Professor Julia Smith

  • Professor - Edwards Chair in Medieval History (History)

telephone: 0141-3305139

Research interests

Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

My early publications focused on Carolingian political and social history. More recently, I have published heavily on women and gender, and on saints’ cults and hagiography, and I welcome research students in all these aspects of Late Antique and Early Medieval History. My research is grounded in the premise that gender and sanctity were complementary, but fundamentally different ways of organising, expressing and debating power relations. At the moment, I hold a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship for a book-length project which prioritises a material culture approach. Christianity in Fragments locates saints’ relics at the intersection of material culture and the cultural history of medieval Christianity and thereby substitutes objects for texts as the main field of enquiry. I am also gathering material towards a book which will combine gender and material culture, provisionally entitled Roman Martyrs in the Medieval Imagination. I am a founding member of the Glasgow University Centre for Gender History, and a regular participant in international conferences.

Among the topics my research students past and present have selected are:

  • 'Gender and Violence in the Early Middle Ages’
  • ‘Queen Brunhild and Representations of Merovingian Queenship’
  • 'Hagiography and Saint's Cults in the Diocese of Liège, 9th-10th centuries'
  • ‘Blood and martyrdom in Late Antiquity’
  • ‘Anglo-Saxon cultural perceptions of the Britons’
  • ‘Texts and objects in the medieval cult of St Edmund of East Anglia’

Key publications:

Smith, Julia M.H. (2012) Portable Christianity: relics in the Medieval west (c.700-c.1200). Proceedings of the British Academy, 181 . pp. 143-167. ISSN 0068-1202 (doi:10.5871/bacad/9780197265277.003.0006)

Smith, Julia M.H. (2005) Europe after Rome: a New Cultural History 500-1000. Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 9780192892638

Smith, Julia M.H. (2010) Rulers and relics, c.750-c.950: 'treasure on earth, treasure in heaven'. In: Walsham, A. (ed.) Relics and Remains. Series: Past and present supplements (5). Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 73-96. ISBN 9780199600588

Noble, T.F.X. and Smith, J.M.H., (Eds.) (2008) Early Medieval Christianities, c. 600-c.1100. Series: Cambridge history of Christianity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780521817752

Smith, Julia M.H. (2003) Einhard: the sinner and the saint. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (Sixth series), 13 . pp. 55-77. (doi:10.1017/S0080440103000033)


  • 2013-2016   Leverhulme Trust: Major Research Fellowship (£132,165)
  • 2013   Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton: Fellowship ($68,000)
  • 2008-9   Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton: Cotterill Membership ($41,655)
  • 2008   British Academy: Conference Grant (£1,250); Royal Historical Society: Conference Grant (£300), both for Women’s History Network conference ‘Gender and Generations: Life-cycles and Change in Women’s History’
  • 2004   British Academy: Overseas Conference Grant (£665)
  • 2003-4   Arts and Humanities Research Board: Research Leave (£13,153)
  • 2001   Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies, Princeton: Fellowship ($28,000)
  • 1999-2000   Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study: Fellowship (€25,000)




  • Charles Hammel, Narrating Early Medieval Iberia: History, Text and Identity, c409-586. 
  • Colette Bowie, The Daughters of Eleanor of Aquitaine: a study in comparative queenship. 
  • Emma Thomas, Queen Brunhild and representations of Merovingian Queenship.
  • Andrew Gourlay, Things Left Behind: Relics, Cult and Identity in 13thC East Anglia.



Honours courses:

  • Heroic History in Anglo-Saxon England: Beowulf in Context
  • Making Saints in the early Middle Ages
  • Saints and Society in early England

Graduate courses:

  • Writing the Middle Ages
  • From Antiquity to the Middle Ages
  • Medieval Palaeography

Additional information

Other external activities include:
  • AHRC Peer Review College member
  • Academic Editor, Longmans Medieval World series
  • Panel of Judges, Wolfson History Prize.