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Professor Beat Kümin


I was born in the Swiss city of Biel. Having studied History and English at the University of Bern, I conducted doctoral research on 'The Late Medieval English Parish' at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (PhD 1993). As a Research Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge (1993-97), I served as Director of Studies in History in 1996. After a return to Bern - to pursue a Swiss National Science Foundation project on early modern public houses and to act as Peter Blickle's assistant - I joined Warwick's History Department in January 2001. Since then, I obtained a second doctorate (Habilitation in early modern history; Bern 2005), held a guest lectureship at Bielefeld University (2011-12) and spent six months as a Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in Greifswald (2012-13; blog). In 2014, I directed Warwick's Centre for the Study of the Renaissance and in the summer term of 2015 I took up a guest professorship at Konstanz (blog).

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and co-editor of Bloomsbury's 'Cultures of Early Modern Europe' series. Alongside, I serve on the boards of the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture at the University of York, the Journal of Baroque Studies, Brewery History and the Warwickshire Local History Society . Involvement in other scholarly bodies includes the German History Society (Committee Member 2005-8), the Drinking Studies Network and the Warwick Network for Parish Research. In 2014, I was appointed a federal expert for heritage of the Swiss Department of Culture.

Privately, I follow a number of lesser-known football teams and I am a keen explorer of Italian gastronomy. Together with my family I enjoy travelling and skiing in the Alps.


Undergraduate Teaching

At Warwick

Year I Core Module:
Making History (HI175)

Year II core module:
The European World 1500-1720 (HI203) 
(Convenor; see the associated Routledge textbook The European World, the companion site and the video of a debate on early modern historiography)

Year II option:
Germany in the Age of the Reformation (HI242)
(see the Historical Association's 'Reformation' podcast series with talks by Henry Cohn, Beat Kümin, Peter Marshall and Penny Roberts)

Year III advanced option:
The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe (HI390)
(see the associated source edition Public Drinking in the Early Modern World and a video recording of reflections on the interdisciplinary aspects of this module at the university's 'Teaching & Learning Showcase' 2011)

At other institutions

Universität Konstanz, 2015: BA Block Module ('Cheers! Towards a Cultural History of Drink in Early Modern Europe')

University of Hull, 2009-12: Chief external examiner of history programmes

Universität Bielefeld: BA Seminar 2011 (English Reformations: Religion and Society under the Tudors)

Universität Bern: Übungen 1999 and 2007 ( 'Wirtshäuser im Ancien Régime' and 'English Reformations')

University of Cambridge: 'Themes and Sources' 1995-98 (Popular Religion before and after the Reformation)


Postgraduate Training

Contributions to Warwick's MA in Early Modern History and the Theory, Skills and Methods core module for all MA students

Lecturer (August 2005 and 2011) for and - from 2014 - Co-Director of the international Summer University of the Institut Européen d'Histoire et des Cultures de l' Alimentation / European Institute for the History and Culture of Food at Tours/France

MA Seminar at the University of Bielefeld 2011:
The World of the Tavern in Early Modern Europe: Conceptual Approaches in Transnational Perspective 

University of Aberdeen, 2014-: External examiner of MLitt in Medieval and Early Modern Studies

University of Oxford, Continuing Education 2014-: External examiner for Postgraduate Certificate in Historical Studies

Supervision of Postgraduate Theses (PhD, MA)

I welcome proposals for research projects in any field of early modern European history, particularly those relating to the social, religious and cultural history of local communities. Current and past topics (co-)supervised include:

Research students (MPhil/PhD, MA by Research)

  • Ruth Barbour, 'The "Common Sort of Catholic" in Warwickshire 1660-1820' (e-portfolio)


Taught MA dissertations

  • James Brown, 'The spatial reordering of the English parish church in the 1630s' (2003)
  • Anna Dawson, 'Parlours in Eighteenth-Century England' (2012; with Mark Knights)
  • Iain Dawson, 'The Gin Craze' (2015)
  • Angela Hopkins, 'Religion in Lincolnshire 1547-1576' (2002)
  • Matthew Jackson, 'Women, Drink and Agency in Early Modern England and France' (2010; e-portfolio)
  • Denise Lim, 'Luther's Writings on Women' (2011)
  • Sam Luton, 'A Flow of Soul: Taverngoing and Ethnic Interaction in Antebellum New Orleans' (2002)
  • John Morgan, 'Coping with Disaster in Early Modern England' (2012)
  • Maria Nicolaou, 'Marriage and Divorce in Early Modern England' (2012)
  • Ruth Sanger, 'Dudley in Disneyland: Construction of Power and Identity at Kenilworth Castle' (2002)
  • Charlie Small, 'Sailors and Drink in Early Modern England' (2012)
  • Deborah Toner, 'Food and Alcohol in Colonial Mexico' (2006)

External examiner of postgraduate theses at Birmingham, TU Dresden, Gloucestershire, Hull, Trinity College Dublin, UCL.


