Studi di Roma II 'Tor Vergata'
  • 'The material culture of domestic religion in early modern Florence' (2007) with History of Art
  • 'Baronio e il martirologio romano' (2005) with the Universita di Roma II 'Tor Vergata'
  • 'Bordering on Nationalism: sacred history and historiography in Brittany and Wales, c.1550-1650' (2004)
  • 'Gavin Hamilton and the classical ideal, 1756-1798: painting and antiquity in eighteenth-century Rome' (2004) with History of Art

Simon is also experienced in mentoring postdoctoral fellows independent of collaborative projects. To date, these include the Marie Curie, EU-funded fellows:

  • Andrea Vanni (2013-15) who worked on the project: ‘The Origins of the Roman Inquisition reconsidered: the diplomatic career of Gian Pietro Carafa in England and Spain, 1513-19’
  • Stefan Bauer (2015-17), who undertook the project: ‘History and Theology: the creation of disinterested scholaship from dogmatic stalemate (1525-1675)’



An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00213H Rome Reborn: Culture & Society c.1575-c.1655 
  • HIS00133H Travel


An example of modules taught:

Contact details

Professor Simon Ditchfield
Vanbrugh College V/N/209
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Student hours

Semester 2 2023/4