Dominic Selwood

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Dominic Selwood
D Selwood For Wiki.jpg
BornDecember 1970 (age 48)
OccupationHistorian, Author, Journalist, Barrister
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
University of Poitiers
University of Wales
GenreThriller, Historical Fiction, non-fiction, History
Notable worksThe Sword of Moses

Dominic Selwood, FSA, FRSA, FRHistS (born December 1970) is an English historian, journalist, author and barrister. He has written several works of history, historical fiction and historical thrillers, most notably The Sword of Moses. His background is in medieval history.

Early life and career[edit]

Selwood was born in England, and grew up in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in Cyprus[1] and in Germany. He went to school at Edge Grove School and Winchester College,[2] and studied law and French law at the University of Wales.

He was awarded a scholarship to the University of Poitiers, where a chance meeting in a local café with the publisher (and early sponsor of Private Eye)[3][4] Anthony Blond led to a collaboration on Blond's Roman Emperors.[5] His doctoral research on medieval religious and military life, specialising in the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, the two leading military orders of the Crusades was undertaken as a member of New College, Oxford. While conducting his research, he won a research scholarship to the Sorbonne in the history of Byzantium and the Christian Near-East. In 1997, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and he is also a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He was called to the Bar in London by Lincoln's Inn,[6] joined a set of barristers' chambers in the Inner Temple, and was a member of the Western Circuit.[7] He is one of the founders of Arabesque Partners. In a 2014 interview he said that his work as a criminal barrister had been formative for writing thrillers.[8]

Selwood says he is "obsessed with the weirder side of the past",[9] and describes himself as a "deeply fuzzy and laissez-faire English Catholic".[10] He has spoken at schools, universities, literary festivals and the British Museum.[11][12][13][14]

Journalism and media[edit]

Newspapers and magazines[edit]

Selwood writes for the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper and is currently a resident history columnist,[15] including the daily 'On this Day' column.[16] His writing has been described as a "must read",[17] "a fascinating change from the usual dusty history books",[18] and "strident debunkery".[19] He has also contributed to The Spectator,[20] The Independent,[21] Prospect Magazine,[22] and The Catholic Herald.[23] Many of these pieces cover the Romans, Anglo-Saxons, the medieval world, the Tudors, and the Reformation.

He has written extensively on the Third Reich, including on Adolf Hitler, Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hess, Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann, the formation of the Nazi Party, the Munich Beer Hall putsch, the Berlin Reichstag fire, the Night of the Long Knives, the Nuremberg racial laws, Vichy France, Stalingrad, the Dambusters, the Nuremberg trials and hangings, and area bombing at Guernica, Cologne, and Dresden.[24]

He has written on military intelligence matters like the Enigma cipher and Bletchley Park, SOE operations, and FANY/SOE women agents like Violette Szabo and Noor Khan.[25]

He has also written for the papers on music and musicians, including: George Formby,[26] Django Reinhardt,[27] Robert Johnson,[28] Mahalia Jackson,[29] Johnny Cash,[30] Elvis Presley,[31] Jimi Hendrix,[32] Lemmy,[33] John Bonham[34] of Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd,[35] and the Sex Pistols.[36]

Television and radio[edit]

He appears regularly on television and radio as a historical commentator and adviser,[37][38][39] including on the news discussing historical topics,[40][41] and discussion shows like the BBC's The Big Questions. Documentaries include:


Selwood has argued for King Richard III of England’s guilt in the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower,[52] and has queried the assertion of a 99.999% certainty of the DNA found in the bones in the Leicester car park in 2012 being that of Richard III.[53][54]

He has criticized the tendency to start lists of English kings and queens with William the Conqueror in 1066, eclipsing the vibrant, intellectual, outward-looking cultures that came before.[55]

He has written on Britain’s religious history. Like Eamon Duffy, he has argued for the widespread popularity and vibrancy of traditional religion in late medieval English society before the Reformation, and highlighted the intense efforts made by the Tudor regime to stamp it out from the top down.[56]

He has argued for the relative unimportance of Magna Carta in the medieval world, and that its status derives from the much later Stuart period.[57][58]

He has criticized the popular depiction of Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall books for blurring historical fiction and fictional history, creating a literary persona for Cromwell that bears no relation to the historical person.[59]

He has written of the ancient and enduring English fascination with magic and pagan celebrations like May Day and Halloween,[60] and has explored the religious background to witchcraft and the medieval witch trials, arguing that the Reformation stoked the popularity of witch-hunts in Europe, resulting in the "brutal and pointless murder of tens of thousands of innocent women".[61]

Selwood has argued for the medieval origin of the Shroud of Turin.[62]

He has defended Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin in his acquisition of the Elgin Marbles or Parthenon sculptures, arguing that he saved them from ongoing destruction in Ottoman Athens.[63][64][65] In 2017 he and Tiffany Jenkins won a debate sponsored by the University of Oxford held at the British Museum against Professor Edith Hall and Paul Cartledge arguing for the Parthenon Sculptures to remain in the British Museum.[66]

