About Jesus College/Our community/ People
Professor David d’Avray

Roles and subjects

Supernumerary Fellow in History



Academic Background

BA History, St John’s College Cambridge (1970-1973); DPhil History, Balliol College Oxford (1973-1976); Michael Foster Memorial Scholar, Oxford-Ludwig Maximilians Universität Munich (1976-77); Lecturer in History, UCL (1977-93); Alexander von Humboldt Fellow, LMU Munich;  FRHS (1991); Reader in History, UCL (1993-96).

Professor of History, UCL (1996-2019); ‘Directeur  d’Etudes invité’, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris  (1997) ; General Editor, Oxford Medieval Texts 2003 – present ; Chair, Medieval Studies Section, British Academy (2012-2014); Editorial Committee, Auctores Britannici Medii Aevi (2005-2016); FBA (2005); Corresponding Fellow, Medieval Academy of America (2016).

Undergraduate Teaching

Courses taught: Friars, Towns, and Universities; History of Mental Attitudes;  Parliamentary and Baronial Crises’ (with Prof. C. Russell); Faith and Unbelief Aquinas to Darwin’. (with P Chorley); From William the Bastard to the Hammer of the Scots; British History to 1400; European History 1200-1500; Friars and Rulers; Christianity and Culture, 800-1323; Christianity on the Continent, 1500-1713; Rationality for Historians; History of Ethics: a sociological methodology; Marriage and Monarchy; Social Systems in Religious History; Themes in the Comparative  History of Christian Attitudes’ (13th to 17th century); Medieval Marriage Doctrines and their Legacy; Love and Marriage in the Age of Romance; Popes and Caliphs; Luther and Trent.

Postgraduate Teaching

Medieval Papacy; Medieval Manuscripts and Documents; Weber for Historians.

26 doctoral theses supervised to completion.

Research Interests

Early work was on medieval preaching as mass communication, and as evidence for attitudes to monarchy, death, and marriage; the practical influence of symbolism on the social and legal history of medieval marriage was the next theme; after that, different kinds of rationality in history, both comparatively and with reference to the Middle Ages; the most recent published research has been on the royal marriages and papal law. Current research aims to apply sociological concepts to understanding papal Christianity from Antiquity and the seventeenth century. At Jesus I hope to convene discussions on applications of social theory to the history of Ethics.

Other Interests

Alpine walking, domestic discussion of television.



  1. The Preaching of the Friars: sermons diffused from Paris before 1350 (Oxford, 1985)
  2. Death and the Prince. Memorial Preaching before 1350 (Oxford, 1994)
  3. Medieval Marriage Sermons. Mass Communication in a Culture without Print. (OUP 2001)
  4. Medieval Marriage: symbolism and society (OUP, 2005)
  5. Medieval Religious Rationalities: a Weberian Analysis (CUP, 2010)
  6. Rationalities in History: a Weberian Essay in Comparison (CUP, 2010)
  7. Dissolving Royal Marriages. A Documentary History, 860-1600 (CUP, 2014)
  8. Papacy, Monarchy and Marriage, 860-1600 (CUP, 2015)
  9. Papal Jurisprudence c. 400. Sources of the Canon Law Tradition (CUP, 2019)
  10. Papal Jurisprudence, 385-1234. Social Origins and Medieval Reception of Canon Law (CUP, 2022)
  11. The Power of Protocol. Diplomatics and the Dynamics of Papal Government, c. 400 – c. 1600 (CUP, 2023)


See also Professor d’Avray’s British Academy profile and UCL profile.