Personal profile

Personal profile





Stefan Bauer (PhD, Warburg Institute) is a Lecturer in Early Modern History at King's College London. He is an intellectual and cultural historian of late medieval and early modern Europe; his research interests cover humanism, religious polemic, church history, and censorship. Bauer is also a Research Associate at the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies, University of York, a Privatdozent at the University of Fribourg, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He previously held positions as a Lecturer in Early Modern History and Marie Curie Fellow in York (2015-2018), and as a Research Fellow both at the German Historical Institute in Rome and the Italian-German Historical Institute in Trent.

His previous monographs are The Censorship and Fortuna of Platina's Lives of the Popes in the Sixteenth Century (in the series "Late Medieval and Early Modern Studies") and Polisbild und Demokratieverständnis in Jacob Burckhardts Griechischer Kulturgeschichte (The Idea of the Polis and the Conception of Democracy in Jacob Burckhardt's History of Greek Civilization). 

Research interests


1)  Building on my earlier work on Bartolomeo Platina’s History of the Popes, its afterlife and papal censorship, my third monograph, The Invention of Papal History: Onofrio Panvinio between Renaissance and Catholic Reform, came out with Oxford University Press in December 2019. History-writing in early modern Rome is a surprisingly underexplored subject, with major open questions. Most importantly, how was the history of post-classical Rome and of the Church written in the Counter Reformation? Historical texts composed in Rome at this time have been considered secondary to the city’s significance for the history of art. My new book corrects this distorting emphasis and shows how history-writing became part of a comprehensive formation of the image and self-perception of the papacy. These new findings are situated in the context of the uneasy relationship between history and theology during the turmoil of politics and religion in the sixteenth century.


2)  My main current research project is entitled The Art of Disagreeing Badly: Religious Polemic in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. It deals with the question of how and why the seeds of religious tolerance came to be sown in the confessional age. This project explores the idea that an unexpected consequence of religious polemic was the growth of disinterested scholarship, which, in turn, led to increased tolerance of religious differences. The project focuses on four cultural zones: Germany, Britain, France and Italy, to conduct a comparative study of a selected number of key scholars from rival confessions and scholarly traditions. By means of a carefully calibrated dissemination strategy, which I have already trialled in lead-curating two exhibitions at the York Minster Library and the Middle Temple Library in London, I intend the project to have a wider impact on today’s troubled multi-faith society by providing a fresh, new historical narrative which adds intellectual foundations to the moral desirability for mutual recognition and appreciation of diversity in religious debate. The exhibition in York was part of Inter-Faith Week and I invited podium speakers from different religions (Jewish, Muslim and Christian) to engage in discussion. This project has received major funding in the form of a Marie Curie Fellowship (2015–2017), worth over £170,000. In 2017, I organized an international conference on early modern polemics in York. A selection of contributions from this conference has been published as a special issue of the major peer-reviewed journal Renaissance Studies, of which I am the editor ("The Uses of History in Religious Controversies"). My findings are also being made available in a chapter in The Cambridge History of Reformation Era Theology.


3)  Furthermore, this project deals with the relationship between forgery and historical arguments. I have entitled this section of my research Post-Truth in Historical Discourse about Religion, 1450–1600 because it questions whether Protestant and Catholic scholars were more likely to accept an argument based on their beliefs, rather than one based on verifiable historical sources. I will examine the influence of several of the great forgeries in church history on controversial literature. Albert Pigge, for example, attempted to prove the validity of papal primacy almost solely from the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals. After Luther had denied the sacrificial character of the mass, Catholics such as Alfonso de Castro attempted to prove this character almost entirely based on forged pieces from early Christian literature. Similar questions surrounded the attitude of controversial theologians towards Pseudo-Dionysius and other fundamental texts such as the Apostolic Constitutions and the letters of Ignatius. Francisco Torres argued that the Apostolic Constitutions were a work of Clement and defended them against the Centuriators from Magdeburg. I will trace his discussions with the Protestants who aimed to expose these forgeries. In the near future, I plan to organise a workshop entitled “After the Truth: Fables and Forgeries in Religious Polemic”, covering both the Middle Ages and early modern period.


4)  Another current research project deals with Jacob Burckhardt’s seminal interpretation of the Renaissance and its implications for scholarship today. In 2018, I co-organized (with Simon Ditchfield, York, and Michelle O’Malley, Warburg Institute) a conference on Burckhardt at 200: The Italian Renaissance Reconsidered at the British Academy in London. We are planning to publish a themed volume with Oxford University Press in the peer-reviewed series "Proceedings of the British Academy". Before this conference, I co-organized a public panel discussion, Interpreting the Renaissance in the 21st Century (with museum curators) at the National Gallery, London.

Other work


I am a member of the Expert panel of the European Commission which evaluates Marie Curie fellowship applications, and I have acted as a peer reviewer of unpublished manuscripts for Oxford University Press, Renaissance Quarterly, Sixteenth Century Journal, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, International Journal of the Classical Tradition and Krypton.

Moreover, I am a Managing Editor of Lias: Journal of Early Modern Intellectual Culture and its Sources and I serve on the advisory comittee of 'Studi storici, filologici e letterari', Edizioni Clori.

Since 2016, I have acted as the UK Chair of the Marie Curie Alumni Association, which entails organizing fellows' events across universities. During my tenure, UK membership has increased from 30 to nearly 600. The Association has recently organised events on Equality and Diversity, Mental Health in Academia and Storytelling. Previously, we invited speakers such as the Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society.

I have achieved further impact through several activities, including the above-mentioned exhibitions at the York Minster and the Middle Temple Library, public lectures and an extensive internet presence with two interactive digital exhibitions, a WordPress blog and Twitter feeds. I would enjoy engaging in other outreach activities, organizing, for example, events on the history of the freedom of speech or on forgeries and fakes, drawing connections to debates on post-truth. If you are interested in collaborating on any of the themes, please do get in touch.


  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow, Royal Historical Society
  • Corresponding Fellow, Roma nel Rinascimento
  • Member, Society for Renaissance Studies
  • Member, Renaissance Society of America
  • Member, Research Network 'Early Modern Religious Dissent and Radicalism'



  • History in the Making (HS1004)
  • Renaissance to Revolutions (HS1108)
  • Concepts in History (HS3160)
  • MA "Concepts" (HS5450)
  • MA "Skills" (HS5455)
  • MA Research Development (HS5217)

My teaching ranges across several periods, with particular attention to the late medieval and early modern era. Both my research and teaching place an emphasis on transnational history. I believe that the best way to get students to engage with history is to offer them courses which encourage them to view what they are studying in a comparative perspective. My teaching philosophy is informed not only by the intensive experience of university teaching in different educational environments but also by rigorous reflection on my pedagogical practice. I have completed a portfolio for the York Professional and Academic Development Scheme and have been awarded a Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), which certifies a proven, sustained and successful track record in university teaching.

I have recently taught at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2018–19), University of York (2015–18), Warburg Institute, University of London (2014–19), and University of California, Rome (2017).


Web pages

Digital exhibitions:
Twitter:  @BauerStefan, @histheol


OUT NOW with Oxford University Press:


 Cover for     The Invention of Papal History


The Invention of Papal History

Onofrio Panvinio between Renaissance and Catholic Reform


Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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