He has also argued in favour of the existence of Arthur as a warrior who led resistance to the Anglo-Saxon invasions of Britain in the fifth and sixth centuries. Although the historical character of Arthur is ultimately unknowable, the chronicle evidence for him cannot be ignored.[67]

He has also highlighted the service to Britain in World War II of Muslims like the SOE/FANY Noor Inayat Khan, who worked alone behind enemy lines in occupied France,[68] and Spaniards like Juan Pujol García, who was one of MI6's most effective spies.[69]

He has defended the funding of the British Monarchy by the Sovereign Grant, which represents a fraction of the revenue of the historic Crown Estate property portfolio that the monarchy has "given" to the United Kingdom's Parliament. This is despite the fact that, as the monarchy is a constitutional element of the British state, it cannot be said to "own" the Crown Estate, which is - and can only be - property of the state.[70]

He has rejected the notion that geopolitical events since 2014 suggest the Cold War is returning, and argued instead that the amorphous nature of modern hostilities – especially those conducted unattributably in the electronic and information spaces – should be given a new classification of Grey Warfare.[71]



  • Punctuation Without Tears: Punctuate Confidently - in Minutes!, illustrated by Delia Johnson, (Corax, London, 2018) ISBN 978-0992633295, voted five stars by The Independent for putting simplicity and fun back into good writing.[72]
  • Spies, Sadists and Sorcerers: The History You Weren't Taught at School (Crux Publishing, London, 2015) ISBN 978-1909979338
  • Knights of the Cloister (The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 1999) ISBN 978-0851158280, a study of the medieval Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, the first to deal in detail with their lives and activities in the south of France (their European headquarters), demonstrating how they raised the manpower, money and weapons to support the crusades in the East.[73][74][75]



Antiquarian Ghost Stories[edit]



Selwood played bass in London rock band, The Binmen, with Sweet and Slade singer Mal McNulty and Necromandus and Ozzy Osbourne drummer Frank Hall.[82]

He is a lifelong fan of Motörhead, and wrote the obituary of frontman Lemmy in The Spectator, describing him as "a national treasure – a unique collision of swing and amphetamines".[83]


