Dr Julie Barrau

Photo of Dr Julie Barrau

BA, MA, Doctorat (Paris-Sorbonne)

Official Fellow; Director of Studies in History
University Senior Lecturer in Medieval British History


I read history at the École Normale Supérieure and at Paris-Sorbonne University. I started to work on 12th-century England for my MA dissertation and continued in this area for my PhD. After a year spent at Trinity College on a Knox scholarship, I was a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College between 2006 and 2009. In 2009 I became Lecturer in medieval history at the University of East Anglia. I came back to Cambridge in 2013 to take up a University Lectureship in Medieval British History. I am also back at Emmanuel College as a Fellow.

Teaching Interests

I lecture for Paper 3, Paper 8 and Paper 15, and contribute to the MPhil in Medieval History. My current Special Subject is about the Angevin Empire. I am also the convenor for the Themes and Sources option on Royal and Princely Courts.

I am happy to supervise for Papers 3, 8, 14 and 15.


My doctoral research focused on the uses medieval clerics made of the Bible in their social life, and aimed to understand better the status and power given to those men by their scriptural knowledge.

More broadly I am interested in the social and political role of high knowledge in medieval societies. I have for instance worked on Latin as a spoken language, especially in the trilingual context of Plantagenet England. Current research interests include the varied ways educated people could familiarise themselves with the Bible and its meaning, the political legacy of Thomas Becket in the later Middle Ages, and the letter-collection of Herbert of Bosham, who was a biblical scholar and the closest advisor of Becket during his exile in France.


Bible, lettres et politique. L’Écriture au service des hommes à l’époque de Thomas Becket (Paris, 2013).

'Gilbert Foliot et l’Écriture, un exégète en politique', Anglo-Norman studies, 27 (2005), pp. 16-31.

'Jean de Salisbury, intermédiaire entre Thomas Becket et la cour capétienne ?', in Plantagenêts et Capétiens: confrontations et héritages, ed. M. Aurell and N.-Y. Tonnerre (Turnhout, 2006), pp. 505-516.

'Ceci n’est pas un miroir, ou le Policraticus de Jean de Salisbury', in Le Prince au miroir de la littérature politique de l’Antiquité aux Lumières, ed. F. Lachaud and L. Scordia (Rouen, 2007), pp. 87-111.

'La conversio de Jean de Salisbury: la Bible au service de Thomas Becket', Cahiers de civilisation médiévale, 50 (2007), pp. 229-244.

'Semper, nisi cum necessitas aliter te cogit, latine loquere’: 12th-century examples of the challenge of speaking Latin', in Epilanguages. Beyond Idioms and Languages, ed. P. Hummel (Paris, 2010), pp. 9-20.

'De l’Irlande au collège des Bernardins ? Etienne de Lexington et la réforme des maisons cisterciennes irlandaises (1228-1245)', in Universitas scolarium. Mélanges offerts à Jacques Verger par ses anciens étudiants, ed. C. Giraud and M. Morard (Paris, 2011), pp. 151-170.

'Did medieval monks actually speak Latin?', in Monastic Practices of Oral Communication (Western Europe, Eleventh-Thirteenth Centuries), ed. S. Vanderputten (Turnhout, 2011), pp. 293-317.

‘Sibyls, Tanners and Leper Kings: Taking Notes from and about the Bible in Twelfth-Century England’, in Reading the Bible in the Early Middle Ages, ed. D. Kempf and J. Nelson, (Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 119-146.

‘John of Salisbury as ecclesiastical administrator’, in A Companion to John of Salisbury, ed. C. Grellard and F. Lachaud, (Leyden, 2015), pp. 105-144.

‘From Conquest to commonwealth: Cross-Channel circulation of biblical culture in the Anglo-Norman world’, Anglo-Norman Studies, 39 (2017), pp. 11-25.