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School of History

Dr Bert Carlstrom


Lecturer in Medieval Mediterranean



As a historian, I'm interested in questions of religion, race, identity, and meaning making. I'm particularly interested in how ideas of identity and meaning making are shaped, consciously and unconsciously, through encounters with difference. My research has focused on the long trialogue between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam especially in late medieval Iberia, but I am also deeply interested in the experiences of indigenous Americans and Africans in the early Atlantic world.

I received my BA in History and Spanish from the University of Montana (Missoula), and my MA in Medieval History from the University of Liverpool. I completed my PhD in 2021 from Queen Mary, with the supervision of Miri Rubin and Rosa Vidal Doval. I've taught in the School first as a TA and now as a Lecturer since 2018. I teach on medieval and early modern Europe modules, as well modules in medieval Islamic history.


Research Interests:

My current project stems from my doctoral research. The project focuses on the Church’s treatment of ‘New Christians’ (coercively baptised Jews and Muslims) in the kingdom of Castile from 1470-1515. I analyse instruments of religious instruction to understand the Church’s approach to New Christians and, more importantly, in order to understand how engagement with New Christians implicitly or explicitly transformed ecclesiastical agents’ definitions of Christianity. I demonstrate that engagement with New Christians did transform these definitions. I further argue that any definition of religion during this period must be broadly understood as encompassing not just points of doctrine but also the built, visual, and aural environment, as well as modes of communal and individual contact, including attire, foodways, occupation, and even movement. My analysis is built on ecclesiastical records—especially records of Church councils—as well as catechisms, liturgies, devotional art, music, and sermons composed in Latin, Castilian, and Arabic. I place the distinctive developments within the larger history of the multi-faceted reform of the Church in this period.

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