Professor Steven Gunn

Featured Publications

The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII (OUP, January 2018)

the english people at war in the age of henry viii

Henry VIII fought many wars, against the French and Scots, against rebels in England and the Gaelic lords of Ireland, even against his traditional allies in the Low Countries. But how much did these wars really affect his subjects? And what role did Henry's reign play in the long-term transformation of England's military capabilities?

The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII searches for the answers to these questions in parish and borough account books, wills and memoirs, buildings and paintings, letters from Henry's captains, and the notes readers wrote in their printed history books. It looks back from Henry's reign to that of his grandfather, Edward IV, who in 1475 invaded France in the afterglow of the Hundred Years War, and forwards to that of Henry's daughter Elizabeth, who was trying by the 1570s to shape a trained militia and a powerful navy to defend England in a Europe increasingly polarised by religion. War, it shows, marked Henry's England at every turn: in the news and prophecies people discussed, in the money towns and villages spent on armour, guns, fortifications, and warning beacons, in the way noblemen used their power. War disturbed economic life, made men buy weapons and learn how to use them, and shaped people's attitudes to the king and to national history. War mobilised a high proportion of the English population and conditioned their relationships with the French and Scots, the Welsh and the Irish. War should be recognised as one of the defining features of life in the England of Henry VIII.

Henry VII’s New Men and the Making of Tudor England (OUP, August 2016)

Henry VII's New Men

The reign of Henry VII is important but mysterious. He ended the Wars of the Roses and laid the foundations for the strong governments of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. Yet his style of rule was unconventional and at times oppressive. At the heart of his regime stood his new men, low-born ministers with legal, financial, political, and military skills who enforced the king's will and in the process built their own careers and their families' fortunes. Some are well known, like Sir Edward Poynings, governor of Ireland, or Empson and Dudley, executed to buy popularity for the young Henry VIII. Others are less famous. Sir Robert Southwell was the king's chief auditor, Sir Andrew Windsor the keeper of the king's wardrobe, Sir Thomas Lovell, the Chancellor of the Exchequer so trusted by Henry that he was allowed to employ the former Yorkist pretender Lambert Simnel as his household falconer. Some paved the way to glory for their relatives. Sir Thomas Brandon, master of the horse, was the uncle of Henry VIII's favourite Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Sir Henry Wyatt, keeper of the jewel house, was father to the poet Sir Thomas Wyatt. This volume, based on extensive archival research, presents a kaleidoscopic portrait of the new men. It analyses the offices and relationships through which they exercised power and the ways they gained their wealth and spent it to sustain their new-found status. It establishes their importance in the operation of Henry's government and, as their careers continued under his son, in the making of Tudor England.



  • Everyday life and accidental death in sixteenth-century England
  • Aristocratic power and the Northern Renaissance
  • The reign of Henry VII


My current research falls into three areas. I am Principal Investigator of a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on 'Everyday life and fatal hazard in sixteenth-century England'. This is analysing some 9,000 coroners' inquests into accidental deaths to see what they tell us about everyday life, work, travel and leisure in Tudor times. I am writing a book to present the findings of this project. Thereafter I hope to work on the relationship between aristocratic power and the patronage of renaissance culture in sixteenth-century Europe north of the Alps and I retain a long-term research interest in the reign of Henry VII.


More information on tudor accidents can be found here: 

  • Total war in Tudor England

  • The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII

  • Henry VII's New Men and the Making of Tudor England

  • Henry VII's henchmen

  • Sport and recreation in sixteenth-century England: the evidence of accidental deaths

  • Database of first deposit of ESRC project data at UK data service

  • The Tudors and the Howards

  • The perils of piety in Tudor England

  • Kings, Nobles and Military Networks

  • Treasures of Merton College

  • More

Current DPhil Students

  • Tom Boyd
  • Alice Blackwood
  • Emily Glassford

I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding later medieval and early modern British and European history or any potential Masters students looking into the same period

I currently teach:


FHS Masters

History of the British Isles III, 1330-1550

History of the British Isles III, 1330-1550 State and Society in Early Modern Europe (part of the Mst / MPhil Modern British and European History)
History of the British Isles IV, 1500-1700 History of the British Isles IV, 1500-1700  
General History III, 1400-1650

General History VII, 1409-1525

Optional Subject: English Chivalry and the French War, c. 1330-c. 1400 General History VIII, 1517-1618  
Paper IV: Approaches to History Further Subject: The Wars of the Roses, 1450-1500   
  Special Subject: The Trial of the Tudor State: Politics, Religion and Society 1540-1560  
  Disciplines of History  
In the Media

Podcast on Henry VII:

Podcast on accidental death:

Podcast on accidental life project using Ashmolean objects: 

Ford lectures 2015: