Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
University of Roehampton
Website URL
Tudors, Henry VIII, women, gender, reformation, France, sixteenth century, seventeenth century, early modern, Huguenot, Anne Boleyn, witchcraft
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Personal Info

About Me

Professor Suzannah Lipscomb is an award-winning historian, author, and broadcaster. She is Professor of History at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She received a double First (MA), MSt, and DPhil in History from Lincoln and Balliol Colleges, Oxford, and was formerly Research Curator at Hampton Court Palace, Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of East Anglia, and Head of the Faculty of History and Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at the New College of the Humanities. She has written and edited six books, presented thirteen history television documentary series on the BBC, ITV, Channel Five etc, and writes a regular column for History Today.

Recent Publications
  • The Voices of Nîmes: Women, Sex, and Marriage in Reformation Languedoc, Oxford: Oxford University Press, in press, forthcoming January 2019

This is the first history of the lives of ordinary women in early modern France that focuses on women’s behaviour, beliefs, and agency. Until now, the historiography has concentrated on elite women and on the structures of society, and has been accessed mostly through prescriptive literature, such as literary and legal sources. Even scholarship that has allowed greater access to women’s narratives, such as that on episcopal and secular courts, is largely missing for this period as there are no known surviving French episcopal court records from 1540-1660, and criminal authorities seldom showed interest in recording women’s accounts. This work examines the remarkably rich consistorial testimonies of women in the south of France between 1561 and 1615, together with baptismal and marriage registers, town council records, registers of criminal proceedings, and notarial records, to reveal that previous suggestions that women used private power to compensate for public powerlessness does not hold true: ordinary women – despite operating under the constraints of entrenched patriarchy – displayed an activism that was bold, public, and direct. The monograph makes a major contribution to theoretical debates about early modern gender by forcing a reconceptualization of our ideas about patriarchy and female power in early modern society, suggesting, for example, that women’s ways of challenging and colluding with patriarchy were often indistinguishable.


  • The King is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII. 238pp.London: Head of Zeus, 2015; New York: Pegasus, 2016. ISBN: 9781784081928. Paperback published May 2018.

Historians have disagreed forcibly over the intended meaning, authenticity, and validity of Henry VIII’s last will and testament, and the circumstances of its creation. In this book, I re-examined the evidence and challenged the existing orthodoxy that Henry’s will was the product of a conspiracy, arguing instead that it was literally his will – the product of his own volition.


  • 1536: The Year that Changed Henry 240pp. Oxford: Lion Hudson, 2009. ISBN: 978074595365

In this book, I examined Henry VIII’s annus horribilis, arguing that the cumulative effect of the events of 1536 was to catalyse, foster, and entrench a profound character change in the monarch, turning him from an affable, charismatic young prince into a suspicious and ruthless tyrant. Central to my understanding of the impact of this year was the devastating effect that events had on the king’s sense of masculinity and the challenge they represented to his honour.


  • Witchcraft, Penguin: Ladybird Expert, 2018

This is a short, thematic study of the witch-trials of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It seeks to explain why the trials happened, in the context of magical belief, the law, judicial systems, socio-economic circumstances, and fantasy.


  • A Visitor’s Companion to Tudor England. 326pp. London: Ebury, 2012. ISBN: 9780091944841. Published in the US as A Journey through Tudor England, New York: Pegasus, 2013.

Written for the wider public, this book is intended to be both a practical handbook to fifty of the best and most interesting surviving Tudor houses, palaces, and castles in England, and an introduction to the key characters, stories, and events of the Tudor age.


  • Henry VIII and the Court: Art, Politics and Performance, co-edited with Thomas Betteridge. 327pp. Farnham: Ashgate, 2013. ISBN: 9781409411857.

This interdisciplinary collection of 17 essays, by scholars including G.W. Bernard, Susan Brigden, Eamon Duffy, and Steven Gunn draws on both traditional areas of Henrician religion and politics, and aspects of material culture at the court, the performative and event-led nature of court life, the cultural and artistic context of the court, issues of gender, and the international context, and in so doing, expanded the range of sources and paradigms through which Henry VIII and his court should be considered.



Media Coverage
Presenter on TV series for BBC 4, Channel Five, UKTV, ITV, National Geographic Channel. Contributor and panellist on shows on BBC 1 and 2. Contributor on BBC Radio 3, 4, Five Live and LBC, and host of 'Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places' po
Country Focus
Expertise by Geography
England, France, United Kingdom, Western Europe
Expertise by Chronology
Pre-17th century, 17th century, Early Modern
Expertise by Topic
Family, Gender, Museums, Public History, Religion, Sexuality, Sexual Violence, Women