Photo of Martial StaubProfessor Martial Staub

L. ès L. (Paris I), M. ès L., D.Hist. (Paris X), Habilitation (EHESS/Paris)

Professor of Medieval History

European History 1200-1600

+44 (0)114 22 22572 | Jessop West 2.10

Semester Two 2017/18 Office Hours: Mondays 11:00-12:00 and Tuesdays 14:00-15:00



Professor Staub attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Fontenay/St Cloud and took his degrees at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, the University of Paris X Nanterre and at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Before joining the Department in 2004, he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute of History at Göttingen in Germany.

Membership of learned societies

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Board memberships

External member of the committee of the Academies of Sciences of Heidelberg and Leipzig on “Klöster im Mittelalter”

Member of the organisational committee of the international biennial medieval conferences of La Mendola (Italy)

Member of the editorial board of German History and Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte


Visiting Professor in History at Newman University from July 2013


Current Research

Professor Staub’s research areas include: the history of the Church in the Middle Ages, late medieval European history with a focus on the cities of South Germany and Italy, the history of medieval philanthropy and endowments, all areas in which he is widely published (for a comprehensive publication list, click here). He is also interested in historiography (he was part of the White Rose Network project ‘The Making of the Middle Ages’) and French and postcolonial theory. These interests converge in the history of exile and, more recently, the history of spatial mobility, in which he has developed collaborative projects, starting with the Sheffield Exile Project that he set up in 2005.

Professor Staub is co-director of the new Centre for the Study of Abrupt, Violent and Traumatic Change of the University of Sheffield. He currently works on a collaborative project on spatial and social mobility in Europe in the Middle Ages and on a monograph on ‘The Global Citizen, 1200-1600’, which aims to understand how a decentralised society like Latin Europe was able to create a global world by looking at the role played by citizens and citizenship in this development.

Research Supervision

Elizabeth Goodwin - Female Monastic Experience of Reform in England, 1300-1540.

Matt Hannaford (Geography) - Consequences of Past and Future Climate Change for State Formation and Security in Southern Africa.

Mark Critchlow - League Memories: Recollections of Catholic Political Engagement in late Sixteenth-Century Paris.

Ben Lacey - Constructing Communities: Identification and Self-understanding in the Twelfth-Century North of England.

Daniel Murphy - The Tormented Church: Visions of Crisis and Reform in the Medieval Imagination, c. 1150-1250.

Robyn Parker - The Social Theatre of Wandering Preachers and Hermits in France, 1050-1150.

Hannah Probert - Fatherhood between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

I welcome research students working on European history from 12th to 16th century as well as students with an interest in the history of migration and exile, the history of ideas and the history of historiography.

Further information on research opportunities within the department.


Full list of Publications

Selected books

Les paroisses et la Cité: Nuremberg du XIIIe siècle à la Réforme (Civilisations et sociétés 116), (Paris: Editions de l´EHESS, 2003)

Martial Staub Les paroisses et la Cité book coverLes paroisses et la Cité: Nuremberg du XIIIe siècle à la Réforme (Civilisations et sociétés 116), (Paris: Editions de l´EHESS, 2003)

This book examines late medieval parishes as communities and follows their transformation until the Reformation by looking at Nuremberg, one of the most thriving cities of Renaissance Germany and Europe. It contends that the Reformation did not make the parishes civic communities, but that this development had already taken place before it happened and may explain the dynamics of urban Reformation in Southern Germany.

La république des fondateurs. Participation, communauté et charité à la fin du Moyen Âge et à l'époque moderne (Geschichte: Forschung und Wissenschaft 44), (Berlin: LIT, 2013)

Staub Republique book coverLa république des fondateurs. Participation, communauté et charité à la fin du Moyen Âge et à l'époque moderne(Geschichte: Forschung und Wissenschaft 44), (Berlin: LIT, 2013)

This books reassesses the politics of the endowment in Renaissance Europe and the nineteenth and twentieth-century West. It contends that categories like civil society, the market, etc. fail to grasp the participatory dimension of foundations. By looking at late medieval and early modern practice and politics, in Germany and Italy, it proposes an alternative view on republicanism and lays bare its potential for contemporary politics.

G. Melville & M. Staub (eds.) Enzyklopädie des Mittelalters 2 vol. (2nd ed., Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft/Primus, 2013) (English translation forthcoming, 2015)

Martial Staub Enzyklopädie des Mittelalters book coverG. Melville & M. Staub (eds.) Enzyklopädie des Mittelalters 2 vol. (2nd ed., Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft/Primus, 2013) (English translation forthcoming, 2015)

This two-volume edited collection offers a systematic approach to the history of the medieval Europe by more than 80 specialists in the different fields of medieval history and studies. Rather than a survey, it makes cutting-edge international and interdisciplinary scholarship available to experts, students and the public through a comparative European lens with a strong emphasis on the structures and dynamics of medieval society and culture.

Selected Chapters

M. Staub, “Exil - Legitimation durch Unverfügbarkeit”, in: A. Kehnel & C. Andenna (eds), Paradoxien der Legitimation (Micrologus’ Library 35), (Florence: SISMEL, 2010), p. 497-510

Staub Paradoxien book coverM. Staub, “Exil - Legitimation durch Unverfügbarkeit”, in: A. Kehnel & C. Andenna (eds), Paradoxien der Legitimation (Micrologus’ Library 35), (Florence: SISMEL, 2010), p. 497-510

This chapter examines the paradoxes of the legitimation of power through exile in the medieval context and beyond. It looks in turn at the dominium over people and the world as creation. It makes visible continuities over time to recent history and relates it to the dynamics of paradoxical legitimation of power.

M. Staub, “The Poverty of Civism”, in: A. Gestrich & S. A. King (eds), The Dignity of the Poor in European narratives 1780-1940, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

This chapter examines the links between the rights of the poor and citizenship in medieval Europe. Through a close examination of voluntary poverty, communal politics and natural rights discussion, it also provides an unexpected contextualisation of modern sociological theory regarding wealth, participation and welfare (esp. Georg Simmel, Robert E. Park and the Chicago School).

M. Staub, “For a global history of migration and the nation-state”, in: M. Staub (ed.), Migration and the Nation-State (forthcoming)

This chapter suggests that national history be seen as part of, and included into, a global history of migration. It shows, in particular, how national history can overcome traditional myth of origins-narratives and Herderian-type cultural history by exploring the circumstances under which global developments gave rise, in the German case and beyond, to national structures and histories. The dynamics of the nation-states is thus embedded in global history while the relationship between political imagination and practice is reassessed.

Selected Articles

M. Staub, “Im Exil der Geschichte”, in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte (2008/I), p. 5-23

This article is a German translation of my inaugural lecture on “Exiling History” at the University of Sheffield on 10 May 2006, which is available online in English at: There I suggested, based on a cultural history of exile, that exile be considered a subject as much as an object of history. By endorsing the exile’s perspective and politics and placing more emphasis on movement and migration, historians may unleash the critical potential of their discipline, which remains in the mainstream dominated by statist and static assumptions.

M. Staub, “The Hidden and the Naked: Heretics, Exiles and the Truth of the Archive”, in: Parallax 19/4 (2013), p. 74-83

This article explores the intriguing continuity between pre and post-modern periods by insisting on the significance of archiving as a procedure of power-knowledge. Heresy recording played a crucial role in this development as it was construed so as to “uncover” and, hence, demonstrate the “hidden” character of heresy, thus making archives places where the truth could be found. As such, archives can be said to have been at the core of biopolitics as defined by Michel Foucault. Exile, as another common form of exclusion, has not attracted the same attention as heresy. This article explores the links between exile and “natality”, to use the key notion of Arendt’s reflexion on biopolitics. It dwells, in particular, on St Augustine for whom the nakedness of the beginning was central to the self-awareness of the subject, his confessions and, hence, for the archive of culture. This article contends that heresy and exile represent two poles of biopolitics and account for the ambiguities of archiving and its reference to truth in Western culture and politics.