The 'Alte Wirt', a sixteenth-century inn at Obermenzing near Munich



Research Interests

My general field is the cultural history of German-speaking Europe and England (c. 1400-1800). In particular, I work on political agency, religious life and social exchange in local communities during the early modern period.

My research focuses on three main themes:

  1. Parish communities in the 'long' Reformation
  2. Public houses (inns, taverns, alehouses) in early modern life
  3. Village republics in the Holy Roman Empire

Communal organization allowed common people enhanced influence, be it in English localities or the republican polities of Central Europe. Social exchange centred on microspaces like town halls, market squares, parish churches and public houses. My work has concentrated on the latter two: Through lay-controlled funds and representatives like churchwardens, parishioners assumed a growing role in the late medieval Church and shaped the course of Reformation change (see book publications The Shaping of a Community; The Parish in English Life; Landgemeinde und Kirche;The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800 and contributions to the English Parish Church DVD). Public houses, in turn, were not just providers of food, drink and sociability, but communal hubs of communication and political culture (cf. The World of the Tavern, Drinking Matters, Brewing Cultures and the primary source collection Public Drinking in the Early Modern World).

The current microhistorical project, supported by a British Academy research grant, focuses on the village of Gersau on Lake Lucerne, a self-governing mini-republic (with patronage rights over its own church) from the late Middle Ages to 1798. This parish of some 1000 souls, with no nobility and only loose ties to four Swiss Catholic cantons, provides a unique opportunity to study a genuinely 'popular' regime, i.e. early modern political, socio-economic and religious life with minimal pressure 'from above'. I co-organized the bicentenary celebrations of the (temporary) restoration of the republic in 1814. For information on the activities held in 2014 see the project homepage.

Ornamental crest of the Republic of Gersau from a statute book of 1605
[© Bezirksarchiv Gersau, LB Nr. 6, p. 13]

During a year of study leave in 2012-13, I took a wider comparative look at rural autonomy in early modern Central Europe. 'Communal Culture - Communal Power: Parishes in the Holy Roman Empire' was supported by a Senior Research Fellowship of the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg at Greifswald/Germany. A related workshop followed in 2015 and my attention has now turned to 'imperial villages', i.e. rural communities without a territorial lord.


Several collaborative ventures have helped to set this research in a wider interdisciplinary framework:



A Sixteenth-Century German Public House (Barthel Beham, 'Country Fair', c. 1534)

[M. Geisberg (ed.), The German Single-Leaf Woodcut 1500-50 (New York, 1974), i. 132]


Public Engagement

My research on food, drink and local communities offers good opportunities for community interaction. Examples include reflections on the drinking problem featured in The Guardian and The Times, while recent radio interviews focused on shifts in alcohol consumption and the cultural history of eating outside.

Interpreting drinking statistics for The Voice of Russia UK

Exploring the evolution of the picnic on German station SWR2

I regularly give talks to parish and local history societies. During 2014, I became closely involved in a year of initiatives commemorating the Swiss micro-republic of Gersau, e.g. through a public address to the Landsgemeinde (communal assembly; see DVD recording) and moderating a panel debate on political 'freedom' in the past and present.

Together with Warwick colleagues, I also discussed the impact of digital technologies on our research and produced a range of learning resources on early modern history.

More detailed information appears on my 'public engagement' and media work pages.



a) Books / edited collections

Beat Kümin,
The Shaping of a Community: The Rise & Reformation of the English Parish c. 1400-1560
St Andrews Studies in Reformation History
(Aldershot and Brookfield/Vermont: Scolar Press, 1996)

! Available again from Ashgate !

Beat Kümin (ed.),
Reformations Old and New: Essays on the Socio-Economic Impact of Religious Change c. 1470-1630
St Andrews Studies in Reformation History
(Aldershot and Brookfield/Vermont: Scolar Press, 1996)

! Available again from Ashgate !


