The James Ford Lectures in British History

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The Ford Lectures in British History were founded by a bequest from James Ford, and inaugurated by S.R.Gardiner in 1896-7. Since then, an annual series has been delivered over six weeks in Hilary term. They have long been established as the most prestigious series in Oxford and an important annual event in the History Faculty calendar.

Though sometimes elected from among the Oxford History Faculty, the Ford Lecturer is often a distinguished visitor from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or further afield. Towards the end of the series, the Lecturer generally convenes a seminar for faculty members and students, where the themes and ideas of the series are discussed.

The lectures alternate between medieval, early modern and modern history. They bring the opportunity for distinguished scholars to present their work to an Oxford audience, in a scholarly but accessible way. The attendance, which is often very large, habitually includes people from the local community as well as many from outside Oxford.

The Lectures invariably result in important books, many of them classic and pioneering works of British history.

The James Ford Lectures 2024

The World’s Reformation

Professor Alec Ryrie FBA (Professor of the History of Christianity, Durham University)

During the early modern era, British (and other) Protestants were far more globally aware, and actively engaged in seeking to win converts in the non-Christian world, than we have recognised. This story has been neglected in part because they pursued the ‘propagation of the Gospel’ very differently both from their Catholic contemporaries and their modern successors. These lectures will survey some of the distinctive themes of early Protestants’ global missions, from the ingenuous and often damaging preconceptions they brought to the task; through the makeshift institutions they developed or adapted to tackle it; to the deep assumptions about the God’s plan for human history and the world’s end which underpinned the whole project.

This was global Christian mission, but not as we know it. Instead of a prelude to the missionary history of the high imperial age, these lectures will argue that this story should be understood as an attempt to carry the Protestant Reformation to the world.

These lectures will be recorded. These recordings will be uploaded on Fridays.

ford lectures

Academic Year Speaker Title of Lecture Series
2022-23 Professor Colin Kidd

Peculiarities of the English Enlightenment: Ancients, Moderns and Pagan Pasts

2021-22 Professor Robin Fleming

Dogsbodies and Dogs’ Bodies: A Social and Cultural History of Roman Britain’s Dogs and People

