Dr Robin Whelan

  • The later Roman Empire and its successors
  • Late ancient Christianity
  • Identity and group formation

My research focuses on the Roman Empire and its successors in late antiquity and the early middle ages, with a particular concentration on the political and cultural impact of Christianity, the formation of ethnic and religious communities and identities, and the transition from Roman Empire to ‘barbarian’ successor states in the western Mediterranean. 

My doctoral thesis examined controversy over the definition of Christian orthodoxy in the Vandal kingdom, the successor to Roman rule in the province of Africa (the modern-day Maghreb) from 439 to 533 CE. It argued that disputes between Christians in Vandal Africa retained the sophistication and socio-political consequences evident from the notoriously passionate (and often violent) ecclesiastical conflicts of the later Roman Empire. I am currently revising my thesis for publication as a monograph, provisionally entitled 'Being Christian in Vandal Africa: the politics of orthodoxy in the post-imperial West'.

In my post-doctoral project, ‘The making of Christian politics in the late-antique Mediterranean, c. 400-600 CE’, I seek to reconsider the longer-term consequences of the Christianisation of the Roman world. My aim is to understand how contemporaries rethought the ‘state’ in Christian terms, not only in the Eastern Roman Empire and its fragmenting western counterpart, but also in the first successors to Roman rule in the West. I am particularly interested in how service to late-antique states—as a courtier, bureaucrat or general—was recast to take into account Christian ideals.

  • Surrogate fathers: imaginary dialogue and patristic culture in late antiquity

  • African Controversy: The Inheritance of the Donatist Schism in Vandal Africa

  • Arianism in Africa

  • More

I currently teach:


British History I British History I
General History I General History I
Approaches to History General History II
  St Augustine and the Last Days of Rome, 370-430
  Disciplines of History
  Justinian and Muhammad
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