Justin Champion
Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas


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Who am I

I currently teach in the History Department, Royal Holloway College, University of London. My research interests are focussed upon the history of ideas from the 1650s to the 1800s. Of particular interest are the lives and thought of Thomas Hobbes, Baruch Spinoza, Charles Blount, John Toland and Matthew Tindal.  My own ongoing research project is a history of the cultural crisis at the start of the eighteenth century (see Toland). I have a side interest in the history of epidemic disease in seventeenth century London. An online collection can be found at  epidemics . An interview I undertook as part of a drama-documentary based on some of this research can be found at  C4 Plague Fire Treason . Another programme on Radio 4 in the series Voices of the Powerless, recorded with Melvyn Bragg and the historian Paul Slack can be heard by using this link Plague


Royal Holloway Staff Cricket Team:

Double Victors 2003-2004 League and Cup







This academic year (2001-2002) I will be teaching a number of courses at undergraduate level. I am course leader for the Foundation Course History and Meanings which will be delivered in Term 2. I also teach the Gateway Course HS1107 Republics, kings and people: the foundations of European political thought from Plato to Rousseau. For access to this course please click  Republics

My final year special subject is Blasphemy and Irreligion in the Early English Enlightenment, c1650-1720, for details see  Group3 . For a sample of some of the sorts of material we may discuss visit this audio clip from my participation in the Radio4 programme The routes of English  Swearing


John Toland Nazarenus and other writings
(The Voltaire Foundation, 1999)
Voltaire Foundation

John Toland (1670-1722) was a central figure of the radical republic of letters that challenged the shibboleths of ancien regime discourses of monarchy and church in the early decades of the eighteenth century. A learned man tutored in four different universities Toland was intimate with leading political figures both in England and on the continent. Between 1695 and 1722 he produced a series of works ranging from folio editions of the works of the leading English republicans (Harrington, Sidney, Ludlow, Milton), through philosophically innovative Latin volumes and a wide range of more polemical and popular pamphlet literature. Nazarenus (1718) finally published towards the end of his life, but written and circulated clandestinely in the earlier 1700s, brings together many of Toland’s philosophical, literary and political accomplishments. In the text Toland popularised the radical biblical criticism of Hobbes, Spinoza and Simon attacking the certainty of the Christian canon by advancing the spiritual claims of the apocryphal Gospel of Barnabas. This edition reproduces both the early French manuscript and later English printed text, complete with a collation between the two versions. Building upon the foundation of his anti-scripturalism Toland deployed a series of assaults upon de jure divino accounts of both Church and State that is only matched in its radicalism by the contemporary manuscript Le traité des trois imposteurs. The introduction to the work sets out to contextualise the meaning of Nazarenus within the broader continental attack upon Christian culture paying specific attention to the different literary rhetorics adopted by Toland when writing in manuscript or in print. In the appendix, material relating to the composition and intellectual resources (correspondence, library catalogues and draft fragments) used by Toland are brought together for the first time.(back)


My most recent book is

Republican learning. John Toland and the crisis of Christian Culture, 1696-1722 (Manchester UP., 2003)

This volume explores the life, thought and political commitments of the free-thinker John Toland (1670-1722). Studying both his private archive and published works, it illustrates how Toland moved in both subversive and elite political circles in England and abroad. It explores the connections between his republican political thought and his irreligious belief about Christian doctrine, the ecclesiastical establishment and divine revelation, arguing that far from being a marginal and insignificant figure, Toland counted queens, princes and government ministers as his friends and political associates. In particular his intimate relationship with the Electress Sophia of Hanover saw him act as a court philosopher, but also as a powerful publicist for the Hanoverian succession. The book argues that Toland shaped the republican tradition after the Glorious Revolution into a practical and politically viable programme, focused not on destroying the monarchy, but on reforming public religion and the Church of England. The book also examines how Toland used his social intimacy with a wide circle of men and women (ranging from Prince Eugene of Savoy to Robert Harley) to distribute his ideas in private. It explores the connections between Toland's erudition and print culture, arguing that his intellectual project was aimed at compromising the authority of Christian "knowledge" as much as the political power of the Church. Overall the book illustrates how Toland's ideas and influence impacted upon English political life between the 1690s and the 1720s. It forms a study of a fascinating character in early modern history, and scholars and enthusiasts of the period should find it valuable.

