The James Ford Lectures in British History 2024: The World's Reformation

The Ford Lectures in British History were founded by a bequest from James Ford, and inaugurated by S R Gardiner in 1896-7. Since then, an annual series has been delivered over six weeks in Hilary term. They have long been established as the most prestigious series in Oxford and an important annual event in the History Faculty calendar.

Though sometimes elected from among the Oxford History Faculty, the Ford Lecturer is often a distinguished visitor from elsewhere in the United Kingdom, or further afield. Towards the end of the series, the Lecturer generally convenes a seminar for faculty members and students, where the themes and ideas of the series are discussed.

The lectures alternate between medieval, early modern and modern history. They bring the opportunity for distinguished scholars to present their work to an Oxford audience, in a scholarly but accessible way. The attendance, which is often very large, habitually includes people from the local community as well as many from outside Oxford.

The Lectures invariably result in important books, many of them classic and pioneering works of British history.

Hilary Term 2024 – The World’s Reformation
During the early modern era, British (and other) Protestants were far more globally aware, and actively engaged in seeking to win converts in the non-Christian world, than we have recognised. This story has been neglected in part because they pursued the ‘propagation of the Gospel’ very differently both from their Catholic contemporaries and their modern successors. These lectures will survey some of the distinctive themes of early Protestants’ global missions, from the ingenuous and often damaging preconceptions they brought to the task; through the makeshift institutions they developed or adapted to tackle it; to the deep assumptions about the God’s plan for human history and the world’s end which underpinned the whole project.

This was global Christian mission, but not as we know it. Instead of a prelude to the missionary history of the high imperial age, these lectures will argue that this story should be understood as an attempt to carry the Protestant Reformation to the world.

Sorry, there are currently no talks scheduled in this series.

This series features in the following public collections: