Dr Thomas Smith

Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

Summary: Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

After reading History and studying for an MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent, I received my PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London in 2013. For the last year of my doctoral studies I was a Scouloudi Junior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research. From 2013 to 2015, I held a Leverhulme Trust Study Abroad Studentship at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich, where I also taught as Dozent. Between 2015 and 2017, I was Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in Medieval History at Trinity College, Dublin, where I also served as Director of the MPhil in Medieval History. I joined the School of History at Leeds as a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in May 2017.

Research Interests: 

There are two major strands to my research. First, the high medieval papacy, in particular the role of external influence and consensus-driven politics in determining the decisions of popes. Second, the documentary sources for the crusading movement, especially the regional reception and transmission of manuscripts containing crusade texts. Some of my recent manuscript discoveries include multiple new copies of First Crusade letters, a new witness to Oliver of Cologne's famous chronicle of the Fifth Crusade, the Historia Damiatina, and the oldest known Latin text of the prophecy of the son of Agap from the Fifth Crusade, which takes us a long step closer to the lost urtext. I am particularly interested in how the regional reception and transmission of these texts offers us a glimpse into how monastic scribes engaged with the crusading movement from behind the walls of their cloisters as a form of "scribal crusading".

Current Research: 

My Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship project (2017–20) explores 'The Rise of Papal Provisions in Thirteenth-Century England'. The system of papal provision was one of the main methods through which clergy were appointed (‘provided’) to ecclesiastical benefices in medieval Christendom. Through the wholesale provision of foreign, mostly Italian, clergy across medieval Europe, the popes aroused fierce contemporary opposition and xenophobia. In thirteenth-century England, the chronicler Matthew Paris fulminated that alien, and, in his opinion, worthless, clergy were carrying off an outrageous 60,000 marks per annum from their benefices – allegedly more than the king himself. This xenophobic hatred appears to have been widespread, and it found an outlet in England in the anti-foreign movement of 1231–2, when groups of armed men hunted down foreign clergy, physically assaulted some, abducted others, looted their grain and razed their barns to the ground. Papal provision still provokes fierce controversy among modern historians, most of whom follow medieval chroniclers in interpreting the system as nepotistic, predatory, and exploitative.

Yet the exponential growth of the system in the thirteenth century, which was driven by English petitioners and members of the papal familia alike, has arguably been misunderstood because this crucial period has never been subjected to detailed analysis. This project is the first to investigate the rise of papal provisions in England during the thirteenth century. Utilizing the full range of extant sources, and informed by new approaches to ecclesiastical history, it aims to re-evaluate the character of the system and to arrive at a much more considered assessment of the extent of immigration through papal provision, and also to compare this with Germany in the same period.




3. Curia and Crusade: Pope Honorius III and the Recovery of the Holy Land, 1216–27 (Turnhout: Brepols, in press, forthcoming June 2017) (152,481 words).

Edited Books

2. The Fifth Crusade in Context: The Crusading Movement in the Early Thirteenth Century (ed. with E.J. Mylod, Guy Perry, Jan Vandeburie) (London: Routledge, 2017) (264 pp.) + ‘Introduction'.

1. George Whitefield Tercentenary Essays (ed. with William Gibson) (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 2015) (144 pp.).

Articles and Chapters

Journal Articles

15. ‘Scribal Crusading: Three New Manuscript Witnesses to the Regional Reception and Transmission of First Crusade Letters’, Traditio 72 (in press, forthcoming 2017) (12,775 words).

14. ‘Oliver of Cologne’s Historia Damiatina: A New Manuscript Witness in Dublin, Trinity College Library MS 496’, Hermathena 201 (submitted, forthcoming 2017) (12,157 words).

13. ‘The First Crusade Letter Written at Laodicea in 1099: Two Previously Unpublished Versions from Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Clm 23390 and 28195’, Crusades 15 (2016): 1–25 (25 pp.).

12. ‘Papal Executors and the Veracity of Petitions from Thirteenth-Century England’, Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique 110 (2015): 662–683 (22 pp.).

11. ‘The Authorship of the Register of Bassus notarius’, Manuscripta 59 (2015): 243–263 (21 pp.)

10. ‘The Development of Papal Provisions in Medieval Europe’, History Compass 13 (2015): 110–121 (12 pp.).

9. ‘Between Two Kings: Pope Honorius III and the Seizure of the Kingdom of Jerusalem by Frederick II in 1225’, Journal of Medieval History 41 (2015): 41–59 (19 pp.).

8. ‘Authority and Liberty: John Wesley’s View of Medieval England’, Wesley and Methodist Studies 7 (2015): 1–26 (26 pp.) [published by Penn State University Press].

7. ‘The College of Cardinals under Honorius III: A Nepotistic Household?’, Studies in Church History 50 (2014): 74–85 (12 pp.).

6. ‘English Episcopal Acta and Thirteenth-Century Petitions to the Pope’, Archives 40 (2014): 16–22 (7 pp.).

5. ‘Honorius III and the Crusade: Responsive Papal Government versus the Memory of his Predecessors’, Studies in Church History 49 (2013): 99–109 (11 pp.).

Book Chapters

4. ‘Preambles to Crusading: The Arengae of Crusade Letters issued by Innocent III and Honorius III’, in The Papacy, Religious Life, and the Crusade in the Early Thirteenth Century, ed. Jessalynn Bird (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, in press, forthcoming 2017) (7,471 words).

3. ‘The Use of the Bible in the Arengae of Pope Gregory IX’s Crusade Calls’, in The Uses of the Bible in Crusader Sources, ed. Elizabeth Lapina and Nicholas Morton (Leiden: Brill, 2017), pp. 206–35 (30 pp.).

2. ‘The Role of Pope Honorius III in the Fifth Crusade’, in The Fifth Crusade in Context: The Crusading Movement in the Early Thirteenth Century, ed. E.J. Mylod, Guy Perry, Thomas W. Smith and Jan Vandeburie (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 15–26 (12 pp.).

1. ‘Pope Honorius III, the Military Orders and the Financing of the Fifth Crusade: A Culture of Papal Preference?’, in The Military Orders: Volume 6.1, Culture and Conflict in the Mediterranean World, ed. Jochen Schenk and Mike Carr (London: Routledge, 2017), pp. 54–61 (8 pp.).