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Rebecca Rist

a black and white image of a smiling Professor Rebecca Rist

Areas of interest

My research interests include the papacy, the crusades, Jewish-Christian relations, heresy and dissent. I am also more generally interested in the medieval Church, religious belief and political ideas in the High Middle Ages (eleventh-thirteenth centuries).

Postgraduate supervision

I am a lecturer for the Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies and contribute to the core model Researching the Middle Ages. For the taught M(Res) in Medieval Studies I offer Options on The Crusades, The Papacy in the Middle Ages, Heresy in the Middle Ages, Christian-Jewish Relations in the Middle Ages and Minorities in the Middle Ages. I can also supervise Options on Medieval Monasticism, Christian Hagiography and Medieval Christian Spirituality. I also supervise dissertations within these areas of expertise.

I am happy to supervise any Ph.D. student with interests in the crusades, the papacy, ecclesiastical history, heresy and dissent, Christian-Jewish relations and medieval minorities. I currently have four Ph.D. students working respectively on southern French culture at the time of the Albigensian Crusade, the implementation of canon law in medieval Livonia (SWW DTP award), the Dominicans in the Holy Land, and the reign of Philip I of France (University of Reading Regional Bursary). Two Ph.D. students recently completed Ph.D. theses on the Cathar heresy and medieval debates about poverty. I also act as a Ph.D. monitor and examiner. I welcome Ph.D. applications within my areas of expertise.

I am willing to offer language courses at MA level in Classical Greek and Classical and Medieval Latin.


Other Information about me:

I regularly give lectures, seminars and master-classes both in the UK and abroad. As GCMS Director I also organise panels for the Leeds IMC and papers for the GCMS Summer Symposium.

I have served as an external examiner at University College London (2013-2017).

I am the former Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Reading Medieval Studies.

I am a member of The Social Church Workshop, The Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East , The Ecclesiastical History Society, The London Society for Medieval Studies and The British Association for Jewish Studies.

I am a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and have sat on the Steering Committee of History UK (HE). I am a senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

In 2008 I organised the University of Reading Stenton Lecture and Symposium in honour of Emeritus Professor Malcolm Barber (University of Reading).

In 2018 I organised the University of Reading Stenton Lecture and Symposium in honour of Professor Nicholas Vincent (UEA).

In 2010 I was awarded a Faculty of Arts and Humanities Research Endowment Trust Fund prize for Best Early Career Research Output for my book The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245 (Continuum, 2009).

Selected publications

My book The Papacy and Crusading in Europe, 1198-1245 (Continuum, 2009) examines the papacy's authorisation of crusades against heretics and political enemies in Europe during the first half of the thirteenth century.

My book The Cathars and the Albigensian Crusade: A Sourcebook, ed. C. Leglu, R. Rist and C. Taylor (Routledge, 2014) brings together a rich and diverse range of medieval sources to examine key aspects of the growth of heresy and dissent in southern France in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

My book Popes and Jews, 1095-1291 (Oxford University Press, 2016) examines the papacy's relationship to Jewish communities in western Europe in the High Middle Ages.

Recent articles have explored aspects of papal policy with regard to crusading and the papacy's treatment of heretics and Jews in the High Middle Ages.

I am currently working with two other scholars on two books for Routledge on the theme of Catholic piety and devotional lay sensibilities and also on a sole-authored monograph on the papacy and medieval heresy.

Media / Outreach Work

I am happy to provide expert commentary for Radio, TV and the Press on papal, Church and religious history, the Crusades, Christian-Jewish Relations and Heresy.

Recent publications include:

‘Is the World Still Living in the Shadow of the Crusades?’, on the legacy of the crusades in BBC World Histories. Issue 17, ed. M. Elton (Bristol, June/July 2019), pp.38-43, at p.41; and in a special edition The Crusades, BBC Collector’s Edition, ed. J. Bauckham (Bristol, 2020), pp.108-113, at p.111:

‘Launching the Crusades’ on the First Crusade in a special edition The Crusades, BBC Collector’s Edition, ed. J. Bauckham (Bristol, 2020), pp.16-21:

‘Urban II, finde ich gut’ for Katholische SonntagsZeitung (Sunday Magazine, Diocese of Augsburg, Bavaria) (July 2021). 

I write historical blogs for The Conversation:

I regularly write historical blogs for the Department of History and the University of Reading including:

In January 2019 I appeared on Radio 4's 'In Our Time' with a panel to discuss 'Papal Infallibility':


In 2020 I discussed the Crusades in a podcast for the ‘Everything you wanted to know about’ podcast series for BBC HistoryExtra:

In 2021 I made a Podcast on ‘The World on the Eve of the First Crusade’ for the Historical Association for their ‘A’ level podcast series:

Further Publications not listed on Centaur:

Book Reviews of:

Mark Gregory Pegg, A Most Holy War. The Albigensian Crusade and the Battle for Christendom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 60 (2009), 580-1.

Laurence W. Marvin, The Occitan War. A Military and Political History of the Albigensian Crusade, 1209-1218 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), in The Journal of Military History, Vol. 73, no. 1 (2009), 258-9.

Anna Sapir Abulafia, Christian-Jewish Relations 1000-1300. Jews in the Service of Medieval Christendom (Harlow: Pearson, 2011), in History, Vol. 97, Issue 327 (2012), 489-91.

Claire Taylor, Heresy, Crusade and Inquisition in Medieval Quercy (The University of York: York Medieval Press, 2011), in Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature, Vol. 96, Issue 1 (2012), 39-41.

Philip B. Baldwin, Pope Gregory X and the Crusades (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2014) in The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 66, Issue 4 (October 2015), 865-86.

Giles Tremlett, Isabella of Castille: Europe's First Great Queen (Blooomsbury, 2017): 'Power and Fanaticism. The Restless, Formidable Queen who Drove the Spanish Inquisition', The Tablet (3 June 2017).

Jeremy Cohen, A Historian in Exile: Solomon ibn Verga, Shevet Yehudah, and the Jewish-Christian Encounter (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2017), in Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 14, no. 1 (2019), 1-3.

Kati Ihnat, Mother of Mercy, Bane of the Jews: Devotion to the Virgin Mary in Anglo-Norman England (Princeton, NJ: Princeton U.P., 2016) in The English Historical Review, Vol. 134, Issue 567 (April 2019), 1-3.

Late Medieval Heresy: New Perspectives. Studies in Honour of Robert E. Lerner, ed. Michael D. Bailey and Sean L. Field (The University of York: York Medieval Press, 2018) for History. The Journal of the Historical Association, Vol. 106, Issue 369 (January 2021), 1-3.

Undergraduate Supervision

At Part One I supervise a module: Anti-Semitism: Medieval Christian-Jewish Relations and the Concept of 'Anti-Semitism'. I also lecture and teach for the Part One modules Journeys in History I, Journeys in History 2, and Research Skills and Opportunities.

At Part Two I teach a Period module The Crusades, 1095-1291. At Part Three I supervise the Option module: Religion and Politics in the Medieval West and a Special Subject module: Heretics and Popes: Heresy and Persecution in Medieval Europe. I also supervise third-year undergraduate dissertations.


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