Dr James Palmer

Dr James Palmer

MPhil (Cantab.), PhD (Shef.), FRHistS - Reader


Contact Details

E-mail - jtp21@st-andrews.ac.uk
Telephone - +44 (0)1334 462197
Fax - +44 (0)1334 463334

Research Profile on Research@StAndrews



Teaching and Research Interests

I am a cultural historian who works on the early Middle Ages. I am Reader in Medieval History at the University of St Andrews, where I have taught since 2007. Before moving to Scotland, I held posts in Leicester and in my home town of Nottingham.

My research has focused on cultural interactions across political and social boundaries. I have explored connections between the Merovingian and Carolingian worlds and Anglo-Saxon England, Ireland, and Scandinavia – often extending to Byzantium and the Arab world. More recently, I have started to look at China and Buddhism in the same period.

My present project is Science and Belief in the Making of Early Medieval Christendom, funded by a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for 2018-21. This builds on my work on computus and astronomy in the Carolingian and Insular worlds, dating back to my postdoctoral research project, Time and Power in the Early Medieval West. Previously, I had a project on Apocalypse, Society and Power 400-1200, funded by the AHRC for 2011-12. This resulted in the well-received monograph, The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages (2014) and led to collaboration with Matt Gabriele (Virginia Tech) on Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages (2018).

My doctoral research at the University of Sheffield was on saints’ Lives, intellectual networks, and interaction between different religious groups. This led to the my first book Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World, 690-900 (2009). Further research into medieval saints’ Lives has led to a new book, Early Medieval Hagiography, out in 2018.

My research and teaching are closely linked. At honours I offer the modules ‘Power and Identity after Rome 500-700’ and ‘Medieval Apocalyptic Traditions 400-1200’, together with a Special Subject on ‘The Age of Charlemagne’. I also contribute to the team-taught subhonours module ‘The Fall of Rome and the Origins of Europe (400-1000)’ and ‘History as a Discipline’.

To find out more about James' research click here.

Main Publications


  • Early Medieval Hagiography (Arc Humanities, 2018) [Details]
  • The Apocalypse in the Early Middle Ages (Cambridge, 2014) [Details]
  • Anglo-Saxons in a Frankish World 690-900 (Brepols, 2009) [Details]

Edited volumes

  • [with Matthew Gabriele] Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages (Routledge, 2018) [Details]


  • "The Global Eminent Life: Sixth-Century Collected Biographies from Gregory of Tours to Huijiao of Jiaxiang Temple", Medieval Worlds, 8 (2018).
  • "To be Prepared: Eschatology and Reform Rhetoric, c. 570 to c. 640", in M. Gabriele & J. T. Palmer (eds.), Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages (2018).
  • "Reform and the Beginning of the End", in M. Gabriele & J. T. Palmer (eds.), Apocalypse and Reform from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages (2018).
  • "The Adoption of the Dionysian Easter in the Frankish Kingdoms (c. 670-800)", Peritia, 28 (2017).
  • "Climates of Crisis: Apocalypse, Nature, and Rhetoric in the Early Medieval World", Viator, 48.2 (2017).
  • "Apocalyptic Outsiders and their Uses in the Early Medieval West", in W. Brandes, F. Schmieder & R. Voß (eds.), Peoples of the Apocalypse: Eschatological Beliefs and Political Scenarios (Berlin & Boston, 2016). [Details]
  • "Martyrdom and the Rise of Missionary Hagiography in the Later Merovingian World", in R. Flechner & M. Ni Mhaonaigh (eds.), The Introduction of Christianity into the Early Medieval Insular World (Turnhout, 2016). [Details]
  • “The Otherness of Non-Christians in the Early Middle Ages”, Studies in Church History, 51 (2015) [Details]
  • "The Ends and Futures of Bede’s De temporum ratione”, in P. Darby & F. Wallis (eds.), Bede and the Future (Farnham, 2014). [Details]
  • 'Wilfrid and the Frisians", in R. Hall & N. Higham (eds.), St Wilfrid: Bishop of York, Abbot of Ripon and Hexham (Stamford, 2013).
  • "The Ordering of Time", in V. Wieser, C. Zolles, C. Feik, M. Zolles & L. Schlöndorff (eds.), Abendländische Apokalyptik. Kompendium zur Genealogie der Endzeit (Berlin, 2013).
  • “Computus after the Paschal Controversy of AD740” in I. Warntjes & D. Ó Cróinín (eds.), The Easter Controversy of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Its Manuscripts, Texts and Tables (Turnhout, 2011). [Details]
  • “Calculating Time and the End of Time in the Carolingian World c. 740- c. 820”, English Historical Review, 126/ 523 (2011).
  • “Beyond Frankish Authority? Frisia and Saxony between the Anglo-Saxons and Carolingians”, in H. Sauer & J. Story (eds.), Anglo-Saxon England and the Continent (Tempe, AZ, 2011).
  • "Anskar's Imagined Communities", in H. Antonsson & I. Garipzanov (eds.), Saints and their Lives on the Periphery: Veneration of Saints in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (c.1000-c.1200) (Turnhout, 2010). [Details]
  • “Hagiography and Time in the Carolingian vitae of St Boniface”, in R. Corradini, M. Diesenberger & M. Niederkorn-Bruck (eds.), Zwischen Niederschrift und Wiederschrift (Vienna, 2010). [Details]
  • "Defining Paganism in the Carolingian World", Early Medieval Europe, 15.4 (2007).
  • "Saxon or European? Interpreting and Reinterpreting St Boniface", History Compass, 4.5 (2006).
  • "The Vigorous Rule of Bishop Lull: Between Bonifatian Mission and Carolingian Church Control", Early Medieval Europe, 13.3 (2005).
  • "The Frankish Cult of Martyrs and the Case of the Two Saints Boniface", Revue benedictine, 114 (2004).
  • "Rimbert's Vita Anskarii and Scandinavian Mission in the Ninth Century", Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 55.2 (2004).

Web Pages


Administrative Duties

Teaching Duties

Offers the following honours courses:

And the following Special Subjects:

Research Students

I am happy to supervise students undertaking research in any area of continental or English history from the sixth to the eleventh centuries.

Current Research Students

Dana Weaver, Anglo-Saxon Art and Identity in the North Sea
Maria Merino Jaso, Latin poetry from the court of Charlemagne

Completed Research Students

Vittorio Mattioli, Performing Grímnismál: Knowledge of the world of the gods (with Alex Woolf)
Joanna Thornborough, Saints' Cults and Hagiography in Early Medieval Wurzburg and St Gall.


Main Publications

Anglo-Saxons ina Frankish World

Anglo-Saxons ina Frankish World