Photo of Dr Harald E. Braun

Dr Harald E. Braun MA (Heidelberg), DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS

Reader in European History (1300-1700) History


Research Overview

"My expertise is in late medieval and early modern Catholic political culture, especially the political cultures and discourses of the early modern Iberian empires in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa (c. 1450 - c.1700). I want to understand the ways in which early modern peoples sought to make sense of the relationships, institutions, events, and processes that shaped their lives. I am a cultural and intellectual historian who works comparatively and across disciplines. My two main research strands are the Knowledge of Politics and the Politics of Knowledge in the Spanish Habsburg Monarchy and the Global History of Massacre. I also have a growing interest in early modern and modern futures thinking.

I welcome PhD projects in late medieval and early modern Iberian and Global History, the History of Political Thought and Culture, the History of Knowledge, and the History of Violence.

The Politics of Knowledge and the Knowledge of Politics in the early modern Iberian World

This strand of my research explores the connections between political education, expertise, and decision-making in the early modern Iberian empires of Spain and Portugal. I study how different fields of expertise - such as legal, theological or historical knowledge - shaped and were shaped by political education, discourse, and practice, for instance through the medium of political advice. One recent relevant publication is a special issue of the 'Journal of Jesuit Studies' dedicated to 'Jesuits as Counselors' (Spring 2017, Brill Publishers). The contributions to this special issue trace the ways in which early modern Jesuits acted as political counselors and special advisors in very different political and cultural settings, for instance acting as confessors to princes and go-betweens crossing dangerous colonial frontiers or trying to redefine what actually constituted politically relevant knowledge.

Violence, Emotion, and the Law in Early Modernity

My second research strand explores the relationship between collective violence, emotion, and societal norms and practices in the early modern world. My focus is on the perpetration, justification, and critique of massacres. Why did different individuals, groups, societies and cultures respond to the perpetration of massacres in specific and different ways? What does this tell us about individual and collective attitudes, resilience or propensity to violence? I pursue this research, for instance, as a member of the international and interdisciplinary research project 'En los límites de la violencia: masacre y proyección de la Monarquías Ibéricas en los siglos modernos' (Projecto de Investicación del Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, Ref. HAR2014- 52414-C2-2-P), which regularly organizes workshops and colloquia and fields panels at international conferences.