Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock (she/her)
B.A., M.St., D.Phil. (Oxon), FRHistS
Department of History
Senior Lecturer in International History
Department Director of One University
+44 114 222 2579
Full contact details
Department of History
1 Upper Hanover Street
I have been at Sheffield since 2010, and am probably best known as the only British Aztec historian, though my current research has branched out across the Atlantic, bringing Indigenous histories into a global framework.
I have just published a major trade book, On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe, telling the stories of the Indigenous Americans who ‘discovered’ Europe in the sixteenth century. The story of these Indigenous Americans abroad is a story of abduction, loss, cultural appropriation, and, as they saw it, of apocalypse - a story that has largely been absent from our collective imagination of the times.
As well as pestering people on twitter @carolinepennock, I also work as a popular history writer, consultant, and ‘talking head’ expert for TV and radio, having appeared on programmes for broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, the Smithsonian Channel and Netflix.
My first degree was Ancient and Modern History at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where I stayed on to read Women's Studies (MSt) before receiving my D.Phil. in Aztec history in 2004. Having been a Temporary Lecturer and then Research Fellow in Cambridge, I spent three years as Lecturer in Early Modern History at Leicester before moving to the lovely city of Sheffield, where I’ve been happily settled ever since.
- Research interests
Having started out as an Aztec-Mexica historian, the scope of my work has broadened in recent years, and I have just published a book about the thousands of Indigenous Americans who travelled to Europe before the founding of Jamestown in 1607. When we think of the early modern period, we imagine Christopher Columbus ‘discovering’ America. But, at the same instant, the great civilisations of the Americas discovered Europe. Tens of thousands of Native Americans made the journey across the Atlantic from the very moment of that first encounter, and these Indigenous pioneers forged the course of European civilisation, just as surely as Europe changed America. Some of the findings from this research were recently published in American Historical Review (free access through this link).
My first book Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture (which came out in paperback in 2011) won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize for 2008. The book explored how human sacrifice could be a comprehensible part of everyday life and existence, and violence has remained a major theme of my work, forming the focus of several international collaborations, including co-editing a volume of the new Cambridge World History of Violence.
Pursuing my wider interest in global history, I have also recently completed an article about 'Globalising Cosmologies' with my colleague Amanda Power, and am part of several international networks focusing on topics ranging from Global Middle Ages to Human Sacrifice & Value.
- Edited books
- Journal articles
- Book reviews
- Website content
- Theses / Dissertations
- On Savage Shores How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe. Knopf.
- On Savage Shores. Hachette UK.
- Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture. Palgrave MacMillan.
- Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture. Palgrave MacMillan.
- Bonds of Blood. Palgrave Macmillan UK.
- The Cambridge World History of Violence. Cambridge University Press.
- Aztecs Abroad? Uncovering the Early Indigenous Atlantic. American Historical Review, 125(3), 787-814. View this article in WRRO
- Being part of the Aztec federation was not without its advantages. HISTORY TODAY, 69(7), 8-8.
- Globalizing Cosmologies. Past & Present, 238(S13), 88-115. View this article in WRRO
- Women of Discord: Female Power in Aztec Thought. The Historical Journal, 6(2), 275-299. View this article in WRRO
- ON THE SPOT CAROLINE DODDS PENNOCK. HISTORY TODAY, 67(7), 112-112.
- Roundtable - Jace Weaver , The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000–1927 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014, £29.95). Pp. 360. isbn 978 1 4696 1438 0.. Journal of American Studies, 50(4), 1109-1126.
- View this article in WRRO Mass murder or religious homicide? Rethinking human sacrifice and interpersonal violence in Aztec society. Historical Social Research, 37(3), 276-302.
- 'A remarkably patterned life': Domestic and public in the aztec household city. Gender and History, 23(3), 528-546. View this article in WRRO
- Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture - by Dodds Pennock, Caroline. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 30(1), 114-116.
- Michael E. Smith, Aztec City-State Capitals. Gainsville: University Press of Florida, 2008. xv + 256pp. 57 figures. 10 tables. Bibliography. £25.50 pbk.. Urban History, 37(1), 185-186.