K. French, G. Gibbs and B. Kümin (eds),
The Parish in English Life 1400-1600
(Manchester: University Press, 1997)
[review] [Kümin, 'Parish in European Perspective']

Beat Kümin and B. Ann Tlusty (eds),
The World of the Tavern: Public Houses in Early Modern Europe
(Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2002)
[content and availability]

Beat Kümin (ed.),
Landgemeinde und Kirche im Zeitalter der Konfessionen [Rural Communities and the Church in the Age of Confessions] (Zürich: Chronos Verlag, 2004)
[content and availability: web / pdf-file]
[review] [recension]


Beat Kümin,
Drinking Matters: Public Houses and Social Exchange in Early Modern Central Europe
Early Modern History: Society and Culture
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)
Content and availability pdf flyer e-book version reviews: 1 / 2

See also the WARWICK PODCAST series on aspects of the book.


Beat Kümin (ed.),
The European World 1500-1800: An Introduction to Early Modern History
(London: Routledge, 2009; enlarged 2nd edn, 2014)
2nd edn Contents & Availability; e-book version; companion site (with image gallery, timeline, glossary & weblinks);
Editor Profile; Reviews of the first edn in English, German and Hungarian; first edn website

The second edition of the Warwick textbook, available in both hard-/paperback format, has now been published


Beat Kümin (ed.),
Political Space in Pre-industrial Europe
(Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009)
Book Flyer (pdf) Contents and Availability e-book Introduction' Rezensionen: 1 2 3 


Beat Kümin (ed.),
'Brewing Cultures in Early Modern Towns',
special issue of Brewery History 135 (2010)
[featuring refereed essays by James Brown, Katja Lindenau, Tim Reinke-Williams and Masatake Wasa]
Contents and Introduction and Notes on Contributors 




Beat Kümin and B. Ann Tlusty (eds),
Public Drinking in the Early Modern World 1500-1800: Voices from the Tavern
Vols 2-3: The Holy Roman Empire
(London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011)

An extensive collection of translated primary sources (travel reports, registers of public houses, taxation records, diaries, moral literature, court proceedings etc) from German-speaking Europe, especially the imperial free city of Augsburg, the principality of Bavaria and the Swiss city republic of Bern. The other two volumes in the series, edited by Thomas Brennan, feature evidence from France and America.

Contents and Availability Introduction Review 1 Review 2 Rezension

Beat Kümin (ed.),
A Cultural History of Food in the Early Modern Age
(Oxford: Berg, 2012)
[= Vol. 4 of the six-part series A Cultural History of Food, gen. eds. F. Parasecoli and P. Scholliers]

Publisher Information (Volume HB, Volume PB / Series) Dustjacket Introduction

Beat Kümin,
The Communal Age in Western Europe c. 1100-1800: Towns, Villages and Parishes in Pre-Modern Society
Studies in European History
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Publisher Information and Availability

Contents, Introduction and Index

Book Flyer Pdf Review

B. Kümin and Cornelie Usborne (eds),

'At home and in the workplace: Domestic and Occupational Space in Western Europe from the Middle Ages',

FORUM essay collection for: History & Theory 52 (2013)

[featuring refereed essays by Willem de Blécourt, Amanda Flather, Leif Jerram, Matthew Johnson, Krisztina Robert and a comment by Gerd Schwerhoff]




B. Kümin (ed.),

Politische Freiheit und republikanische Kultur im Alten Europa. Historische Essays zum Gedenkjahr "Gersau 2014"
[Political Freedom and Republican Culture in Old Europe. Historical Essays for the Bicentary "Gersau 2014"]
(Vitznau: Bucher Druckmedien, 2015)

[available for CHF 19.50 at Bezirkskanzlei Gersau] [Book Launch Info (sub 17/6/2015)] [Contents & Introduction]

b) Recent essays

(a fuller list appears here)

