Formative reading

It is useful to develop a considered approach to the discipline of history, to your research project, and to the opportunities to which your project might lead. These books offer useful insights into the kinds of work that research in early modern religious history might involve:

On doing historical work:

James M. Banner, Jr, Being a historian: An introduction to the professional world of history (2012)

James E. Bradley and Richard A. Muller, Church history: An introduction to research, reference works, and methods (1995)

On method:

Alister Chapman, John Coffey and Brad S. Gregory (eds), Seeing things their way: Intellectual history and the return of religion (2009)

J. C. D. Clark, Our shadowed present: Modernism, postmodernism and history (2003)

Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The history manifesto (2014) []

Quentin Skinner, Visions of politics, vol 1: Regarding method (2002)

Carl R. Trueman, Histories and fallacies: Problems faced in the writing of history (2010)

Helpful theoretical models of various kinds:

Natalie Zemon Davis, Society and culture in early modern France (1975)

Carlo Ginzberg, The cheese and the worms: The cosmos of a sixteenth-century miller (1976)

Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou: Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324 (1978)

Natalie Zemon Davis, The return of Martin Guerre (1983)

Kevin C. Robbins, City on the ocean sea: La Rochelle, 1530-1650 (1997)

Eamon Duffy, The voices of Morebath: Reformation and rebellion in an English village (2001)

Bruce Gordon, Calvin (2009)

Background reading

You will find it helpful to approach your subject of study with a broad view of the period, and a general awareness of the contexts in which your subject should be placed. The following texts are arranged in order of increasing specificity of topic

R. Scott Dixon, The church in the early modern age (2016)

Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s house divided, 1490-1700 (2003)

Mark Greengrass, Christendom destroyed: Europe, 1517-1648 (2014)

Ulrich L. Lehner, Richard A. Muller, and A. G. Roeber (eds), The Oxford handbook of early modern theology, 1600-1800 (2016)

Peter Marshall, Reformation England, 1480-1642, second edition (2012)

David Underdown, Revel, riot and rebellion: Popular politics and culture in England, 1603-1660 (1987)

Keith Wrightson, “Early modern England: Politics, religion and society under the Tudors and Stuarts,” lectures online at

John Spurr, The post-reformation: Religion, politics and society in Britain, 1603-1714 (2006)

Alec Ryrie, Being protestant in reformation Britain (2013)

John Coffey and Paul C. H. Lim (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (2004)

Scholarly communities

Research can be a lonely business, so in addition to attending the weekly graduate seminars within the department, the three-weekly meetings of the Religious Studies Research Seminar (details from, as well as the early modern history seminars in Trinity College Dublin, which regularly have a religious historical focus (details from, you might want to consider becoming involved in some of the following scholarly communities:

American Society of Church History:

Ecclesiastical History Society:

(see in particular the section for postgraduates and early career academics:

Scottish Church History Society:

Society for Reformation Studies:

Society for Renaissance Studies:

International John Bunyan Society:

Institute of Historical Research:

Royal Historical Society:

Remember that many of the smaller scholarly communities are centred around their members’ research interests in particular denominational histories, including:

Baptist Historical Society:

Brethren Archivists’ and Historians’ Network:

Catholic Historical Society of Ireland:

Church of Ireland Historical Society:

Manchester Wesley Research Centre:

Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland:

Research skills: Languages and palaeography

QUB offers a large number of modern language acquisition opportunities:

Latin course in QUB:

Beginners Latin course at the National Archives:

Advanced Latin course at the National Archives:

English palaeography course at the National Archives:

Latin palaeography course at the National Archives:

The Folger Institute regularly offers short courses in scholarly methods:

[QUB students can apply for free tuition due to our membership of the Folger Consortium]

FutureLearn has online courses on everything (just about):

[of particular interest: “Radical spirituality: The early history of the Quakers”:]

Finding sources

As my PhD supervisor advised me, “Serendipity is the art of research, and the book you need is next to the one you are looking for.” There is no substitute for browsing shelves or journal issues.

QUB has a very good Special Collections unit [], with first or early editions of a great deal of printed material by Baxter, Hobbes, Owen, Milton, much of it held within the Antrim Presbytery Library collection, and many other early modern religious writers.

You can find a list of manuscripts in the special collections contents here: Of particular interest:

Ms 1/50: Edmondes, Sir Thomas. Journal of a member of the suite of Sir Thomas Edmondes, 1614-1615. (ff. 3-29); A Discourse of Ireland [c. 1599] (ff. 32-41).

Ms 1/128 Sermons. C. 1644-1646. Note on flyleaf: Holy Bishop Bedell’s papers. Note on loose leaf by J.R. Garstin.

Ms 1/221: Edward Roberts, “Psalmody or singing of psalmes a gospel ordinance” 17th century MS v+ 133p. Ms [v], 133 p.

MS Percy 7: “The diary of Samuel Rogers, 1634-38.”

Remember to consult the miscellaneous list:,606971,en.pdf

Remember that the Gamble Library, Union Theological College, which is one of the largest open-access theological libraries in the UK or Ireland, is open to QUB students.

In addition to accessing through the McClay Library website Early English Books Online (EEBO), Eighteenth-Century Collection Online (ECCO) and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), you might also want to access:

Clergy of the Church of England database:

English Broadside Ballad Archive (EBBA):

Gateway to Early Modern Manuscript Sermons:

Post-reformation digital library:

Yale University Library, early modern sources:

Finding scholarship

In addition to the ATLA database (available through the McClay Library), which provides access to a wide range of journals, including Westminster Theological Journal, you might also wish to consult:

 British Library website provides PDFs of PhDs completed in most UK universities:

[it is important to make sure that no-one has worked recently on the subject you are pursuing!]

Church History offers two years of free subscription to postgraduate students:

Google Scholar allows you to identify which publications cite others, and this can assist in building your bibliography.

Obtaining funding

Folger Shakespeare Library fellowships:

Gladstone’s Library (formerly St Deiniol’s Library), Hawarden:

John Rylands University Library, Manchester, fellowships:

Smaller libraries

Some of these institutions offer occasional fellowships:

Armagh Public Library [the Robinson Library]:

Dr Williams’s Library, London:

Edward Worth Library, Dublin:

Marsh’s Library, Dublin:

And don’t forget … 

Our nearest copyright deposit library is Trinity College Library, Dublin:



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