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Dr Alice Rio

Dr Alice Rio

Reader in Medieval European History

Tel +44 (0)20 7848 1228
Address Department of History
King’s College London
Room C10, East Wing
London WC2R 2LS

I was born and raised in Paris. I did my PhD (2006) in the History department at King’s under the supervision of Jinty Nelson. After that I was Junior Research Fellow at New College, Oxford (2006-07), then Osborn Fellow and College Lecturer in Medieval History and Culture at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge (2007-2009), and then came back to the department in September 2009 as Lecturer in Medieval European History. I have been awarded the Royal Historical Society’s Alexander Prize (2007) and Gladstone Prize (for Legal Practice and the Written Word in the Early Middle Ages, CUP 2009), and a Philip Leverhulme Prize (2010). Between 2012 and 2015 I was Principal Investigator of the AHRC-funded project ‘The Making of Charlemagne’s Europe, 768-814’. I have been a member of the editorial board of Past & Present since 2011.

Research interests and PhD supervision


  • Medieval slavery and unfreedom
  • The conceptualisation of social relationships
  • The Frankish kingdoms under the Merovingians and Carolingians
  • Law and legal texts
  • Early medieval narrative texts

I am currently working on slavery and unfreedom between the 5th and the 12th centuries, on which I am preparing a monograph and a sourcebook. More generally I am interested in the social history of late antique and early medieval Europe, particularly in the Frankish kingdoms under the Merovingians and Carolingians. I also work on legal practice and legal texts. I am especially interested in the ways in which different kinds of social relationship were governed and conceptualised – what rules and norms were deemed relevant to them, whether or not they were expressed in a legal framework, and what expectations came with them; and above all what bearing all this had on the lived experience of human relationships, from the most explicitly rule-bound (slavery) to the most informal (friendship).

I am happy to receive applications from PhD students interested in:

  • Any Merovingian and Carolingian topics
  • Social and economic history between 500 and 1100
  • Law, crime, legal and diplomatic sources
  • Women and gender
  • Early medieval narrative texts
For more details, please see my full research profile.
Selected publications
  • Alice Rio (2012) 'Self-sale and voluntary entry into unfreedom, 300–1100', Journal of Social History, 45:2, pp. 1-25. [Article in print Journal]
  • Alice Rio (2011) Law, Custom, and Justice in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages: Proceedings of the 2008 Byzantine Colloquium London: Centre for Hellenic Studies, King's College London. [Edited book in print]
  • Alice Rio (2009) Legal Practice and the Written Word in the Early Middle Ages: Frankish Formulae, c.500–1000 CUP. [Authored Book in print]
  • Alice Rio (2008) The Formularies of Angers and Marculf: Two Merovingian Legal Handbooks Liverpool University Press. [Authored Book in print]

For a complete list of publications, please see Alice's full research profile.

Expertise and public engagement

I am a co-convenor of the Earlier Middle Ages seminar at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR).


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