Department of History

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Image of Ross Balzaretti

Ross Balzaretti

Professor of Italian History, Faculty of Arts



Office B10, upstairs Lenton Grove.

I am on study leave in Spring semester 2023-24.

Head of History (2015-2018). 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.

External appointments

2022-present AHRC Peer Review College

2020-present History UK Steering Committee

2015-2022 East Midlands Centre for History Learning and Teaching Steering Committee

2014-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

6 books and 60 articles and chapters, in leading journals including Archeologia medievale, Early Medieval Europe, Gender & History, 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.

I have given papers in Genoa, Milan, Bologna, Brussels, Vienna, Glasgow, Rome, Isernia, San Marino, Siena, 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 2016 exhibition, Grand Tourists and Others.

Expertise Summary

I have supervised 18 doctoral students to completion and am currently co-supervising 3 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. Many have been funded by the AHRC via the Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership

Teaching Summary

I am Senior Fellow of the HEA (Advance HE). 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 and… read more

Research Summary


Rediscovering Lost Landscapes. Topographical Art in north-west Italy, 1800-1920 by Pietro Piana, Charles Watkins and Ross Balzaretti, published September 2021 by Boydell & Brewer.

This is the main publication from our project British Amateur Topographical Art and Landscape in NW Italy 1835-1915, funded by the Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (2016-19).

Related articles have been published in Landscapes, Geostorie, Landscape History and Rural History.

There have been two associated exhibitions:

'Portofino Landscape' (curated with with Alberto Girani and Francesco Faccini, Portofino national park and University of Genoa) was put on in two venues in Portofino, two in Genoa and in Nottingham (Humanities Atrium, November-December 2018).

'Paesaggi di carta', opened on 26 January 2019, in Isola del Cantone.

Project website. Twitter: [at]TopogArt.


The proceedings of a roundtable discussing my book The Lands of Saint Ambrose (2019), held at the University of Padova in November 2019, have been published Reti Medievali (open access) here. There are four articles (in Italian) by Igor Santos Salazar, Anna Rapetti, Giuseppe Albertoni and Gianmarco De Angelis and my response 'Re-reading The Lands of Saint Ambrose' (in English).


I have an essay in a book which arose in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

'Frederic Lees in Varese Ligure, 1911', in Travel Writing in an Age of Global Quarantine, ed. Gary Foster and David Robinson. Anthem Press, 2021 (September).


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.

Editorial Board of Italy in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Amsterdam UP, Book series.


Nottingham Medieval Studies I have been on the editorial board since the early 1990s.

Studi di storia medioevale e di diplomatica I joined this journal, run from the State University of Milan, in November 2020. This journal is Open Access and publishes in Italian, English, French, Spanish and German. Interested contributors writing in English are invited to contact me directly.

Gender & History since 1993. 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 a coordinator for medieval submissions.

Gender and HistoryDOCTORAL RESEARCH STUDENTS - 21 to date

Completed (18):

Dr Faye Taylor. Miracula, saints' cults and socio-political landscapes: Bobbio, Conques and post-Carolingian society (2012)

Dr Theresa Tyers. The rebirth of fertility: the Trotula and her travelling companions c. 1200-1450 (2012)

Dr Robert Hearn. Grey wolves and wild boar: a comparative species history in Liguria 1500 to 2012 (2013). Assistant Professor, School of Geography, University of Nottingham.

Dr Rachel Middlemass. Bodies of men : manhood and masculinity in England and northern France, c.1100-c.1250 (2013)

Dr Teresa Phipps. Urban women and local justice: gender, society and litigation in fourteenth-century England (2015)

Dr Pietro Piana. Topographical art and landscape history in central-eastern Liguria (c. 1770-1840) (2015). Postdoctoral researcher at University of Genoa.

Dr Lucila Mallart. Josep Puig i Cadafalch and the construction of a Catalan national imagination (1880-1950) (2016). Postdoctoral researcher at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona.

Dr Rebecca Maryan. Humoral theory circulating in religious literature in England, c.1300-1500 (2016)

Dr Laura Grazia di Stefano. The business of pilgrimage in the fifteenth-century Venice (2019)

Dr Chiara Ravera. In nomine dominae: notarial documents and women's lives in Genoese Chios (1348-1522) (2019)

Dr Michele Baitieri. Politics and documentary culture: the bishops of North-Western Italy during the post-Carolingian period (c. 888-962) (2020). Research fellow at University of Oslo.

Dr Timothy McManus. The construction of individual criminal culpability 1199-1245: heresy, inquisitio and Inquisition (2020)

Dr Marco Panato. Environment, society and economy of an early medieval river. The late-Lombard and Carolingian Po valley (northern Italy), 715-924 AD. From 2024 Leverhulme ECF, Nottingham.

