David Carpenter (historian)

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David A. Carpenter (born 1947) is an English historian and writer, and Professor of Medieval History at King's College London where he has been working since 1988.

Early life and education[edit]

He is the son of Rev. E.F. Carpenter, renowned ecclesiastical historian and Dean of Westminster Abbey between 1974–1986, and Lillian Carpenter. His nephew is the cricketer Ed Carpenter. David Carpenter attended Westminster School along with David Piachaud (later Professor of Social Policy at the LSE) and Christ Church, Oxford where Carpenter earned a first-class degree and went on to do his doctorate.


Carpenter has worked at King's College London since 1988, and now serves as Professor of Medieval History.

Carpenter has written widely on English social, economic, architectural, military and political history in the thirteenth century; many of his essays on this subject being brought together in a volume of his collected papers The Reign of Henry III (Hambledon, 1996). He is a particular exponent of the "thickened political narrative", which he deployed in The Minority of King Henry III (Methuen, 1990), which traced the complex political history of the years 1216-1227 out of which a new monarchy, limited by the Magna Carta, emerged. His most recent book, The Struggle for Mastery in Britain 1066-1284 (Penguin, 2004), weaves together the histories of England, Scotland and Wales in a strikingly new way, arguing that the rulers of all three, in their different fashions, were competing for mastery in Britain. Since 2005, he has directed a major AHRC-funded project on the Fine rolls of Henry III. Carpenter is a Co-Investigator of the AHRC-funded project The Paradox of Medieval Scotland, 1093-1286.

Carpenter is a proponent of the theory that feudalism was fundamentally important to everyday English society and politics after 1166. He has provided a new description of how the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey fit into the History of England.



  • The Battles of Lewes and Evesham (1987)
  • The Minority of Henry III (1990)
  • The Reign of Henry III (1996)
  • The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066–1284 (2003)
  • Magna Carta (2015)
  • Henry III 1207-1258 (2020)


  • 'A Noble in Politics: Roger Mortimer', Nobles and Nobility, ed. A.Duggan (Woolbridge, 2000)
  • 'Westminster Abbey in Politics, 1258-1269', Thirteenth Century England VIII, ed. M. Prestwich, R. Britnell, and R. Frame (Woodbridge, 2001)
  • 'Thomas Fitz-Thomas', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Woodbridge, 2001)
  • 'King Henry III and Saint Edward the Confessor : The origin of the Cult', English Historical Review, vol.CXXII, no. 498 (2007)
  • 'King Henry III and the Chapter House of Westminster Abbey', Westminster Abbey Chapter House: the History, Art and Architecture of A Chapter House Beyond Compare, ed. W. Rodwell (London, 2010)
  • 'Archbishop Langton and Magna Carta: His Contribution, his Doubts and his Hypocrisy', English Historical Review, vol. CXXXVI, no. 522 (2011)
  • 'Crucifixion and Conversion: King Henry III and the Jews in 1255', Laws, lawyers and Texts, Studies in Medieval Legal History in Honour of Paul Brand, (Leiden, 2012)
  • 'Henry III and the Sicilian Affair', Fine of the Month (November 2012)
  • 'The vis et volunta of King Henry III: The Downfall and Punishment of Robert de Ros', Fine of the Month (November 2012)
  • 'Magna Carta 1253: The Ambitions of the Church and the Divisions within the Realm', Historical Research, vol. 86, no. 232 (2013)


  • David Carpenter and James Kanter, 'king Henry III and Windsor Castle', St George's Chapel : History and Heritage, ed. Nigel Saul and T. Tatton-Brown (Stanbridge, 2010)


External links[edit]