Skip Content

Revd Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt FBA

Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University
 profile picture

About this Fellow

Diarmaid MacCulloch is a Fellow of Saint Cross College, Oxford, and Professor of the History of the Church at Oxford University. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London; he co-edited the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for twenty years. He was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1987 and was knighted in the UK New Years' Honours List of 2012. His chosen research field has been Tudor England (beginning with the Reformation in East Anglia, extending to a biography of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and a study of the Reformation under Edward VI); he has also written on the wider history of the European Reformation and on world Christianity generally. His A History of Christianity: the first three thousand years (winner of the 2010 Hessell-Tiltman Prize and the 2010 Cundill History Prize, Montreal) was followed by the BBC series A History of Christianity (given the Radio Times Readers' Award, May 2010). Further television work has included How God made the English, 2012, Henry VIII's Fixer: the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, 2013, and Sex and the Church, 2015. He has recently published Thomas Cromwell: A Life.



Current post

  • Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford; Fellow, St Cross College, Oxford

Past Appointments

  • Tutor in History, Librarian and Archivist, Wesley College, Bristol, 1978 - 1990
  • Approved Lecturer in the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, 1977 - 1978
  • Junior Research Fellow, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, 1976 - 1978

British Academy Appointments

  • Vice President Public Engagement, 2016 -
  • Chairman, Events and Prizes Committee, 2010 - 2016
  • Activities Committee, 2009 - 2010
  • Member of the Standing Committee of section H9 (Early Modern History), 2002 - 2009

Top picks

Blog link-icon

From ‘same-sex marriage’ to ‘equal marriage’

Tuesday 17 July 2018 marked the fifth anniversary of the passage into UK law of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act. Social attitudes have seen a remarkable shift since the limited decriminalisation in 1967. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch FBA recounts his own experience in the Sixties and discusses how changes in social attitudes continue to progress.
Video link-icon

Thinking With Things: Rev. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch

On Henry VIII and the Founding of the Church of England Minted at London in 1545, this medal shows a bust of Henry VIII, with inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek on the reverse. As a consequence of Henry’s break with Rome in 1533, he claimed to be 'Supreme head of Church of England.' In this episode of Thinking About Things Rev. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch (History of the Church, University of Oxford) looks at the Henry VIII Renaissance Medal at the Ashmolean Museum.


Thomas Cromwell: A Life

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2018 Allen Lane

Thomas Cromwell is one of the most famous – or notorious – figures in English history. Born in obscurity in Putney, he became a fixer for Cardinal Wolsey in the 1520s. After Wolsey's fall, Henry VIII promoted him to a series of ever greater offices, and by the end of the 1530s he was effectively running the country for the King. MacCulloch's biography for the first time reveals his true place in the making of modern England and Ireland, for good and ill.

All Things Made New: Writings on the Reformation

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2017 Penguin

The Reformation which engulfed England and Europe in the sixteenth century was one of the most highly-charged, bloody and transformative periods in their history, and has remained one of the most contested. In this dazzling book, Diarmaid MacCulloch explores a turbulent and endlessly fascinating era.

Silence: a Christian History

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2014 Penguin

This book unravels a polyphony of silences from the history of Christianity and beyond. MacCulloch considers Judaeo-Christian borrowings from Greek explorations of the divine, and the silences which were a feature of Jesus's brief ministry. Many deliberate silences are revealed: the forgetting of histories inconvenient to later Church authorities, and Christianity's problems in dealing honestly with sexuality. Behind all this is the silence of God. In a deeply personal conclusion, MacCulloch brings a message of optimism for those still seeking God beyond the clamour of over-confident certainties.

History of Christianity: the first three thousand years

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2010 Penguin

How did an obscure personality cult come to be the world's biggest religion, with a third of humanity its followers? This book describes not only the main facts, ideas and personalities of Christian history, its organisation and spirituality, but how it has changed politics, sex, and human society. Taking in wars, empires, reformers, apostles, sects, churches and crusaders, Diarmaid MacCulloch shows how Christianity has brought humanity to the most terrible acts of cruelty – and inspired its most sublime accomplishments.

Thomas Cranmer: a life

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2017

Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was the archbishop of Canterbury who guided England through the early Reformation—and Henry VIII through the minefields of divorce. A hesitant hero with a tangled life story, his imperishable legacy is his contribution in the prayer book to the shape and structure of English speech and through this to the molding of an international language and the theology it expressed.

Tudor church militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2000

Although the young Edward VI's death in 1553 led to resounding defeat for his Protestant allies, his reign has a significance out of all proportion to its brief six-year span. For during its course England's rulers let loose an explosive form of Christianity within the realm. MacCulloch underlines the significance of Edward's turbulent and neglected reign. As well as the young king's life and beliefs he takes a fresh look at the ruthless politicians who jostled for position around him and explores the strange afterlife of Edward's attempt at the religious transformation of his kingdom.

Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490-1700

Diarmaid MacCulloch, 2004

Winner of the Wolfson Prize for history, this book charts a seismic shift in European culture that marked the beginning of the modern world. The Reformation tore the western world apart. Acclaimed as the definitive account of these epochal events, Diarmaid MacCulloch's history brilliantly re-creates the religious battles of priests, monarchs, scholars and politicians, from the zealous Martin Luther nailing his Theses to the door of a Wittenburg church to the radical Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order; from Thomas Cranmer, martyred for his reforms, to the ambitious Philip II, unwavering in his campaign against Europe's 'heretics'.

More about this Fellow

Other Theology and Religious Studies Fellows

Professor Philip Alexander

Jewish Studies: Jews and Judaism and Late Antiquity (Dead Sea Scrolls; Bible Interpretation; Magic and Mysticism; Jewish-Christian Relations; Judaism and Hellenism)