Faculty Profiles

faculty photo imageMichael P. Breen

Professor of History and Humanities
History Department
Division of History and Social Sciences

Michael P. Breen is a specialist of early modern French & European social, political, and cultural history. His first book, Law, City, and King: Legal Culture, Municipal Politics, and State Formation in Early Modern Dijon (University of Rochester Press, 2007) examined how the political activities and consciousness of the barristers (avocats) who dominated local governance in an early modern provincial capital evolved in response to the expansion of the royal state. He is currently working on Law and Society in Medieval & Early Modern Europe (under contract with Cambridge University Press), which examines how and why law and legalism came to be foundations of the European social order, rivaling and even surpassing religion. Law and Society examines not only development of the legal professions and their crucial role in transforming European politics, culture, and society, but also law's evolution as a set of social, cultural, and institutional practices shaped by the ordinary men and women who increasingly utilized it in their daily lives. In addition to this research, Prof. Breen is also studying the épreuve du congrès, a controversial medico-legal procedure French Church courts used to adjudicate marital annulment suits in the late medieval and early modern periods. Articles based on this research have appeared or are forthcoming in the Annales de Bourgogne, Genre et Histoire, and the Journal of Modern History. Professor Breen has received numerous fellowships, including an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, an NEH Summer Stipend, and grants from the American Philosophical Society and Folger Shakespeare Library. He has also been an Invited Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and has served on the editorial boards of French Historical Studies and Histoire, Économie, et Société. In July 2021, Prof. Breen assumed the role of Editor-in-Chief of H-France (www.h-france.net), the largest scholarly organization for the interdisciplinary study of Francophone history and culture in the Anglophone world.

History Department webpage

More faculty profiles