School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Luc Racaut

Lecturer in History


Publications profile


The Influence of European Wars of Religion on English National Identity

The body in pain and tales of redemption and damnation during the wars of religion

Interview for the European University of Britanny web radio on 'the world inside out'


B.A., History Single Honours, May 1992, University of Sheffield
M.Phil., History, May 1995, University of Sheffield
Ph.D., History, May 1999, University of St Andrews

Previous Positions

Lecturer in History, Crichton Campus of the University of Glasgow, 2000-03


Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Society for the Study of French History
European Reformation Research Group


French, Spanish (reading)



Research Interests

Luc Racaut has published extensively in the field of the history of printing and religious reform during the French Wars of Religion. His most recent publications outline how Catholic reform was pursued in print in general and the role that printers played in particular. Demand for vitriolic material discouraged printers from producing works devoted to more progressive aims such as the instruction of the literate laity. In this respect the burgeoning market for printed books served as a brake on the Catholic Reformation in France that was otherwise served by prolific and successful authors.

Current Work

The body in pain, in late medieval representations of the passion and public executions, served a didactic function and followed a code that was well understood. Wounds were liminal places not simply between the inside and the outside, but between the corporeal and the spiritual. The stigmata received by St Francis was a visible sign of his imitation of Christ, an outward sign of his inner election. In an inversion of this ‘sacred woundedness’, the perpetrators of violence on the bodies of heretics during the wars of religion were looking for visible signs of damnation or corruption inside their bodies - literally - worlds inside out. By the end of the sixteenth century the namelessness of the victims of massacres, and the shapelessness of their bodies, could no longer be reconciled with tales of individual martyrs that had featured in Protestant martyrologies to that point.

Future Research

It remains to be established how early modern perceptions of the body fit in the wider context of the development of personhood and individualism which seem to characterize contemporary identity. This question flows into a much wider debate in the historiography about the role of material culture in shaping identity and one's sense of self.


In 2009 Luc Racaut was the recipient of a British Academy small research grant which allowed for a research assistant to be employed full time for 6 months to work on the 'World Inside Out' project. This project was further funded by the British Academy and the Northern Centre for the History of Medicine in 2010-11.