Benno Lowe

Professor and Chair
Department of History

See their website


As a historian of early modern Europe, I am primarily a scholar of Tudor political culture, with a focus on the dissemination of Reformation and reform ideas within both local and scholarly communities. For many years I worked on a comparative history of peace ideas in late medieval and early modern England, elucidating how particular events shaped their development and the subsequent debates that emerged both in England and on the Continent. In my first book, I concluded that peace became valued as a national policy not so much for its intrinsic spiritual value but because in a time of prolonged and devastating wars, it had practical value in promoting the common good (res publica). A further exploration of this commonwealth idiom led to my second book which examines how processes of Reformation and reform took hold in parts of England’s West Country, again, not so much because of a compelling theological argument but as a result of local populations seeing the tangible benefits that adhering to the “gospel” brought them. Reformers challenged magistrates to follow biblical injunctions to help the poor and needy, leading them to oversee the establishment of municipal almshouses, hospitals, manufactories, poor rates, free schools, etc. Currently, I am working on an intellectual biography of evangelical bishop John Hooper (c.1500-1555), a “commonwealth man,” viewing it as a vehicle for demonstrating the myriad ways theological dogma—such as a rejection of transubstantiation—can create ideological platforms for promoting wide-ranging political and economic reforms. All of my research is concerned with how peace and human rights were concerns in pre-modern times even in the midst of Europe’s “persecuting society.”

 Last Modified 12/5/16