For faster navigation, this Iframe is preloading the Wikiwand page for Diarmaid MacCulloch.

Diarmaid MacCulloch

Diarmaid MacCulloch
Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch

(1951-10-31) 31 October 1951 (age 72)
Kent, England
Academic background
Alma materChurchill College, Cambridge
Doctoral advisorGeoffrey Elton
Academic work
Sub-disciplineEcclesiastical history
InstitutionsSt Cross College, Oxford
Doctoral studentsEthan H. Shagan[1]
Alec Ryrie[1]
Notable works
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Anglican)
ChurchChurch of England
Ordained1987 (deacon)

Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch Kt FSA FRHistS FBA (/ˈdɜːrməd/; born 31 October 1951) is an English academic and historian, specialising in ecclesiastical history and the history of Christianity. Since 1995, he has been a fellow of St Cross College, Oxford; he was formerly the senior tutor. Since 1997, he has been Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford.

Though ordained a deacon in the Church of England, he declined ordination to the priesthood because of the church's attitude to homosexuality.[2] In 2009 he encapsulated the evolution of his religious beliefs: "I was brought up in the presence of the Bible, and I remember with affection what it was like to hold a dogmatic position on the statements of Christian belief. I would now describe myself as a candid friend of Christianity."[3] MacCulloch sits on the editorial board of the Journal of Ecclesiastical History.[4]


Diarmaid MacCulloch was born in Kent, England, to the Rev. Nigel John Howard MacCulloch (an Anglican priest) and Jennie Chappell.[1] He moved to Suffolk as a boy when his father was appointed rector of Wetherden and Haughley. He attended Hillcroft Preparatory School, Haughley and Stowmarket Grammar School. He subsequently studied history at Churchill College, Cambridge, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1972; this was promoted to a Master of Arts degree in 1976. During that period, he was also organ scholar at the college. After completing a Diploma in Archive Administration at Liverpool University in 1973, he then returned to Cambridge to complete a PhD degree in 1977 on Tudor history under the supervision of Geoffrey Elton, combining this with a position as Junior Research Fellow at Churchill College.

MacCulloch joined the Gay Christian Movement in 1976, serving twice on its committee and briefly as honorary secretary. From 1978 to 1990 he tutored at Wesley College, Bristol, and taught church history in the department of theology at the University of Bristol. He interrupted his teaching to study for the Oxford Diploma in Theology (awarded 1987) at Ripon College Cuddesdon. In 1987 he was ordained a deacon in the Church of England and from 1987 to 1988 he served as a non-stipendiary minister at All Saints' Clifton with St John's in the Diocese of Bristol. However, in response to a motion put before the General Synod in 1987 by Tony Higton regarding the sexuality of clergy, he declined ordination to the priesthood and ceased to minister at Clifton.

Regarding the conflict between his homosexuality and the Church of England and his own retreat from orthodoxy he said:

I was ordained Deacon. But, being a gay man, it was just impossible to proceed further, within the conditions of the Anglican set-up, because I was determined that I would make no bones about who I was; I was brought up to be truthful, and truth has always mattered to me. The Church couldn't cope and so we parted company. It was a miserable experience.[2]

MacCulloch was awarded a Doctor of Divinity (DD) degree by the University of Oxford in 2001.[citation needed]

In 1996 his book Thomas Cranmer: A Life won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His 2003 book Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490–1700 won the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2004 British Academy Book Prize and the Wolfson History Prize. A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years was published in September 2009 with a related 6-part television series called A History of Christianity which first aired on BBC4 in 2009 and then on BBC2 and BBC4 in 2010. The book won McGill University's Cundill Prize in History, a $75,000 prize, the largest such prize in Canada at the time.[5]

In 2011, he delivered the Gifford Lectures on Silence in Christian History: the witness of Holmes' Dog at the University of Edinburgh.[6] In 2012, he wrote and presented How God Made the English, a three-part documentary series tracing the history of English identity from the Dark Ages to the present day.[7] In 2013 he presented a documentary on Thomas Cromwell and his place in English ecclesiastical and political history. His 2015 series Sex and the Church on BBC Two explored how Christianity has shaped western attitudes to sex, gender and sexuality throughout history.[8]

In 2018, MacCulloch published the biography Thomas Cromwell: A Life.[9] MacCulloch sits on the European Advisory Board of Princeton University Press.[10]

In 2019, MacCulloch retired as Professor of the History of the Church and was made professor emeritus.[11] In addition to his position at St Cross College, he has been a senior research fellow in church history and archivist at Campion Hall, Oxford since 2020.[11][12]


