Dr James Norrie

Dr James Norrie

Department of History
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow

I am a historian of medieval Italy and the Mediterranean, with wider interests in the global history of the pre-modern past. I study urban change and radical social movements, and my first book examines the transformation of the city of Milan in the long eleventh century. As a Leverhulme Fellow, I am working on how the use of coinage in the same period altered experiences of religion and gender alongside economic exchange.


  • DPhil, History (University of Oxford)
  • MA, Medieval Studies (University College London)
  • BA, History (University of Oxford)


I studied history and medieval history at the University of Oxford and at University College London, and also spent time as a visiting research student at the University of Padua. Following the award of my doctorate in 2017, I held post-doctoral fellowships at the British School at Rome, the University of Padua, and Columbia University in New York. I arrived at Birmingham as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in 2020.


My teaching at Birmingham includes:

  • Discovering the Middle Ages (400-1000)
  • Living in the Middle Ages (1000-1500)
  • Group Research (The First Crusade)

I am also happy to discuss undergraduate and taught post-graduate dissertation supervision.


My research interests include the history of radical social change, cities, religion, and gender in early medieval Italy and the Mediterranean. To this end, I am especially interested in applying the insights of social anthropology and theory, as well as comparative and global histories of the pre-modern world.

To date, my work has studied how urban change remakes material worlds and religion, both during the transformation of the post-Roman world and the growth of citied societies in the eleventh century. My first book, Urban Change and Radical Religion: Medieval Milan, c.990-1140, is to be published with Oxford University Press. It examines the urban transformation of Milan and its hinterland in these years, which sparked popular and religious revolt on a scale then unprecedented in medieval Europe. Forthcoming work also explores the comparative history of urban ritual and processions, and the history of fire and the city from the end of the Roman empire to the twelfth century.

My current project as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow – Re-Coining the Eleventh Century: Value, Religion and Gender in Italy – addresses how and why coin use transformed experiences of religion and gender as well as economic exchange. This was a period when connected anxieties about monetisation, female bodies, and the commodification of religious office drove both furious intellectual debate and popular politics. In the process, this work asks how changes to value remake wider human history.