2020-21 Professor Jane Ohlmeyer Ireland, empire and the early modern world
2019-20 Professor Margot Finn Family and Empire: Kinship and British Colonialism in the East India Company Era, c. 1750-1580
2018-19 Professor Mark Bailey The Black Death: Society, economy and the law in fourteenth-century England
2017-18 Professor Alexandra Walsham The Reformation of the Generations: Age, Ancestry, and Memory in England c.1500-1700
2016-17 Professor Stefan Collini History in English Criticism, 1919-1961
2015-16 Dr Christine Carpenter The Problem of the Fourteenth Century: politics, state and society in England 1307-1399
2014-15 Dr Steven Gunn The English people at war in the age of Henry VIII
2013-14 Professor Susan Pedersen Internationalism and Empire:  British Dilemmas, 1919-1939
2012-13              Professor John Blair Building the Anglo-Saxon Landscape
2011-12              Professor Roy Foster Making a Revolution in Ireland c.1890-1916
2010-11 Professor P. Lake Bad Queen Bess? Libellous politics and secret histories in an age of confessional conflict
2009-10 Professor D. Bates The Normans and Empire
2008-9 Professor J. Brewer The Politics of Feeling in the Age of Revolutions, 1770 – 1830
2007-8 Dr R. McKibbin Parties, People and the State: Politics in England c.1914 - 1951
2006-7 Professor R. Bartlett  The Learned Culture of Angevin England
2005-6 Professor J. Morrill Living with Revolution: the peoples of Britain and Ireland and the Civil Wars
2004-5 Professor M. Elliott Religion and Identity in Modern Irish History
2003-4 Dr J.R. Maddicott The Origins of the English Parliament c900-1327
2002-3                 Professor Q.R.D. Skinner Freedom, Representation and Revolution, 1603-1651
2001-2 Professor P.F. Clarke Britain’s image in the world in the twentieth century
2000-1 Professor C. Dyer An age of transition?  Economy and society in the later middle ages
1999-00 Sir Keith Thomas The ends of life: roads to human fulfilment in early modern England
1998-9 Professor T.C. Smout Use and delight: Environmental History in Northern Britain since 1600
1997-8 Professor R.R. Davies Beyond the English State: Power, Societies and Identities in the British Isles.
1996-7 Professor J.F. Harris A land of lost content?  Visions of civic virtue from Ruskin to Rawls.
1995-6 Mr J. Campbell Origins of the English State.
1994-5 Dr P.A. Slack From Reformation to Improvement: social reform and public welfare in England 1500-1740.
1993-4 Professor F.M.L. Thompson British Society, 1780-1980: Enterprise Culture and the Gentrification Syndrome.
1992-3 Professor P.H. Sawyer Wealth in Anglo-Saxon England.
1991-2 Professor David Underdown The Political Nation of 17th century England.
1990-1 The Rt. Hon. Lord Briggs Culture and Communication in Victorian England.
1989-90 Dr Paul Langford Public life and the propertied Englishman 1689-1798.
1988-9 Miss B.F. Harvey Living and dying in England 1200-1540: the monastic experience.
1987-8 Professor C.S.R. Russell The Causes of the English Civil War.
1986-7 Professor K. Robbins The Blending of Britain 1880-1914.
1985-6 Professor S.F.C. Milson Law and Society in the 12th and 13th centuries.
1984-5 Sir John Habakkuk The English Landed Estate 1650-1882.
1983-4 Professor I.R. Christie Stress and Stability in late 18th Century Britain.
1982-3 Mr J.O. Prestwich The Place of War in English History 1066-1214.
1981-2 Professor J. Scarisbrick Religious Attitudes in Reformation England.
1980-1 Professor W.O. Chadwick Britain, the Pope and Appeasement 1935-1940.
1979-80 Professor D.A. Bullough Alcuin: The Achievement and the Reputation.
1978-9 Professor P. Collinson The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society, 1559-1625.
1977-8 Professor F.S.L. Lyons Culture and Anarchy in modern Ireland, 1890-1939.
1976-7 Professor G.W.S. Barrow The Anglo-Norman Era in Scottish History.
1975-6 Professor J.P. Kenyon The Politics of Oligarchy 1689-1720.
1974-5 Dr I.J. Thirsk Economic Policy, Economic Projects and Political Economy, 1540-1700.
1973-4 Professor J.A. Gallagher The Fall of British Imperialism: domestic constraints and external dangers 1916-47.
1972-3 Professor R.H. Hilton Peasantry in late medieval England.
1971-2 Professor G.R. Elton Policy and Police: the enforcement of the Reformation in the age of Thomas Cromwell.
1970-1 M.E. Howard The Gouty Giant: Reflection on British Defence Policy in the era of two World Wars.
1969-70 Dr J.M. Wallace-Hadrill Early Germanic Kingship in England and on the Continent.
1968-9 Professor C.H. Wilson Queen Elizabeth and the Revolt of the Netherlands.
1967-8 R.N.W. Blake The Conservative Party from Peel to Churchill.
1966-7 Miss Beryl Smalley Intellectuals and Politics in the twelfth century.
1965-6 Dr J.H. Plumb The growth of political stability in England 1675-1725.
1964-5 Professor E.M. Carus Wilson The rise of the English woollen industry.
1963-4 Professor Norman Gash Reaction and reconstruction in English politics 1832-52.
1962-3 Professor D.C. Douglas William the Conqueror: the Norman impact upon England.
1961-2 J.E.C. Hill Intellectual origins of the English Revolution.
1960-1 Professor J.G. Edwards English Parliament in its second century.