Dr Matthew Rowley

Matthew RowleyContact Details


Personal Details

I received a PhD in early modern political and religious history from the University of Leicester. My thesis was entitled ‘Godly Violence: Military Providentialism in the Puritan Atlantic World, 1636–1676’. This study traced Puritan interpretations of providence in military victory over enemies in England, Ireland, Scotland and colonial America. I focused on how beliefs were created, sustained, contested, and occasionally dismantled. Though the focus was on theology and warfare, the work also touched on issues of identity, race, slavery, law, and the communal remembrance of the past. I have been tutoring in the history department at Leicester since 2014. Before undertaking historical research, I earned an MDiv and ThM from Bethlehem College and Seminary where I wrote a thesis on the imitation of biblical violence. I focused on how individuals and groups came to inhabit portions of scripture and then used that constructed framework to justify and describe killing. I am also a Research Associate at the Cambridge Institute on Religion & International Studies (Clare College, Cambridge) and a Non-Stipendiary Fellow at the Woolf Institute (Cambridge).

Research Interests

I am particularly interested in studying toxic and intoxicating mixtures of piety and politics. My research applies historical and theological analysis to issues of violence and conflict. I am currently planning a project in partnership with the Centre for the Study of Religion and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods (Nottingham Trent University). It focuses on ‘Miracles, Political Authority and Violence’ and an edited volume will likely be published by Routledge in their Themes in Medieval and Early Modern History series. Additionally, I am working on a project that makes primary sources related to the Protestant political tradition accessible to students and scholars.



‘Special issue on Religion, Hermeneutics and Violence’, Transformation 34.2 (2017): 77–163. Edited with Dr Emma Wild-Wood.

Book Chapter:

‘A New Theory of Just and Holy Warfare: The Complicated Case of Puritan Violence’, in Natasha Hodgson, John McCallum, Nicholas Morton and Amy Fuller (eds), Religion and Conflict in Medieval and Early Modern Worlds: Identities, Communities and Authorities (Routledge, forthcoming).

Selected Articles:

‘“All Pretend an Holy War:” Radical Beliefs and the Rejection of Persecution in the Mind of Roger Williams’, Review of Faith & International Affairs 15.2 (2017): 66–76.

‘Child Sacrifice, Conquest and Cosmic War: On the Harmful Habitation of Biblical Texts’ Transformation 34.2 (2017): 131–149.

‘Religion, Hermeneutics and Violence: An Introduction’, Transformation 34.2 (2017):77–90. Written with Dr Emma Wild-Wood.

‘How Should We Respond to Religious Violence? Fifteen Ways to Critique our own Thoughts’, Ethics in Brief 21.2 (2015): 1–8.

‘What Causes Religious Violence? Three Hundred Claimed Contributing Causes’, Journal of Religion and Violence 2 (2014): 361–402.

Selected Papers:

‘Justice with Holiness in seventeenth-century English warfare’. Paper given at the ‘Religion and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods’ conference at the Centre for the Study of Religion and Conflict in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods at Nottingham Trent University (13 July 2017)

‘From Children of Abraham to Seed of the Serpent: Changing Beliefs Concerning Native Americans Before and During King Philip’s War, 1620–1676’. Paper given at the ‘Violence and Millenarian Movements’ conference at the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (7 April 2017)

‘Civil Wolves: Theological Name-Calling in Peace and War’. Paper given for the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies, Clare College, Cambridge University (22 Feb 2017)

‘Righteously Bellicose: Toward a General Theory of Mental Habits in Conflict’. Paper given for the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies, Clare College, Cambridge University (23 Nov 2016)

‘The Pequot War and the 1629 Charter of Massachusetts Bay’. Paper given at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (3 Aug 2016)

‘A Perfect Storm for Toleration? Roger Williams’ Radical Protestantism as a Seedbed for Universal Toleration’. Paper given at the ‘Reconsidering Religious Radicalism’ conference at Clare College, Cambridge University (21 May 2016)

‘From Fratricide to Revival: The Creation and Evolution of a Theological War Slogan, 1642–1917’. Paper given at the Ecclesiastical History Society Postgraduate Colloquium at Magdalene College, Cambridge University (4 March 2016)

‘The Puritan Belief-Formation Process in Warfare’. Paper given at the ‘Beliefs Under Pressure: Religion, Community & Identity in the Early Modern World’ conference at the University of East Anglia (10 Sept 2015)

‘“Divine slaughter by the hand of the English”: Tools for Translating Divine Agency in the Pequot War’. Paper given at the ‘Annual Conference of the Ecclesiastical Historical Society’ at the University of York (29 July 2015)

‘Just and Holy Warfare: A New Paradigm for Understanding Sacred and Secular Motivations, Justifications and Descriptions’. Paper given at the Cambridge University Graduate Research Day Conference at Gonville & Caius College (8 May 2015)

‘“Thus God Will Scatter the Wicked”: The Blurred Relationship Between Divine and Human Agency in English Civil War Battle Flags’. Paper given at the Christianity and History Forum (16 April 2015)

‘“Waite and Yee Shall See the Salvation of God”: Using Biblical Miracle Claims to Understand Historical Violence and Reduce Modern Conflict’. Paper given at the ‘Cambridge University Violence and Conflict Workshop’ at Trinity College (18 Feb 2015)

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