Professor Michael Braddick FBA


Contact Details

Professor of History
B.A., Ph.D. (Cantab.)
Early Modern England; State in Early Modern England, 1550-1700
+44 (0)114 22 29701
Jessop West room 3.05

Office hours: Mondays 14:00-16:00



I was educated at Cambridge University where I took both my B.A. and Ph.D. degrees. I was Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Alabama and Assistant Professor at Birmingham-Southern College, Alabama before coming to Sheffield in 1990. I have held fellowships from the British Academy, the Nuffield Foundation and a Major Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust. I have also held visiting scholarships at the Huntington Library, California, the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, and an ARC distinguished visiting fellowship at the University of Adelaide.

I have published widely on aspects of state formation and forms of political resistance in early modern England. I am also co-editor of two essay collections and of a major edition of seventeenth century letters. My most recent publications are God's Fury, England's Fire: A New History of the English Civil Wars and edited collections on The politics of gesture: historical perspectives and The experience of revolution in Stuart Britain and Ireland, the latter co-edited with David L Smith.

I was previously Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.


My research and teaching interests are in early modern state formation and political culture; popular politics; the English revolution; the early modern British Atlantic and the first stages of British imperial expansion; and early modern political economy, in particular attitudes towards the commercialisation of the grain trade.

I am currently focussing on the English civil war and on partisanship in early modern popular culture, in a series of articles examining the relationship between high and low politics. I am also editing The Oxford Handbook of the English Revolution and was until recently principal investigator on a Leverhulme-funded international network on the comparative history of political engagement. I am currently principal investigator on an AHRC grant, ‘Participating in Search Design: A Study of George Thomason's English Newsbooks’.


Research Supervision

I am keen to supervise graduate students with interests in early modern state formation and political culture; popular politics; the English revolution; the early modern British Atlantic and the first stages of British imperial expansion; and early modern political economy, in particular attitudes towards the commercialisation of the grain trade. I particularly welcome applications from those interested in the social, cultural and political history of early modern England.

Current Research Students

Alexander Hitchman - Popular Appeal and Political Mobilisation: A Study of Legal Pamphlets and the Law in the Early 1640s.

Richard Scott - 'Dreams Will Become Realities': Reason, Revelation and Prophetic Passions in England, 1640-1660.

James Mawdesley - Clerical allegiances during the English civil wars and republic, with special reference to north-western England.

Further information on research opportunities within the department.

Selected Publications

Mike Braddick Experience book coverThe experience of revolution in early Stuart Britain and Ireland: essays for John Morrill, (co-edited with David L Smith) (Cambridge University Press, 2011).

This volume ranges widely across the social, religious and political history of revolution in seventeenth-century Britain and Ireland, from contemporary responses to the outbreak of war to the critique of the post-regicidal regimes; from royalist counsels to Lilburne's politics; and across the three Stuart kingdoms. However, all the essays engage with a central issue - the ways in which individuals experienced the crises of mid seventeenth-century Britain and Ireland and what that tells us about the nature of the Revolution as a whole. Responding in particular to three influential lines of interpretation - local, religious and British - the contributors, all leading specialists in the field, demonstrate that to comprehend the causes, trajectory and consequences of the Revolution we must understand it as a human and dynamic experience, as a process. This volume reveals how an understanding of these personal experiences can provide the basis on which to build up larger frameworks of interpretation.



Mike Braddick Gesture book coverThe Politics of Gesture: Historical Perspectives, (edited collection) (Oxford University Press for the Past and Present Society, 2009).







Braddick Atlantic book coverThe British Atlantic World, 1500-1800, second edition (co-edited with David Armitage) (Palgrave, 2009).

This text was the first edited collection on the burgeoning history of the early modern Atlantic world and has had a huge impact on the many fields of Atlantic Studies. This second edition features two new essays on science and global history respectively, as well as a revised Introduction and updated guides to further reading.



