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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Professor Joachim Whaley

Prof Jo Whaley
Emeritus Professor of German History and Thought
Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages & Linguistics
Contact details: 
Telephone number: 
+44 (0)1223 332454

Gonville and Caius College
CB2 1TA​



Joachim Whaley studied History at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He graduated in 1975 and became a Fellow of Christ’s in 1976. In 1978 he took up a Fellowship at Robinson College, before transferring to Gonville & Caius in 1987. He was appointed to a lectureship in the German Department, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages in 1980. In 2013 he was appointed Professor of German History and Thought.. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1984 and Fellow of the British Academy in 2015.

In 2010 Joachim Whaley was awarded a Pilkington Teaching Prize by the University of Cambridge for his outstanding teaching in German history, thought, and politics.


Teaching interests: 

Joachim Whaley teaches in the following fields:

  • German and European history from 1500 to the present 
  • the history of German political, social and cultural thought and German philosophy from 1500 to the present 
  • contemporary German politics 
  • Austrian history and politics in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries 
  • and the politics of European integration from 1945 to the present, with a particular interest in the role of Germany in Europe 

He has supervised dissertations on every aspect of these topics. Topics supervised recently are the role of Thomas Müntzer in the German Peasants’ War in 1525, the Reformation and Counter Reformation in Austria, the meanings of patriotism in the eighteenth century, music and German national identity in the nineteenth century, industry and politics in Nazi Germany, Swiss populism since 1945, the ramifications of the European financial crisis and the role of Germany in the European Union, German-Russian relations since 1990, and the rise of the Alternative für Deutschland.

He supervises essays and dissertations for various MPhil courses and his PhD students have worked on a wide range of topics from the eighteenth century to the present. Dr Whaley welcomes inquiries from potential MPhil and PhD students with research interests relevant to his interests.

In 2010 Joachim Whaley was awarded a Pilkington Teaching Prize by the University of Cambridge for his outstanding teaching in German history, thought, and politics.


Research interests: 

Joachim Whaley is an authority on German history, thought and culture from 1500 to the present day. He is the author of Religious Toleration and Social Change in Hamburg, 1529-1819 (Cambridge, 1985; German translation 1992) and the editor of Mirrors of Mortality: Studies in the Social History of Death (London, 1981; reissued as a Routledge Revival in 2011). He is the author of Germany and the Holy Roman Empire 1493-1806, 2 vols (Oxford University Press, 2012). This appeared in the Oxford History of Early Modern Europe series and covers virtually every aspect of German history from the reign of Maximilian I to the dissolution of the Reich in 1806. Both volumes have been translated into German and Chinese. A short one-volume survey of the history of the Holy Roman Empire from 800 to 1806 appeared in June 2018 (The Holy Roman Empire. A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press); a German version was published at the same time and a Chinese translation will appear in 2019. He has also published numerous articles, reviews and contributions to handbooks and lexicons of German history and literature in both English and German. Many of his articles have focused on the history of the Aufklärung or German Enlightenment and the reception of the thought of the Aufklärung in Germany to the present. He is co-editor of the Handbuch Frieden im Europa der Frühen Neuzeit published by de Gruyter in 2020 and co-editor of the journal German History. He is currently writing a history of the Germans from their beginnings to the Berlin Republic today.