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Rosamond McKitterick

Rosamond Deborah McKitterick, FSA, FRHistS (born 31 May 1949) is a British medieval historian, whose work focuses on the Frankish kingdoms in the 8th and 9th centuries, using palaeographical and manuscript studies to illuminate aspects of the political, cultural, intellectual, religious and social history of the early Middle Ages. From 1999 until 2016 she was Professor of Medieval History and Director of Research at the University of Cambridge.[1] She is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College and Professor Emerita of Medieval History in the University of Cambridge.[2]

Rosamond McKitterick
Rosamond Deborah Pierce

(1949-05-31) 31 May 1949 (age 69)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Western Australia
Academic work
InstitutionsNewnham College, Cambridge
Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge


Early life and educationEdit

McKitterick was born Rosamond Pierce in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England, on 31 May 1949. From 1951 to 1956 she lived in Cambridge, England, where her father had a position at Magdalene College. In 1956 she moved with her family to Western Australia where she completed primary and secondary school and completed an honours degree at the University of Western Australia. She holds the degrees of M.A., Ph.D., and Litt.D from the University of Cambridge.[3]

McKitterick's doctoral thesis was entitled The Carolingian Renaissance. A Study in the Education of a Society. It was submitted under McKitterick's maiden name of Pierce. The thesis was approved on 24 February 1976.[4] McKitterick's supervisor was Prof. Walter Ullmann.[5]

Academic careerEdit

In 1971 she returned to Cambridge University to pursue her career. She was a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge and then became a professorial fellow of Sidney Sussex College. McKitterick has been described as a 'doyenne in her field; her decades of tireless research and teaching have been poured into a steady stream of major publications on Carolingian subjects.'[6] Thomas F. X. Noble considers McKitterick to be 'one of the most original and productive historians of Europe's early Middle Ages'.[7] She has supervised forty-two PhD theses to completion, as of October 2015, with five more in progress.[5] She currently sits on the Council for the British School in Rome.[8]


McKitterick was a Balsdon Fellow at the British School in Rome, April-June 2002. Her research focus was 'Charlemagne in Italy'.[9] From 2005 to 2006 she was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Study.[10]

In 2010 McKitterick was awarded the Dr A.H. Heineken International Prize for History by the Royal Dutch Academy.[11] The prize was established in 1990 and is awarded bi-annually for outstanding scholarly achievement in the field of history.[12] Other awardees include Judith Herrin and Aleida Assman. In 2015 McKitterick was elected to the Lectio Chair at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven's Centre for the Transmission of Texts and Ideas in Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.[13]

On 16 March 2017, McKitterick was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA).[14] She is also an elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA).[15] On 15 October 2018 McKitterick delivered the James Lydon Lecture in Medieval History and Culture at Trinity College Dublin with 'Rome and the Invention of the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages'.[16]

In 2018 McKitterick was honoured with an edited volume, Writing the Early Medieval West, to mark her retirement in September 2016. The volume consists of contributions from fifteen of McKitterick's former students.[5]

Personal lifeEdit

She married David John McKitterick, Librarian of Trinity College, Cambridge,[17] in 1976 and they have one daughter.[18]



  • The Frankish Church and the Carolingian Reforms, 789-895 (1977)
  • The Frankish Kingdoms under the Carolingians, 751-987 (1983)
  • The Carolingians and the Written Word (1989)
  • Books, Scribes and Learning in the Frankish Kingdoms, 6th to 9th Centuries. (Collected Studies; 452.) Aldershot: Variorum, (1994)
  • The Frankish Kings and Culture in the Early Middle Ages (1995)
  • History and Memory in the Carolingian World (2004)
  • Perceptions of the Past in the Early Middle Ages (2006)
  • Charlemagne: the formation of a European identity (2008)
Edited volumes
  • (ed. with Dorothy Whitelock and David Dumville) Ireland in Mediaeval Europe. Studies in memory of Kathleen Hughes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982)
  • (ed.) The Uses of Literacy in Early Medieval Europe (1990)
  • (ed. with Lida Lopes Cardozo) Lasting Letters: An inscription for the abbots of St Albans (Cambridge: Kindersley Cardozo 1992)
  • (ed.) Carolingian Culture: emulation and innovation (1994)
  • (ed.) The New Cambridge Medieval History, II: c.700 - c.900 (1995)
  • (ed., with Roland Quinault) Edward Gibbon and Empire Cambridge University Press (1997)
  • (ed.) The Early Middle Ages, 400-1000 (2001)
  • (ed.) Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993)
  • (ed.) Atlas of the Medieval World (2004)

Dedicated publicationsEdit

  • Writing the Early Medieval West, edited by Elina Screen and Charles West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Articles and book chaptersEdit

  • 'The Papacy and Byzantium in the Seventh- and Early Eighth-Century Sections of the Liber Pontificalis', Papers of the British School in Rome, 84 (2016) 241-73
  • 'The Popes as Rulers of Rome in the Aftermath of Empire, 476–769', with Stewart J. Brown, Charlotte Methuen and Andrew Spicer, Studies In Church History, vol. 54 (2018) 71-95


  1. ^ admin. "Professor Rosamond Deborah McKitterick, FRHistS,FRSA,FSA — Faculty of History". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  2. ^ "Professor Rosamond McKitterick | Ecclesiastical History Society". Retrieved 2018-11-01.
  3. ^ "Professor Rosamond McKitterick | Ecclesiastical History Society". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  4. ^ ",contains,rosamond%20pierce&sortby=rank&offset=0". Retrieved 2018-11-06. External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b c Writing the early Medieval West : studies in honour of Rosamond McKitterick. McKitterick, Rosamond,, Screen, Elina,, West, Charles, 1979-. Cambridge, United Kingdom. ISBN 9781107198395. OCLC 1032289891.
  6. ^ Goffart, Walter (2009). "Review of Charlemagne: The Formation of a European Identity by Rosamond McKitterick". The American Historical Review. 114: 1130–1131.
  7. ^ Screen, Elina; West, Charles, eds. (2018-05-03). "Writing the Early Medieval West". Cambridge Core. doi:10.1017/9781108182386.
  8. ^ "Governance « The British School at Rome". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  9. ^ "Award-holders before 2005 « The British School at Rome". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  10. ^ "Rosamond McKitterick on Roman authority in early medieval Europe". State Library Victoria. Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  11. ^ "Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for History — KNAW". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  12. ^ "Heineken Prize for History — KNAW". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  13. ^ "Sidney Historian Appointed as LECTIO Chair at KU Leuven - Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge University". Retrieved 2018-10-30.
  14. ^ "Fellows Directory - McKitterick". The Society of Antiquaries of London. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  15. ^ Biographical Details at Sidney Sussex
  16. ^ Dublin,, Trinity College. "The James Lydon Lectures in Medieval History and Culture - Events : Trinity Medieval History Research Centre:Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland". Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  17. ^ Web page at Trinity College
  18. ^ Who's Who; 2009
Academic offices
Preceded by
Barrie Dobson
Professor of Medieval History, University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
Christine Carpenter