Samuel Ottewill-Soulsby

Researcher - Historie
Image of Samuel Ottewill-Soulsby
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Room 508
Available hours By appointment
Visiting address Niels Henrik Abels vei 36 Niels Treshows hus 0851 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1008 Blindern 0315 Oslo

Academic interests

The early medieval world; medieval manuscripts; early medieval diplomacy; interactions between Christians and Muslims in the medieval world; late antique and early medieval urbanism; charismatic megafauna


I first encountered the early medieval world at the University of York (BA in History, 2012). I developed these interests at the University of Cambridge, where I worked on contact between marcher lords on the Carolingian frontier with Muslim Spain (MPhil in Medieval History, 2013) and diplomacy between the Carolingians and the Islamic world (PhD in History, 2017). This work inculcated in me a deep interest in thinking about the early Middle Ages in a global context, as well as an ongoing fascination with the role played by charismatic megafauna in medieval politics. I have since published widely on this research and have a book on this subject entitled The Emperor and the Elephant: Christians and Muslims in the Age of Charlemagne coming out next year with Princeton University Press.

I subsequently worked as a Research Associate with the ERC-funded Impact of the Ancient City project (2017-2021) at the University of Cambridge, investigating the legacy of Greco-Roman ideas of the city on medieval thought. This resulted in a number of publications, included a volume I co-edited Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City (2021). This work developed my understanding of the importance of classical thought on medieval intellectual life, while also bringing me into contact with archaeologists. I also spent time as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Migration and Mobility in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages Center for Advanced Studies (2022) at the University of Tübingen, developing my understanding of diplomacy in the early Middle Ages in the context of the movement of people and objects.

Since September 2022 I have been a Senior Researcher with the NFR-project Voices on the Edge: Minuscule Texts in Early Medieval Latin Culture (VOICED) at the University of Oslo. In this capacity I examine short notes inserted in blank spaces of early medieval manuscripts to advance our understanding of the period through literally marginalized texts.

Selected Awards

  • Osborn Research Studentship (3-year research grant), University of Cambridge (2013-2016)
  • Wood-Legh Prize (2013)

Positions held

  • Visiting Research Fellowship, University of Tübingen (2022)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Cambridge (2017-2021)
Tags: Early Medieval History, Medieval Studies, Medieval Culture, Palaeography, Political culture, International Relations

Selected publications


Edited Volumes


  • “First Cities in Late Antique Christian Thought.” Journal of Early Christian Studies 30 (2022): 373-402.

  • “City of Dog.” Journal of Urban History 47 (2021): 1130-1148.

  •  “ʿAbbāsid-Carolingian Diplomacy in Early Medieval Arabic Apocalypse.” Millennium 16 (2019): 213-231.

  • “The Camels of Charles the Bald.” Medieval Encounters 25 (2019): 263-292.

  • “‘Those Same Cursed Saracens’: Charlemagne’s Campaigns in the Iberian Peninsula as Religious Warfare.” Journal of Medieval History 42 (2016): 405-428.

Book Chapters

  • “Charlemagne’s Asian Elephant: India in Carolingian-ʿAbbāsid Relations.” In Levant, Cradle of Abrahamic Religions, edited by Catalin Stefan-Popa. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2022, pp. 187-211.

  • With Javier Martínez Jiménez, “Ancient cities in new worlds: neo-Latin views and Classical ideals in the sixteenth century.” In Rome and the Colonial City: Rethinking the Grid, edited by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and Sofia Greaves. Oxford: Oxbow, 2022, pp. 101-121.

  • “The Making of Men and Cities: Francesc Eiximenis and Urban Development.” In Rome and the Colonial City: Rethinking the Grid, edited by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill and Sofia Greaves. Oxford: Oxbow, 2022, pp. 83-100.

  • “William of Tyre and the Cities of the Levant.” In Cities as Palimpsests?: Responses to Antiquity in Eastern Mediterranean Urbanism, edited by Louise Blanke, Suna Çagaptay, Elizabeth Key Fowden and Edward Zychowicz-Coghill. Oxford: Oxbow, 2022, pp. 141-154.

Published Sep. 15, 2022 10:31 AM - Last modified Sep. 23, 2022 5:49 PM