Professor Sharpe's interests are broadly the history of medieval England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. He has a special concern with first-hand work on the primary sources of medieval history, including palaeography, diplomatic, and the editorial process, which is the core of his teaching in Oxford.
In the context of medieval archives and documents, this finds expression in research on charters of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. In the context of books and libraries his long-term research project on medieval library catalogues has opened up a mass of information on what works were available to read in medieval England, at what periods and in what settings. He takes a view of medieval bibliography that combines the textual and material aspects of books, and in his Handlist of the Latin Writers of Great Britain and Ireland before 1540 the biographical and antiquarian dimensions are not forgotten. It was interest in what could be added to our knowledge and understanding of medieval sources from the work done by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century antiquaries that led him to investigate antiquarian correspondence, particularly that of Edward Lhwyd, which has opened up some fruitful lines of research. Charters and letters have much in common, medieval manuscripts and early printed books are inseparable parts of the history of the works read down the centuries, and all of these uses of writing serve as a means to enhance modern understanding of the distant and not-so-distant past. Books or documents in their material reality communicate with modern students on several levels, all worth our understanding.
Relates the history of the late medieval banners of St Cuthbert and St John of Beverley, the banners of St Peter, St Wilfrid, and St John at the battle of the Standard (1138), and the claims made by the churches of York, Beverley, and Ripon to military exemption by the service of their saints’ banners alone to the historiography on banners as a symbol of the church's engagement in warfare in the eleventh and twelfth
Génair Pátraicc: Old Irish between print and manuscript, 1647–1853’
King Ceadwalla and Bishop Wilfrid
Cities, Saints, and Scholars in Early Medieval Europe. Essays in honour of Alan Thacker
Michael Casey (?1752–1830/31), herb doctor, his Irish manuscripts, and John O’Donovan
Eigse: A Journal of Irish Studies
Peter of Blois and Abbot Henry de Longchamp
Guthlac of Crowland; celebrating 1300 years
The eighth-century Life of St Guthlac and a twelfth-century account of miracles at Crowland were rewritten in more fashionable Latin by Peter of Blois, in his day a famous stylist who served as Latin secretary to two archbishops of Canterbury. The date and circumstances of this commission, it is argued, ought to reflect what is known of Peter’s movements and those of William de Longchamp, chancellor of England, who is the likely intermediary between his brother Abbot Henry of Crowland and Peter. The commission is best dated to the late summer of 1191, though delivery may have been a little later, and it was the first step in Henry’s intermittent efforts to promote the veneration of saints at Crowland. Peter’s fame sustained his memory at Crowland, so that the later medieval forger of the Crowland history attributed the second part of his no doubt unfinished work to him.
Peter of Blois and Abbot Henry de Longchamp
The medieval librarian
The Cambridge History of Libraries in Britain and Ireland
‘Henry I’s Coronation Charter’, ‘Henry I’s county and hundred court regulations’, Henry I’s coinage regulations’, and ‘Stephen’s coronation charter’ (Latin texts)
SUBVERSIVE ACTS: THE EARLY CHARTERS OF THE BOROUGH OF BEVERLEY
History: the journal of the Historical Association
I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding anything related to my broad range of research interests
I currently teach:
Introductory courses for masters candidates studying within the area of the Latin West in the middle ages, providing instruction in palaeography and diplomatic, and practice in reading documents from medieval england.
Advanced courses in English Royal Diplomatic and in Books and Libraries in the Middle Ages.
Podcast: Magna Carta in the Bodleian. A talk given during the exhibition of four engrossments of Magna Carta in the Divinity School on 11 December 2007. Richard Sharpe explains that the seventeen surviving original manuscripts of the Magna Carta are engrossments, not copies: official documents from Royal Chancery bearing the ruler's seal. Prof. Sharpe also reveals why so many examples of the Magna Carta survive.