Hilary Rhodes


I became hooked on medieval history during a year at Oxford University as an undergraduate. I had taken several history courses at university in America, but went to Oxford thinking I was going to study psychology – which, to say the least, did not happen! One year later, I had finished what would become the first two of five historical novels and went on to complete my bachelor’s degree in history and English at Sarah Lawrence College (New York, US, 2010). In 2012, I began to study for my Master of Arts in history and religion at Iliff School of Theology/University of Denver (Colorado, US), where I graduated in 2014 with honours. In 2015, after receiving several admissions offers from doctoral programmes, I returned to the UK to take up a place at the University of Leeds, where I am on course to complete my PhD in medieval history in 2019. I am also postgraduate/junior faculty in the history department.

I am studying at Leeds on a School of History scholarship that pays full international tuition and have achieved competitive funding throughout my academic career, including a mostly-full scholarship for my master’s degree and the highest awarded amount of institutional scholarship money as an undergraduate. I also received a Medieval Academy of America scholarship for study at the Rare Book School of the University of Virginia in summer 2015, and am a Postgraduate Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I have published five historical novels set in medieval England, and write history posts and run history projects for a popular audience on my blog.

Research interests

My research interests are broad, with topics of special interest including medieval women and social history, medieval queer history, medieval historiography and intellectual history, the Norman Conquest and early Anglo-Norman and Angevin England, and others, but my work is presently focused on both the medieval crusades and their modern memory. My master’s thesis studied the post-1291 intellectual history of the crusades, investigating how profoundly they shaped European and then American law, practice, and political imagination, and my doctoral thesis examines the role of the French province of Burgundy in the crusades between 1095-c.1220. It treats the First through the Albigensian Crusades, and synthesises these developments in their context of medieval French history and the rise of the Capetian monarchy. I am also particularly interested in the vast popularity of ‘imagined medieval histories’ and their use in modern political culture, often in the service of far-right, nationalist narratives, as well as the booming appeal of quasi-medieval media such as Game of Thrones. I have particular working competence in the eleventh through thirteenth centuries, and teach a wide-ranging first-year European history course from the fall of the Western Roman Empire to the Renaissance.

Current Research Projects
I am presently working, as noted, on my doctoral thesis about Burgundy and the crusades. My next intended project, hopefully in a post-doctoral or early career position, is to begin research for a monograph entitled Queering the Middle Ages: Narrative, Memory, and Materiality in Medieval Discourses of Difference. 

My first book chapter is scheduled to be published in early 2019, in an anthology provisionally titled Engaging the Crusades, Vol. III: Tensions in the Memory of the Crusades (ed. Akil Awan and Mike Horswell, forthcoming from Routledge Publishers). It is entitled ‘Medievalism, Imagination, and Violence: The Function and Dysfunction of Crusading Rhetoric in the Post-9/11 Political World,’ and represents a paper I first gave at the September 2015 ‘Engaging the Crusades’ conference at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Other articles I am preparing for academic journal submission include ‘Florina of Burgundy: Gender, Mythmaking, and the Crusades', given at Northern Network for the Study of the Crusades conference in Manchester, February 2018, and ‘Richard the Lionheart, Contested Queerness, and Crusading Memory,’ which was given at Leeds International Medieval Congress, July 2018. I also have papers in development for each of these conferences in 2019, including participation in the 'Queer Textures of the Past' series organised by David Carrillo-Rangel from the University of Bergen.

Additional Activities
I am an Educational Outreach Fellow at the university, which means that I work with the Educational Engagement Office in giving a variety of research workshops and higher education preparatory skills clinics for secondary school students from around the country, both on and off campus. I have also tutored local Leeds students in GCSE and A-level history and served as a postgraduate mentor for Level 3 undergraduate dissertations.

I welcome any questions on medieval women, medieval social and queer history, the crusades and their modern resonance, and popular ‘medieval’ media!


  • M.A., University of Denver/Iliff School of Theology
  • B.A., Sarah Lawrence College
  • Third Year, Oxford University