Prof Bruce M. S. Campbell
BA Hons (Geography, 1st Class) Liverpool 1970. PhD Cambridge 1975. Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, Fellow of the British Academy, Member of the Academia Europaea.
Professor Emeritus of Medieval Economic History
School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology (GAP)
Queen's University Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN
Northern Ireland, UK
My curriculum vitae (pdf file)
Database of medieval crop yields, “Three centuries of English crop yields, 1211 1491”.
Podcast of my 2008 Tawney Lecture, “Nature as historical protagonist”, delivered to the Economic History Society on 30 March 2008
Rural History 2010 plenary lecture (pdf file)
Podcasts of my 2013 Ellen McArthur Lectures, “The Great Transition: climate, disease and society in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”, delivered at the University of Cambridge in February 2013
I was born and educated in Hertfordshire, a metropolitan county with a strong tradition of individualism and an excellent state school system. From 1967 to 1970 I studied Geography at Liverpool University, where I was powerfully influenced by the distinctive blend of data-driven historical geography and economic history taught by Professor Richard Lawton. My doctoral research — into the agrarian institutions and economy of late-medieval Norfolk — was then undertaken at Cambridge, at that time, under the headship of the notable Domesday scholar Professor H. C. Darby, the leading British Geography department for research into the historical geography of the pre-industrial period. There I benefited from the wise supervision of Dr Alan Baker. Tony Wrigley, Jack Langton, and Harold Fox were on the staff, Richard Smith and Mark Overton were fellow postgraduates, and the newly founded Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure was attracting a raft of talented young researchers. It was a stimulating if daunting time to be there and the contacts then made, as also at Darwin College, have stood me in good stead ever since.
In 1973 university appointments for people with my research interests were scarce and becoming scarcer and I was therefore glad to accept the position of Lecturer in Geography at The Queen's University of Belfast, notwithstanding that the Northern Irish 'Troubles' were then at their height. That move to Northern Ireland and Queen's paid dividends — personally, professionally, and intellectually — and I spent the whole of my academic career here, until retirement in November 2013, in, successively, the departments of Geography, Economic History, History, and, finally, the School of Geography, Archaeology and Palaeoecology. As a full-time academic I was always as much interested in teaching as in research and, until a degree of peace and normality became established in Northern Ireland, there were few more challenging and rewarding environments within the UK in which to teach undergraduates than Belfast. Teaching the historical geography of Ireland and, then, Irish economic history to my students taught me much and greatly enriched my agenda as an economic historian. Further, it exposed me to some first-rate scholars and scholarship and I am proud to have been elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1997.
Medieval economic history has always been my chosen research field. It offers big issues, a wealth of data, and the stimulus of a small but energetic band of fellow researchers. Since my initial work as a postgraduate in Cambridge, my aim has been to harness the wealth of detailed statistical information contained in England's extensive medieval archives to shed systematic light on the country's economic development when it was still comparatively poor, under-developed and prone to subsistence crises and famine. These aspirations have borne fruit, successively, in reconstruction of the provisioning of late-medieval London (Campbell and others (1993), A medieval capital and its grain supply: agrarian production and its distribution in the London region c.1300), analysis the output of seigniorial demesnes (Campbell (2000), English seigniorial agriculture 1250-1450), examination of the attributes of lay estates (Campbell and Bartley (2006), England on the eve of the Black Death: an atlas of lay lordship, land, and wealth, 1300-49), and creation of a national database of crop yields (Campbell (2007), Three centuries of English crop yields, 1211 1491). Most recently, I have been responsible for the medieval component of the reconstruction of English national income per head back to 1270 (Broadberry and others (2015), British economic growth 1270-1870).
Much of my work has focused on the fourteenth century, when the population was halved within the narrow space of a generation and the trajectory of socio-economic development thereby transformed. Since global climate reorganisation and eruption of the Black Death from a source in Central Asia were complicit in these developments, this has led me to become involved in environmental history and to engage with the research of climate historians and those micro-biologists and geneticists who have been investigating the early history of Yersinia pestis (plague). In 2010-11, while a Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, I began to engage extensively with these materials and they featured prominently in my 2013 Ellen McArthur Lectures at the University of Cambridge: “The Great Transition: climate, disease and society in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries”. These lectures have now been extensively revised and in 2016 will be published by Cambridge University Press as The Great Transition: climate, disease and society in the late-medieval world. Meanwhile, I am working on the back-to-back English harvest failures of 1256 and 1257 and reassessing the claim that the supposed famine of 1258 was the result of the mega-eruption of the Indonesian Samalas volcano in mid to late 1257. The results of this investigation will be presented in a lecture to the Royal Historical Society in May 2016.
Since 2013, when I retired and downsized my office, my research papers have been on deposit at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, I remain academically active: I continue to publish, accept seminar invitations and participate in conferences. Even in retirement, it would seem, an academic's labours are never done. When not working, I enjoy looking at architecture of all periods (but especially the thirteenth century), developing my wind- and rain-swept cliff-top garden in Co. Donegal, attending live performances of classical music, and walking and swimming my two Newfoundland dogs.
Full List of Publications (pdf file)
Selected Recent Publications
2014 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Unit land values as a guide to agricultural land productivity in medieval England’, 25-50 in Gérard Béaur and Jean-Michel Chevet, eds, Measuring agricultural growth: land and labour productivity in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century (England, France and Spain), Turnhout, Brepols.
