Department of History

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Ross Balzaretti

Head of Department, Faculty of Arts



I was educated at University College London (BA 1981-4; PhD 1985-89). My first academic job was at the University of Sheffield (1988-89) and the following year I was Rome Scholar in Italian Studies at the British School at Rome. I joined History at Nottingham in August 1990.

I have had fruitful collaborations at Nottingham with various colleagues including Karen Adler (2004-2010 as UK co-editors of Gender & History), Gaby Neher (Art History), Mark Pearce (Archaeology) and Charles Watkins (Geography) in long-standing research and teaching in the Italian region of Liguria. In 2013-14 I co-convened the History research seminar with Sascha Auerbach.

I collaborate with medievalist colleagues via the Medieval Research Cluster, the editorial board of Nottingham Medieval Studies (NMS) and within the cross-disciplinary Institute for Medieval Research (IMR). Many of us will be at the Leeds International Medieval Congress in July.

2004: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Summer 2006: British School at Rome researching their Special Collection of travel books. I am currently a BSR Ambassador.

2010-11: Donald Bullough Visiting Fellow in Mediaeval History at the University of St Andrews.

2014: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

I have given papers in Genoa, Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow, Rome, Isernia, San Marino, Siena, and London, Oxford, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Leeds, York, Cambridge, Southampton, Bristol, Birmingham, St Andrews and Nottingham.

I have published in many leading journals including Archeologia medievale, Early Medieval Europe, Gender & History (including the most-downloaded article in 2008), History, History Workshop Journal, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome, Nottingham Medieval Studies, Past & Present, Times Literary Supplement

I have received research funding from the British Academy, AHRC, University of St Andrews, Paul Mellon Foundation for Studies in British Art, and the Scouloudi Foundation.

I have spoken regularly since 2006 at meetings of the Nottingham Dante Alighieri Society, a local group of Italian enthusiasts, which has always proved a source of interesting comments and reflections on my work.

Expertise Summary

I have supervised 8 doctoral students to completion and am currently supervising 6 more in diverse aspects of History (see below). I welcome proposals from potential doctoral students, most especially in the history of early medieval Europe (especially gender and sexuality), and the history of Liguria (Italy) since the Roman period. A specific project is the Anglican presence in Victorian Italy, focusing on a combination of archival and fieldwork (surviving buildings on the Italian Riviera and non-Catholic cemeteries in Genoa and Livorno). Two of my current students are funded by the AHRC via the Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

Teaching Summary

PLEASE NOTE: I will be Head of History from August 2015 and therefore will teach only a part of my current commitments between 2015 and 2018. For the year 2018/19 I will be on research leave and not… read more

Research Summary


Dark Age Liguria, was published by Bloomsbury on 28 March 2013.

I am currently finishing The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan (Brepols). This book has been submitted and is currently being prepared for publication.


'Chestnuts in charters: evidence for specialised production in early medieval Genoa and Milan', in Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wiickham, co-edited by Ross Balzaretti, Julia Barrow and Patricia Skinner, to appear as a Past & Present Supplement (OUP) in 2017.

'Early Medieval Genoa', in Carrie Benes (ed.), Companion to Medieval Genoa (Brill, Leiden).

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECT (Leverhulme Research Project Grant)

British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1915, with Charles Watkins and Pietro Piana


I was editor of Gender & History for six years (2004-2010), as part of a team with Karen Adler (Nottingham), Ruth Karras, Regina Kunzel and Sarah C. Chambers (Minnesota), having been on its editorial collective since 1993.

In the period 2004-2009 Karen Adler and I edited more than 3,500 pages of text for the journal covering a very wide range of subjects. The presence of the journal here has helped us to develop a 'Gender Histories Network' which brings together local gender historians across the Arts and Social Sciences faculties.

We also instituted a Gender & History public lecture at Nottingham: past lecturers have included Ruth Mazo Karras (Minnesota), Atina Grossmann (NYU) and Efi Avdela (Crete).

Karen and I gave a seminar in May 2010 about the future of the field and the journal at the Department of History in Glasgow University, which has now taken over the UK editorship of G&H.


I was a founder editor of Studies in the Early Middle Ages (SEM), published by Brepols.

I am currently co-editor of the Brepols series, Medieval Church Studies, which is now based in the History Department at Nottingham. Proposals for monographs and edited volumes are welcomed.


Completed (8): Dr Faye Taylor, Dr Theresa Tyers, Dr Robert Hearn.

Gender and HistoryDr Rachel Middlemass, Dr Teresa Phipps, Dr Pietro Piana, Dr Lucila Mallart, Dr Rebecca Maryan.

In progress (6): Laura Grazia di Stefano, Michele Baitieri, Chiara Ravera, Timothy McManus, Marco Panato, David Robinson.


Dr Raffaella Bruzzone, Marie Curie Fellow, arrived at Nottingham in May 2014. She is working across Geography and History, on the project 'The circulation of naturalistic knowledge in Modern Europe (1500-1850): a micro analytical perspective (CIRCKNOW)'. I am involved in mentoring this project alongside Prof Charles Watkins in Geography.

Dr Roberta Cimino, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow from February 2015. Her project is called 'The royal fisc in Carolingian and Post-Carolingian Italy'. Roberta is based in History and I am the principal mentor for this project.

Selected Publications

Gender & History, since 1993; Editor 2004-2010:

Nottingham Medieval Studies:

History Compass:

Studies in the Early Middle Ages, co-editor of book series published by Brepols: (until 2014)

Medieval Church Studies (Brepols), co-editor of this books series now based at Nottingham (from 2014)

PLEASE NOTE: I will be Head of History from August 2015 and therefore will teach only a part of my current commitments between 2015 and 2018. For the year 2018/19 I will be on research leave and not teaching.

My teaching is research-led. I am also an advocate for student-led teaching, especially in seminars. Currently I am teaching Year 1 Learning History; Year 2, Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe; Year 3 Victorians in Italy; Landscape History of Liguria; MA Power and Authority in the Medieval World; Palaeography.

LIGURIA FIELDTRIP (1994-present)

Since 1994, I have taught the landscape history of Eastern Liguria (with Prof. Charles Watkins in Geography) with an annual field trip to the small town of Varese Ligure. This module is unique in Britain, and has been favourably received in Italy. The module is 'The Landscape History of Liguria' (L83218). See:

Students from Geography and History research collaboratively in small teams and produce a final, individual, 6000 word research project. More than 400 of these now exist and form a unique archive of field research in the area, which is actively used by Italian scholars. The projects are housed in the Museo contadino, in Cassego, Varese Ligure, which is directed by Don Sandro Lagomarsini. A wide range of fields have been investigated by students, including river management, fishing history and policy, local wine tradition, tourism, place name studies, archival work using parish registers, vegetation surveys, terrace management and much more besides.

Video made by Myles Grover of the trip in 2014:

Many colleagues have collaborated with us notably Diego Moreno (University of Genoa), Don Sandro Lagomarsini (Museo contadino di Cassego), Roberta Cevasco (University of Alessandria), Susanne Seymour (Geogaphy, Nottingham), Georgina Endfield (Geography, Nottingham), Mark Riley (Geography, Liverpool). Many local people have given their time to helping us in interviews and in other ways. In particular we are grateful to the former Mayor of Varese, Michela Marcone, for long-standing help and support.

Past Research

Ligurian Landscapes

Past conferences

2007-2016: invited conference papers/lectures at ACCORDIA, London; University of Edinburgh; University of Bologna; University of Leeds, IMC; University of Padua; Institute of Historical Research, London; University of Genoa; University of Nottingham (Institute for the Study of Slavery; Gender & History); Free University, Brussels; London Medieval Society; St Andrews; York; University College London.

Future Research

British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1915

Three-year (2016-2019) Leverhulme Project Research Grant. PI, Prof Charles Watkins in Geography and post-doctoral researcher Dr Pietro Piana.

