Prof. Robert v. Friedeburg

Professor of Modern History

Robert’s primary interest is the emergence of legitimate public power in the Latin West. He was educated at Bielefeld University, where he received his doctorate (1989) and his Venia Legendi in Medieval and Modern History (1994). He is the author and (co-) editor of eighteen books on Early Modern and Modern European, in particular English and German, history. He contributed more than a hundred chapters and articles to books and periodicals. He received the Bennigsen Foerder Prize for Research in the Humanities, was a Visiting Fellow at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, Heisenberg Research Fellow, J.K. Cameron – Faculty Fellow (University of St. Andrews), Fellow of the Humanities Research Programme (University of New South Wales), Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, held the Chaire Dupront, Sorbonne, Paris, and was invited Fellow at the Herzog August Research Library, Wolfenbüttel, and the ForschungsKolleg Humanwissenschaften, Goethe Universität Frankfurt. He is Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Member of the Academia Europaea.

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Related Courses

Robert has been teaching undergraduate and graduate students in late medieval, early modern and modern European history in Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and now at Bishop Grosseteste. Under his supervision, six PhD theses were successfully completed, and a further two will be completed in due course.

Based on a doctoral dissertation on English sixteenth and seventeenth century local social history and a Habilitation on German seventeenth to early twentieth century local social and political history, Robert then shifted to the history of political thought without ever disregarding (local) social history.

Among his 17 monographs and (co-) edited books are Luther’s Legacy: The Thirty Years War and the modern notion of ‘State’ in the Empire, 1530s to 1790s (Cambridge 2016), (co-ed. with John Morrill) Monarchy Transformed: Princes and their elites in early modern Western Europe (Cambridge 2017); Self Defense and Religious Strife in Early Modern Europe: England and Germany 1530-1680 (Ashgate 2012), and (ed.) Murder and Monarchy: Regicide in European History 1300-1800 (Palgrave 2004).

His over 100 contributions to scholarly books and periodical appeared, among others, in the The Historical Journal, the Journal of Modern History, the Archive for Reformation History, The Sixteenth Century Journal, History of Political Thought, the Journal of British Studies, History of European Ideas, Historical Research, The Seventeenth Century, the Journal of Social History, German History, the Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, as well as in Historische Zeitschrift, Zeitschrift für historische Forschung, Geschichte und Gesellschaft and Archiv für Sozialgeschichte. He also contributed to several volumes of the Oxford Handbook series and other standard Encyclopedia.

Over the years, he has been acting as external referee both for academic promotions at British and American universities and for research programmes in the Netherlands and Germany. His own research projects include ‘The Invention of Governance in the Dutch Golden Age’ (525.000 EUR); ‘Reason of State or Reason of Princes: The New Monarchy and its Opponents in Germany, France and the Netherlands’ (744.000 EUR).


  • Luther’s Legacy: The Thirty Years War and the Modern Notion of ‘State’ in the Empire, 1530s to 1790s, Cambridge 2016, now in paperback.
  • German translation in the series of the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History, Frankfurt, as Luthers Vermächtnis: Der Dreissigjährige Krieg und das modern Verständnis vom ‘Staat’, 1530er bis 1790er Jahre, Frankfurt (Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte Band XXX), 2020.
  • Europa in der frühen Neuzeit, Frankfurt (Fischer) 2012.
  • Self-Defence and Religious Strife in Early Modern Europe: England and Germany, 1530-1680, Aldershot (Ashgate, St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History) 2002.
  • Kultur der unterständischen Schichten in der Frühen Neuzeit, (Enzyklopädie deutsche Geschichte), Munich (Oldenbourg) 2002.
  • Widerstandsrecht und Konfessionskonflikt: Gemeiner Mann und Notwehr im deutsch-britischen Vergleich, 1530-1669, Berlin (Duncker & Humblot) 1999.
  • Ländliche Gesellschaft und Obrigkeit. Gemeindeprotest und politische Mobilisierung im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, Göttingen (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht) 1997.
  • Sündenzucht und sozialer Wandel. Earls Colne (England), Springfield und Ipswich (Neuengland) im Vergleich, ca. 1524-1690, Stuttgart (Steiner) 1993.

