Dr Magnus Ryan

Fellow and Director of Studies in History

Telephone: 01223 338240

Email: mjr28@cam.ac.uk

Magnus Ryan is a University Lecturer in the History Faculty and is usually one of the two Directors of Studies in History here at Peterhouse. He read History at Queens’ College (1985-8), where he stayed for his doctorate on the Feudal Law in medieval Europe. He was a Junior Research Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge, before moving to All Souls College Oxford as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in 1994. In 1999 he took up a university lectureship in later medieval history at the Warburg Institute, University of London, and joined the Cambridge History Faculty in 2006.

Magnus Ryan’s principal research interests are the history of political ideas, especially in the Middle Ages, and the relationship between law and politics between roughly 1100 and 1600. For his doctorate he studied the creation and influence of the feudal law in the later middle ages. Since then he has published on aspects of Roman and canon law in medieval history. Roman law and its sister, the canon or ecclesiastical law, were the only laws taught throughout Europe at the universities during the medieval period; as a result they possessed an elevated status and together formed what medieval lawyers and other thinkers routinely called ‘the common law’, which enjoyed universal rather than local authority, unlike the law of any specific region or polity. Magnus Ryan is especially interested in Roman law as a component of political vocabulary in later medieval thinking and polemic and is currently devoting most of his time to this theme, which formed the main topic of his Carlyle Lectures series, which he gave in 2004 in Oxford.

Magnus Ryan teaches the history of political thought, beginning with Plato and finishing in 1600, as well as general medieval European history from 900 to 1450. He also teaches a first-year course in collaboration with Dr Annabel Brett of Gonville and Caius College on ‘Nature and the City in late-medieval legal and political thought’.

Magnus also chairs the College Finance Committee.

An interview with Magnus Ryan on his research interests can be found here.


Key Information

Director of Studies in History
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