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David Carpenter is a leading authority on the history of Britain in the central middle ages. Prior to joining the Department in 1988, David held lectureships at Christ Church, Oxford, St Hilda’s College Oxford, the University of Aberdeen, and Queen Mary College, University of London. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. His Oxford doctorate was supervised by J.O. Prestwich. David is on the committee of the Pipe Roll Society. He was Principal Investigator of the AHRC funded ‘Henry III Fine Rolls Project’ (2005-2011) and a Co-investigator on the ‘Paradox of Medieval Scotland Project’. He is currently a Co-investigator on two further AHRC funded projects, ‘The Breaking of Britain Project’ about Scottish political culture before the Wars of Independence and the ‘Magna Carta Project’.

Research interests and PhD supervision

  • Magna Carta
  • King Henry III
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Medieval Scotland

David Carpenter has written widely on English  social, economic, architectural, military and political history in the 13th century. He is currently writing two books. The first is a biographical study of the reign of Henry III (1216-1272), which he has now brought down to the great revolution of 1258. The second is a book for Penguin about Magna Carta which is due for publication in 2014. 

On the Magna Carta Project he is particularly involved in finding the copies made of the 1215 charter in the rest of the 13th century. Many of these, he has discovered, turn out not to be copies of the final charter at all, but instead preserve rival versions of clauses proposed but ultimately rejected during the negotiations at Runnymede.  This finding casts altogether new light both on those negotiations and on what the political community knew about Magna Carta in the 13th century.

Professor Carpenter is happy to supervise jointly with Alice Taylor a wide variety of topics within the history of Britain in the central middle ages.

For more details, please see his full research profile.

Expertise and public engagement

David appears frequently as a pundit on TV and Radio programmes about medieval Britain. He also comments on current issues concerning the British monarchy, and gave many interviews at the time of the Jubilee and the royal wedding.