- Another Face of Empire: Bartolomé de Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism, by Daniel Castro.Another Face of Empire: Bartolomé de Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism, by Daniel Castro. Latin America Otherwise series. Durham, North Carolina, Duke University Press, 2007. xii, 234 pp. $74.95 US (cloth), $21.95 US (paper).. Canadian Journal of History, 44(2), 347-348.
- Camilla Townsend, Malintzin's Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), pp. xv+287, $23.95, pb; £14.95, pb.. Journal of Latin American Studies, 40(1), 135-136.
- Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosí. The Sixteenth Century Journal, 37(4), 1134-1134.
- False mystics. Deviant orthodoxy in colonial Mexico. By Nora E. Jaffary. Pp. xvii+258 incl. 8 tables and 4 figs. Lincoln, Nebraska–London: University of Nebraska Press, 2004. £34.95. 0 8032 2599 7. The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 57(2), 387-387.
- Kathleen Ann Myers, Neither Saints Nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America. New York, NY, and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. xiii + 273 pp. ISBN: 0-19-515723-0.. Itinerario, 29(2), 141-142.
- Reviews of Exhibitions. Renaissance Studies, 18(3), 475-484.
- Introduction to Volume iii, The Cambridge World History of Violence (pp. 1-14). Cambridge University Press
- THE CAMBRIDGE WORLD HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, vol 3 1500-1800 CE Introduction, CAMBRIDGE WORLD HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, VOL III: 1500-1800 CE (pp. 1-14).
- View this article in WRRO Gender and Aztec Life Cycles In Nichols DL & Rodríguez-Alegría E (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the Aztecs (pp. 387-398). Oxford University Press
- 'A remarkably patterned life': Domestic and public in the aztec household city In Foxhall L & Neher G (Ed.), Gender and the City Before Modernity (pp. 38-56). John Wiley & Sons
- View this article in WRRO Insights from the Ancient Word: The use of colonial sources in the study of Aztec society In Roque R & Wagner KA (Ed.), Engaging Colonial Knowledge: Imperial Archives in World History (pp. 115-134). Palgrave Macmillan
- Introduction, Bonds of Blood (pp. 1-13). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Marriage and Partnership, Bonds of Blood (pp. 103-132). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Living with Death, Bonds of Blood (pp. 14-40). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Birth and Blood, Bonds of Blood (pp. 41-65). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Tying the Knot, Bonds of Blood (pp. 89-102). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Outside the Norm, Bonds of Blood (pp. 133-154). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Conclusion, Bonds of Blood (pp. 178-182). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Growing Up, Bonds of Blood (pp. 66-88). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Aging and Mortality, Bonds of Blood (pp. 155-177). Palgrave Macmillan UK
- Bonds of Blood Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture Introduction, BONDS OF BLOOD: GENDER, LIFECYCLE, AND SACRIFICE IN AZTEC CULTURE (pp. 1-+).
- Sexuality and Gender in Mexico In Smith MD (Ed.), The Greenwood encyclopedia of love, courtship, and sexuality through history (pp. 150-1).
- View this article in WRRO Female Dismemberment and Decapitation: Gendered Understandings of Power in Aztec Ritual In Carroll S (Ed.), Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective (pp. 47-63). Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.
- View this article in WRRO Earth Women and Eagle Warriors: Revealing Aztec gender roles through ritual violence In Watson KD (Ed.), Assaulting the Past: Violence and Civilization in Historical Context (pp. 162-178). Cambridge Scholars Press
- Sean F. McEnroe. A Troubled Marriage: Indigenous Elites of the Colonial Americas. Diálogos Series. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2020. Illustrations. xxviii + 319 pp. $95.00 (e-book), ISBN 978-0-8263-6120-2; $34.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8263-6119-6; $95.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8263-6118-9.. H-LatAm.
- Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World, ed. Ilona Katzew. The English Historical Review, 128(534), 1213-1214. View this article in WRRO
- Pete sigal, the flower and the scorpion: Sexuality and ritual in early nahua culture (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011), pp. xvi + 361. ISBN 978 082235138 (hb); 978 082235151 (pb).. Gender and History, 25(2), 376-377. View this article in WRRO
- Catherine R. DiCesare, Sweeping the Way: Divine Transformation in the Aztec Festival of Ochpaniztli. H-LatAm.
- Matthew Restall and Felipe Fernández-Armesto: The Conquistadors: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2012). BBC History Magazine, 6(13), 71-71.
- Matthew Restall and Felipe Fernández-Armesto: The Conquistadors: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). BBC History Magazine, 71-71.
- Massimo Livi Bacci, El Dorado in the Marshes: Gold, Slaves and Souls Between the Andes and the Amazon, tr. Carl Ipsen (Cambridge, 2010). Bulletin of the Society for Renaissance Studies, 2(27), 36-37.
- Michael E. Smith, Aztec City-State Capitals (Gainsville, 2008). Urban History(1), 185-186.
- Another Face of Empire: Bartolomé de Las Casas, Indigenous Rights, and Ecclesiastical Imperialism (2007). Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire, 2(44), 347-347.
- Camilla Townsend, Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico (2006). Journal of Latin American Studies, 1(40), 135-136.
- Jane E. Mangan, Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosí (2005). The Sixteenth Century Journal: The Journal of Early Modern Studies, 4(37), 1134-1136.
- Kathleen Ann Myers, Neither Saints Nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America (2003). Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction, 2(29), 141-141.
- Ricardo Padron, The Spacious Word: Cartography, Literature, and Empire in Early Modern Spain (2004). Canadian Journal of History/Annales Canadiennes D’Histoire(XL), 306-307.
- Aztecs exhibition, catalogue and conference. Renaissance Studies11, 3(18), 475-478.
- View this article in WRRO ROUNDTABLE - Jace Weaver, The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press Press, 2014, £29.95). Pp. 360. ISBN 978-1-4696-1438-0.. Journal of American Studies.
- Women of Discord – the power of women in Aztec thought.
- Have scientists really found the germ responsible for killing 15m Aztecs?.
- Top 10 Books on the History of Latin America.
- Did the Aztecs have coming of age rituals?.
- Did the Aztecs allow divorce?.
- History Matters: Public History and the Value of the Humanities.
- Please Stop Telling Me Margaret Thatcher is a Style Icon: Gender and the Media.
- El Día de los Muertos.
Theses / Dissertations
- Warriors and Workers: Duality and Complementarity in Aztec Gender Roles and Relations. University of Oxford.
- View this article in WRRO Head to Head: Are Empires Always Bad? The Aztec Empire. History Today, 69(7).
- Freedom Begins With Respect.
- When Moctezuma Met Cortés.
- In Search of the Real Aztecs. BBC World Histories Magazine.
- Fall of the Aztecs: Moctezuma: Collaborator or victim?.
- Moctezuma: Collaborator or victim?.
- Cortés and Montezuma.
- Harpooning Ducks: Indigenous Americans, Immigration, and Multicultural Identity.
- Research group
I am keen to supervise research students in Indigenous American (particularly Mexican), Spanish American, colonial and Atlantic history, particularly those interested in Native travellers, gender, violence and early colonial sources. I would also be happy to discuss projects related to cultural exchange, imperial and Indigenous histories and Native American cultures.
- Completed students
- Harriet Smart - Choreography, Flexibility and Conformity in Postclassic Nahua Rituals.
- Teaching interests
I see teaching as central to my work, and I have received teaching awards from Leicester and Sheffield, related to my interests in innovative teaching, learning and assessment, particularly in the field of e-learning.
I teach on a range of early modern, Indigenous, American and colonial topics, as well as on public history and questions of decolonisation. I particularly enjoy encouraging students to engage with the relevance of history in the contemporary world.
