Thomas Wood

Thomas Wood

Department of History
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: Serpents and dragons in early modern German religious culture
SupervisorsProfessor Elaine Fulton and Dr Simone Laqua-O'Donnell
PhD History


  • MA Early modern history (Distinction)
  • BA History (1:1)


After completing my BA and MA qualifications at the University of Birmingham I began my PhD in 2018 studying ‘serpents and dragons in early modern German religious culture’ funded by the AHRC through the Midlands-4-Cities doctoral training partnership. My primary research interest is in German religious culture, particularly iconography, but I also have further interest in religion and politics in Renaissance Italy having written my BA and MA dissertations on the Black Legend of the Borgias. Beyond my research I have taught on an early modern history survey course at the university and have been involved in the organisation of the Created Identities 2020 conference hosted at the University of Nottingham.


  • Seminar Tutor - Reformation, Rebellion, and Revolution: The Making of the Modern World, 1500-1800 (2019-2020)


My thesis explores the significance of the serpent as a cultural phenomenon in the changing religious landscape of sixteenth and seventeenth century Germany. Serpents and dragons are universal symbols, found in legends that permeate cultural mythologies across the globe and possess a wealth of allegorical​ power. My research is concerned with the many different manifestations of these potent symbols within a period of great religious upheaval where they are deployed in the fierce rhetoric of confessional rivalry. Of particular interest to this study is the appropriation of dragon-slaying narratives like that of St. George by Protestant reformers which reveals much of how they imagined their religious identity and how they understood the world they lived in. 

Other activities


  • ​'Papal dragons in sixteenth century Protestant iconography' - The fifteenth annual workshop on early modern German history at the German Historical Institute (Postponed)
  • 'Triumph of the new faith over the old': The pope and dragon slaying in Protestant iconography. - The Reformation Studies Colloquium (Postponed)
  • Forging religious identity in Protestant art - Created Identities Conference (5th September 2020)

Public engagement and impact


  • ​German History Society 
  • The Historical Association