For some useful sites exploring the history of ideas in the late seventeenth century see:

 apocrypha (Early Church Fathers)
 barnabas  (The Gospel of Barnabas online)
 Renaissance Forum (Early Modern Electronic Journal)
 BL MSS Catalogue
 Marsh's Library Dublin
 Gallica on-line texts from BN Paris
 The Voynich Manuscript
 Oxford Resources


Current and Past Research Students

There are a number of research students working under my direction: Craig Spence is completing a cultural and material study of 'accidents' in late seventeenth century London. Debbie Kepple is investigating the theology of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan (1651), with particular reference to his biblical citation. Vanessa McMahon has completed her study of gender, crime and narrative in the localities. Lee McNulty has completed his study of the culture and politics of anticlericalism in the localities. David Wilson has completed a study of Restoration libertinism with particular reference to the life and thought of Charles Blount. Eduardo Gasca is researching the intellectual and cultural contexts of the religious and ecclesiological thought of James Harrington. Sheila Seymour is examining the political and religious context to the trial of Thomas Rosewall. Nick Keene has completed his study of the complex history of biblical scholarship and criticism from Walton to Mill. Kris Josephs is working on the life and milieu of Lady Elizabeth Ranelagh. Simon Dixon has completed his study of Quaker communities in London after the Restoration. Delphine Doucet is working on the intellectual context to Jean Bodin's heterodox work. Alex Barber is working on the republic of letters and the Book trade in early eighteenth century England. Jeremy Schildt is working on ideas of the self, religious identity and writing in the seventeenth century. (back)

My publications include

                                            *The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: the Church of England and Its Enemies 1660-1730 (CUP, 1992)


                                            'Impostors, Legislators and Republicans: the English Context of treatise on imposture

                                             in the late seventeenth century' in S. Bert, F. Charles-Daubert, R.H. Popkin (eds)

                                            Heterodoxy and Irreligion in Early Modern Europe (Klewer, 1995) pp333-356


                                            'Relational Databases and the Great Plague 1665' History and Computing 5 (1993) pp2-12


                                            (ed) Epidemics in London from the Black Death to Cholera(CMH: London, 1993) pp 88.

                                            This volume is now available as a web publication at http://www.ihrinfo.ac.uk/cmh/epipre.html


                                            Epidemics and the Built environment in Stuart London' in Epidemics in London from the

                                             Black Death to Cholera (ed) J.A.I. Champion (1993) pp35-53.

                                             Online publication at http://www.ihrinfo.ac.uk/ihr/Focus/Medical/epichamp.html


                                            'Europe's Enlightenment and National Historiography: rethinking religion and

                                            revolution 1649-1789' Europa. Revue d'Histoire 0 (1993) pp73-93


'Religion after the Restoration' Historical Journal 36 (1993) pp423-430


                                            'Bibliography and Irreligion: Richard Smith's Observations' The Seventeenth Century 10 (1995) pp77-99.


'Philosophy, State and Government 1560-1750' 14 Parliamentary History (1995) pp187-198


                                            'A Careful and intent Reader: A review of J.Marshall Locke. Religion,

                                            Resistance and responsibility' The Locke Newsletter (1995) pp110-19


                                            *London's Dreaded Visitation. The Social Geography of the Great

                                            Plague of London, 1665 (Historical Geography Research Series 31, 1995) xiii, pp124


                                            'John Toland: the Politics of Pantheism' Revue d'Synthese 116 (1995)



                                            'Deism' in R.H. Popkin The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

                                            (Columbia University Press, 1998) pp.437-445


                                            'Law and the Conscience in seventeenth Century England' in J.P.S. McLaren,

                                            H.Coward (eds) Law the State and Religious Conscience

                                            (State University of New York, 1998) pp13-28.


'Apocrypha, Canon and Criticism from Samuel Fisher to John Toland 1660-1718'

in A.P. Coudert, S.Hutton, R.H. Popkin, G.M Weiner (eds) Judaeo-Christian

Intellectual Culture in the Seventeenth century (Klewer, 1999) pp91-117.


                                            'Richard Simon and Biblical Criticism in Restoration England' in

                                            J.Force, D. Katz (eds) Every thing Connects (Brill, 1999) pp37-61.


