Department of History

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Image of Ross Balzaretti

Ross Balzaretti

Head of Department, Faculty of Arts



Office hour 2017-18: Mondays 12-1 (B10, upstairs Lenton Grove)

I am currently Head of History (until July 2018). I joined History at Nottingham in August 1990.

Academic background

University College London (BA 1981-4; PhD 1985-89)

Lecturer at University of Sheffield (1988-89).

Rome Scholar in Italian Studies (1989-90) at the British School at Rome (for which I am now an Ambassador).

External appointments

2015-present: Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (elected).

2014-present: Co-editor of the Medieval Church Studies book series for Brepols.

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

2004-present: Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (elected)

2004-2010: Co-editor (with Karen Adler Nottingham) of Gender & History)

Publications summary

4 books and over 50 articles and chapters, in leading journals including Archeologia medievale, Early Medieval Europe, Gender & History (including the most-downloaded article in 2008), History, History Workshop Journal, Landscape History, Landscape Studies, Mélanges de l'École française de Rome, Nottingham Medieval Studies, Past & Present, Rural History, Times Literary Supplement, and 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.

Funding and research projects

British Academy, AHRC, Leverhulme Trust, University of St Andrews, Paul Mellon Foundation for Studies in British Art, and the Scouloudi Foundation.

Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant 'British amateur topographical art and landscape in NW Italy 1835-1914', co-investigator (2016-2019).

Regular speaker 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. They helped a good deal with my recent exhibition, Grand Tourists and Others.

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). Three 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 usual commitments between 2015 and 2018. From Autumn 2018 until Spring 2020 I will be on research… read more

Research Summary


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

The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan (Brepols). This book is in production and will be published in 2018.


'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 book (OUP) in 2018.

'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. I continue to act as coordinator for medieval submissions. Gender and History


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.

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


Completed (8): Dr Faye Taylor, Dr Theresa Tyers, Dr Robert Hearn, Dr Rachel Middlemass, Dr Teresa Phipps, Dr Pietro Piana, Dr Lucila Mallart, Dr Rebecca Maryan.

In progress (7): Laura Grazia di Stefano, Michele Baitieri, Chiara Ravera, Timothy McManus, Marco Panato, David Robinson, Alessandro Carabia


Dr Raffaella Bruzzone, Marie Curie Fellow, arrived at Nottingham in May 2014. She worked across Geography and History, on the project 'The circulation of naturalistic knowledge in Modern Europe (1500-1850): a micro analytical perspective (CIRCKNOW)'. I was involved in mentoring this project alongside Prof Charles Watkins in Geography, which ended in 2017. Project website

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, which ends in January 2018.

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 usual commitments between 2015 and 2018. From Autumn 2018 until Spring 2020 I will be on research leave (18 months in total) and not teaching undergraduates or masters students. I will continue to supervise PhDs.

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).

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.


I am a founder member of the EMC, a group which links colleagues in the History departments of of the universities of De Montfort, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Loughborough, Northampton and Nottingham. It was set up to share best pedagogical practice across the East Midlands. Details of workshops, training events and online teaching resources can be found on the website. My colleagues Dr Joe Merton and Dr Nick Thomas are also active participants in the management of the Centre, which is currently run by the University of Derby.


I, alongside colleagues at Nottingham, have also contributed to the website Historians on Teaching, set up by Prof Emeritus Alan Booth, which provides ideas about teaching (and academic research papers) for historians at all career stages.

Past Research

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 drew on the extensive archival collections of Manuscripts and Special Collections at Nottingham to investigate travel in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There was a focus on the travel of Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire residents. The exhibition was accompanied by a public events programme and was 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'. Levison is an Alumnus Laureate of this university. 104 people attended the first lunchtime talk (5 May). The film showing was attended by 147 people when Dr Sarah Lutton (BFI) hosted a screening and lively post-show discussion of Rossellini's Viaggio in Italia.. 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 can be viewed on the Manuscripts and Special Collections website.

Past conferences

2007-2017: 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; Venetian seminar); 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

I am Co-I on this three-year (2016-2019) Leverhulme Project Research Grant. PI, Prof Charles Watkins in Geography and post-doctoral researcher Dr Pietro Piana. Plans include a co-authored monograph, several articles in international journals and an exhibition in Portofino. Project website. Twitter: [at]TopogArt

I recently participated in two workshops organized by the AHRC project Fate, Luck and Fortune: Narratives of Environmental Risk, led by Esther Eidinow (Bristol) and Georgina Endfield (Liverpool). My paper dealt with the risks faced by nineteenth-century tourists when they crossed the River Magra in Eastern Liguria.

North Italian Histories

My next book project is an English translation with substantial commentary and annotation of Paul the Deacon's History of the Lombards (written c. AD 785) and associated texts, to be published in the Manchester Medieval Sources series.

  • BALZARETTI, R., 2018. Early Medieval Genoa. In: BENES, C., ed., Companion to Medieval Genoa Brill, Leiden. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2018. The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan Brepols. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., BARROW, J. and SKINNER, P., eds., 2018. Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wickham Oxford University Press. (In Press.)
  • BALZARETTI, R., 2018. 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., 2018. Botanical Relics of a Lost Landscape: herborising 'upon the Cliffs about the Pharos' in Genoa, March 1664 Landscape Research. 43(1), 20-36
  • 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., 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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