  1. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Crusaders in the Clouds: Dominic Selwood Explores Northern Cyprus (Author Guided Tour)". The Big Thrill. International Thriller Writers. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Wykeham Journal". 2014. p. 1. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  3. ^ "Anthony Blond, Obituary". The Daily Telepgraph. 1 March 2008.
  4. ^ Barber, Michael (1 March 2008). "Anthony Blond, Obituary". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Blond, Anthony (1994). Blond's Roman Emperors. London: Quartet Books. ISBN 978-0704370029.
  6. ^ "Calls to the bar: 10 October 1997". London: The Independent. 10 October 1997. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
  7. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "About". Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  8. ^ Bilyeau, Nancy. "Dominic Selwood: Turning History Into Thrills". A Bloody Good Read.
  9. ^ Ingram. "Dominic Selwood (Interview, 11 February 2016)". Retrieved 4 March 2016.
  10. ^ Selwood, Dominic (5 November 2014). "Guy Fawkes, Islamists, converts, and terrorism: some things never change". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Magna Carta: Birth of Democracy or Historical Fantasy?". Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival" (PDF). Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  13. ^ "200 Years of the Elgin Collection". British Museum.
  14. ^ "Classicism and nationalism: the Greek body in Enlightenment Europe". British Museum. Retrieved 4 July 2016.
  15. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Articles".
  16. ^ "On this Day". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  17. ^ Coppen, Luke (23 May 2014). "Must Reads". The Catholic Herald.
  18. ^ "".
  19. ^ "Magna Carta". The Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for England and Wales. 20 June 2014.
  20. ^ Selwood, Dominic (27 April 2015). "If the Turin Shroud is the work of a medieval artist, it's one of the greatest artworks ever created". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  21. ^ Selwood, Dominic (6 September 2018). "Brexit has revived debate over the Elgin Marbles in Britain". The Independent.
  22. ^ Selwood, Dominic (December 2014). "Duel: should we return the Elgin marbles?". Prospect Magazine (225). Retrieved 13 November 2014.
  23. ^ Selwood, Dominic (24 April 2015). "What Catholic England would look like today". The Catholic Herald. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  24. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "On This Day". The Daily Telegraph. The Daily telegraph.
  25. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "On This Day". The Daily Telegraph. The Daily telegraph.
  26. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Geprge Formby". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  27. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Django Reinhardt". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  28. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Robert Johnson". The Daily Telegraph.
  29. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Mahalia Jackson". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  30. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Johnny Cash". The Daily telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  31. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Elvis Presley". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  32. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Jimi Hendrix". The Daily telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  33. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Lemmy was a national treasure – a unique collision of swing and amphetamines". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  34. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "John Bonham". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  35. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Lynyrd Skynyrd". The Daily Telgraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  36. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "The Sex Pistols". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  37. ^ "TV Expert".
  38. ^ "TV Expert".
  39. ^ Elgin Marbles. "Channel 4 News". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  40. ^ "Historian Dominic Selwood: 'These buildings are not paid for by income tax'". SkyNews. SkyNews.
  41. ^ "Reclaiming Halloween". SkyNews. Skynews.
  42. ^ "Secrets of the Railways". UKTV.
  43. ^ "Abandoned Engineering". UKTV.
  44. ^ "True Evil: The Making of a Nazi". UKTV.
  45. ^ "Forbidden History". UKTV.
  46. ^ "Trains that Changed the World". UKTV.
  47. ^ "Private Lives of the Monarchs". UKTV.
  48. ^ "World WarWeird". UKTV.
  49. ^ "Secrets of Great British Castles". Channel 5.
  50. ^ Secrets of the Bible (S1E4). "The Turin Shroud". American Heroes Channel.
  51. ^ Secrets of the Bible (S1E12). "The Holy Grail". American Heroes Channel.
  52. ^ Selwood, Dominic (18 February 2015). "How bad a guy was Richard III?". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  53. ^ University of Leicester. "DNA Results". University of Leicester. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  54. ^ Selwood, Dominic (21 March 2015). "Richard III: We're burying the wrong body". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  55. ^ Selwood, Dominic (27 November 2018). "How an exhibition is reviving Anglo-Saxon England: From fearless warriors to timeless jewels". The Independent.
  56. ^ Selwood, Dominic (23 May 2014). "How a Protestant spin machine hid the truth about the English Reformation". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  57. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Magna Carta trial: the barons' treason must be exposed". The Daily telegraph.
  58. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "". The Daily Telegraph. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  59. ^ Selwood, Dominic (22 January 2015). "Thomas Cromwell was the Islamic State of his Day". The Telegraph.
  60. ^ Selwood, Dominic (31 December 2013). "The dark, deep roots of Britain's fascination with witchcraft". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  61. ^ Selwood, Dominic (30 April 2014). "How Protestantism fuelled Europe's deadly witch craze". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  62. ^ Selwood, Dominic (27 April 2015). "If the Turin Shroud is the work of a medieval artist, it's one of the greatest artworks ever created". The Spectator. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  63. ^ Selwood, Dominic (21 October 2014). "Amal Clooney should back off. Lord Elgin was a hero who saved the marbles for the world". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  64. ^ Dominic Selwood and Vicky Pryce (13 November 2014). "Duel: should we return the Elgin marbles?". Prospect Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  65. ^ Selwood, Dominic (14 May 2015). "Greece knows there is no legal right to the Elgin Marbles - that's why it won't sue the UK". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 20 May 2015.
  66. ^ "Marbles Should Stay". Wadham College Oxford.
  67. ^ Selwood, Dominic (30 December 2016). "1,500 years ago - King Arthur's epic battle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  68. ^ Selwood, Dominic (8 October 2014). "A gutsy British Second World War hero – a woman, and a Muslim. Have you ever heard of her?". The Daily Telegraph.
  69. ^ Selwood, Dominic (6 June 2014). "The Spy Who Saved D-Day". The Daily Telegraph.
  70. ^ "These buildings are not paid for by income tax". Sky News.
  71. ^ Selwood, Dominic (18 April 2018). "The Cold War is over – and the Grey War has begun". The Spectator. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  72. ^ "Punctuation Without Tears by Dominic Selwood, book review: Puts simplicity and fun back into good writing". 11 August 2018.
  73. ^ Berman, Constance (July 2001). "Knights of the Cloister: Templars and Hospitallers in Central-Southern Occitania, c.1100-c.1300". Speculum. 76 (3): 793–795. doi:10.2307/2903949.
  74. ^ Nicholson, Helen (2000). "Knights of the Cloister. Templars and Hospitallers in Central-Southern Occitania, 1100–1300 Dominic Selwood". English Historical Review. 115 (463): 930–931. doi:10.1093/ehr/115.463.930.
  75. ^ Abulafia, David (October 2002). "Reviews of Books:Knights of the Cloister: Templars and Hospitallers in Central-Southern Occitania c.1100-c.1300 Dominic Selwood". American Historical Review. 107 (4): 1280–1281. doi:10.1086/532782.
  76. ^ Roberts, Scott. "Soldier Magazine (Official Magazine of the British Army)". Ministry of Defence.
  77. ^ Bilyeau, Nancy. "Dominic Selwood: Turning History Into Thrills". A Bloody Good Read.
  78. ^ "The Five Best Religious Thrillers of all Time". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  79. ^ Revelation. "British Film Institute". Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  80. ^ Selwood, Dominic. "Movies & TV". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  81. ^ "Revelation (1991)". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 November 2013.
  82. ^ Pelling, Nick. "Review of Dominic Selwood's "The Sword of Moses"…". Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  83. ^ Selwood, Dominic (30 December 2015). "CULTURE HOUSE DAILY Lemmy was a national treasure – a unique collision of swing and amphetamines". The Spectator. Retrieved 31 December 2015.

External links[edit]