M. Staub, “’Im Rücken die Ruinen Europas’: Katastrophendenken zwischen Augustinus und Heiner Müller”, in: Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte (2014/I), p. 34-43

This article aims to contribute to an intellectual history of the notion of “caring for the future” by exploring the relationship between an ethics that includes the projected collective impact of human action and the ideas of living in a time after the apocalypse on which its justification rests, in particular in the case of Hans Jonas’s ‘ principle of responsibility’. It delineates a history of misunderstandings in the interpretation of the work of St Augustine by contextualising it while offering a reading of the ways in which it was de- and re-contextualised in twentieth-century philosophy and post-modern theory. The article thus also outlines the advantages of a history of idea that accounts for the complexity of reception processes and includes hidden intellectual streams in the context of modern societies.



Cultural Encounters, HST3302 (Level 3 comparative module)

Cultural Encounters, HST3302

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

Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe, HST114 (Level 1 module)

Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe, HST114

The module is designed as an introduction into research on the Middle Ages and aims to familiarise students with the method of the discipline. Seminars will address both the tools of modern interpretation of the Middle Ages and, in 6 intercalated seminars, the materials (sources) used by historians. Further, modern interpretation will be subsumed under three main approaches: Transitions, which will deal with influential chronological narratives and refresh students´ knowledge of the main sections of medieval history; Perspectives, which will introduce students to both the perspectives of historians and the perspectives of medieval people; and Identities, which will present, and critically deal with, some structural elements identified by historians of medieval societies.

The Medieval Inquisition, HST2011 (Level 2 document module)

The Medieval Inquisition, HST2011

The Inquisition – an extraordinary court instituted by bishops from the 13th century to judge heretics and encourage their return to the Roman Church – marks an important development in medieval history and has played an essential role in modern perceptions of the Middle Ages. By focusing on some of the best known sources of the Inquisition, which have been important in recent historiography as well as contemporary fiction (The Name of the Rose), this document option will help students reflect on how a better understanding of the Middle Ages and a critical questioning of modern prejudices can benefit from each other.

The Dawn of Modernity in the Late Middle Ages, HST6031 (Postgraduate module)

The Dawn of Modernity in the Late Middle Ages, HST6031

This module seeks to reassess the picture of the late Middle Ages as an age of crisis and decay to be replaced by the Renaissance and modernity. It aims to show how groups of innovative people invented a new world characterised by international capitalism, man-centred subjectivity and claims of communal participation, and why their new world(s) became the dominant framework of European history for the centuries to follow. The first modern European colonies in the near Atlantic Ocean were both a laboratory for, and a crucial step to, the successful establishment of a new world within and without Europe.

Approaching the Middle Ages, HST6601 (Postgraduate module)

Approaching the Middle Ages, HST6601

This module provides students with a grounding in key themes and debates in current medieval research. Classes will focus on historiographical developments and new methodological approaches to familiar problems, covering topics such as the problems of studying pre-industrial societies, the interpretation of material culture, methods for studying the medieval economy, and the examination of power structures and political culture. Students will also be introduced to technical and methodological problems associated with the effective use and interpretation of pre-modern sources, such as court records, tax records and accounts, chronicles and pamphlets, paintings, drawings and artefacts.

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

“’My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, nor to one place’. Pre-modern citizens: here, there, and elsewhere”, keynote lecture at the 3rd Swiss Congress of Historical Sciences, Fribourg, Switzerland, 9 February 2013

After-lecture talk (in French):

After-lecture interview (in French):

In The Media

“Ideengeschichte: Apokalypse gestern – Gespräche”, interview, Radio Bremen, 16 February 2014

Administrative Duties

University Administrative Roles

Professor Staub works on the Europeanisation of the University of Sheffield with the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett.

He is also a Director of the Centre for the Study of Abrupt, Violent and Traumatic Change with Professors Grant Bigg (Department of Geography) and Sue Vice (School of English)