Dr David Robinson. Orientalism or Meridionism? British identity formation through travel writing on India and Italy, 1760-1850 (2020)

Dr Alessandro Carabia. Space, population and economy in a frontier region: Liguria in the context of the Western Byzantine provinces AD 500-700 (2022)

Dr Robert Frost. Sir John Gardner Wilkinson (1797 - 1879): Lost Worlds of Antiquarianism in Egypt and the Balkans (2022). Now Leverhulme ECF at University of Leicester.

Dr Matthew Carter. Beasts of place and time: animals and Britishness in popular natural history, c.1760-1860 (2023)

Dr Leonardo Porcelloni. A Cultural Geography of Via Francigena: Historical and Modern Mobilities along a European Cultural Route (2023). Research fellow at University of Verona.

In progress (4): Elena Manservisi, Cheryl-Anne Afonso, Megan Rousseau (ESRC)

I am able to supervise students in any area of early medieval history, in landscape and environmental history (especially of Italy), and travel history.

Selected Publications

Gender & History, since 1993; Editor 2004-2010

Nottingham Medieval Studies since 1993

Studi di storia medioevale e diplomatica since 2020

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)

I am Senior Fellow of the HEA (Advance HE). 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 and Making the Middle Ages; Year 2, Sexuality in Early Medieval Europe; Year 3 Dissertation; European Landscapes (Co-taught with Geography). MA, Research Methods, Power and Authority in the Medieval World; Palaeography.


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 'European Landscapes' (formerly 'The Landscape History of Liguria')

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 Sarah Holland are also active participants in the management of the Centre, which is currently run by the University of Nottingham.

Tweets by ‎@EMCHistoryLT


I have recently joined the Steering Committee of History UK, the independent national body promoting and monitoring History in UK Higher Education. It is funded by history departments or their equivalents and campaigns on issues of concern to academic historians and the broader history community, particularly in the following areas:

  • The profile of history in higher education and beyond.
  • The state of the profession, particularly the recruitment and career development of undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and staff.
  • Research culture, including the research resources available to historians and the impact of the REF.
  • Teaching and learning within the discipline, especially the impact of the NSS and TEF.
  • Audit culture, to ensure that the demands of external audit and quality measurement are appropriate to the discipline and light in touch.

Follow us on Twitter @history_uk


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

I have published three MONOGRAPHS since 2013

Rediscovering Lost Landscapes. Topographical Art in NW Italy 1800-1920 (Woodbridge, Boydell & Brewer, 2021), funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The Lands of Saint Ambrose: Monks and Society in Early Medieval Milan (Brepols, Turnhout, 2019).

Dark Age Liguria, (Bloomsbury, London, 2013).


'Milan, Genoa and the Alps: Early Medieval Exchanges across a Region', in Un ponte tra il Mediterraneo e il Nord-Europa. La Lombardia el primo millennio, ed. G. Albini and L. Mecella (Milan-Turin, Pearson Italia, 2020).

'Chestnuts in charters: evidence for specialised production in early medieval Genoa and Milan', in Italy and Early Medieval Europe: Essays Presented to Chris Wickham, co-edited by Ross Balzaretti, Julia Barrow and Patricia Skinner (OUP 2018).

'Early Medieval Genoa', in Carrie Benes (ed.), Companion to Medieval Genoa (Brill, Leiden, 2018).

Fate, Luck and Fortune project

I 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, which dealt with the risks faced by nineteenth-century tourists when they crossed the River Magra in Eastern Liguria, was published in the Journal of Risk Research in 2019 as part of a themed issue.

The Castle and the Palace project

This project, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, sought to challenge the simple opposition between castle and palace by surveying their changing roles over a long time period (c.800-c.1200) and across western Europe, very much including Scotland, from a variety of perspectives. An international group of historians, archaeologists and heritage experts will work to test and challenges orthodoxies as well as disciplinary boundaries on this topic, as well as grappling with contemporary public perception and experience of surviving examples of castles and palaces in Scotland and beyond.

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

2007-2019: invited conference papers/lectures at ACCORDIA, London; University of Edinburgh; University of Bologna; University of Leeds, IMC; University of Padua (twice); 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; Universita degli Studi di Milano.

Future Research

I am completing a fully annotated English translation of Paul the Deacon's Historia Langobardorum and related texts for Manchester University Press. Current title is North Italian Histories, 600-900 AD. Paul the Deacon's Historia Langobardorum and related texts.

I am preparing a chapter on 'Aemilia et Liguria' for Italy in the Fifth Century: Social, Political and Economic Transformations in a Society under Stress, 395-493 CE, ed. Sarah Bühler (Tübingen), Stefan Rebenich (Bern), Sebastian Schmidt-Hofner (Tübingen), and John Weisweiler (Cambridge).

Department of History

University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

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