Exhibition: Grand Tourists and Others

Curator of 'Grand Tourists and Others: Travelling Abroad before the Twentieth Century', 29 April-6 August 2016, Weston Gallery, University of Nottingham. This exhibition draws on the extensive archival collections of Manuscripts and Special Collections at Nottingham to investigate travel in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There is a focus on the travel of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire residents. The exhibition is accompanied by a public events programme. It is part of Season 2 of The Grand Tour. 140 people attended the opening (28 April) when the show was formally opened by the explorer and author Levison Wood, who graduated in History in 2004 and took my final year Special Subject 'The English in Italy'. 104 attended the first lunchtime talk (5 May). The film showing was attended by 147 people. The second lunchtime talk on the Fanshawe sisters (14 June) was sold out (200 people) as was the final talk (by Dr Sarah Goldsmith on 14 July). an online legacy exhibition will be hosted on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website. I have plans for a monograph related to this area.

  • BALZARETTI, R., 2017. The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan Brepols. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., BARROW, J. and SKINNER, P., eds., 2017. Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wickham Oxford University Press. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2017. Chestnuts in charters: evidence for specialised production in tenth-century Genoa and Milan. In: BALZARETTI, R., BARROW, J. and SKINNER, P., eds., Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wickham Oxford University Press. (In Press.)
  • BRUZZONE, R., WATKINS, C., BALZARETTI, R. and MONTANARI, C., 2017. Botanical Relics of a Lost Landscape: herborising 'upon the Cliffs about the Pharos' in Genoa, March 1664 Landscape Research.
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2016. Hugh of Arles (c. 885-948) and his family: narratives of failure in the regnum Italiae Early Medieval Europe. 24(2), 185-208
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2016. Early Medieval Genoa. In: BENES, C., ed., Companion to Medieval Genoa Brill. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2015. British Women Travellers and Italian marriages, c. 1789-1844. In: BABINI, V., BECCALOSSI, C. and RIALL, L., eds., Italian Sexualities Uncovered: The Long Nineteenth Century (1879-1914) Palgrave. 251-71
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2015. Women and Weapons in Early Medieval Europe. In: CHEMOTTI, S. and LA ROCCA, M. C., eds., Il genere nella ricerca storica: Atti del VI Congresso della Societa Italiana delle Storiche Il Poligrafo, Padova. 137-50
  • HEARN, R., BALZARETTI, R. and WATKINS, C., 2015. The wolf in the landscape. Antonio Cesena and attitudes to wolves in sixteenth-century Liguria Rural History: Economy, Society, Culture. 26(1), 1-16
  • BALZARETTI, R., CEVASCO, R., MORENO, D. and WATKINS, C., 2015. Historical Chestnut Cultures, Climate and Rural Landscapes in the Apennines. In: HARVEY, D. and PERRY, JIM, eds., The Future of Heritage as Climates Change. Loss, Adaptation, Creativity Routledge. 130-47
  • BALZARETTI, R., PIANA, P. and WATKINS, C., 2015. Travelling in Italy during Turner's Lifetime Available at: <>
  • HEARN, R., WATKINS, C. and BALZARETTI, R, 2014. The cultural and land use implications of the reappearance of wild boar in North West Italy: a case study in the Val di Vara Journal of Rural Studies. 36, 52-63
  • BALZARETTI, R and WATKINS, C., 2013. The Landscape History of Liguria Fieldcourses of the University of Nottingham. In: CEVASCO, R., ed., La natura della montagna. Scritti in ricordo di Giuseppina Poggi Oltre edizioni. 204-10
  • BALZARETTI, R and WATKINS, C., 2013. Recent vegetation change at Palarino, Teviggio, Alta Val di Vara. In: CEVASCO, R., ed., La natura della montagna. Scritti in ricordo di Giuseppina Poggi Oltre edizioni. 522-28
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2013. Dark Age Liguria: regional identity and local power, c. 400-1020 Bloomsbury Academic.
  • BALZARETTI, R, LAGOMARSINI, S. and WATKINS, C., 2013. Remnant Vaccinium myrtillis on the lower slopes of Mt.. Zatta, Cassego and Scurtabò, Alta Val di Vara. In: CEVASCO, R., ed., La natura della montagna. Scritt in ricordo di Giuseppina Poggi Oltre edizioni. 507-13
  • BALZARETTI, R and WATKINS, C., 2013. Recent vegetation change following abandonment at Canevadigiolo, Teviggio, Alta Val di Vara. In: CEVASCO, R., ed., La natura della montagna. Scritti in ricordo di Giuseppina Poggi Oltre edizioni. 515-21
