Mr Brian McLaughlin

Supervised by

Research interests

My main research interests are the history and historiography of Byzantium during the post-1204 period but I maintain an active interest in the Komnenian era onward, particularly regarding maritime affairs, the interaction of Byzantium with the Crusades, and Greek palaeography.


My doctoral thesis is 'An Annotated Translation of John Kantakouzenos’ Histories, Book III, Chapters 1-30'. The Histories is the lengthy memoirs of the emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (r. 1347-1354). As a historical source, it offers precious testimony on the fourteenth century Balkan empires of Byzantium, Bulgaria and Serbia, the eruption of social unrest in Byzantium, the struggles surrounding the promulgation of Palamite theology, and the emergence of the Ottoman state. As a work of literature, it is written in a unique style, both learned and plain, at times presenting psychologically convincing portrayals of conspiracies, vivid descriptions of the horrors of civil war, and sombre observations on the Black Death. Yet, above all, it is also a complicated and frequently deceptive apologia for its author. My research aims to offer new interpretations of the structure and purpose of a critical section of the Histories, while making it accessible to a wider audience through an English translation and detailed historical commentary. 


For further information on me and my research, see


Scholarships and Awards

Nikolaos Oikonomides Postgraduate Studentship in Byzantine Studies
(Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, 2009, 2010, 2012)

His All-Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I Postgraduate Studentship in Byzantine Studies 
(Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway 2011, 2013, 2014)

Ethel Beatrice Abrahams Award
(Royal Holloway travel prize, 2013)

Pat Macklin Memorial Bursaries in Hellenic and Byzantine Studies Fund
(Hellenic Institute, Royal Holloway, 2015)


HS1105: Gods, Men and Power: An Introduction to the Ancient World from Homer to Mohammed
(2014/15, 2016/17, 2017/18)

HS1116: Rome to Renaissance: An Introduction to the Middle Ages
(2013/14, 2016/17)

HS2004: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Republic

HS2005: Rome and its Empire from Augustus to Commodus (31BC-AD192)

Educational background

MA History, University of Cambridge, 1993-1996

MSc Information Processing, University of York, 1996-1997

Diploma Classical Studies, Open University, 2006-2008

Other work

2010-2016: Member of University of London Working Seminar on Editing Byzantine Texts

2011-2015: Co-convenor of the Royal Holloway History Department Postgraduate Seminar

2012-2015: Member of Royal Holloway History Department Postgraduate Staff-Student Committee

2014-2017: Webmaster of the Society for Promotion of Byzantine Studies (SPBS)

2016-2017: Member of organising committee for the London Centre for the Study of the Crusades, the Military Religious Orders and the Latin East’s 2017 International Conference, ‘The Military Orders: Piety, Pugnacity and Property’.

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