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School of History

Professor Kate Lowe

Professor of Renaissance History and Culture, and Co-director of the Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies (CREMS)



I obtained BA in History from Bedford College, University of London and a PhD in Combined Historical Studies from the Warburg Institute, University of London.

Prior to joining Queen Mary I taught at the Universities of Hong Kong, London, Cambridge, Birmingham and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

I have held research fellowships at I Tatti, Harvard University’s Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies, the National Humanities Centre in the US and the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies.

I am co-convenor of the research seminar at the IHR on late medieval and early modern Italian history.


Research Interests:

My research is centred on fifteenth and sixteenth-century Italy, but I am also interested in Renaissance Portugal. My current project concerns sub-Saharan Africans and African objects in Southern Europe between 1440 and 1650. Much of my previous research has been interdisciplinary in nature, and I am especially interested in history with a visual or material culture component. I am concurrently working on a project on the early life of the distinguished historian of Renaissance Florence, Nicolai Rubinstein (1911-2002), entitled ‘The intellectual and cultural formation of a refugee scholar: Nicolai Rubinstein between Germany, Italy and Britain, 1920s-1950s’.



Exhibition Catalogues

  • “Zwei Ansichten der Rua Nova dos Mercadores in Lissabon” (with Annemarie Jordan Gschwend), in Annemarie Jordan Gschwend and Johannes Beltz, eds., Elfenbeine aus Ceylon. Luxusgüter für Katharina von Habsburg (1507-1578) exh. cat. (Zurich, 2010), pp. 49-51, cat. 10a -10b
  • ‘The lives of African slaves and people of African descent in Europe during the Renaissance’, in Joaneath Spicer, ed., Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, exh. cat. (Baltimore: Walters Art Museum (link is external), 2012), pp. 12-33
  • ‘Visual representations of an elite: African ambassadors and rulers in Renaissance Europe’, in Joaneath Spicer, ed., Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe, exh. cat. (Baltimore: Walters Art Museum (link is external), 2012), pp. 98-115

Selected Journal Articles

  • ‘Questions of income and expenditure in Renaissance Rome: a case study of Cardinal Francesco Armellini’, Studies in Church History (link is external), 24 (1987), pp. 175-88
  • ‘Female strategies for success in a male-ordered world: the Benedictine convent of Le Murate in Florence in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries’, Studies in Church History (link is external), 27 (1990), pp. 209-21
  • ‘Patronage and territoriality in early sixteenth-century Florence’, Renaissance Studies (link is external), 7 (1993), pp. 258-71
  • ‘Franciscan and papal patronage at the Clarissan convent of S. Cosimato in Trastevere, 1440-1560’, Papers of the British School at Rome (link is external), 68 (2000), pp. 217-39
  • ‘Elections of abbesses and notions of identity in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy, with special reference to Venice’, Renaissance Quarterly (link is external), 54 (2001), pp. 389-429
  • ‘Artistic patronage at the Clarissan convent of S. Cosimato in Trastevere, 1400-1603’, Papers of the British School at Rome (link is external), 69 (2001), pp. 273-97
  • ‘An alternative account of the alleged Roman conspiracy of 1517’, Roma moderna e contemporanea: una rivista interdisciplinare di storia, 11 (2003), pp. 23-49
  • ‘Lorenza di Giovanni di Baldino (or dei Baldini) da Perugia’s narative of enclosure: the regularization of a third-order Franciscan house in Borgo San Sepolcro in 1500’(with James Banker), Analecta TOR, 179: 3-4 (2007), pp. 443-57 [edited text]
  • ‘“Representing” Africa: ambassadors and princes from Christian Africa to Renaissance Italy and Portugal, 1402-1608’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 17 (2007), pp. 101-28
  • ‘Black Africans’ religious and cultural assimilation to, or appropriation of, Catholicism in Italy, 1470-1520’, Renaissance and Reformation/Renaissance et réforme (link is external), 31: 2 (2008), pp. 67-86
  • ‘Female voice, male authority: a nun’s narrative of the regularization of a female Franciscan house in Borgo San Sepolcro in 1500’ (with James Banker), The Sixteenth Century Journal (link is external), 40: 3 (2009), pp. 651-77
  • ‘Africa in the News in Renaissance Italy: News Extracts from Portugal
  • about Western Africa Circulating in Northern and Central Italy in the 1480s and 1490s’, Italian Studies (link is external), 65: 3 (2010), pp. 310-28
  • ‘The global consequences of mistranslation: the adoption of the “black but …” formulation in Europe, 1440-1650’, Religions, 3 (2012), pp. 544-55
  • ‘Visible lives: black gondoliers and other black Africans in Renaissance Venice’, Renaissance Quarterly (link is external), 66:2 (2013)

Selected Book Chapters

Publications on Hong Kong and China

  • ‘Hong Kong, 26 January 1841: hoisting the flag revisited’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (link is external), Hong Kong Branch, 29 (1989), pp. 8-17
  • ‘Hong Kong’s missing history’, History Today (link is external), 41 (December 1991), pp. 8-10
  • ‘Sir John Pope Hennessy and “the native race craze”: the colonial government of Hong Kong, 1877-1882’ (with Eugene McLaughlin), The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History (link is external), 20 (1992), pp. 223-47
  • ‘“An El Dorado of riches and a place of unpunished crime”: the politics of penal reform in colonial Hong Kong, 1878-1881’ (with Eugene McLaughlin), Criminal Justice History: An International Annual, 14 (1993), pp. 57-89
  •  ‘Dollars and dim sum: merchandising Chinese history’, History Today (link is external), 45 (1995), pp. 6-8
  • ‘The creation of Hong Kong identity in the twentieth century (in readiness for its translation to the diaspora)’, in Maarit Leskelä ed., Outsiders and Insiders? Constructing Identities in an Integrating Europe (link is external) (Turku, 1999), pp. 234-54
  • ‘The beliefs, aspirations and methods of the first missionaries in British Hong Kong, 1841-5’, in Hugh McLeod ed., Missions and Missionaries (Woodbridge, 2000), pp. 50-64
  • ‘“Caution! The bread is poisoned”: The Hong Kong mass poisoning of January 1857’ (with Eugene McLaughlin), forthcoming Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 2014

Editorial Positions


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

  • Renaissance Italian history, especially cultural, social and religious history
  • Renaissance Portuguese history
  • Black Africans in Renaissance Europe
  • Nineteenth-century Hong Kong

Current PHD Students

  • Hannah Lee – Imprisoned Bodies: The Material Presence of the African figure in Venetian Domestic Furnishings, 1650-1750
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