Burnett Fletcher Chair of History
Born and brought up in Edinburgh, I was educated at St Andrews University, the Jagiellonian University, Kraków, and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, where I wrote my doctorate under the supervision of Professor Norman Davies. After three years as a schoolteacher, I joined the department of history at King's College London in September 1987. I was promoted to reader in 2001, and served for three years as Head of Department, before being appointed to a chair in Early Modern History at the University of Aberdeen, and to the headship of the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, which I held until 2009. I have held the Burnett Fletcher Chair in History at Aberdeen since 2013. In 2009 I was awarded a three-year Research Chair by the British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation.
My main research interests lie in the history of eastern Europe from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. I am also interested in the history of Scandinavia, in particular the history of Sweden, and in the history of warfare. In my work on Poland-Lithuania I have a particular interest in the Polish-Lithuanian monarchy under the Vasa dynasty (1587-1668) and in noble society and culture.
My first book, After the Deluge: Poland-Lithuania and the Second Northern War (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1993) is a study of the political impact on Poland-Lithuania of the series of wars which engulfed it after the great Cossack rebellion of 1648-54. My second book developed these themes across a much wider chronological period, and with an expanded geographical focus. As an admirer of Michael Roberts's work on Sweden, I set out to examine his theory of the Military Revolution in the context of the wars of northern and eastern Europe. This was published as The Northern Wars: War State and Society in Northeastern Europe, 1558 - 1721 (Longmans, Harlow, 2000), which won the 2005 Early Slavic Studies Association Distinguished Scholarship Award.
My current project is to write a history of the Polish-Lithuanian union from its inception in 1385-6 to its demise during the partitions of Poland-Lithuania at the end of the eighteenth century. It was for this project that I was awarded the British Academy/Wolfson Foundation Research Chair in 2009. I had a contract with Oxford University Press to produce a 250,000-word study, but it rapidly became clear to me that the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, created at the Union of Lublin in 1569, cannot be properly understood without a clear idea of how the union between the kingdom of Poland and the grand duchy of Lithuania was forged after 1385.There has been no detailed study of this topic since Oskar Halecki's 2-volume work published in Polsh in 1919, which was written from a Polish perspective, albeit one broadly in sympathy with the peoples of the grand duchy of Lithuania, and was written as a very different Polish state struggled to establish itself following the collapse of the partitioning powers at the end of the First World War. The formation of the Polish-Lithuanian union profoundly altered the historical course of eastern Europe; it lasted over four centuries and its legacy can be seen to this day, yet there is no study in English of its formation. OUP therefore generously agreed to publish the work in two 250,000-word volumes, the first of which will be published in June 2015: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198208693.do.
As part of this project I have also run two international conferences on comparative unions in late medieval and early modern Europe, one at the Newberry Library in Chicago in September 2014; the second at the Burn, Edzell, Aberdeenshire, in September 2014 )co-organised with Professor Michael Brown). I am currently negotiating with publishers to publishe the proceedings.
My seond current project is to complete a scholarly introduction for volume IV of the English translation of Mykhailo Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine-Rus'
British Academy/Wolfson Foundation Research Chair, 2009-2012: £150,000
I teach early modern European history and on the course on the Birth of Modernity at subhonours level, and currently teach honours courses on the Making of Eastern Europe, 1350-1863 (from September 2015), the Military Revolution, and, as a special subject, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). I coordinate and teach on the third-year course Thinking History.
I have three major writing projects under contract:
I am willing to supervise doctoral dissertations on Poland-Lithuania from the fourteenth to the nineteenth century, on the history of Sweden in the early modern period, and on the history of warfare.
Mr Olli Bäckström, The Army in the Woods: Sweden and Irregular Warfare against Denmark, 1643–1660' (University of Aberdeen PhD, 2012-)
Mr Mindaugas Šapoka: 'The Genesis of the Confederation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1710-1715' (Aberdeen University PhD thesis, submitted March 2014).
Dr Piotr Stolarski: 'Friars on the Frontier: the Dominican Order in Southeastern Poland in the reign of W?adys?aw IV, 1632-1648' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2008).
Dr Christoph Witzenrath: 'Institutional Culture and the Government of Siberia, 1598-1721' (University of London PhD Thesis, awarded 2005).
Dr Dominic Phelps: 'Saxony and the Thirty Years War, 1629-1635' (University of London PhD Thesis awarded 2004).
Dr Arturas Vadiliauskas: 'The Szlachta of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the reign of Sigismund III, 1587-1632; (University of London PhD Thesis awarded 2001)