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Dr Mark Williams

Dr Mark Williams

Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History

School of History, Archaeology and Religion

+44 (0)29 2087 0403
4.16, John Percival Building
Available for postgraduate supervision

Research interests

I am broadly interested in the cultural, religious, and political history of the seventeenth- and early eighteenth centuries, with particular interest in cultures of movement. This includes:

  • Exile
  • Travel
  • Mobility and Migration
  • Merchant Companies and Trade (particularly the East India Companies, including the VOC/Dutch East India Company)
  • Translation

As part of my current project, I am also increasingly interested in the history of emotion in the early-modern period, specifically the role of fear and anxiety in shaping early modern life as part of the wider globalisation process.

Education and qualifications

B.A. (Hons.), Queen's University, Canada

MPhil (Oxon., cum laude) 2008

DPhil (Oxon.) 2010

Career overview

2013 - Present - Lecturer in Early Modern History, Cardiff University

2012-2013 – Lecturer in Early Modern History, University of Leicester

2011-2012 – Irish Government Scholar in the History and Culture of Ireland, Hertford College, University of Oxford

Honours and awards

2018  - Fletcher Jones Foundation Fellow, Huntington Library

2015 - Shortlisted for The Whitfield Prize (Royal Historical Society) for The King's Irishmen: The Irish in the Exiled Court of Charles II, 1649-1660

2013 - Proxime accesit, The Alexander Essay Prize (Royal Historical Society) – Awarded for 'Between King, Faith and Reason: Father Peter Talbot (SJ) and Catholic Royalist Thought in Exile, 1649-1660', English Historical Review, 127 (528), pp. 1063-1099.

2010 – Oxford University Vice Chancellor's Fund Award

2008 – Research Grant - British Association for Irish Studies (BAIS)

I have also been nominated on three occasions for the Cardiff Student Union 'Enriching Student Life' Awards.

Professional memberships

2016 - Elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHS)

2015 - Appointed Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Awarded with Distinction)

2014 - Present - Editorial Board Member, Cultural & Social History




  • Williams, M. 2016. Nations. In: Loughran, T. ed. A Practical Guide to Studying History: Skills and Approaches.. Bloomsbury, pp. 15-30.





Teaching profile

My teaching is largely focused on early-modern Britain and Ireland, with particular interests on the wider cultural and religious contexts of Europe and the North Atlantic.

I am happy to supervise research students with interests in these fields and transnationalism in the early-modern period more generally.

Current teaching

  • HS1117 -  Renaissance, Reformation, and Revolution
  • HS1107 – History in Practice
  • HS1711 – Exploring Historical Debate
  • HS1793 – Making Empires: Britain and the World, 1541-1714
  • HS1801 - Dissertation
  • HS1828 – Deviants, Rebels, and Witches in Early-Modern Britain and Ireland

Research projects

The King's Irishmen

Published by Boydell & Brewer Press (2014), this is the first full-length study of the exiled royalist community during the 1650s. With particular focus on the Irish element, this research has allowed me to interrogate the ways in which issues of mobility, disillusionment, dishonour, and cultural encounters impacted upon notions of identity and belonging more generally in the early-modern world. This research also charts the creation and employment of confessional connections with European courts through common Catholic networks, managing the image of Charles II's court among these Continental communities, engaging in the production of pro-'Anglican' propaganda and shaping destructive post-Civil War acts of remembrance among the exiles.  By reconstructing the mental worlds of these Irish royalists with sensitivity to the impact of exile and dislocation within foreign political cultures, the study demands a more nuanced and complex understanding of the formation of early-modern mentalities which accounts for such formative influences as memory, geography, confession, and social influence across transnational dimensions.

Anxious Cosmopolitans: Mobility and Emotion in the wider British World, 1650-1720

My current project builds upon my interests in transnational history and mobility to incorporate and extend recent historical interest in the history of emotion. Building on recent cultural histories of fear and anxiety, as well as influences from the history of psychology and sociology, I seek to chart the connections between an increasingly-mobile society and the emotional impact(s) which this brought to the fore. These include anxieties over religious 'corruption', threats to gender boundaries, familial disintegration, and community cohesion. Central to this is a re-conceptualisation of 'cosmopolitanism' as both a lived experience and practice in the early-modern period, and a recovery of the languages through which people understood and opposed it. Drawing upon English, Dutch, and French-language source material from across the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, and the United States, this project will seek to respond to immediate cultural debates about the historical place of migration and mobility in the development of ‘Enlightenment’ values while contributing to wider, interdisciplinary discussion regarding the emotional and geographical scope of early-modernity.

The project foregrounds individuals and communities within three of the major trading companies of the period: the East India Company, Hudson's Bay Company, and Levant Company. It considers the ways in which corporate culture, travel, and power shaped the burgeoning 'cosmopolitanism' of those studied while challenging conventional ideas about how this was subsequently written about, internalised, systematised, and then practiced in the course of 'going global'.

In collaboration with Prof Stefan Grab (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg), I am working with the dagboeken ('day-books') of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) held in the Western Cape Archives, South Africa, to reconstruct historical climate and weather patterns as part of a wider interest in the 'global everyday' in the early modern period. Spanning nearly 150-years of nearly unbroken records, the dagboeken of the WCA will be transcribed and digitised as part of assembling the most substantial data set of weather patterns and human engagement with climate in the Southern Hemisphere.

I am happy to hear from and talk to any prospective students interested in:

  • Early Modern trading companies (British or Dutch)
  • Exile/migration/displacement between the 16th and 18th centuries
  • Transnational/'connected' histories of the early modern period

Areas of expertise