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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages


Professor Joachim Whaley

Prof Jo Whaley
Professor of German History and Thought
German & Dutch
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 332454

Gonville and Caius College


Professor Whaley will be on leave in Easter Term 2018.



Joachim Whaley studied History at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1975 and became a Fellow of Christ’s in 1976. In 1978 he took up a Fellowship at Robinson College, before transferring to Gonville & Caius in 1987. He was appointed to a lectureship in the German Department, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages in 1980. In 2013 he was appointed Professor of German History and Thought.

Teaching interests: 

Joachim Whaley teaches in the following fields: German and European history from 1500 to the present; the history of German political, social and cultural thought and German philosophy from 1500 to the present; contemporary German politics; the politics of European integration from 1945 to the present. He has supervised dissertations on every aspect of these topics. Topics supervised recently are the role of Thomas Müntzer in the German Peasants’ War in 1525, the meanings of patriotism in the eighteenth century, music and German national identity in the nineteenth century, industry and politics in Nazi Germany, Swiss populism since 1945, and the ramifications of the European financial crisis and the role of Germany in the European Union. He supervises essays and dissertations for various MPhil courses and his PhD students have worked on a wide range of topics from the eighteenth century to the present. In 2010 Joachim Whaley was awarded a Pilkington Teaching Prize by the University of Cambridge for his outstanding teaching in German history, thought, and politics.

Research interests: 

Joachim Whaley’s research interests lie in German history, thought and culture from 1500 to the present day. He is the author of Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg, 1529-1819 (Cambridge, 1985) and the editor of Mirrors of Mortality: Studies in the Social History of Death (London, 1981; reissued as a Routledge Revival in 2011). He has also published numerous articles, reviews and contributions to handbooks and lexicons of German history and literature. His latest book is Germany and the Holy Roman Empire 1493-1806, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, 2012), which covers virtually every aspect of German history from the reign of Maximilian I to the dissolution of the Reich and appears in the Oxford History of Early Modern Europe series. Both volumes have been translated into German and Chinese. A short one-volume survey of the history of the Holy Roman Empire from 800 to 1806 will appear in spring 2018. He is currently writing a history of the German-speaking lands in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Joachim Whaley has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society since 1984. In 2013 he was awarded a LittD by the University of Cambridge for his books and articles on early modern German history. 

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in July 2015.