Photo of Mary VincentProfessor Mary Vincent

M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.) FRHistS

Professor of Modern European History.

Vice-President and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

20th Century Spain; Spanish Republic & Civil War; history of gender.

+44 (0)114 22 22566 | Jessop West 2.11

Semester Two 2019/20 Office Hours: Wednesdays 10:00 - 12:00



Mary Vincent has been teaching at Sheffield since 1988. Her main research interests lie in the history of modern Spain, particularly in the period of the Civil War and the Franco dictatorship (1931-75). An interest in the social basis of Franco's support, particularly that provided by the Catholic Church, led her to write Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic, (1996). An increasing interest in the history of gender led to various publications, including edited collections on Gender and History, (with Robert Shoemaker, 1998) and Gender and War c.1918-1949, (2001). She published Modern Spain 1833-2002: People and State (2007), a general history of the Spanish state that focuses on the persistence of political violence and the historical problem of state legitimacy in Spain. Mary is writing a book on religious violence in the Spanish Civil War.

Professional Roles

Royal Historical Society - Vice-President and Fellow

Contemporary European History - Member of the editorial board

Gender and History - Member of the editorial collective

Cañada Blanch Centre for Contemporary Spanish Studies, LSE - Associate member



A continuing interest is the history both of religion and of political violence has defined her current project, which is a study of the nature of Franco's 'crusade'. She is also working on shorter pieces on position of Spanish protestants under a 'National-Catholic' regime.

Professor Vincent's undergraduate teaching includes a level 3 document-based Special Subject on the 'Spanish Civil War' (HST384/385). At MA level she offers an optional module entitled 'Life Stories: Men and Women in War and Revolution, 1914-49'. She regularly supervises dissertations on modern Spanish history and on British involvement in the Spanish Civil War.

Research Supervision

Mary welcomes applications from postgraduate students with an interest in the history of Spain as well as those working on civil wars, political violence, modern Catholicism, and the history of gender.

Current students:

  • Joel Baker - Public works, infrastructure development, and the social construction of the Spanish state under the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, 1923-1930.
  • Carla Gutierrez Ramos - Labour and Nation. Welfare, Sub-State Nationalism and Labour Unionism in Galicia and Scotland.
  • David Kann - Conflicts and Collaboration in the Relationship between the Joodsche Weekblad (Jewish Weekly), the Joodsche Raad (Jewish Council) and the Germans during the Persecution of the Jews in the Occupied Netherlands.
  • Imen Neffati - The Politics of Offence in Hara Kiri and Charlie Hebdo 1960-2015.
  • Vicki Pugh - Problem bodies and sideshow space: A study of twentieth century sideshow in Blackpool 1930-1940.
  • Maria Vasquez-Aguilar - Exiles in Action: Political activism amongst the Chilean Refugees in the UK, 1973-2013.
  • Sabine Hanke (second supervisor) - Bodies, Beasts, and the Others. Empire in the German and British Circus, 1890-1945.

All current students by supervisor

Completed students include:

  • Rebecca Mytton (second supervisor) - Revolutionary Masculinities in the IRA, 1916-1923.
  • Stephanie Wright - Franco's 'Mutilated Gentleman': Masculinity and War Disability in Modern Spain, 1936-1976.
  • Hannah Parker (second supervisor) - Voices of the New Soviet Woman: Gender, Emancipation and Agency in Letters to the Soviet State, 1924-1941.
  • Ryosuke Yokoe (second supervisor) - Medical understandings of alcohol and the liver in twentieth-century Britain.
  • James Yeoman - Print Culture and the Formation of the Anarchist Movement in Spain: 1890-1915.
  • Matthew Kerry - Radical Politics in the Spanish Second Republic: Asturias, 1931-1936.
  • David Page (MPhil, second supervisor) - Pioneers of European Federalism: the New Europe Group and New Britain Movement (1931–1935).
  • Ruth Fisher (Hispanic Studies) - Resistance and Survival: Deconstructing the Narratives of Women Political Prisoners after the Spanish Civil War.

PhD study in History


Full list of Publications


Spain, 1833-2002, People and State (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Mary Vincent Spain book coverSpain, 1833-2002, People and State (Oxford University Press, 2007)

This book provides a cultural history of Spanish politics from the civil war of 1833 to the Spanish adoption of the Euro in 2002, a period dominated for the most part by violent military interventions in the political process, a succession of weak, unstable, but repressive governments, and the ever-present threat of rebellion from below, and culminating in the victory and repressive dictatorship of General Franco.

Using a wide range of sources, both textual and material, Mary Vincent focuses on the question of how ordinary people came to identify themselves both as citizens and as Spaniards throughout this turbulent period. She argues that a weak state rather than a weak sense of nation was the key to Spain's problematic development and that this is the key to explaining both the persistence of political violence and the strength of regional nationalism in modern Spain.

But, as Mary Vincent shows, from the 1970s, with modernization of the state and the introduction of democratic politics, all Spaniards - including Catalans and Basques - enthusiastically adopted an additional identity, that of Europeans. And, while questions over the territorial unity of the Spanish state have still not been wholly resolved, nevertheless the political choices facing Spaniards today are very similar to those of other western European nations - and Spanish singularity appears, at last, to be consigned to the past.

Catholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-36 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996)

Manry Vincent Catholicism in the Second Spanish RepublicCatholicism in the Second Spanish Republic: Religion and Politics in Salamanca, 1930-36 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996)

The Second Spanish Republic survived unchallenged for a mere five years, its fall plunging Spain into a bitter civil war. The brief political history of the republic was characterized by the rapid polarization of right and left - a process in which religion played a crucial role. Many of the ordinary faithful came to feel excluded from the new Republic, whilst those who aspired to lead them insisted that to be Catholic was to be anti-Republican.

Mary Vincent examines this crucial period in Spanish history, focusing on Salamaca, the home province of the leader of the principal confessional party. Jose Maria Gil Robles, and the place where the right mobilized earlier than anywhere else in Spain. The author demonstrates how political choice was eroded under the Second Republic, and reveals how popular religiosity came to be the right's most potent weapon.

This original and important new analysis throws new light on the origins of the Spanish Civil War and on the controversies over who bore ultimate responsibility for the conflict.

Articles and Essays

‘Ungodly Subjects: Protestants in National-Catholic Spain, 1939-53’, European History Quarterly (2015) 45:1, 108-31

‘Made flesh? Gender and doctrine in religious violence in twentieth-century Spain’, Gender and History (2013) 25:3, 668-80

Religión e identidad nacional’ in Javier Moreno Luzón and Xosé Núñex Seixas, Ser Españoles: Imaginarios nacionalistas en el siglo XX (Barcelona: RBA, 2013), 207-45

'Breaking the Silence? Memory and Oblivion since the Spanish Civil War' in Efrat Ben-Ze’ev, Ruth Ginio, Jay Winter (eds), Shadows of War: A Social History of Silence in the Twentieth Century (2010)

'Spain' in R. J. B. Bosworth (ed), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism (2009)

'Expiation as Performative Rhetoric: The Politics of Gesture in Post-Civil War Spain' in M. J. Braddick (ed), Past and Present supplement 4 (2009)

'The Keys to the Kingdom: Religious Violence in the Spanish Civil War', in Chris Ealham and Michael Richards (eds), The Splintering of Spain: New Approaches to the Spanish Civil War (2005)

'Camisas Nuevas: Style and Uniformity in the Falange Española, 1933-43', in Wendy Parkins (ed), Fashioning the Body Politic: Dress, Gender, Citizenship (2002)

'The Martyrs and the Saints: Masculinity and the Construction of the Francoist Crusade', History Workshop Journal 47 (1999) pp. 68-98.


 Module Leader

The Spanish Civil War, HST384/385 (Level 3 Special Subject module)

The Spanish Civil War, HST384/385

This module introduces students to the advanced study of the Spanish Civil War—a conflict that was not only pivotal in the contemporary history of Spain but that also had a resonance far beyond national boundaries. Volunteers, aid workers, and journalists flocked to Spain from all over the globe, turning the Civil War into the world's first media war as well as an international event. Eye-witness accounts (including photography and film) provide a window into the internal cleavages that ravaged Spain between 1936 and 1939. The module covers the period from the demise of the Second Republic to the beginning of Franco's New State and so considers the experience and memory of the Republican defeat alongside the Francoist victory. Like all civil wars, the Spanish conflict was a struggle between competing visions of the nation: whoever won would determine the future shape of Spanish society. The content of these visions will be examined, as will the competing aims of republicans, regional nationalists, and revolutionaries, on the one hands, and those of conservatives, Catholics, and fascists on the other.

Modernity and Power: Individuals & The State in the Modern World, HST6603 (Postgraduate module)

Modernity and Power: Individuals & The State in the Modern World, HST6603

This core module introduces students to the challenges of studying modern history at an advanced level. It explores the distinctiveness of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as a period, the study of which raises particular questions about perspective and interpretation, about the relationship between academic history and public understandings of the recent past, and about the selection and treatment of sources across a wide range of media. Classes will focus on some of the key themes and developments in recent historiography, including an engagement with the use of interdisciplinary approaches, particularly in the study of contemporary history.

Life Stories: Men and Women in War and Revolution, 1917-49, HST6870 (Postgraduate module)

Life Stories: Men and Women in War and Revolution, 1917-49, HST6870

This module will allow students to explore issues of identity and how these changed during the turbulent early years of the twentieth century. The emphasis will be on how identities are expressed in individuals' own textual production. Seminars are thus structured around different genres of 'ego-document' (indcluding diaries, memoires, interviews, and children's drawings), allowing students to consider how identities are negotiated in different, and often harsh, social and political circumstances. The module thus explores individual and collective identities, locating the individual in the momentous history of twentieth-century Europe.

Public Engagement

Public Engagement

To follow

In The Media

Spain 40 Years On: The Historical Legacy of Franco's Dictatorship (podcast)

'The Spanish Civil War', BBC Radio 4's In Our Time hosted by Melvyn Bragg

Administrative Duties

Administrative Duties

Head of Department (2012-15).
Council Member.
Senate Member.