Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico


David Todd joined the History department in 2010. After a first degree in Political Economy at Sciences Po Paris and a PhD in History at the University of Cambridge, he was a research fellow at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, a Mellon post-doctoral research fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge, and a visiting fellow at Harvard University. In 2012, he was awarded a Philip Leverhulme prize. Since 2019 he is a coordinator of the Centre for History and Economics in Paris and in 2020-2021 serves as director of the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge.

Research interests and PhD supervision

David Todd's research interests lie in the economic life of France and its empires between 1750 and 1914. His first book – L’identité économique de la France (2008); revised English version Free Trade and its Enemies in France (2015) – explored the reception of new liberal ideas about trade and the origins of modern economic nationalism in post-Napoleonic Europe. In his second book, A Velvet Empire: French Informal Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century (2021), he highlighted the role of counter-revolutionary ideas, consumerism and legal instruments in French attempts to establish a global empire by subtler means than territorial conquest. He is currently working on the life of French imperial expatriates in the nineteenth-century Ottoman world and realistic accounts of the role performed by institutions such as extraterritoriality in stimulating the growth of global economic exchange since 1800. 

  • Political and economic thought about empire
  • The history of France and its empires since 1750
  • Anglo-French interactions since 1750
  • Institutions and economic life in the Mediterranean world, 1750-1914

For more details, please see his full research profile.


Dr Todd teaches a range of modules in global economic history, the comparative history of empires, French imperialism, and the age of revolutions.

Expertise and Public Engagement

Dr David Todd is a Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of The Rothschild Archive, London.

Selected publications

  • A Velvet Empire: French Informal Imperialism in the Nineteenth century (Princeton, 2021)
  • Free Trade and its Enemies in France, 1814-1851 (Cambridge, 2015)
  • ‘An Imperial Nation-State: France and its Empires’ in The Oxford World History of Empires, eds. P. F. Bang, C. A. Bayly and W. Scheidel (Oxford, 2021).
  • ‘Beneath Sovereignty: Extraterritoriality and Imperial Internationalism in Nineteenth-Century Egypt’, Law and History Review, 36, 1 (2018).
  • Website ‘French expatriates in Ottoman Egypt’, hosted by ‘Visualizing Historical Networks’, Harvard Center for History and Economics (2020).