BA (QMUL), MSt (Oxford), PhD (Nottingham)
I began the long journey towards becoming an academic historian at Queen Mary, University of London, where I divided my time between studying the medieval Crusades and the artistic patronage of Cosimo de Medici in Florence. I then moved to Oxford to pursue a thesis on the exchange of gifts (often gold or pieces of clothing like sleeves and skirts, though on occasion also perfumed gloves and jewellery) that were exchanged between Elizabeth I and her male courtiers. Continuing my fascination with gifts I moved to Nottingham to complete a doctoral thesis on the importance of gifts (this time a lot of gilt silver plate, firearms, though also lions, mastiffs, a carriage and even a bed) that were exchanged between Elizabeth I, James I (VI) and the Muscovite (Russian) Tsars. I taught at Nottingham and Sussex before joining York in September 2019 as a T&S Lecturer in Russian History.
I am working on a project (very) tentatively titled 'To gift or not to gift: Muscovite diplomatic gift-giving in the seventeenth-century'. The project seeks to uncover and understand the centrality of gifts and gift-giving in Muscovite diplomatic practice through comparative studies of different exchanges. From Western European gifts of plate and guns to Eastern gifts of thrones and elephants the project will trace the complex interactions between people and things which shaped the decisions and actions of diplomats and state rulers.
Broadly, my research interests cover early modern diplomatic history, court culture and Russian and British history of the early modern period. I am also interested in historic re-enactment and the benefits of learning history through a 'hands-on' approach. As an experiment I am re-creating an evening gown worn by Grand Dutchess Tatiana Romanova (daughter of Nicholas II) in a photograph from 1914. By re-creating the dress using era-appropriate fabrics, threads and sewing techniques I want to learn more about fashion at the Russian Imperial Court.
‘Russia under the Tsars: 1613-1855’ (second year Histories and Contexts module)
‘Peter the Great’s Russia 1682-1785’ (second year Explorations module)
‘Russia, 1855-1917: Between Reform and Revolution’ (final year Special Subject)