The many-headed monster is a collaborative effort focusing on English society and culture in the early modern period, very broadly conceived. Our name comes from the paranoid imaginations of seventeenth-century gentlemen, who often conceived of ‘the common people’ as a monstrous beast that would devour the rich whole if given half a chance.¹ Whilst we do not approve of cannibalism, we do like the idea of trying to understand what society looked like ‘from below’.

BW profile Brodie Waddell emerged from the woods of western Canada in 2006. After learning the secrets of the historian’s craft at Warwick, York and Cambridge, he set up shop in the metropolis as Lecturer in Early Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London. His academic work to date has centred on economic life in seventeenth-century England, with frequent diversions into the histories of welfare, riots, literacy, chronicling, preaching and local courts. His current obsessions are the economic history of 1688 and the social history of petitioning. You can follow him on twitter: @Brodie_Waddell. When not messing about in classrooms or archives, he can usually be found chasing two small giggling (single-headed) monsters.

MarkMark Hailwood was born and raised in England’s West Country. He headed east to do his first degree at East Anglia, before moving to the Midlands to undertake postgraduate study at Warwick. His odyssey continued with teaching jobs at Cardiff, Bristol, Exeter, Cambridge, and St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and research fellowships at the Institute of Historical Research in London, the Huntington Library in California, and the University of Exeter. He has now returned to his hometown as a Lecturer in History 1400-1700 at the University of Bristol. Mark is interested in the history of industry and idleness. His first book is about alehouses and drinking culture in seventeenth-century England, and he is now working on a project investigating women’s work in the south west of England, 1500-1700. You can follow his adventures on twitter: @mark_hailwood. When not behind his desk or in front of his class, he likes to head into the Devon hills to bowl gentle away-swingers.

Laura2Laura Sangha blossomed in Kent, the garden of England where she attended a state school before becoming the first generation in her family to go to university. After graduation she spent three years working outside of academia before returning to Warwick as a postgraduate. She has worked at the University of Exeter since 2010, where she is now Senior Lecturer in British History. Laura works on religious cultures in early modern England, investigating belief and practice during the ‘long’ Reformation. She is interested in how abstract ideas can have practical influence on society more broadly – what you might call ‘a social history of theology’. Her first book was Angels and Belief in England 1480-1700, and more recently she has published on pious antiquarian Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725).  Laura supplements these spiritual activities with a strict physical regime of running with wild abandon down the Exe Estuary whilst dodging angry cows. Follow her on twitter @_drsang.

Jonathan-Willis2Jonathan Willis grew up in Norwich, in the far east (of England), before setting sail for the cooler, wetter climes of the west midlands.  After eight years’ apprenticeship  in the history department at Warwick, he went on a two-year voyage to Durham, where he served in the department of theology and religion, before returning to take up a lectureship in early modern history at the University of Birmingham.  Jonathan’s research centres on the exploration of religious beliefs, practices and identities in England during the long sixteenth century.  His first book looked at the relationship between church music and religious change during the English reformation, and he is currently working on a new project on the reformation of the ten commandments. He’s on twitter too: @drjpwillis. He is ‘assisted’ in these exploits by a pair of mischievous kittens.

Footnotes (because every proper academic blog has footnotes)

¹ Christopher Hill, ‘The Many-Headed Monster in Late Tudor and Early Stuart Political Thinking’, in C.H. Carter (ed.), From the Renaissance to the Counter-Reformation: Essays in Honour of Garrett Mattingley (New York, 1965), and reprinted in Hill, Change and Continuity in Seventeenth-Century England (rev. ed., New Haven, 1991), pp.181-204. Discussed on this blog in ‘Christopher Hill, class hatred and the many-headed monster‘.

Comments Policy

We welcome comments and questions on almost anything, just don’t expect us to respond politely to queries about Henry VIII’s wives.

Feedback, including direct criticism, is especially important to us as scholars. Blogging doesn’t come equipped with pre-publication peer-review, so we are relying on you to let us know when we make mistakes and to pass along information that we miss. Just try to keep it civil – we don’t want to descend into the vitriolic rhetoric typical of early modern controversies.

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14 thoughts on “About

  1. Pingback: Welcome! | the many-headed monster

  2. I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered your blog: it’s great. Although not a Hindleite in the proper sense, I have been hugely influenced by reading Steve’s work so it’s really interesting to see how others have been inspired in their own research by him.

    Thank you too for the blogroll link, I am always simultaneously flattered and terrified when proper historians chance upon my site. Oh and Brodie: when you start at Birkbeck tell Laura Stewart that Nick from the 2007-2009 early modern MA intake says hello!

    • Thanks, Nick. Very glad to hear you’re finding it interesting. We’ve certainly been enjoying your posts.

      To tell you the truth, I don’t think either of us are proper ‘Hindleites’ either – we disagree with him fairly regularly after all – but since he was our supervisor it would be impossible to deny his influence.

      I’ll pass along your greetings to Laura at Birkbeck. Although I’ve only chatted with her a few times so far, she’s been great and I’m looking forward to many more conversations to come.

      – Brodie

  3. Great blog! Thanks for the reference in your latest post. I’m also flattered as Nick is by the attention from real trained historians! I hadn’t realised however that my blog was anonymous, I shall amend that today. Ian

  4. Pingback: Blogging Our Criminal Past, part 2: history turned upside down? | Conviction

  5. I absolutely love this site. I only discovered it yesterday and it has been a total time vampire. I have been reading it for hours. Thank you for your wonderful blogs. This will be one blog I check all of the time for new material. Keep up the great work!

  6. Pingback: Towards the finish line… | Ruth's Adventures In Research

  7. Pingback: The Monster @ 5 | the many-headed monster

  8. “Our name comes from the paranoid imaginations of seventeenth-century gentlemen, who often conceived of ‘the common people’ as a monstrous beast that would devour the rich whole if given half a chance.¹ ”

    Strikes me – very much – that much of what you observe and report from the early modern period is pertinent to what is happening now, in 2020

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