Professor William Naphy

Professor William Naphy
Fellow (Royal Historical Society); Dean for North American Affairs

Chair in History

Professor William Naphy
Professor William Naphy

Contact Details

work +44 (0)1224 273928
fax +44(0)1224 272203
The University of Aberdeen School of Divinity, History and Philosophy,
Crombie Annexe,
Meston Walk,
King's College,
University of Aberdeen,
Old Aberdeen,
AB24 3FX.
Room: 109


Professor Naphy received his doctorate (in Reformation History) from the University of St Andrews in 1993.  He was appointed a lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1993 and, in 1996, at Aberdeen where he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1999.  He was awarded a personal chair in 2007.  He is the author of six books with translations into six languages (including a translation, funded by the Norwegian government, into Serbo-Croat for an NGO raising awareness of homosexuality in Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia) as well as numerous edited volumes and articles in scholarly journals .   

He has made frequent appearances in the media (Channel 4; Grampian TV; BBC-Scotland; BBC-Radio 4: Start the Week) as a specialist on the history of witchcraft, plague, and sexuality.  He contributed extensively to the media in the discussions surrounding the Kirk's position on gay ministers.  He was historical consultant for Out in the World, a four-part series on the history of sexuality broadcast on Radio 3.

He is a leading authority on Calvin's Geneva during the sixteenth century as well as the history of crime and punishment in the early modern period  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and member of the Sixteenth Century Studies Society

During the course of 2009 and events commemorating Calvin's birth in 1509, Professor Naphy participated in the T. V. Moore endowed lecture series at the San Francisco Theological Seminary along with the Rev. Dr. Setri Nyomi (General Secreary, World Alliance of Reformed Churches).  Professor Naphy also delivered a keynote address at the conference on Calvin and his Influence, 1509-2009 (Geneva, 24-27 May).

He speaks often to general audiences on gender, sexuality, witchcraft and Calvinism.


Research Interests

Calvin, Calvinism, Witchcraft, Plague, Geneva, Crime, Sexuality, Gender, Gay Issues

Current Research

Professor Naphy is currently working on the production of a two-volume study of sexuality, deviance, and criminality in early modern Geneva. The first volume will concentrate on 'unnatural' sexual activity (as defined by the Genevan courts), while the second volume will look at the wider issue of the control and criminalisation of other forms of sexual activity (for example, fornication and adultery).


Teaching Responsibilities

  • HI 1521 Renaissance to Revolutions
  • HI 2512 Making Sex: Constructing Men and Women, c. 1750-the present day
  • HI 302E/352E Aztec, Incas and Mayas: Empires on the Eve of Apocalypse
  • HI 302F/352F Satan, Sorcery & Sabbaths: Witch-Hunting in Early Modern Europe, c. 1450-1700
  • HI 4015 Homosexuality in the Greco-Roman World
  • HI 5026/5526 Tradition and Culture in Protestant Scoland c. 1560-1650
Further Info

External Responsibilities

Professor Naphy is one of the editors for the Manchester University Press series on Early Modern Europe.

Admin Responsibilities

Since October 2009, he has been the Director of Graduate School for the College of Arts and Social Sciences.

Publicity Photos




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Contributions to Journals


  • Naphy, WG. (2004). 'La peur de la maladie'. Conflicts actuels: Revue d'etude politique, vol. 14, pp. 43-55.
  • Naphy, WG. (1998). 'The Price of Liberty: Genevan Security and Defence Spending, 1535-1555'. War in History, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 379-399.
    [Online] DOI:
  • Naphy, WG. (1996). 'Francois Bonivard and his Difformes Reformateurs'. Renaissance and Reformation, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 57-80.
  • Naphy, WG. (1995). 'Catholic Perceptions of Early French Protestantism: The Heresy Trial of Baudichon de la Maisonneuve on Trial in Lyon, 1534'. French History, vol. 9, no. 4, pp. 451-477.

Chapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings


  • Naphy, WG. (2017). From prince-bishopric to city-state: Nationalizing the Church and creating a republic in reformation Geneva. in E Nelson & J Wright (eds), Layered Landscapes: Early Modern Religious Space Across Faiths and Cultures. Routledge, Oxford, pp. 134-149.
    [Online] DOI:
  • Naphy, WG. (2017). Consistories. in C Parker & G Starr-Lebeau (eds), Judging Faith, Punishing Sin: Inquisitions and Consistories in the Early Modern World. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 104-116.
    [Online] DOI:
  • Naphy, WG. (2014). Secret Pregnancies & Presumptions of Guilt: Infanticide in Early Modern Geneva, 1558-1642. in K Comerford, K Maag & A Nelson-Burnett (eds), Politics, Gender, and Belief: The Long-Term Impact of the Reformation - Essays in Memory of Robert M. Kingdon. Cahiers d'Humanisme et Renaissance, no. 20, vol. 121, Librairie Droz, Geneva, pp. 265-287.
  • Naphy, W. (2009). Geneva II. in H Selderhuis (ed.), The Calvin Handbook. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., Grand Rapids, MI, USA, pp. 44-56.
  • Naphy, WG. (2008). Calvins zweiter Aufenhalt in Genf. in H Selderhuis (ed.), Calvin Handbuch. Verlag J.C B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), Tuebingen, Germany, pp. 44-57.
  • Naphy, WG. (2007). 'Under-Age' Sexual Activity in Reformation Geneva. in G Rousseau (ed.), Children and Sexuality: The Greeks to the Great War. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, United Kingdom, pp. 108-141.
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