Professor Robert Frost

Professor Robert Frost

Burnett Fletcher Chair of History

Professor Robert Frost
Professor Robert Frost

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 272453
The University of Aberdeen Department of History
University of Aberdeen,
Room 112 Crombie Annexe,
Meston Walk,
Old Aberdeen,
AB24 3FX


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, until 2004, when I was 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 for my history of the Polish-Lithuanian union. Oxford University Press published the first volume of this study in 2015: The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania, volume 1 The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385-1569. In July 2016 I was elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy, and began a three-year Leverhulme Major Fellowship to work on volume two (2016-2019). Volume 1 was awarded the Pro Historia Polonorum prize in 2017 for the best work on Polish History published by a foreign author between 2012 and 2017. It also received the 2017 prize from the Polish Foreign Ministry for the best foreign-language book on Polish history published between 2015 and 2017, and the Benedict the Pole prize, awarded by the Travellers Club. A Polish translation of volume one appeared in October 2018, published by Rebis.

Internal Memberships and Affiliations

  • Discipline Research Leader in History, University of Aberdeen, 2012-2016, 2019-
  • Head of the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, 2004-2009
  • Head of the History Department, King's College London, 2001-2004
  • Chairman of the Federal Board of Examiners in History, University of London, 1995-1999

Research Overview

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.

Current Research

Main Project: The Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania. 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 a 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, The Making of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, 1385-1569 was published in June 2015:

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).

On 1 September 2016 I began a three-year Major Research Fellowship awarded by the Leverhulme Trust to write volume two of the Oxford History of Poland-Lithuania, The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1569-1815.

Other Projects: I have recently completed a scholarly introduction for volume IV of the English translation of Mykhailo Hrushevsky's History of Ukraine-Rus', to be published in late 2016 or early 2017.

I am also preparing a study of a painting in the National Portrait Gallery collections that claims to be a portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Polish dress. Experts in Stuart portraiture have dismissed the attribution, but the painting has never been properly studied, and there is a considerable amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest that there is a possibility at least that the painting genuinely does depict Charles Edward Stuart.

Research Funding and Grants

Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship, 2016-2019: £165,000

British Academy/Wolfson Foundation Research Chair, 2009-2012: £150,000


Teaching Responsibilities

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.

At the postgraduate level I invite applications for research projects on Poland-Lithuania between the fifteenth and the nineteenth century, on the Thirty Years War, on military history in eastern and northern Europe in the early modern period, and on aspects of Swedish history. I am happy to accept students wishing to take a distance PhD. My past and current doctoral students include:

Dr Arturas Vasiliauskas

‘The Szlachta of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the reign of Sigismund III, 1587–1632’ (University of London PhD Thesis awarded 2001).

Dr Dominic Phelps

‘Saxony and the Thirty Years War, 1629–1635’ (University of London PhD Thesis awarded 2004).

Dr Christoph Witzenrath

Institutional Culture and the Government of Siberia, 1598–1721’ (University of London PhD Thesis, awarded 2005).

Dr Piotr Stolarski

‘The Dominican Order in Southeastern Poland in the reign of Wladyslaw IV, 1632–1648’ (University of Aberdeen PhD thesis awarded 2008).

Dr Mindaugas Šapoka

‘The Genesis of the 1715 Vilnius Confederation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1710-1715’ (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2014).

Dr Rose Luminiello

'Confronting Modernity: Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, and the Catholic Church in Ireland and Poland, 1878-1914' (University of Aberdeen PhD Thesis, awarded 2019)

Mr Paweł Grabowski

'Relations between Burgundy and the Kingdom of Poland to 1477'. (Part-time distance PhD).



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  • Etiopczyk i słoń? Ludwika Maria Gonzaga i rola królowej w monarchii elekcyjnej (1645-1667) (The Ethiopian and the Elephant? Louise Marie Gonzaga and queenship in an electoral monarchy, 1645-1667)

    Frost, R. I.

    Ludwika Maria Gonzaga (1611-1667).: Między Paryżem a Warszawą. Kalinowska, A., Tyszka, P. (eds.). 1 edition. Zamek Królewski w Warszawie, pp. 15-50, 35 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Medicinal Herbs and Poison Plants: Reading Machiavelli in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, 1560–1700.

    Frost, R. I.

    Unie międzypaństwowe, parlamentaryzm i samorządność Rzeczypospolitej Obojga Narodów. Uruszczak, W., Noga, Z., Zwierzykowski, M., Fokt, K. (eds.). Wydawnicto Sejmowe

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Some Hidden Thunder: Hanover, Saxony and the Management of Political Union, 1697–1763

    Frost, R. I.

    The Hanoverian Succession in Great Britain and its Empire. Sirota, B. S., Macinnes, A. I. (eds.). 1 edition. Boydell & Brewer, pp. 193-211, 19 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • The Union of Lublin, 1569, 2019/Unia Lubelska z 1569r. w roku 2019

    Frost, R. I.

    Kancelaria Sejmu/Chancellery of the Sejm, Warsaw. 28 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

  • Elective Monarchy in Transylvania and Poland-Lithuania, 1569-1587. By Felicia Rosu. Oxford University Press. 2017. xvii + 221pp. £60.00.: Reviews and Short Notices

    Frost, R.

    History , vol. 103, no. 358, pp. 872-874

    Contributions to Journals: Reviews of Books, Films and Articles

  • Legacies of Union: Poland and Britain

    Frost, R. I.

    Crossing Points: UK-Poland: Common interests, shared concerns. Bacon, R. (ed.). 1 edition. British Council, pp. 62-68, 7 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

  • Liublinas/Lublin

    Frost, R. I.

    Mówią Wieki, vol. 2018, no. 1, pp. 16-21

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Oksfordzka Historia Unii Polsko-Litewskiej tom 1: Powstanie i Rozwój 1385–1569 (The Oxford History of the Polish-Lithuanian Union, vol. 1: The Making of the Union, 1385–1569)

    Frost, R. I.

    Rebis, Warsaw. 848 pages

    Books and Reports: Books

  • Unia Lubelska (The Union of Lublin)

    Frost, R. I.

    Mówią Wieki, vol. 2018, no. 1, pp. 28-33

    Contributions to Journals: Articles

  • Ukraine-Rus' and Poland-Lithuania, 1300–1569

    Frost, R. I.

    History of Ukraine-Rus' volume four. Sysyn, F., Yurkevych, M., Frost, R., Fedoruk, Y. (eds.). Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press, pp. xlviii-xcii, 45 pages

    Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters

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