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Paul Oldfield


Personal profile


Postgraduate Opportunities

1) Supervision Areas:

I would welcome Postgraduate research students within the broad area of the Medieval Mediterranean (1000-1300), and particularly on Norman southern Italy and Sicily,  medieval urban communities, pilgrimage and saints' cults.

2) Current Research Students:

Main supervisor:

William Curtis, FT PhD, 'Lombard Identity in a Post-Lombard World: Mainland Southern Italy c.1050-1130'

Lee Brooks, PT PhD, ‘The heart of the country and the fulcrum of power? The diocese of Lincoln and the centre of political and ecclesiastical geography in England c. 1066-1200’.


Samuel Barber, ‘Anti-inquisitorial resistance in the suburbs of the Languedoc, 1200-1321’

Emma Nelson, PT PhD, 'The Early Medieval Library of Lincoln Cathedral',

William Hambly, PT MPhil, ‘Invaders from the North: the inter-relationship between religious communities and Norse/Norman settlement in Northumbria’ (c.800-1100)’

3) I also teach on modules for the SALC MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies programme.

Other research

Current Research Projects


I am currently working on a project analysing thousands of charters from Medieval southern Italy to analyse links between naming patterns and urban identity. I am also in the early stages of developing a longer-term project, taking a comparative approach, examining the destruction of cities in Medieval Europe.

Research interests



My research focuses primarily on the Medieval Mediterranean between 1000 and 1300, and specifically on Southern Italy and Sicily. The main themes within my research revolve around urban communities, memory, and saints' cults.
I have published several articles and essays, two edited volumes of collected essays, and four monographs. 
My first monograph - City and Community in Norman Italy (Cambridge University Press, 2009) - offered a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between urban communities and Norman elites within Southern Italy and Sicily between 1000 and 1200. It explored, and revised, existing notions of urban autonomy in the region and suggested new ways to understand the relationship between the communal cities of northern and central Italy on the one hand and the urban communities of the South on the other.
My second monograph - Sanctity and Pilgrimage in Medieval Southern Italy, 1000-1200 (Cambridge University Press, 2014), assisted by the award of an AHRC Early Career Fellowship - examines the functioning of sanctity and pilgrimage in a liminal zone where the Latin-Christian, Greek-Christian and Islamic worlds intersected. Furthermore, the monograph places southern Italy within the broader topography of Christian pilgrimage by examining the region’s role as an apparent ‘bridge to salvation’, a conduit for pilgrimage movement to shrines throughout the Christian World. 
My third monograph - Urban Panegyric and the Transformation of the Medieval City, 1100-1300 (Oxford University Press, 2019), assisted by the award of a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship - analyses the function of works or urban praise across Western Europe and its connection to significant urban transformations. It suggests that such laudatory works played an important role in urban change, both as witness and agent.
My fourth monograph - Documenting the Past in Medieval Puglia, 1130-1266 (Oxford University Press, 2023), assisted by the award of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship - explores the production of historical memory in the region of Puglia after it was subsumed within the new kingdom of Sicily in 1130. It assesses the significance of the apparent disappearance of more traditional forms of Pugliese historical writing after 1130, and explores the existence of other historical discourses which were embedded in surviving local documentation. The book incorporates an extensive examination of charters and correspondence, an evidence-type yet to be fully utilized for this purpose in the study of medieval Puglia during the Norman-Staufen era (1130-1266).


I completed my PhD in Medieval History at the University of Leeds. I was appointed to my first lectureship at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2006 before arriving at the University of Manchester in 2012 where I am now a Senior Lecturer in Medieval History. I am also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities


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