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Dr Mark Bryant

Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History | +44 (0) 1243 816214

Dr Mark Bryant

Dr Mark Bryant, BA Hons, PhD (London)

My research focuses on early modern France and in particular the reign of Louis XIV, 1643-1715. He is traditionally credited with having transformed France into a centralized proto-modern state, but now this period is being reconceptualized as historians dissect the second half of the Sun King’s ‘personal rule’. Hitherto this period of defeat and disaster, 1680-1715, had been neglected by specialists and overlooked by revisionists, but it in fact provided the supreme test of Louis XIV’s government. Envied across the globe during the successful initial phases when Versailles was constructed and glorious wars prosecuted, France was then supremely tested yet somehow managed to survive a series of seemingly insurmountable political, military, subsistence, financial, religious, succession and constitutional crises and flourished after Louis’ demise.

My research investigates these events and the individuals involved better to understand the seemingly durable system of government that Louis XIV created. I am currently completing a monograph assessing the powerful influence exerted by Louis’ secret wife and confidante, Mme de Maintenon, 1669-1715, and articles investigating the ecclesiastical controversies surrounding Quietism and Jansenism, 1687-1715, that severely undermined the King’s supposedly ‘absolute’ authority. Other ongoing projects include relations between the Franco-Spanish Bourbon courts, 1700-15, the military imbroglio of 1708, the power of public opinion, 1685-1715, and attitudes to women and gender. In light of ongoing historiographical developments I recently organized an international conference on The Dynamics of Power in Early Modern France: Collaboration, Coercion and Conflict, the papers from which will be published in a co-edited collection.

Teaching (Undergraduate)

  • Torture to Terror: European Order & Repression, 1492-1792
  • Stuart England, 1603-88: Rebellion, Restoration & Revolution
  • Enlightenment Europe, 1688-1789
  • Louis XIV’s France, 1643-1715
  • Vice to Virtue? The Origins & Outcomes of the French Revolution, 1744-1794
  • Postgraduate supervision

Scholarly Activities


External examiner for the history undergraduate programme at the University of Kingston (from 2010)

Fellowships and Societies

  • Member of the ‘Western Society for the Study of French History’
  • Member of ‘French Historical Studies’
  • Member of the Institute of Historical Research


Recent publications

Sharing the Burdens of Monarchy: Louis XIV & Mme de Maintenon, 1669-1715 (Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer, Forthcoming)

Review Essay ‘H-France’ (2008) on E. Corp, A Court in Exile: The Stuarts in France, 1689-1718 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) at:

“Partner, Matriarch & Minister - The Unofficial Consort: Mme de Maintenon, 1680-1715”, in C.C. Orr ed., Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815: The Role of the Consort (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Recent Conference Papers (2011-2000)

“Contacts & Sponsors, Protégés & Parasites: Mme de Maintenon’s Clientage-Patronage Network, 1652-1715” paper delivered at ‘The Andrew Lossky Memorial Panel’ I organized at W.S.S.F.H. Annual Conference: The Mechanics of Power Networks in Early Modern France with Professors Sharon Kettering, Greg Monahan & Professor Sara Chapman (USA: University of Colorado, October 2009)

“The Personal Misrule of Louis XIV, 1691-1715?” paper delivered at international conference I organized The Dynamics of Power in Early Modern France: Collaboration, Coercion, Conflict sponsored by the ‘Society for the Study of French History’ & the Institute of Historical Research (London: Institute of Historical Research, July 2009)

“The Private Life of Louis XIV” seminar paper as part of Round Table Discussion in Honour of Dr Roger Mettam with Professor Jim Collins (Georgetown): “Reappraising Absolutism” & Profesor Stuart Carroll (York): “The Nobility & the State in C17th France” (London: Institute of Historical Research, May 2009)

“The Phantom Menace? Louis XIV, Mme de Maintenon, the Cardinal de Noailles & the Jansenist Crisis, 1698-1715” paper delivered to W.S.S.F.H. Annual Conference (Canada: Québec, 2008)

“Spiritual & Political Torrents? The Quietist Controversy, 1689-99” seminar paper  - an extended one hour version of the 20 minute conference paper below (London: Institute of Historical Research, 2007)

“The Quietist Affair, 1689-99” paper delivered to the ‘Society for French Studies’ Annual Conference (UK: Sussex, 2006)

“The Political Impact of Mme de Maintenon at Louis XIV’s Court, 1700-1715” paper delivered to the ‘Society for French Studies’ Annual Conference (Manchester, 2001

Book Reviews

T.L.S. (2002), French History (2003 & 2007), English Historical Review (2008 & 2009).

PHD Supervision

I am interested in supervising MPhil and PhD students exploring early modern French history c.1650-1750 with a particular focus on political, religious and court culture, international relations, patriarchy and gender.