Edited and co-edited Books

  • (Co-) Edited Collections (co-ed. with John Morrill) Monarchy transformed: princes and their elites in early modern Western Europe, Cambridge 2017.
  • (co-ed. with Mathias Schmoeckel) Recht, Konfession und Verfassung im 17. Jahrhundert. (Historische Forschungen, Duncker & Humblot) Berlin 2015.
  • Perspectives on an Interdisciplinary Subject. Politics, Law, Society, History and Religion in the Politica (1590s – 1650s), Hildesheim (Olms) 2013.
  • (co-ed. with Luise Schorn-Schütte), Politik und Religion. Eigenlogik oder Verzahnung? (Historische Zeitschrift Beihefte 45) München 2007.
  • Passions and the Legitimacy of Rule from Antiquity to the Early Enlightenment. (Cultural and Social History. The Journal of the Social History Association, Vol 2, issue 2) London 2005
  • Patrioten und Patria vor dem Patriotismus. Pflichten, Rechte, Glauben und die Rekonfigurierung europaeischer Gemeinwesen im 17. Jahrhundert (Harrassowitz: Wolfenbütteler Arbeiten zur Barockforschung Bd. 41), Wiesbaden 2005.
  • Murder and Monarchy. Regicide in European History, 1300-1800, Houndsmill (Palgrave Macmillan), 2004.
  • Widerstandsrecht in der frühen Neuzeit. Erträge und Perspektiven der Forschung im deutsch-britischen Vergleich. Berlin (Duncker & Humblot, Beihefte der Zeitschrift fuer historische Forschung) 2001. (co-edited with H. Berghoff)
  • Change and Inertia: Britain under the Impact of the Great War, Bodenheim 1998.

Selected Contributions to Handbook-Series

  • ‘The Rise of Natural Law’, in: Richard Muller, Ulrich Lehner, Gregory Roeber (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theology, Oxford 2016, 625-641.
  • ‘Republics and Republicanism’, in: Hamish Scott (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Europe, Oxford 2015, 538-559.
  • ‘The Roots of Modern Germany’, in: Helmut Walter Smith (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History, Oxford 2011, 29-48.
  • The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (sections I-III), in: Howell Lloyd et al (eds.), European Political Thought 1450-1700, (Yale) New Haven 2007, 102-166.

Selected articles in periodicals

  • Ecclesiology and the English state. Luther and Melanchthon on the Independence of the Church in English Translations of the 1570s, Archive for Reformation History 101 (2010), 137-161.
  • The Juridification of Natural Law: Christoph Besold’s Claim for a Natural Right to Believe what One Wants, The Historical Journal 53 2010, 1-19.
  • “Confusion” around the Magdeburg Confession and the Making of “Revolutionary Early Modern Resistance Theory”, in: Archive for Reformation History 97 (2006), 307-318.
  • The Office of the Patriot: The Problems of Passions and of Love of Fatherland in Protestant Thought, Melanchthon to Althusius, 1520s to 1620s, in: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance History, III Series, 3 (2006), 241-273
  • The Making of Patriots: Love of Fatherland and Negotiating Monarchy in Seventeenth Century Germany, The Journal of Modern History 77 (2005), 881-916.
  • Dickens, the German Reformation, and the issue of nation and fatherland in early modern German history, in: Historical Research 77, no 195 (2004), 79-97.
  • ‘Self-defence’ and sovereignty. The reception and application of German Political Thought in England and Scotland, 1628-1669, in: History of Political Thought 23 (2002), 238-265.
  • In Defence of Patria. Resisting magistrates and the duties of patriots in the Empire 1530s-1640s, in: Sixteenth Century Journal 32.2 (2001), 357-382.
  • From collective representation to the right of individual defence: James Steuart’s Ius Populi Vindicatum and the use of Johannes Althusius’ Politica in Restoration Scotland, in: History of European Ideas 24 (1998), 19-42.
  • Social and Geographical Mobility in the Old World and New World Communities: Earls Colne, Ipswich and Springfield, in: Journal of Social History 28 (1995), 375-400.
  • Village Strife and the Rhetoric of Communalism: Peasants and Parsons, Lords and Jews in Hesse, Central Germany, 1646-1672, in: The Seventeenth Century 7 (1992), 201-226.
  • Social Structure and Migration: The Case of the Schwalm Valley, Hesse, 1840-66, German History 10 (1992) 131-148
  • Reformation of Manners and the Social Composition of Offenders in an English Cloth Village: Earls Colne, Essex, 1525-1642, in: Journal of British Studies 29 (1990), 347-385.

Member of the Board of the Althusius Society, Member of the International Board of Il Pensiero Politico and Correspondent of the Austrian History Yearbook. External Referee for the Dutch National Research Agency (NWO), European Research Council, Austrian Science Fund, German Research Association (DFG), German Science Counci (Wissenschaftsrat)/ Excellenzinitiative, Leverhulme Trust, and for applications for fellowships and for professorial positions at British and American Universities, and for Cambridge University Press.

Bennigsen Foerder Prize of the State of Nord Rhein Westfalia for Research in the Humanities, 1992.

BBC Channel 5 ‘Cromwell’