top of page

Trust in the
Premodern World
Interdisciplinary Conference

Faculty of History, Oxford
(a hybrid event with a virtual attendance option)
13-14 January 2023


In association with Oxford Medieval Studies, sponsored by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).
History Logo CMY1K.png
Sponsored by the Faculty of History, University of Oxford.
Sponsored by
St John's College, Oxford.
SHS logo.png
The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Social History Society.
Oriel logo centred.jpg

Sponsored by Oriel College, Oxford.

new logo.PNG

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Past and Present Society.

Logo revised.jpg

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Economic History Society.

Sponsored by
St John's College, Oxford.
Sponsored by
St John's College, Oxford.
Sponsored by
St John's College, Oxford.

Sponsored by Oriel College, Oxford


Virtual Registration: £15

Register here:

 Contact us at with any questions or concerns.

An optional conference dinner has been planned at the restaurant Al-Shami on 13th January 2023 at 19:00. Sign up has closed.

Registration for in person attendance has closed.

Registration for virtual attendance closes at 23:00

on 12th January 2023.




Download the pdf version here:

Download the pdf version of long programme here:

Invited Speakers

Invited Speakers


Professor Sheilagh Ogilvie - Chichele Professor of Economic History,

All Souls College, Oxford

Professor Ogilvie explores the lives of ordinary people in the past and tries to explain how poor economies get richer and improve human well-being. She is particularly interested in how social institutions – the formal and informal constraints on economic activity – shaped economic development in Europe between the Middle Ages and the present day. In recent years her publications have analysed guilds, serfdom, communities, the family, gender, human capital investment, consumption, and state capacity.

Dr Nicholas Baker - Associate Professor, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Dr Baker is an historian of the political and economic cultures of early modern Europe and the Mediterranean, with particular interests in Renaissance Italy, connections and exchanges between Italy and the Iberian world in the sixteenth century, and the use of visual sources in historical research. He has published on the political culture of Florence between the end of the republic and the creation of the Medici principality, and on the various cultures of financial risk taking in Renaissance Italy.


Professor Teresa Morgan - McDonald Agape Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Yale Divinity School

Professor Morgan has written widely on Greek, Roman, and early Christian education, ethics, and mentality, and is currently finishing the third in a trio of books on Graeco-Roman and early Christian trust and faith: Roman Faith and Christian Faith (2015), The New Testament and the Theology of Trust (2022), and The Invention of Faith (forthcoming). Among her particular interests are the history of ideas and mentality, the New Testament, early Church history, ethics, theoretical historiography, the history of education and scholarship, and the history of gender and sexuality.

Dr Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz - Associate Professor in Medieval History,

University of Amsterdam

Dr Wubs-Mrozewicz is a historian of premodern conflict management, mobility, identity and intergroup dynamics. She has published on conflict resolution between merchants and the concept of the language of trust and trustworthiness. She is currrnetly working on a major research project exploring the management of multi-level conflcits in commercial cities in Northern Europe (c.1350-1570).


Dr Antonella Liuzzo Scorpo - Associate Professor, University of Lincoln

Dr Liuzzo Scorpo specialises in the cultural history of the medieval Western Mediterrnaean, with a particular focus on the Iberian Peninsula. Her main research interests explore the history of emotions, the study of medieval social communication and cultural networks, as well as interfaith collaborations and political agreements. She is currently working on a new project on Emotions, Communication and Diplomacy in medieval Iberia (with special attention devoted to the Crown of Aragon), which combines historical and literary methodologies to examine the instrumental adoption of emotional discourses across and beyond geopolitical, religious, linguistic and ethnic frontiers.

The Conference

Conference Summary

Trust is a fundamental part of human relationships. The choice of who a merchant might give their large investment to, the careful language used by rulers to communicate and discuss tense diplomatic issues, the ways in which law codes and local customs were understood and perceived, can all be seen to rely on trust. The constant construction and variation of trust also means that it frequently breaks down. A breakdown in trust may be seen in the courts, as a dispute between neighbours, or in a diplomatic letter, full of threatening language.


Yet the role trust has played in the past, until recently, has been often overlooked. Trust needs to be examined as historically dependent and multifaceted, as it is constantly subject to change. Trust has frequently been a part of studies of past relationships and institutions, though normally not the central focus. We want to make it the lens through which the past is studied, to create conversations about the ways in which we might study trust, trusting relationships, and distrust in the past. This line of thinking builds on formative works such as Forrest’s Trustworthy Men: How Inequality and Faith Made the Medieval Church, Schulte, Mostert, and van Renswoude’s Strategies of Writing: Studies on Text and Trust in the Middle Ages, Forrest and Haour’s article ‘Trust in Long-Distance Relationships, 1000-1600’, and Muldrew’s The Economy of Obligation: The Culture of Credit and Social Relations in Early Modern England.


Trust in the Premodern World aims to explore the construction, maintenance and breakdown of trust and trusting relationships of various forms. It seeks to uncover the ways in which trust and distrust in the past may have affected people’s choices and how the study of trust today might uncover new facets of life in the past, as well as offering valuable perspectives on life in the present.


The multifaceted nature of trust also makes this conference an interdisciplinary one – focusing on any one lens to study trust in the past would be too simplistic. Contributions are encouraged to utilise various methodologies, approaches, sources, and theoretical bases and focus on a very wide geographical and chronological span. We hope that this will allow us to more fully consider the ways in which trust in the past can be studied and foster wide discussion between the participants.



Annabel Hancock.jpeg

Annabel Hancock

DPhil student at St John's College, Oxford

Research: Annabel is investigating the way that trusting relationships are formed between groups of merchants and investors in thirteenth- and fourteenth-century Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.

Siyao Picture.png

Siyao Jiang

DPhil student at Oriel College, Oxford

Research: Siyao is investigating the culture of trust amongst merchants and foreigners in the port city of Quanzhou and the Jiangnan hinterland during the Southern Song and Yuan Periods, 1127-1368.


Professor Ian Forrest

Professor of Social and Religious History / Fellow and Tutor in History at Oriel College, Oxford

Research: Ian focuses on trust, inequality and state formation, as well as inclusion and exclusion in medieval Christianity. He is also interested in anarchism and alternative approaches to global history.

  • Twitter

Follow us on twitter: @PremodernTrust

bottom of page