Robert Nicholas Portass


François Chevalier Fellow

Robert Portass studied at the University of Oxford (BA Hons; DPhil) and the University of Santiago de Compostela (Diploma of Advanced Studies). Since 2014 he has been a Senior Lecturer at the University of Lincoln, UK. In 2017-18 he was Visiting Fellow at King's College, Cambridge. His work, which has received funding from the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust and the Economic History Society, focuses on the social and economic history of medieval Iberia. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and has participated in numerous research projects in the UK and Spain. His work has appeared in prestigious scientific journals and he is currently completing his second monographic book.



The research project I propose to carry out with the help of a François Chevalier grant focuses on one of the least known aspects of medieval society: the crucial role played by peasants and individuals of modest status in the development of the 'land market'.

The main objective is to undertake a comparative analysis of land market dynamics in societies characterised by different socio-cultural and religious practices and institutions of different character. For a project of this scale, the Iberian peninsula in medieval times offers a perfect framework for analysis because it was populated by a diverse range of people, who have left us a large number of documents. This project will provide an innovative contribution to our understanding of the origins and development of the land market through a thorough analysis of documents written in Latin and Arabic. In doing so, the project will shed new light on local patterns of transactions, and the underlying social dynamics.



- 2023. “Peasant Proprietors, Social Mobility and Risk Aversion in the early Middle Ages: an Iberian Case Study”, Social History, 48.2, pp. 185-213.

- 2022. “Peasants, Market Exchange and Economic Agency in North-Western Christian Iberia, c.850-1050”, Past and Present, 255, pp. 5-37.

- 2020. “Early Medieval Spain, 800-1100: The Christian Kingdoms and al-Andalus”, in S. Mossman (ed.), Debating Medieval Europe, I: The Post-Roman World, Manchester, Manchester University Press, pp. 176-225.

- 2017. The Village World of Early Medieval Northern Spain: Local Community and the Land Market, Woodbridge, Boydell and Brewer.

- 2017. “The Middling Sort at Court in Early Medieval Iberia”, al-Masaq: Journal of the Medieval Mediterranean, 29.2, pp. 99-114.