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Laura Stewart
Professor in Early Modern History & Head of Department



MA (St Andrews), MSc by research (Edinburgh), PhD (Edinburgh)

Laura A.M. Stewart is Professor in Early Modern History & Head of Department. Before joining the Department of History at York in 2016, she taught for ten years at Birkbeck, University of London, where she also held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2005-7). Her research focuses on early modern British history, c.1550-c.1750. She has written widely on the civil war era, Scottish political culture and Anglo-Scottish relations, and on state formation and political communication in the British archipelago. 

Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-53 (Oxford UP, 2016, paperback edition, 2018) is Laura’s second book. It won the 2017 American Historical Association Morris D. Forkosch Prize (for the best book in English in the field of British, British imperial, or British Commonwealth history since 1485) and was shortlisted for the 2017 Longman-History Today prize.

With Dr Janay Nugent, Laura is co-author of Union and Revolution: Scotland and Beyond, 1625-1745, one of the volumes in the The New History of Scotland series for Edinburgh University Press. It was published in 2021 and was shortlisted for the Saltire Society History Book of the Year. 

Laura is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries (Scotland), and a Trustee of the Scottish Historical Review. She co-convenes the Seventeenth Century British History seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, and currently sits on the editorial board for Parliamentary History and the History of Parliament Trust. Her recent media appearances include BBC Radio 4's flagship 'In Our Time' and 'Britain by Beach' with Anita Rani. 



Laura is an historian of early modern Britain, with a particular interest in the civil wars of the mid-seventeenth century. Her research has encompassed popular political participation, post-Reformation religious cultures, manuscript and print circulation, petitioning, governance and taxation, Anglo-Scottish relations, and the formation of the British state. She is currently interested in gender and the construction of political narratives, Scottish parliamentary culture in comparative context, and memoir and history-writing in the seventeenth century.' 

Laura is also involved in a book project with an international group of scholars, entitled Early Modern Parliamentary Cultures. Led by Dorota Pietrzyk-Reeves (Jagiellion University), Paulina Kewes (Oxford University), and Paul Seaward (History of Parliament Trust), the volume seeks to explore how people thought about and engaged with representative assemblies in comparative perspective.

Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-1651, Laura's award-winning second book, was published in 2016. It aimed to open up new perspectives on revolutionary decades of the mid-seventeenth century by exploring the distinctiveness of Scottish political culture during one of the most volatile periods in British history. The Scottish Revolution of the mid-seventeenth century emanated out of long-standing resistance to the religious policies of successive Stuart monarchs, James VI of Scotland and I of England, and Charles I. The result was the 1638 National Covenant, which was innovative for its explicit and direct engagement of people from all social ranks - including women. The resulting wars with Charles I forced the Covenanters into a highly inventive re-examination of Scotland’s constitution, its relationship with its neighbours, England and Ireland, and its place within a larger union. This endeavour underpinned a transformation in state power that enabled Scotland to participate in an archipelagic conflict waged on a scale not seen for centuries. The short term consequences were calamitous for the Scots but, in the longer term, the Covenanter Revolution generated political ideas and ways of thinking about political action that influenced Scottish culture for centuries to come.

Laura's third book, Union and Revolution: Scotland and Beyond, 1625-1745 was co-authored with Dr Janay Nugent, Lethbridge, Canada, and published in 2021 by Edinburgh University Press as part of their flagship New History of Scotland series. It is a general history of early modern Scotland in its British, European, and transatlantic context. Focusing on the volatile and under-researched period from reign of Charles I to the end of the Jacobite rebellions, the book covers themes such as Scotland's evolving religious and political cultures, the volatility of the Anglo-Scottish relationship, migration, and artistic expressions of power. 


Laura has advised on, supervised, and examined a wide range of doctoral work and she is happy to receive enquiries from anyone interested in early modern British history. Her particular area of expertise is the early Stuart and civil war period (1603-1660). Projects about any aspect of early modern Scottish history, or which have a Scottish dimension, are especially welcome.

Recently completed thesis: Calum Wright, 'Conflicts of Conscience:  English and Scottish Political Thought, 1637-1653' (U. of London, 2018).

PhD supervision: Joe Ellis, 'The Progresses of James VI & I, c. 1578-1625: authority, gender and dual-monarchy on the road' (funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities, 2021-2024).

Postdoctoral research mentor: William White, 'The Pursuit of Peace during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, c.1647-1660' (funded by the Leverhulme Trust, 2020-2023).



  • Liberty and Identity: Britain in Revolution, 1603-1714 (Stage 2 Explorations)
  • Rebellion and Revolution: Britain, 1637-1653 (Stage 3 Special Subject)


  • Becoming British? Nations and Identities in the early modern Atlantic world (MA option)

Contact details

Professor Laura Stewart
Vanbrugh College V/N/212
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 4139, External (01904) 324139

Student hours

Semester 2 2023/4