Jonathan Jarrett: academic homepage


You've found, one way or another, my academic homepage, on which are described my various endeavours in the world of medieval history. Here you can find out what I've done, what I'm doing, and some of what else is out there.

nomisma histamenon of Alexius Komnenus I've been a student of early medieval history (that is, before c. 1100) since the first year of my undergraduate degree. It's now a number of years later, I have that, a Masters, a doctorate and I still haven't had enough. After many years, arguably too many, love the place though I do, working in Cambridge, on coins and medals for a living and on medieval power relations for fun, I then spent three years in the excellent company of the Queen's College, Oxford teaching medieval history in most of its forms and keeping up the research and then taught for a short while in the University of Birmingham. Now, however, the coins have claimed me back and I currently rejoice in the title of Interim Curator of Coins at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, which leaves me still in Birmingham but having to readjust to office hours.

'carta pequena'As I've been caught saying before now, coins are a fairly amazing source for the historian, being encoded but dated documents that fairly ordinary people still handled and used, but I still like also to work on more conventional documents, even if I still focus on those that might have been used by 'the middling sort of person', in an effort to find out how they dealt with the people above and below them. Although my personal interests are in early medieval history, particularly as found in charters or in Spain (especially Catalonia) and ideally both, I've taught and can teach a far wider spread, particularly British history of the pre-Norman period and have also done all right out of being able to work databases and code web-pages (current evidence not withstanding...). Despite the odd bit of electronic savvy, though, I remain firmly wedded to the early Middle Ages for a vocation, and now have a small rook of publications about them to my credit, including a monograph, which you can, if you want buy here or here and a volume of essays I edited with Allan Scott McKinley that the rich can buy in whole here or in parts here.

Cover of my book, Rulers and Ruled in Frontier Catalonia 880-1010Cover of Jarrett & McKinley, Problems and Possibilities of Early Medieval ChartersPart of the reason for this persistence will be the interest I have, and think anyone can share, in the period, its events and people. I'm not going to make huge claims about its modern-day relevance. That's because firstly when history is put to serve modern purposes it usually seems to be misused, so those of us who are hooked on trying to close in on what really happened probably don't want to end up doing that. The second reason is that, ultimately, the average person can lead a full, busy and fulfilling life without ever knowing, for example, whether King Arthur really existed, what the Vikings actually did, how King Harold really died at Hastings, why people went on Crusade, exactly how many masters a Reconquista man might serve or simply what there was to eat for dinner when you were a peasant (which all depends when you were a peasant of course). That doesn't mean that knowing these things, or, where they're not known, trying to find them out, isn't fun. The question is really one of whether you're interested in people or not.

Bishop Folc of Urgell and Count Gerald Ramon of Cerdanya, distrustfully agreeing termsIf you are, I can assure you that the Middle Ages was full of them, and what I do is how you go about meeting them, as far as we still can. Some of them did grand things, changed their world and started legends; some of them did nothing that lasted more than a few years. About a few of them we are told a number of outright contradictory things; about most, nothing but what we can deduce from stray sources talking about other things. Answers may have to come from archives, A Pictish symbol stone at Kintorecrumbling manuscripts, rescue excavations, pollen analysis, standing stones, graffiti or even folk tradition, and of course coins! All that means, though, is that the researcher will never run out of worlds to conquer.

If I've piqued your interest, feel free to browse the links at the left. Some are intended for students, and some for researchers; the CV is intended for anyone who'd like to see me do this, or one of my various tried and tested courses, in their classrooms rather than the ones where I'm currently doing so. Meanwhile I hope that whatever you're doing is as much fun as what I am.

If this seems to be out-of-date, by the way, although I hope to avoid that, I can also be found on and I run a rewardingly well-regarded blog on Wordpress, both of which are likely to be more up to the minute (albeit that, at time of writing, the blog is slowly decreasing a massive backlog in its reportage). If you're determined to reach me here, my e-mail address is tucked away in the left-hand sidebar, but it is defensive about spam. My institutional address, which comprises my first initial, a dot, my surname in lower case and then, will likely respond better.