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Historical image of war

War and Supernature

Dr Ian Campbell
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics

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Modern, liberal Europe prides itself on the separation of religious from political life, and locates the origin of the ability to make this distinction in the Seventeenth Century as a reaction against the age of religious wars.

This research project, which is funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, examines the debates among university intellectuals across Catholic and Protestant Europe on the relationship between Christianity and warfare. It questions the assumption that those with the deepest religious commitments felt inevitably driven to fight savage and unlimited wars justified by religious difference, and argues for older, deeper origins for our modern aversion to the use of force in religious affairs.

Over four years (2016-2020), the project team will analyse, translate, edit, and publish these scholastic debates between religious militants and religious moderates on the role of force in religious life in order to inform and re-shape arguments among political historians on the nature of European religious warfare.


Dr Ian Campbell is a Senior Lecturer in History. His research interests lie in early modern British and Irish history, political thought and intellectual history, and the history of race.

Dr Ian Campbell leads a team of historians on ‘War and the Supernatural in Early Modern Europe’ - a research project funded by the European Research Council and hosted by Queen’s University Belfast. The team is re-examining the relationship between faith and force in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.

More information is available on the project website: