Dr Richard AllenBack to People

Department: Libraries and Archives
College appointment: College Archivist

Role in College

Richard manages the college’s rich archives collections, not only cataloguing them, but also answering enquiries about them, from both inside and outside Magdalen, and promoting them more widely. He also oversees the arrival of new accessions to the archives, be it transfers from offices within the college, or gifts from former members and others. He heads the Archives staff within the Library and Archives team, overseeing the work of the Assistant Archivist and the Wilson Project Archivist.


Prior to arriving at Magdalen, Richard was Archivist and Research Fellow at St Peter’s College, Oxford, and a Junior Research Fellow in Medieval History at St John’s College, Oxford. He has also held positions (both academic and otherwise) at the Université de Caen and the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Glasgow and a PGDip in Archives and Records Management from University College London.

Richard is an Associate Member of the History Faculty, and continues to present and publish regularly on his chosen specialism, the ecclesiastical history of northern France (in particular Normandy) in the High Middle Ages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Trustee of the Oxford Historical Society.

Research interests

Richard’s research concerns the ecclesiastical history of northern France in the High Middle Ages, with a particular focus on ducal Normandy (911–1204). He works primarily with charters and other such administrative records, and is particularly interested in what this material can reveal about the political, legal, economic and cultural circumstances of the societies in which it was produced. He has also published widely on topics ranging from ecclesiastical rivalry, through excommunication, the nature of episcopal power, the Cistercian abbey of Savigny, and the role of relics in the Middle Ages.

Recent publications

‘The chapel of St Catherine at the Cistercian abbey of Savigny: “unearthing” an architectural enigma’, The Antiquaries Journal, 103 (forthcoming, 2022/23)

‘Church and Society’, in The Cambridge Companion to the Age of William the Conqueror, ed. B. Pohl (Cambridge, 2022), pp. 98-117

‘Écrire l’histoire dans la Normandie cistercienne (XIIe-XIIIe siècle): un premier aperçu’, in Maîtriser le temps et façonner l’histoire. Les historiens normands au Moyen Âge, ed. F. Paquet (Caen, 2022), pp. 307-337

‘History, Memory, and Community in Cistercian Normandy (12th-13th Centuries)’, The Downside Review, 139 (2021), pp. 44–64

with B. Pohl, ‘Rewriting the Gesta Normannorum ducum in the Fifteenth Century: Simon de Plumetot’s Brevis cronica compendiosa ducum Normannie’, Traditio, 75 (2020), pp. 385–435

‘Les vacances de sièges épiscopaux en Normandie ducale puis royale (XIe-XIIIe siècles)’, Revue belge de Philologie et de Histoire, 97 (2019), pp. 397–414

‘Les chartes originales de Savigny des origines jusqu’au XIIIe siècle (1112–1202)’, in L’abbaye de Savigny (1112-2012). Un chef d’ordre anglo-normand, ed. V. Gazeau and B. Galbrun (Rennes, 2019), pp. 55-82