Dr Phil McCluskey



Lecturer in the History of Early Modern Europe
B.A., M.A., Ph.D., FRHistS.
Early modern history; European history; Early Modern France


+44 (0)114 22 22616

Jessop West room 2.11

Office hours: Spring 2014-15 - Tue 9.30-11.30am


I joined the History Department at the University of Sheffield in 2012. Before this I did my undergraduate degree at the University of York, followed by a M.A. at Durham and then a Ph.D. north of the border in St Andrews. I have previously worked as a Lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway and more recently at the University of Manchester.



My research interests concern the expansion of early modern France, both within Europe and overseas. I am also interested in government, society and international relations in western Europe from c.1550-1750, particularly with regard to France, Savoy-Piedmont and Lorraine. I recently completed a book on France’s eastern frontiers, Absolute Monarchy on the Frontiers: Louis XIV’s Military Occupations of Lorraine and Savoy, published by Manchester University Press. The book focuses on the issues of absolute monarchy, identity and allegiance in early modern frontier regions, and the development of the concept of military occupation.

My current project, 'Louis XIV’s Crusade Against Islam', examines French relations with the Ottoman world in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. My research on this topic so far has looked at the first decade of Louis XIV’s personal rule, the 1660s, which witnessed a series of military confrontations between French and Islamic forces. This study will look at the changing perceptions of Islam in French society, and will assess how far French government policy was working alongside or against public opinion; this includes charting the attitudes of certain groups in French society who came into contact with the Ottoman world: nobles involved in military campaigns against the Ottomans and the Barbary pirates; merchants who depended on trade with the Levant; and the growing number of orientalist scholars who provided political and economic memoranda for the government.

Research Supervision

I welcome postgraduate students working on any project related to the political and social history of early modern France, Lorraine or Savoy-Piedmont, as well as students interested in European involvement with the Ottoman world (16th to 18th centuries).

Samantha Garwood - Christian and Muslim Interactions in the Post-Medieval Adriatic: An Examination of Economic and Cultural Exchange through the Analysis of Glass Cargo from Shipwreck Assemblages.

Further information on research opportunities within the department.



Phil-McCluskey-2 Absolute Monarchy on the Frontiers: Louis XIV's Military Occupations of Lorraine and Savoy (Manchester University Press, 2013)

French territorial ambitions and consequent military activity during the reign of Louis XIV ensured that a number of territories bordering on France were subject to military occupation. Drawing on extensive archival research, this study presents the occupation of two of these territories, Lorraine and Savoy, from a comparative perspective. It investigates the aims and intentions of the French monarchy in occupying these regions, the problems of administering them, and French relations with key local elite groups. Absolute monarchy on the Frontiers makes a significant contribution to understanding this crucial era in the development of civil-military relations. It also places the occupations of Lorraine and Savoy within the framework of recent scholarship on early modern border societies and frontiers, and on the practice of 'absolutism' at the frontiers of the French kingdom.



Journal Articles


‘Les ennemis du nom chrestien: Echoes of the crusade in Louis XIV's France’ in French History, special edition on France and the Early Modern Mediterranean (forthcoming).

'Louis XIV, Duke Leopold I and the neutrality of Lorraine, 1702-1714', European History Quarterly (forthcoming).

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the duke of Lorraine trod a difficult path in his attempts to maintain the independence of his state. While Louis XIV agreed in principle to respect his neutrality, the French nevertheless imposed significant restrictions on the duke’s sovereignty. The Grand Alliance, meanwhile, viewed Leopold’s neutrality with suspicion and refused to assist him unless he publically declared for the coalition. The dissonance in views regarding the status of Lorraine reflected a long-term clash of sovereignties in the region, between France, Lorraine and the Holy Roman Empire. It also reflected the evolving status of neutrality in international relations, as well as attendant tensions within the European dynastic system: though the duke’s policy of neutrality may have saved Lorraine from potential devastation in the war, it severely impeded his dynasty’s ambitions.

'From Regime Change to Reunion: Louis XIV's Quest for Legitimacy in Lorraine, 1670-97', English Historical Review, 126 (2011), pp.1386-1407.

France's occupation of the duchy of Lorraine (1670-97) was long seen as the classic example of the Sun King's ruthless expansionism, as he sought to extend the frontiers of his kingdom without regard to the rights of territorial princes who found themselves in his way. Yet recent studies have stressed that Louis XIV's foreign policy may have been far more reactive than has hitherto been appreciated. This article therefore investigates how far the course of the French occupation of Lorraine was determined not only by the objectives of the occupier, but also by the attitudes of the occupied population, and international reactions to the occupation. It finds that the French government deployed a series of initiatives designed to facilitate the permanent annexation of the territory, yet each of these proved to be ultimately unsatisfactory. In part, this can be attributed to the status of military occupation in international relations at this time: recognised, if not yet clearly elaborated.

'Commerce Before Crusade? France, the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary Pirate, 1661-1669', French History, 23 (2006), pp.1-21.

French and Islamic forces clashed with an unprecedented frequency during the first decade of Louis XIV's personal rule. This article examines France's troubled relations with the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary States in the 1660s, with the aim of shedding light on the real motives of Louis XIV in sending his forces against those of the 'Infidel'. It finds that far from having a single policy towards their Muslim neighbours in the Mediterranean, the French government’s behaviour was in fact characterized by chronic inconsistency. In essence, French strategy was driven by the Bourbon government's long-term objective of developing commerce in the eastern and southern Mediterranean; but this programme of commercial expansion was frustrated – and repeatedly jeopardized – by issues of power politics, in particular the King's avid pursuit of prestige and personal gloire.


Module Leader - The 'Disenchantment' of Early Modern Europe, c. 1570-1770, HST115 (First year 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.

Module Leader - Europeans and the Ottoman world, 1529-1683, HST292 (Second year optional module)

The course examines western European interactions with the Ottoman Empire in the period between the first and second Ottoman sieges of Vienna (1529 and 1683). It will trace the resulting changes (and continuities) in European perceptions of the Ottomans, as well as touching on broader themes including religious toleration and commercial expansion. It will conclude with consideration of the 'demystification' of the Islamic world in the wake of Ottoman military decline and the rise of European interest in 'orientalism' and the exotic. This is an original and unusual perspective on Early Modern Europe, which will give students the opportunity to reflect on and challenge traditional interpretations of the place of the Ottoman Empire in European history.

Module Leader - Absolute monarchy to republic: the French Revolution, 1786-92, HST2031 (Second year document module)

This document option examines the origins and early years of the French Revolution. A growing political and financial crisis in the late 1780s, combined with economic unrest, resulted in a chain of events which swept away the political and social structures of the old regime. The inability of King Louis XVI to support the new order led to a further political crisis which ended in the trial and execution of the king and the establishment of a republic. Through the study of key primary sources for the topic, the module explores important themes in the history of the Revolution.

Lecturer - Cultural Encounters, HST3302 (Third year comparative module)

This module considers cultural encounters in medieval, early modern and modern societies within the overall framework of Europe´s expansion into what contemporaries considered new worlds. As such, it is concerned with the mechanics of and reflections upon cultural encounters between disparate subjects including missionaries, soldiers, administrators, settlers, slaves, capitalists, and indigenous peoples. It sets out to engage with the notion of cultural interaction and the view that rather than dominant cultures supplanting the subaltern the literature on cultural encounters reveals a more nuanced process of exchange and mediation with agency and vulnerability on both sides.

This unit aims to allow students to engage with the main themes arising from the study of cultural encounters in the medieval, early modern, and modern worlds and to foster their ability and confidence in formulating analyses of a topic covering a significant period of time, approached in a comparative way, and studied at an advanced level.

Module Leader - Research Presentation, HST6802 (Postgraduate module)

This core module is designed to equip students with the generic skills and experience necessary to undertake an academic presentation in history. It will provide students with the skills they need to present and communicate their research findings in an oral presentation. The subject of the presentation will be the student's research project and so, in the case of MA students, will contribute towards the successful completion of the dissertation.

The module will also develop students' ability to handle research data (in terms of presenting them in an accessible form to an audience) and will enhance their ability to use presentational aids such as PowerPoint, data projection, and visual aids. The module also seeks to develop students' self-confidence in speaking before an audience and responding to questions and so allow those completing the module to attain the presentational skills demanded by employers as well as by a career in academic research.

Public Engagement

I speak at a wide variety of open-access events and to a broad range of audiences. For example, I recently lectured on 'Louis XIV: Man & Myth' to the Institute of Ideas' (a London-based forum for debate and intellectual exchange) Academy 2013.

I am also developing departmental links with schools in the Sheffield area. Additionally I also contribute to the department's History Matters blog. This blog exhibits cutting-edge research, the history behind the headlines and why we think history really matters.


Professional Roles

Sheffield North Africa Study Group - Member

Society for French Historical Studies - Member


University Administrative Roles

I am the Level 2 (2nd year) tutor. In this role I liaise with colleagues who teach on level 2 modules about disciplinary or pastoral problems and act as a conduit for information on these matters. Additionally I act as a contact point for students and provide pastroal care and advice, grant extensions for level 2 courework essays, attend Undergraduate Committee meetings and advise level 2 students who wish to withdraw from their degree course at Sheffield or take a leave of absence.

I am also the department's Dissertation Convenor. This involves me communicating with dissertationists (both single and dual honours) about the basic tasks involved in writing a dissertation as well as deadlines and regulations. As part of this I also give dissertation lectures to Dissertation - short (HST398) and Dissertation - long (HST399) students and ensure that all dissertationists have a supervisor. Additionally, I communicate with supervisors about dissertation deadlines an holding workshops for dissertationists and review submitted dissertations for plagiarism and liase with the Unfair Means Officer about any relevant cases.