                    ‘Acceptable to inquisitive men: some Simonian contexts for Newton’s

                    biblical criticism, 1680-1692’ in J. Force, R.H. Popkin (eds) Newton

                    and Religion (Klewer, 1999) pp.77-96


                                                          ‘Publié mais non imprimés. John Toland et le circulation des

                                            manuscripts, 1700-1722’ in  La Lettre Clandestine 7 (1998)



                                            *John Toland's Nazarenus 1718 (The Voltaire Foundation, 1999)

                                            ppviii, 334.


                                            ‘Respublica Mosaica: John Toland and the Naturalisation of the Jews, 1714’

                                            in R. Porter, O. Grell (eds) Toleration in Enlightenment Europe (Cambridge, 1999) pp.133-156


                                            ‘”Manuscripts of mine abroad”: John Toland and the circulation of

                                            ideas, 1700-1722’ Eighteenth Century Ireland 14 (1999) pp.9-36.


                                            ‘Making authority: belief, conviction and reason in the public sphere

                                            in late seventeenth century England’ in Libertinage et Philosophie au

                                            XVII siecle 3 (1999) pp. 143-190


                                            To govern is to make subjects believe’: anticlericalism, politics and

                                            power, c1680-1717’ in N. Aston (ed) Anticlericalism in Early

                                            Modern Britain (Alan Sutton, 2000) pp.42-66.


                                            ‘“Religion’s safe, with priestcraft is the war” Augustan

                                            anticlericalism and the legacy of the English revolution, 1660-1720’

                                            The European Legacy 5 (2000) pp.547-561.


                                            ‘Ecrasez l’infame: religion and Enlightenment. A review essay’ in

                                            The British Journal for the History of Philosophy 8 (2000)



                                            “Cultura sovversiva: erudizione e polemica nel l’amyntor canonicus

                                            di Toland, c1698-1726’ in A. Santucci Filosofia e cultura nel

                                            settecento britannico  (Bologna, 2000) pp343-370


'Between, belief, authority and practice: radicalism and revolution 1649-1789'

in N. Smith (ed) Radicalism in British Literary Culture, 1650-1830

(Cambridge, 2001) pp29-44, 220-226


                                            ‘Making Authority: print, law and the hidden transcript’ (with Lee

                                            McNulty) M. Braddick, J. Walters (ed) Social Authority and the State

                                            1600-1750 (Cambridge, 2001) pp.227-248, 302-305


                                            ‘John Toland and the politics of Celtic Learning, 1717-1720’ Irish

                                            Historical Studies 32 (2001) pp.321-342.


                                            ‘The men of matter: spirits, matter and the politics of priestcraft,

                                            1701-1709’ in G. Paganini, M. Benitez, A. Mckenna (eds)

                                            Clandestine Literature and Materialism in the Enlightenment (Henry

                                            Champion, Paris, 2002) pp.115-150.


                                        ''Le culte prive quand il est rendu dans le secret': Hobbes, Locke et les

                                        limites de la tolerence, l'atheisme et l'heterodoxie'. in Les fondements

                                        philosophiques de la tolerence volume 1, (eds) Y. Charles

                                           Zarka, F. Lessay and J. Rogers. (Paris, 2002) pp. 221-253.


                                            ‘Political Thinking between the Restoration and the Hanoverian

                                             Sucession’ B.Coward (ed) The Blackwell Companion to Early

                                            Modern History (2003) pp.474-492


                                            ‘Seeing the past: Simon Schama’s A History of Britain’

                                            Reviews in History December 2002, see



                    *Republican Learning: John Toland and the crisis of Christian

                    culture, c1696-1722 (Manchester University Press 2003)


                    ‘The man who fell to earth’ BBC History Magazine September

                    2003, pp. 34-37


                                            ‘Seeing the past: Simon Schama’s A History of Britain’

                                                          History workshop Journal 56 (2003) pp.153-174


                                                          ‘To know the edition’: erudition and polemic in eighteenth century

                                            clerical culture’ in D. Hayton, M. McCarthy (eds) The making of

                                            Marsh’s Library (Dublin, 2004) pp.117-145


                                            ‘Benjamin Furly’s books’ in S. Hutton (ed) Benjamin Furly and his

                                            world (Brill, 2005)


                                            ‘Most truly a protestant’: reading Bayle in England, 1698-1722’ in A.

                                            McKenna, G. Paganini (ed) Pierre Bayle, religion, critique,

                                            Philosophie (Paris, 2003)


‘“Anglia libera”: commonwealth politics in the early years of George I.’

in D. Womersley (ed) Cultures of Whiggism (University of Delaware Press, 2005)