- Trust and trustworthiness
- Religious and social movements
- Global comparisons
My research interests lie in the social, religious and economic history of Europe between 1200 and 1500. I am particularly interested in relationships between ordinary people and powerful institutions. I have published on heresy and inquisition, social life and social regulation, and am now writing a book about trustworthiness and inequality.
My first book, The Detection of Heresy in Late Medieval England examined the development of inquisitorial procedure in England from the 1380s to the 1430s, looking at the involvement of ordinary people in the prosecution of heretics, and exploring themes of government, communication, and propaganda. My current project is Trustworthy Men: A Social History of the Medieval Church. There is a massive literature on trust in all fields of the humanities and social sciences, but the historian's perspective has been missing. Trust was necessary to the growth of governing institutions, forging links between the powerful and the localities. But reliance upon trust also promoted deep social and gender inequalities.
Alongside this I continue to be interested in heresy, inquisition and religious movements across Europe. I am also pursuing various topics in popular (peasant) politics, particularly the symbolism of political protest, and the use of social theory to ask questions about solidarity and rebellion. I am interested in global comparisons for all these themes, with particular attention to West Africa and the Sahara.