Dr Hannah Cornwell

Dr Hannah Cornwell

Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
Associate Professor in Ancient History

Contact details

Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Roman political and social history of the Republic and Early Empire, focusing on Imperialism, peace, and diplomacy.


  • BA in Literae Humaniores, University of Oxford.
  • MPhil in Ancient Greek and/or Roman History, University of Oxford.
  • DPhil in Ancient History, University of Oxford.


I completed my undergraduate, Masters and Doctorate at Oxford, where I also spent five years as a College Lecturer (Keble, Trinity and Worcester Colleges). As well as teaching I have also been an awardee of the British School at Rome and a research fellow at the University of Warwick, as part of the ARHC-funded Ashmolean Latin Inscriptions Project. In 2016 I began a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, which I then transferred to the University of Birmingham in 2017. Since completing the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship, I have been a Lecturer in Ancient History at Birmingham.


I teach several aspects Roman history to both undergraduates and graduates as well as supervising undergraduates and graduates research dissertations.

First year undergraduate modules

  • Augustus: The Man, the Myth and the Making of History
  • The Roman World

Second and third year undergraduate modules

  • Roman Society and Internal Conflict
  • War, Peace and Diplomacy in the Roman World
  • The Age of Cicero
  • Republican and Imperial Rome
  • Crisis and Empire
  • Research Methods


  • Research and Scholarship
  • Ideas, Ideals and Ideologies

Postgraduate supervision

I welcome proposals for supervision in any aspect of Roman History, especially political aspects of the Roman Republic and Early Principate, Imperial ideology, International Relations and diplomacy, and interdisciplinary approaches to history and material culture.

Postgraduate research projects I have supervised or am currently supervising include:

Ben Salisbury, ‘Before Public Opinion: The Role of Tribunes of the Plebs in Creating, Manipulating, and Responding to Popular Sentiment in the Late Roman Republic (c. 70 – 49 BC)’ (supervising with Dr Henriette van der Blom)

Hayley Merchant, ‘A Comparative Study of the Purpose of Military Iconography during Times of Stability and Instability in the Roman Empire from the First to the Fourth Centuries AD’ (supervising with Dr Gareth Sears).

Richard Kendall, ‘Civic Identity in Transtiberim: The Development of an Urban Community’ (supervised with Dr Gareth Sears).

Joshua Larosa, ‘Augustus and the use of Roman ideals to legitimise his rule’ (supervised with Dr Henriette van der Blom)

Find out more - our PhD Classics and Ancient History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research interests focus on socio-political history of the Roman Republic and Empire, with a particular interest in the nature of Roman imperialism, and Roman attitudes towards their position as a political power in the Mediterranean.

My first book, Pax and the Politics of Peace (OUP, 2017), examines the two generations that spanned the collapse of the Republic and the Augustan period in order to understand how the concept of pax Romana, as a central ideology of Roman imperialism, evolved. I argue for the integral nature of pax in understanding the changing dynamics of the Roman state through civil war to the creation of a new political system and world-rule. Roman discourses on peace were part of the wider discussion on the way in which Rome conceptualized her Empire and ideas of imperialism. I have also published papers on the role of peace-makers and heralds in Roman literary accounts of conflict in terms of what this reveals about Roman attitudes to war and peace, and have numerous papers on the Roman civil wars, from the framing of enemies through language, to internal negotiation and diplomacy during civil conflict and the development of imperial values and iconography. I am also currently co-editing a volume on ‘Rediscovering the Roman Civil Wars of 49-30 BCE: New Approaches, New Evidence’, and am part of a German Research Network, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, which explores the topic of ‘Internal War: Society, Social Order and Political Conflict in Antiquity’ (April 2018-March 2021).

Besides a specific focus on the language of peace and civil war, I have also published on the reactions to Roman imperialism, examining the geo-political situation of the western Alps under Augustus, and the elite response to imperial power. 

I held a three year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (2016-2018), which examined the production of space as a means of understanding diplomacy as a social practice in the Roman world. This study focuses on the architectural and urban spaces of the city of Rome as a site of diplomatic practice, in order to examine the social interactions through which Rome, as a political entity, communicated and maintained its position in the Mediterranean. 

I have been invited to present on my research a number of International conferences and research seminars, as well as public lectures and events, including the closing ceremony of the 2016 Being Human Festival at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. I am also contributed to a number of episodes for a BBC Radio 4 history programme (When Greeks Flew Kites) and contributed to the BBC History Magazine.

