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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 focusses on seventeenth-century British history. 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) is Laura‚Äôs 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. A paperback edition is in the press (autumn 2018). 

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 will be published in 2019. 

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 Reviews in History.  



Since the publication of her first book in 2006 on Scottish urban political culture, Laura’s work has expanded to encompass popular political participation, manuscript and print circulation, petitioning practices, governance, taxation and state formation, and Anglo-Scottish relations. She is currently writing on the construction of political narratives, cross-border manuscript circulation, and gendered political representations in early modern Scotland.

Her second book, Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1637-51 was published by Oxford University Press in 2016. This book provides the first examination of how interactions between crowds, texts, performances, and formal political processes precipitated the collapse of royal power in Scotland and triggered the events that led to the outbreak of wars in all three kingdoms. In contrast to England, however, where civil war resulted in the emergence of radical political and religious ideas, Scotland saw political elites retain their dominance over discourses of power. The Scottish revolution was, nonetheless, a transformative moment, in which a new state was constructed around a refurbished set of religious and constitutional principles. Although the confessional state created in the sixteen-forties was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, its brief existence profoundly affected Scotland’s political culture, and the terms of the Anglo-Scottish relationship, for the rest of the century.

A special forum on ‘Publics and participation in early modern Britain’, led by Laura and featuring articles by a transatlantic group of scholars, was published by The Journal of British Studies in 2017. The forum sought to investigate the ways in which linguistic, cultural, and confessional boundaries within the British archipelago affected the ways in which people encountered and engaged with political news and information across the early modern era. It emerged out of an interdisciplinary conference organized by Laura and generously supported by the Birkbeck Institute of the Humanities.

In 2018, Laura co-organized a conference entitled ‘The Will of the People? Constructions and representations of the popular voice c.1500 to the present day’. Co-organized with Dr David Coast and hosted at Bath Spa University, the conference was generously supported by the Department of History at York University and Bath Spa University. It brought together scholars and political activists from throughout the British Isles and included a round table event on democracy and ‘the will of the people’.

Laura is also writing a general history of early modern Scotland for Edinburgh University Press, in collaboration with Dr Janay Nugent, Lethbridge, Canada. Focussing 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 cultures, the volatility of the Anglo-Scottish relationship, connections with Europe and America, and artistic expressions of power. It will be published in 2019.


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). 




  • 'What News?' Print Culture in Early Modern Britain (first year Period Topic module)
  • The Roots of Modernity? Politics and Society in England, 1585-1715 (second year Histories and Contexts module)
  • The European Witchcraze, 1450-1750 (second year Explorations module)
  • Rebellion and Revolution: The British Civil Wars, 1637-51 (final year Special Subject module)


  • The British Problem: The Making of an Early Modern State (MA Option module)

Contact details

Professor Laura Stewart
Vanbrugh College V/N/203
Department of History
University of York
YO10 5DD

Tel: Internal 4139, External (01904) 324139

Student hours

Spring term 2023


Wednesday 10am to 11am

Week 2:
Wednesday 4pm to 5pm

Week 10:
Please email for an appointment

In-person unless zoom requested.  Please book a slot through my calendar whether in-person or zoom. Indicate "in-person" or "online", alongside your name on the booking.