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2012. Fatherhood in Late Lombard Italy. In: NELSON, JANET L, REYNOLDS, SUSAN and JOHNS, SUSAN M., eds., Gender and historiography: Studies in the history of the earlier middle ages in honour of Pauline Stafford Institute of Historical Research London. 9-20
  • BALZARETTI, R, PIANA, P, MORENO, D and WATKINS, C, 2012. Topographical art and landscape history: Elizabeth Fanshawe (1779-1856) in early nineteenth-century Liguria Landscape History. 33, 65-81
  • BALZARETTI, R, 2012. Women, Property and Urban Space in Tenth-Century Milan. In: LIN FOXALL and GABRIELE NEHER, eds., Gender and the City before Modernity Wiley-Blackwell. 57-85
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2011. Lombard fathers Archeologia Medievale: Cultura materiale Insediamenti Territorio. 38, 45-57
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2011. Victorian travellers, Apennine landscapes and the development of cultural heritage in Eastern Liguria, c.1875-1914 History: Journal of the Historical Association. 96(324), 436-458
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2011. Women, property and urban space in tenth-century Milan Gender and History. 23(3), 547-575
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2010. Review of M. Richter, Bobbio in the Early Middle Ages (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2008) Catholic Historical Review. 98-100
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2010. Elites and silver in Milan and its region in the ninth century. In: DEVROEY, J-P, FELLER, L and LE JAN, R., eds., Les élites et la richesse au haut Moyen Âge entre vie et xie siècles Brepols. 403-437
  • BALZARETTI, R and WATKINS, C., 2009. Studying landscape history: fifteen years of undergraduate education and field work in the Alta Val di Vara In: Le Zone Umide archivi del paesaggio culturale tra ricerca e gestione, Proceedings of the International Workshop, Genoa 29-30 January 2009.
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2009. Review of Roberta Cevasco, Memoria verde. Nuovi spazi per la geografia Environment and History. 15(2), 257-259
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2008. Sexuality in Late Lombard Italy, c.700-800 AD. In: HARPER, A AND PROCTOR, C., ed., Medieval Sexuality: A Casebook London: Routledge. 7-31
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2008. Review-Article. Liudprand of Cremona Nottingham Medieval Studies. 52, 246-256
  • ADLER, K. H, BALZARETTI, R and MITCHELL, M., 2008. Practising Gender History Gender & History. 20(1), 1-7
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2006. Spoken narratives in ninth-century Milanese court records. In: TYLER, E.M. and BALZARETTI, R., eds., Narrative and history in the early medieval West Turnhout: Brepols. 11-38
  • BALZARETTI, R. and TYLER, E., eds., 2006. Narrative and History in the Early Medieval West Turnhout: Brepols.
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2005. Masculine authority and state identity in Liutprandic Italy. In: POHL, W. and ERHART, P., eds., Die Langobarden: Herrschaft und Identität Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 332-359
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2005. Review article. Agnellus of Ravenna, The Book of Pontiffs of the Church of Ravenna, translated by D. M. Delyannis Nottingham Medieval Studies. 48, 233-237
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. The history of the countryside in sixteenth-century Varese Ligure. In: BALZARETTI, R., PEARCE, M. and WATKINS, C., eds., Ligurian landscapes: studies in archaeology, geography & history London: Accordia Research Institute, University of London. 113-128
  • BALZARETTI, R., PEARCE, M. and WATKINS, C., eds., 2004. Ligurian Landscapes: Studies in Archaeology, Geography and History London: University of London, Accordia Reseach Institute.
  • BALZARETTI, R., PEARCE, M.J. and WATKINS, C., 2004. Ligurian landscapes: microhistory and environmental history. In: BALZARETTI, R., PEARCE, M.J. and WATKINS, C., eds., Ligurian landscapes: studies in archaeology, geography and history London: Accordia Research Institute. 1-6
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. Peasants. In: KLEINHENZ, C., ed., Medieval Italy: an encyclopedia London: Routledge. 868-871
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. Viticulture. In: KLEINHENZ, C., ed., Medieval Italy: an encyclopaedia London: Routledge. 1157-1158