Other activities


  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Recorded events


Recent publications

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Cornwell, H 2024, Negotiation as a tool for legitimacy in the Roman civil war of 49-48 BCE: 'A new policy for achieving victory' (Cic . Att . 9.7C.1). in R Westall & H Cornwell (eds), New Perspectives on the Roman Civil Wars of 49–30 BCE. 1 edn, Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 13-32. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350272507.ch-001

Cornwell, H 2022, Concord and Peace in Roman Republican Thought: Disputed Commonalities. in F Borghesi (ed.), ‘Peace’ and ‘Concord’ from Plato to Kant. Cambridge University Press.


Cornwell, H 2024, Constructions of peace in the political landscape of the late Roman Republic. in CM Ruiz Vivas & D Sierra Rodríguez (eds), Deconstryendo la ciudad Antigua : mujeres, memoria y paz. 1 edn, Editorial Universidad de Granada, Granada, pp. 191-215. <https://editorial.ugr.es/libro/deconstruyendo-la-ciudad-antigua_139474/>

Cornwell, H 2023, Roman Peace and Empire-building. in A Smart (ed.), Rome: Power and Politics in the Early Empire. Cambridge University Press.

Cornwell, H 2020, A Framework of Negotiation and Reconciliation in the Triumviral period. in F Pina Polo (ed.), THE TRIUMVIRAL PERIOD: CIVIL WAR, POLITICAL CRISIS AND SOCIOECONOMIC TRANSFORMATIONS. Libera Res Publica, Prensas de la Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, pp. 149-170.

Cornwell, H 2020, A place for peace in a time of war. in A Powell & A Burnett (eds), Coins of the Roman revolution (49BC-AD14): evidence without hindsight. 1st edn, Classical Press of Wales, Swansea, pp. 123-144. <https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/coins-of-the-roman-revolution-49-bc-ad-14-9781910589762/>

Cornwell, H 2020, The Production of Diplomatic Space in Ancient Rome. in S Merten & A Haug (eds), Practices in Ancient Public Spaces. vol. Studies in Classical Archaeology, Brepols Publishers, pp. 81-94.


Westall, R & Cornwell, H (eds) 2024, New Perspectives on the Roman Civil Wars of 49–30 BCE. 1st edn, Bloomsbury Publishing. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350272507

Cornwell, H & Woolf, G (eds) 2022, Gendering Roman Imperialism. Impact of Empire: Roman Empire C. 200 B.C.–A.D. 476, vol. 43, Brill, Leiden; Boston. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004524774

Book/Film/Article review

Cornwell, H 2024, 'Restraint, Control, and the Fall of the Roman Republic, written by Paul Belonick', Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 385-388. https://doi.org/10.1163/20512996-12340443

Cornwell, H 2023, 'Approaching Ancient Diplomatic Culture - (F.) Mari, (C.) Wendt (edd.) Shaping Good Faith. Modes of Communication in Ancient Diplomacy. (Oriens et Occidens 37.) Pp. 216, fig. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2022. Cased, €50. ISBN: 978-3-515-12468-3', Classical Review, vol. 73, no. 2, pp. 563-566. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0009840X23001026

Cornwell, H 2022, 'Sarah H. Davies, Rome, Global Dreams, and the International Origins of an Empire (Impact of Empire, 35). Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020. Pp. xi + 208, illus. ISBN 978900441262. €110.00 / $132.00.', The Journal of Roman Studies. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0075435821000824

Cornwell, H 2020, 'Lange, C. H. and Vervaet, F. J. (edd.) 2019. The Historiography of Late Republican Civil War. Historiography of Rome and its Empire Series. Leiden: Brill. Pp. xiii + 527. ISBN 978-90-04-37359-4. €130/$156. (Cornwell, H. Acta Classica 64)', Acta Classica, vol. 64. <http://www.casa-kvsa.org.za/legacy/AC64-Cornwell-21AUG2020.pdf>

Cornwell, H 2020, 'Review: LUKAS DE BLOIS, IMAGE AND REALITY OF ROMAN IMPERIAL POWER IN THE THIRD CENTURY AD: THE IMPACT OF WAR (Routledge monographs in classical studies). London/New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. x + 312, maps. ISBN 97808153737. £115.00. EMMA DENCH, EMPIRE AND POLITICAL CULTURES IN THE ROMAN WORLD (Key themes in ancient history). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. Pp. xiv + 207, illus., map. ISBN 978052100910. £19.99.', The Journal of Roman Studies. https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0075435820000350

Cornwell, H 2019, 'Review of Richard W. Westall, Caesar’s Civil War: Historical Reality and Fabrication.', Exemplaria Classica, vol. 23, pp. 359-362.

View all publications in research portal