2014 Bruce M. S. Campbell and Lorraine Barry, ‘The population geography of Great Britain c.1290: a provisional reconstruction’, 43-78 in Chris Briggs, Peter Kitson and Stephen Thompson, eds, Population, welfare and economic change in Britain, c.1290-1834, Boydel, Woodbridge. (pdf file)
2013 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Land markets and the morcellation of holdings in pre-plague England and pre-famine Ireland’, 197-218 in Gérard Béaur, Phillipp R. Schofield, Jean-Michel Chevet, and Maria-Teresa Pérez-Picazo, eds, Property rights, land markets and economic growth in the European countryside (13th-20th centuries), Turnhout, Brepols. (pdf file)
2013 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘National incomes and economic growth in pre-industrial Europe: insights from recent research’, Quaestiones Medii Aevi Novae 18, 167-96. (pdf file)
2012 Stephen N. Broadberry, Bruce M. S. Campbell and Bas van Leeuwen, ‘When did Britain industrialise? The sectoral distribution of the labour force and labour productivity in Britain, 1381-1851’, Explorations in Economic History 50 (1), 16-27. (pdf file)
2012 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Grain yields on English demesnes after the Black Death’, 121-74 in Mark Bailey and Stephen H. Rigby, eds, Town and countryside in the age of the Black Death: essays in honour of John Hatcher, Turnhout, Brepols. (pdf file)
2011 Bruce M. S. Campbell and Cormac Ó Gráda, ‘Harvest shortfalls, grain prices, and famines in pre industrial England’, Journal of Economic History 71 (4), 859-86. (pdf file)
2011 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Panzootics, pandemics and climatic anomalies in the fourteenth century’, 177-215 in Bernd Herrmann, ed., Beiträge zum Göttinger Umwelthistorischen Kolloquium 2010-2011, Göttingen, Universitätsverlag Göttingen. (pdf file)
2010 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Agriculture in Kent in the High Middle Ages’, 25-53 in Sheila Sweetinburgh, ed., Later medieval Kent 1220 — 1540, Woodbridge, Boydell and Kent County Council. (pdf file)
2010 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Physical shocks, biological hazards, and human impacts: the crisis of the fourteenth century revisited’, pp. 13-32 in Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., Le interazioni fra economia e ambiente biologico nell’Europe preindustriale. Secc. XIII-XVIII (Economic and biological interactions in pre-industrial Europe from the 13th to the 18th centuries), Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica “F. Datini”, Prato, Italy. (pdf file)
2010 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Nature as historical protagonist: environment and society in pre-industrial England’ (the 2008 Tawney Memorial Lecture), Economic History Review, 63 (2), 281-314. (pdf file)
2009 ‘Four famines and a pestilence: harvest, price, and wage variations in England, 13th to 19th centuries’, pp. 23-56 in Britt Liljewall, Iréne A. Flygare, Ulrich Lange, Lars Ljunggren, and Johan Söderberg, eds, Agrarhistoria på många sätt; 28 studier om manniskan och jorden. Festskrift till Janken Myrdal på hans 60-årsdag (Agrarian history many ways: 28 studies on humans and the land, Festschrift to Janke Myrdal 2009), KSLAB, Stockholm, Sweden. (pdf file)
2009 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Factor markets in England before the Black Death’, Continuity and Change, 24 (1), 79-106. (pdf file)
2009 Bruce M. S. Campbell, Land and people in late medieval England, Variorum Collected Studies Series, Ashgate, Aldershot. (pdf file)
2008 Bruce M. S. Campbell, Field systems and farming systems in late medieval England, Variorum Collected Studies Series, Ashgate, Aldershot. (pdf file)
2008 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Benchmarking medieval economic development: England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland circa 1290’ Economic History Review 61 (4), 896-945.(pdf file) and 'Corrigendum: Benchmarking medieval economic development: England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, c.1290', Economic History Review 61 (4), 946-8. (pdf file)
2006 Bruce M. S. Campbell and Ken Bartley, England on the eve of the Black Death: an atlas of lay lordship, land, and wealth, 1300-49, Manchester, Manchester University Press. (pdf file)
2005 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘The agrarian problem in the early fourteenth century’, Past and Present, 188, 3-70. (pdf file)
2003 Bruce M. S. Campbell, ‘Economic progress in the canal age: a case study from counties Armagh and Down’, in David Dickson and Cormac Ó Gráda, eds., Refiguring Ireland: essays in honour of Louis M. Cullen, Dublin, Lilliput Press. (pdf file)
2000 Bruce M. S. Campbell, English seigniorial agriculture 1250-1450, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Nominated proxime accesit for the Whitfield Prize 2000 by the Royal Historical Society. (Reprinted in paperback 2006).(pdf file1) (pdf file2)(pdf file3)(pdf file4)
In-house Teaching Publications
B. M. S. Campbell, Hazards, humans, and history: human-environment interaction during the last millennium. Tutorial handbook, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 2004.(pdf file)
B. M. S. Campbell and A. M. McVeigh, Monks, warlords, and peasants: an economic and social history of Ireland 1014-1492. Tutorial Handbook I: Ireland in an age of European expansion 1014 1314, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 2000. (pdf file)
B. M. S. Campbell and A. M. McVeigh, Monks, warlords, and peasants: an economic and social history of Ireland 1014-1492. Tutorial Handbook 2: Ireland in an age of European crisis and contraction 1315-1492, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 1999.(pdf file)
B. M. S. Campbell and A. M. McVeigh, William Wallace to Wat Tyler: an economic and social history of England and Ireland 1315-1381. Tutorial handbook, Belfast, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 1998.(pdf file)
B. M. S. Campbell and A. M. McVeigh, Robin Hood to William Wallace: an economic and social history of England and Ireland 1169-1315. Tutorial handbook, Belfast, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 1997.(pdf file)
B. M. S. Campbell and A. M. McVeigh, Plantation to Partition: an economic and social history of Ireland. Tutorial handbook, The Queen’s University of Belfast: Belfast, 1996. (pdf file)