  • B. Kümin, ‘Political Culture in the Holy Roman Empire [Review Essay]’, in: German History 27 (2009), 131-44
  • B. Kümin, 'Iconographical approaches to the early modern public house', in: Food & History 7 (2/2009) , 29-42
  • B. Kümin, 'Introduction' [to special issue 'Brewing Cultures in Early Modern Towns'], in: Brewery History 135 (2010), 2-7
  • B. Kümin [associate editor of / author of contributions on late medieval worship, Christian community, parishes, laity, churchwardens, finance and fundraising, secular/political dimensions and parish-state relations in:] The English Parish Church Through the Centuries, ed. Dee Dyas et al. (Interactive CD-ROM, Christianity and Culture, 2010)
  • B. Kümin, ‘In vino res publica? Politische Soziabilität im Wirtshaus der Frühen Neuzeit‘, in: G. Schwerhoff (ed.), Stadt und Öffentlichkeit in der Frühen Neuzeit, Städteforschung: Reihe A, vol. 83 (Cologne: Böhlau, 2011), 65-79 [publisher information]
  • B. Kümin, ‘La parrocchia "dal basso": strutture comunali e vita religiosa a nord delle Alpi nel tardo medioevo [The Parish from Below: Communal Structures and Religious Life north of the Alps in the Late Middle Ages]‘, in: S. Boscani Leoni and P. Ostinelli (eds), La Chiesa dal "basso". Organizzazioni, interazioni e pratiche nel contesto parrocchiale alpino alla fine del medioevo (Milan: FrancoAngeli, 2012), 17-33 [publisher information]
  • B. Kümin, ‘Wirtshäuser als frühneuzeitliche Kommunikationszentren [Public Houses as Early Modern Communication Hubs]’, in: Lukas Morscher, Martin Scheutz and Walter Schuster (eds), Orte der Stadt im Wandel vom Mittelalter zur Gegenwart: Treffpunkte der Stadt, Verkehr und Fürsorge (Innsbruck: StudienVerlag, 2013), 91-105 [publisher information]
  • B. Kümin and Cornelie Usborne, 'At home and in the workplace: A historical introduction to the spatial turn', in: History & Theory 52 (2013), 305-16 [introduction to a FORUM collection on 'Domestic and Occupational Space in Western Europe from the Middle Ages']
  • B. Kümin, ‘Musik in englischen Kirchgemeinden der Reformationszeit [Music in English parishes during the Age of the Reformation]', in: Michael Fischer, Norbert Haag and Gabriele Haug-Moritz (eds), Musik in neuzeitlichen Konfessionskulturen (16. bis 19. Jahrhundert): Räume - Medien - Funktionen (Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke, 2014), 15-29 [publisher information]
  • B. Kümin, ‘Oral and written communication in the late medieval English parish’, in: Jan Marco Sawilla and Rudolf Schlögl (eds), Medien der Macht und des Entscheidens: Schrift und Druck im politischen Raum der europäischen Vormoderne, The Formation of Europe 5 (Hannover: Wehrhahn, 2014), 67-81 [publisher information]
  • B. Kümin, 'Kirchgenossen an der Macht. Vormoderne politische Kultur in den "Pfarreirepubliken" von Gersau und Dithmarschen [Parishioners in Power: Premodern political culture in the "parish republics" of Gersau and Dithmarschen]', in: Zeitschrift für historische Forschung 41 (2/2014), 187-230 [abstract]
  • A. Holzem and B. Kümin, 'Einleitung zur ersten Sektion: Sakrale und profane Räume im Spannungsverhältnis [Tensions between sacred and profane spaces]', in: K. Friedrich (ed.), Die Erschließung des Raumes: Konstruktion, Imagination und Darstellung von Räumen im Barockzeitalter, Wolfenbütteler Arbeiten zur Barockforschung 51 (2 vols, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2014), vol. 1, 89-95 [publisher information; pdf flyer] [pre-print version]
  • B. Kümin, 'La paroisse en Angleterre à la fin du Moyen Åge [The parish in England at the Close of the Middle Ages]', in: A. Bonzon, Ph. Guignet and M. Venard (eds), La Paroisse Urbaine: Du Moyen Åge à nos Jours, Histoire Religieuse de la France (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2014), 115-25 [book details]
  • B. Kümin, ‘The Uses of Space in Early Modern History – An Afterword’, in: Paul Stock (ed.), The Uses of Space in Early Modern History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 227-34 [book details] [pre-print version]
  • B. Kümin, 'Rural autonomy and popular politics in imperial villages', in: German History 33 (2/2015), 194-213 [abstract] [original version]
  • B. Kümin, 'Maitland, Frederic William (1850-1906)', in: Albrecht Cordes et al. (eds), Handwörterbuch zur deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (2nd edn, Berlin, 2015), 21. Lieferung, col. 1191-92




The Parish Church of St Andrew, Ashburton (Devon)




Beat Kumin 

Prof. Beat Kümin

Early Modern European History

Contact Information

Humanities, Room H 313
Office hours normally:
Tue 11-12
Wed 14-15
(but best by email appointment)

Department of History
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL, U.K.
T: +44 (0)2476 524915
F: +44 (0)2476 523437





















'Peasant fishing'
(15thC; Horley, Oxon)
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