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. Agriculture. In: KLEINHENZ, C., ed., Medieval Italy: an encyclopaedia London: Routledge. 6-8
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. Land Tenure and Inheritance. In: KLEINHENZ, C., ed., Medieval Italy: an encyclopaedia London: Routledge,. 599-601
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2004. Fieschi. In: KLEINHENZ, C., ed., Medieval Italy: an encyclopaedia London: Routledge. 336-337
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2002. Liutprand of Cremona's sense of humour. In: HALSALL, G., ed., Humour, history and politics in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 114-128
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2001. Sexual cultures in the early medieval West. In: SAMSON, R., ed., Indecent Exposure. Sexuality, Society and the Archaeological Record Glasgow: Cruithne Press. 147-161
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2000. Monasteries, Towns and the Countryside: Reciprocal Relationships in the Archdiocese of Milan, 614-814. In: Towns and their Territories between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages Leiden: Brill. 235-257
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1999. Theodelinda, 'most glorious queen': Gender and Power in Lombard Italy Medieval History Journal. 2(2), 183-207
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1999. Men and Sex in Tenth-century Italy. In: Masculinity in Medieval Europe Harlow: Longman. 143-159
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1999. The Politics of Property in ninth-century Milan. Familial Motives and Monastic Strategies in the Village of Inzago Mélanges de l'École française de Rome. Moyen Âge. 111(2), 747-770
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1999. Review article: San Vincenzo al Volturno. History rewritten? Early Medieval Europe. 8, 387-400
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1998. "These are things that men do, not women": the social regulation of female violence in Langobard Italy. In: Violence and Society in the Early Medieval West Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer. 175-192
  • BALZARETTI,R., 1997. Review of W Davies and P Fouracre (eds), Property and Power in Early Medieval Europe, Cambridge University Press, 1995 Economic History Review. 50(2), 393-394
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1996. Cities, emporia and monasteries: local economies in the Po Valley 700-875. In: Towns in Transition. Urban Evolution in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages Aldershot: Scolar Press. 213-234
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1996. Charlemagne in Italy History Today. 46(2), 28-34
  • BALZARETTI, R. and ERICKSON, A., 1995. Gender & History, Special issue: Presentations of the Self in Early Modern England
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1995. Cities and Markets in Early Medieval Europe. In: AUSENDA, G., ed., After Empire: Towards an Ethnology of Europe's Barbarians. Boydell Press, Woodbridge. 113-142
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1994. The Curtis, the Archaeology of Sites of Power. In: La Storia dell'alto medioevo Italiano (vi-x secolo) alla luce dell'archeologia 99-108
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1994. Michel Foucault, Homosexuality and the Middle Ages Renaissance and Modern Studies. 37, 1-18
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1994. Update: Dark Age Italy The Historian. 41, 9-11
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1994. The Monastery of Sant'Ambrogio and Dispute Settlement in Early Medieval Milan Early Medieval Europe. 3(1), 1-18
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1992. Debate: Trade, Industry and the Wealth of King Alfred Past and Present: A Journal of Historical Studies. 135, 142-150
  • BALZARETTI, R, 1992. Images of Dark Age Milan Medieval World. 4, 48-54
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1992. The Creation of Europe History Workshop Journal. 33, 181-196
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1991. History, archaeology and early medieval urbanism: the north Italian debate Accordia Research Papers. 2, 87-104
  • BALZARETTI, R., 1991. Milano e i milanesi Nottingham Medieval Studies. 35, 155-160
  • BALZARETTI, R., 'Students as front line researchers: the Landscape History of Liguria' HEA Subject Centre for History. Available at: <>

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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