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Jasper Heinzen
Senior Lecturer in Modern History



BA (Otago), BA (Canterbury, NZ), MPhil (Cantab), PhD (Cantab)

Jasper Heinzen is a Senior Lecturer in Modern History. He specialises in the history of nineteenth-century Germany, prisoners of war and the institution of monarchy. Jasper has also published on the collective memory of the Napoleonic Wars, for which he received the Royal Historical Society’s Alexander Prize. A monograph that investigates the impact of civil war on German nation-building, Making Prussians, Raising Germans: A Cultural History of Prussian State-Building after Civil War, 1866-1935, appeared with Cambridge University Press in 2017. This book grew out of a PhD dissertation which was awarded the Prize for Lower Saxon History by the Historical Commission for the German Federal State of Lower Saxony.

A study of how notions of honour have moulded prisoners of war regimes in the ‘age of total war’ is forthcoming with Oxford University Press. Prisoners of War and Military Honour, 1789-1918 argues that rather going into decline in the face of ideological change, the rise of mass nationalism and industrial warfare, debates about how to treat captives with honour persisted. This finding invites a re-assessment of the contrast that is often postulated between the ‘civilised’ codes of conduct of the Enlightenment and the horrors of the First World War. A new project will explore the role of European royals as humanitarian actors in the First World War. However, Jasper first needs to complete an overdue history of the early nineteenth-century German lands, A Nation on the Move: Germany, 1815-1871 for Bloomsbury.

Jasper’s research has been funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Leverhulme Trust, EURIAS and the European Commission’s Marie Curie Actions. Before coming to York, he taught as a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellow at the University of Bern in Switzerland.



Jasper’s work explores a range of themes related to the cultural history of war. He has researched the ways in which Prussian military expansion affected local populations on the ground in order to answer the broader question how Germans came to terms with a legacy of infighting during the period of national unification. Other publications have focused on the transnational linkages which grew out of Anglo-German coalition warfare in the Napoleonic Wars and the special place of Waterloo in European collective memory.

His new research traces the evolution of honour as a transnational medium of communication by focusing on the treatment accorded prisoners of war in Britain, France and Germany during the 'long nineteenth century’ (1789-1918). This second-book project investigates how servicemen and politicians on each side understood honour, how they negotiated national differences, and why honour continued to matter as a code of conduct despite recurring infringements. In pursuing this line of enquiry, Jasper hopes to shed new light on an important question which looms large as Europe commemorates the centenary of the First World War, namely why international agreements aimed at making warfare more humane like the Geneva and Hague Conventions failed so miserably to prevent the violent excesses of total war after 1914.

Jasper would welcome enquiries from prospective postgraduates interested in all these areas.



An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00084C Political Communities in World History
  • HIS00141H Violence


An example of modules taught:

  • HIS00077M Experiencing & Remembering the French Wars, 1792-1917

Contact details

Dr Jasper Heinzen
Senior Lecturer in Modern History & GTA Co-ordinator V/A/206B
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

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