MacCulloch was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA) in 1978, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) in 1982, and a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) in 2001. In 2003, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) degree by the University of East Anglia. He was knighted in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to scholarship.[13] While Debretts gives his formal style as "Prof Sir",[14] MacCulloch has expressed the preference that he not be addressed in that manner, in accordance with protocol which dictates that clergy holding knighthoods are addressed as "Sir" only if so honoured before their ordination.[15][16]

In 2021, he was awarded a Festschrift titled "Contesting Orthodoxies in the History of Christianity: Essays in Honour of Diarmaid MacCulloch".[17]

Selected works



  • Suffolk and the Tudors: Politics and Religion in an English County 1500–1600 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1986)
  • Groundwork of Christian History (London, Epworth Press, 1987)
  • The Later Reformation in England (1990)
  • Henry VIII: Politics, Policy, and Piety (1995)
  • Thomas Cranmer: A Life (1996)
  • Tudor Church Militant: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (1999)
    • republished as The Boy King: Edward VI and the Protestant Reformation (2001)
  • Reformation: Europe's House Divided 1490–1700 (2003)
    • republished as The Reformation: A History (2005)
  • A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years. London: Allen Lane. 2009. ISBN 978-0-7139-9869-6.
  • Silence: A Christian History (London, Allen Lane, 2013)[18]
  • All Things Made New: The Reformation and its Legacy (London, Allen Lane, 2016)
  • Thomas Cromwell: A Life (London, Allen Lane, 2018)



  1. ^ a b c CURRICULUM VITAE: Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch (PDF), retrieved 24 February 2021
  2. ^ a b "BBC - Press Office - Network TV Programme Information BBC Week 45 Feature name". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  3. ^ MacCulloch 2009, p. 11.
  4. ^ "Editorial board". Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 21 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Search". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 15 November 2010. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Gifford Lectures". University of Edinburgh.
  7. ^ "BBC Two - How God Made the English". BBC. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  8. ^ MacCulloch, Diarmaid (April 2015). "Sex and the Church". BBC 2. Retrieved 23 April 2015.
  9. ^ Childs, Jessie (22 September 2018). "Thomas Cromwell by Diarmaid MacCulloch review – what Hilary Mantel left out". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  10. ^ Princeton University Press, European Advisory Board Archived 8 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ a b "Diarmaid Ninian John MacCulloch". Crockford's Clerical Directory (online ed.). Church House Publishing. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Revd Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch". Campion Hall. University of Oxford.
  13. ^ "No. 60009". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2011. p. 1.
  14. ^ "Prof Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch's Biography". Debrett's. Retrieved 11 April 2012.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Tim Walker (9 January 2012). "Please, not Sir". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  16. ^ Matt Pickles (5 January 2012). "Behind the shining armour". Arts at Oxford. University of Oxford. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
  17. ^ Gebarowski-Shafer, Ellie; Null, Ashley; Ryrie, Alec, eds. (2021). Contesting Orthodoxies in the History of Christianity: essays in honour of Diarmaid MacCulloch. Studies in Modern British Religious History. Vol. 44. Woodbridge: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-1783276271.
  18. ^ Rubin, Miri (11 November 2013). "Review of Silence : a Christian history". Reviews. History Today. 63 (11): 63–64. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.



With Melvyn Bragg in In Our Time radio episodes

Radio host Melvyn Bragg discusses various historical topics on BBC Radio 4 with several guests including MacCulloch.

With Henk de Berg

Three-part video interview conducted by Henk de Berg (2018):[1]

  1. ^ "Professor Henk de Berg, School of Languages and Cultures, Professor of German, Head of Germanic Studies". The University of Sheffield. 2024. Archived from the original on 31 March 2023. Retrieved 1 June 2024.
{{bottomLinkPreText}} {{bottomLinkText}}
Diarmaid MacCulloch
Listen to this article

This browser is not supported by Wikiwand :(
Wikiwand requires a browser with modern capabilities in order to provide you with the best reading experience.
Please download and use one of the following browsers:

This article was just edited, click to reload
This article has been deleted on Wikipedia (Why?)

Back to homepage

Please click Add in the dialog above
Please click Allow in the top-left corner,
then click Install Now in the dialog
Please click Open in the download dialog,
then click Install
Please click the "Downloads" icon in the Safari toolbar, open the first download in the list,
then click Install

Install Wikiwand

Install on Chrome Install on Firefox
Don't forget to rate us

Tell your friends about Wikiwand!

Gmail Facebook Twitter Link

Enjoying Wikiwand?

Tell your friends and spread the love:
Share on Gmail Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Buffer

Our magic isn't perfect

You can help our automatic cover photo selection by reporting an unsuitable photo.

This photo is visually disturbing This photo is not a good choice

Thank you for helping!

Your input will affect cover photo selection, along with input from other users.


Get ready for Wikiwand 2.0 🎉! the new version arrives on September 1st! Don't want to wait?