- Teaching activities
- HST2028 - Tenochtitlan, City of Blood and Flowers: Aztec Society in the Early Sixteenth Century
- HST2502 Understanding the Aztecs: Life and Death in Early Sixteenth-Century MExico
- HST31207 - Cannibals and Christians: Mexico and Spain c. 1492-1600
- HST6043 - Burying the White Gods: Indigenous People in the Early Modern Colonial World
- Professional activities and memberships
- Royal Historical Society - Fellow (FRHistS)
- Global Middle Ages network - Member
- American Society for Ethnohistory - Member
- Native American and Indigenous Studies Association - Member
Previous administrative roles
- Employability and Careers
- Director of Learning and Teaching
- Digital Media and Communications Co-ordinator
- Public engagement
I am keen on communicating history to a broad audience, and my latest book, On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe is a popular history, published by W&N in the UK and Knopf in America. As well as giving public lectures and school talks, I have media experience as a historical writer, consultant and expert ‘talking head’ for TV, radio, websites, publishers and popular magazines. I also work with schools and with the educational group Mexicolore, who regularly feature my research on their website. You can find me on twitter @carolinepennock.
In the media:
In January 2023, On Savage Shores was the Radio 4 Book of the Week and I appeared discussing my research on Radio 4’s Start the Week and Radio 3’s Free Thinking. I also discussed my book on podcasts including Not Just the Tudors, History Hit, and BBC History Extra as well as being interviewed by the Smithsonian Magazine and BBC History Magazine.
History Today put me ‘On The Spot’ with their probing questions in July 2017. In January 2018, I responded to media reports of the possible discovery of cocoliztli: the germ responsible for killing 15 million Aztecs. As well as writing for The Conversation, I was interviewed by both Inside Science and Making History on Radio 4. You can also hear me talking about the Aztecs on the BBC Civilisations podcast, shedding light on the history featured in the TV series, and on the acclaimed BBC podcast, You’re Dead to Me, which brings together historians and comedians to learn and laugh about the past
I have appeared on TV programmes for global broadcasters including the BBC, the Science Channel, Sky, Channel 4 and the Smithsonian Channel and have featured on In Our Time on Radio 4. Most recently, I went in search of the Lost Pyramids of the Aztecs, which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK. I have also acted as a historical consultant for several TV projects, including Heroes and Villains: Cortés for the BBC and Mankind: The Story of All of Us for the History Channel.
You can see me talking about early modern Dutch map-making in the BBC's The Beauty of Maps [at c.0.58 and 2.24] or hear me talking about the Valladolid Debate and the siege of Tenochtitlan on In Our Time. I have also appeared repeatedly on BBC History
Magazine's History Extra podcast, Dan Snow’s History Hit and Suzannah Lipscomb’s Not Just The Tudors.
My other TV appearances include: Secrets: The Golden Raft of El Dorado and Secrets: A Viking Map?; Ancient Black Ops: Aztec Eagle Warriors; and Masterpieces of the British Museum: The Aztec Double-Headed Serpent [Part 1 and Part 2].
You can also hear me on the acclaimed history and comedy podcast You’re Dead To Me, as well as on the BBC Civilisations podcast, shedding light on the Aztec history featured in the TV series.
Popular History Writing
As well as writing articles for popular publications such as History Today and BBC History Magazine, I have also consulted on a number of fiction and children’s books, as well as blogging for History Matters. I was also invited to be a guest blogger for Scientific American on 'The 2012 Apocalypse, or Why the World Won’t End This Week'.
My popular publications include:
- Co-authored with Leila Blackbird, 'How Making Space For Indigenous Peoples Changes History' in Helen Carr and Suzannah Lipscomb (eds), What is History, Now? (2021_, pp.247-62
- ‘Head to Head: Are Empires Always Bad? The Aztec Empire’, History Today (July 2019)
- ‘When Moctezuma Met Cortés’, BBC World Histories Magazine (December 2018)
- ‘Have scientists really found the germ responsible for killing 15m Aztecs?’, The Conversation (January 2018)
- 'In Search of the Real Aztecs', BBC World Histories Magazine (November 2017)
- 'Fall of the Aztecs: Moctezuma: Collaborator or victim?', BBC Knowledge Magazine (April 2012)
- 'Moctezuma: Collaborator or victim?', BBC History Magazine (October 2009)
- 'Cortés and Montezuma', BBC History Magazine (November 2007)