Dr Simone Laqua-O'Donnell

Dr Simone Laqua-O'Donnell

Department of History
Senior Lecturer in European History
Deputy Director, College of Arts and Law Graduate School

Simone Laqua-O’Donnell is a historian of early modern Europe. She studied at the Universities of Hamburg and Cambridge and was a PhD student at Balliol College, Oxford, under the supervision of Professor Lyndal Roper. Her PhD was supported by the AHRC. In 2006 she was awarded a Research Fellowship at Downing College, Cambridge. In 2009 Simone joined the School of History and Cultures, University of Birmingham, as Lecturer in Early Modern History.

Simone Laqua-O'Donnell has received awards from the Institute of Historical Research, the German Historical Institute London, the Institute of European History, Mainz, and a Scatcherd European Scholarship to spend time at the University of Rome, La Sapienza.  Her research on the introduction of the decrees of Trent in early modern German convents has been awarded the 2003 Essay Prize of the Royal Historical Society and the German History Society. Her book Women and the Counter-Reformation in early modern Münster (OUP, 2014) won the 2015 book prize of the Women's History Network.

Her areas of expertise are gender history, children and childhood, German missions, reformation history, the holy Roman empire, the history of crime and witchcraft.


  • Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, University of Birmingham
  • DPhil University of Oxford
  • MSt University of Oxford
  • BA (Hons) University of Cambridge



First year

  • The Making of the Modern World, c.1500-1815
  • Practising History (skills and approaches):
  • ‘Martin Luther and the German Reformation’
  • ‘M for Murder: Interpersonal Violence in Early Modern Europe’
  • ‘Beyond repair? Reforming the Catholic Church in Early Modern Europe’
  • Christian History, 1500-Present

Second year

  • History in Theory and Practice
  • Critical Analysis: ‘Power and State-formation in Early Modern Europe’
  • Research Methods
  • Option: ‘Who are you? Contested identities in the early modern period’

Third year

  • Reviewing History: ‘Political Participation in Early Modern Europe’
  • Special Subject: ‘Big City, Small Worlds: The Making of Early Modern Cities’
  • Option: ‘Witchcraft, Power and State-Formation in Early Modern Europe’
  • Historical Reflections
  • Dissertation supervision


  • MA in Reformation and Early Modern Studies
  • MRes in Early Modern History

Postgraduate supervision

I am happy to discuss research projects on any aspect of early modern German history and the history of modern missions. I currently supervise a PhD project on catechisms and pedagogical prints in early modern Germany, a PhD thesis on missions in Hawaii and a PhD on British missionary children in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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


I am currently working on a book on children in the German missionary enterprise, ca. 1800-1950. 

My first book was on Women and the Counter-Reformation in early modern Münster (OUP, 2014) and examines how women from different social backgrounds encountered the Counter-Reformation. The focus is on Münster, a city in the north of Germany, which was exposed to powerful Protestant influences which culminated in the notorious Anabaptist kingdom of 1534. After the defeat of the radical Protestants, the city was returned to Catholicism and a stringent programme of reform was enforced.

By examining concubinage, piety, marriage, deviance, and convent reform, core issues of the Counter-Reformation's quest for renewal, the shows how women participated in the social and religious changes of the time, and how their lives were shaped by the Counter-Reformation. Employing research into the political, religious, and social institutions, and using a large variety of sources, the research analyses how women experienced the new religiosity, morality, and discipline that was introduced to the city of Münster during this turbulent time.



  • Women and the Counter-Reformation in early modern Münster (Oxford University Press, 2014). Winner of the 2015 Women’s History Network (UK) Book Prize, “awarded for an author’s first single-authored monograph which makes a significant contribution to women’s history or gender history and is written in an accessible style”.

Articles and book chapters

  • 'Family Matters: Peter Canisius as Confessor and Spiritual Guide in early modern Augsburg. A Case Study’, Journal of Jesuit Studies 16/1 (2016).
  • ‘Piety and Community in Early Modern Catholic Europe’, Ashgate Research Companion to the Counter-Reformation (Ashgate, 2012).
  • ‘‘Women on top’ and the ascent of men: A discussion of the advance and advantages of gender as an analytical tool’, convened by Bridget Heal and Simone Laqua-O’Donnell, Colloquia: Journal of Central European History (November, 2010).
  • ‘Concubinage and the Church in early modern Münster’, Past and Present Supplement, Ruth Harris and Lyndal Roper (eds), The Art of Survival: Gender and History in Europe, 1540-2000, (Oxford, 2006).
  • ‘Der Prozeß der Entjudung in der schlesischen Stadt Glatz, 1933-1945’, in Arno Herzig (ed.), Glaciographia Nova: Festschrift für Dieter Pohl (Hamburg, 2004).

View all publications in research portal