Mike Braddick Gods Fury book coverGod's Fury, England's Fire: a new history of the English civil wars, (Penguin, 2008).

The sequence of civil wars that ripped England apart in the seventeenth century was the single most traumatic event in this country between the medieval Black Death and the two world wars. Indeed, it is likely that a greater percentage of the population were killed in the civil wars than in the First World War.

This sense of overwhelming trauma gives this major new history its title: God’s Fury, England’s Fire. The name of a pamphlet written after the king’s surrender, it sums up the widespread feeling within England that the seemingly endless nightmare that had destroyed families, towns and livelihoods was ordained by a vengeful God – that the people of England had sinned and were now being punished. As with all civil wars, however, ‘God’s fury’ could support or destroy either side in the conflict.



Mike Braddick Negotiating book coverNegotiating Power in Early Modern Society: Order, Hierarchy and Subordination in Britain and Ireland, (co-edited with John Walter) (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

Addressing the dynamics of power in early modern societies, this book challenges the existing tendency to see past societies in terms of binary oppositions--such as male/female, rich/poor, rulers/ruled. Drawing on recent social theory, the essays offer a series of micro-sociologies of power in early modern society, ranging from the politics of age, gender and class to the politics of state-building in the post-Reformation confessional state. Its findings also have relevance for thinking about inequality in present-day societies.



Mike Braddick State Formation book coverState formation in Early Modern England, c. 1500-1700, (Cambridge University Press, 2000).

The seventeenth century has always been seen as important for the development of the modern English state. Over the past twenty years, however, this view has been criticized heavily and no general account of the development of the state in this period has yet emerged. On the basis of a wide-ranging synthesis of specialist work in diverse fields of English, British and colonial history, this book makes a novel argument about the modernization of the seventeenth-century English state, and of the role of class and gender interests in its development.



The Nerves of State: Taxation and the Financing of the English State, 1558-1700, (Manchester University Press, 1996).

The period from 1558 to 1714 saw a marked change in the scale of taxation and its significance to the structure of public finances. Although the central significance of taxation and finances has been widely acknowledged in accounts of the political history of the early modern period, this study deals with the issue thematically over a broad period. The chronological span of the study allows a full outline of an important transformation of the financial structure of the English state, providing a new context in which to understand familiar and important issues.


Full list of publications by Michael Braddick.


Lecturer - Paths from Antiquity to Modernity, HST112 (First Year compulsory module)

Taking you from the height of the Roman Empire to the Fall of the Berlin Wall, this module is an introduction to the dominant narrative of History, from a European perspective (though the module ventures widely beyond Europe when appropriate). Each lecture looks at a particular historical 'turning point', while the weekly seminar takes a more thematic approach, tackling historical notions such as revolutions, progress, globalisation and renaissance. By the end of the module, you'll have a sense of the broad sweep of History, fascinating in itself but particularly useful for single and dual honours students as preparation for more detailed study at Levels II and III. You will also have an appreciation of the importance of periodisation (how historians divide up time), and the problematic concept of modernity. This module is explicitly intended to aid with the transition to the study of History at University.

Lecturer - The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770, HST115 (First Year compulsory module)

This module explores the fundamental shifts in mental attitudes and public behaviour that occurred in Europe between the age of the Reformation and the age of the Enlightenment. The central focus of the course will be the examination of the supernatural – religious beliefs, but also witchcraft and magic. You will explore the changing ways in which beliefs impinged on people's lives at various social levels. You will also have an opportunity to study the impact on people's world views of such changes as rising literacy, urbanisation, state formation and new discoveries about the natural world. All these will be investigated in the institutional contexts of state and church and the ways in which they sought to channel and mould beliefs and behaviour. This module enables you to understand how the early modern period is distinctive from and links medieval and later modern historical studies.

Lecturer - International History of the State, HST201 (Second Year optional module)

This is a genuinely integrative module that focusses on a core interest of both history and politics: the modern state. It examines the different ways states have been built and consolidated through history. The module will trace the emergence of the modern state and discuss the different ways states have been constructed, identifying the different functions of the state over time. It will also introduce students to the range of theories that have been used in the disciplines of history and politics to study the state, including Historical Sociology, Marxism and World Systems Theory. Students will be invited to assess these theories through a series of case studies.

Module Leader - The Putney Debates, October 1647, HST2017 (Second Year optional module)

In May 1646 the most bloody conflict in English history came to a close when Charles I surrendered to parliamentary forces. By late 1647 it was clear that political stalemate over the post-war settlement might give rise, to revolutionary political change, and nowhere was this clearer than at the famous debates held in Putney Church in October 1647. The precise significance of those debates has been controversial, however. This module explores their background and pays close attention to what was said but also considers the ways in which, between 1891 and 2007, they have been successively packaged and re-packaged through the publication of edited versions of the original record. The debates came at a crucial moment in the development of the revolution, and successive generations have presented the records of the debates in different contexts in order to reveal fundamental features of the revolution.

Module Team - Early Modernities, HST6059 (Postgraduate module)

This core module involves a critical analysis of the many ways in which assumptions about the characteristics of 'pre-modern' and 'modern' cultures and societies, and the transition from the former to the latter, have shaped historians' approaches to the early modern period. These assumptions have considerable implications for the ways that source materials are interpreted, the choice of interpretative models which are deployed, and the manner in which early modern history is written. A series of seminars will introduce students to theme and topics in early modern history, analysing and evaluating the interpretative models proposed by a number of scholars, and focusing on the issues of 'individuality' and 'self-hood' in the early modern period. The sources available to those writing early modern history will be a complementary focus of the module, which will also introduce students to the technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of a range of pre-modern sources, but concentrating on personal diaries and journals as a genre for exploring individuality. In the final module unit students undertake a detailed historical analysis of a historical building of the period (Bolsover Castle).

Module Team - Revolutionary England, 1640-1660: Politics, Culture and Society, HST694 (Postgraduate module)

This module will introduce students to the study of English politics and society between 1640 and 1660. Students will use primary and secondary sources in seminars to analyse both contemporary writings and historiographical debates on the causes and significance of the civil war, defined broadly to include not just formal political debate but also popular movements (including witch hunts, clubman associations and forms of economic and social protest) and other forms of intellectual creativity (astrology and natural science for example). The aim is to understand both the conflict, and the social and cultural values through which it was experienced and resolutions were sought.

Public Engagement

I am a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and have in the past written for BBC History magazine. I have advised on a number of radio and TV programmes and regularly speak to 6th form audiences. I am currently co-curating (with Paul Evans) an ambitious collaboration between artists and academics from a variety of science, engineering, social science and arts disciplines. My blog on 'Will archaeology soon become a thing of the past?' was one of the ten most discussed blogs on the Guardian HE website during 2013.

Professional Roles

British Academy - Fellow

Royal Historical Society - Fellow and convenor of the editorial board of the Society's Studies in History monograph series (from May 2014)

Past & Present - Editorial Board Member

Arts and Humanities Research Council - Member of the Audit Committee and of the Peer Review College

I regularly act as peer reviewer, advisor or referee for publishers, research funders and other Universities both in the UK and internationally. I have also served as a member of the early modern Academic Publication Advisory Panel of The National Archives.


University Administrative Roles

I have in the past carried out a number of major administrative roles within the Department, particularly in relation to Undergraduate Admissions (including Senior Admissions Tutor and Tutor for Mature Applications), examinations and assessment, and as Chair of Teaching Committee. In the latter capacity I took a leading role in establishing new mechanisms of Teaching Quality assurance in the Department, and subsequently led the Department's very successful response to two Audits of Teaching Quality. I was Head of Department in 2008-9 and was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities from 2009 to 2013