School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Simon Mills

Lecturer in Early Modern History


I was awarded my Ph.D. at Queen Mary, University of London in 2009, and then held a series of research fellowships at the Council for British Research in the Levant, Amman; the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge; and the Dahlem Humanities Centre, Freie Universität Berlin. Between 2014 and 2017, I was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Kent. I joined the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology as a Teaching Fellow in British and European History in September 2017, and was appointed Lecturer in Early Modern History in 2019. 




Current Research

I am interested broadly in the cultural, religious, and intellectual history of Europe between around 1450 and 1800. My research examines the relationship between Europe and the Ottoman Empire; the histories of biblical and oriental studies; the history of philosophy; and 'intellectual geography' - that is, the attempt to understand how men and women in the past knew what they knew by tracing the circulation of books, manuscripts, or letters around the early modern world.

My first book A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship between England and the Ottoman Empire, c.1600–1760 (Oxford University Press, 2020) tells the story of three generations of Church of England chaplains who served the English Levant Company in Aleppo, Syria, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Reconstructing the careers of its protagonists in the cosmopolitan city of early modern Aleppo, the book investigates the links between English commercial and diplomatic expansion and the emergence of new fields of English scholarship: the study of Middle-Eastern languages; the exploration of biblical and Greco-Roman antiquities; and the early dissemination of Protestant literature in Arabic.

Recent grants from the Liselotte Kirchner-Stipendienprogramm, Halle, and the DAAD have enabled me to begin a new project, provisionally entitled 'The Protestant Orient'. Here, I plan to explore how the reformed churches in England and Germany responded to the successes of the Roman Catholic missions to North Africa and the Middle East by developing rival programmes of scholarship, printing, education, and mission.

Other interests include: 'sacred geography' in the eighteenth century; the study of Arabic in the early modern world; the intersections between commercial and intellectual life; and the teaching of philosophy in the eighteenth-century dissenting academies.    



Undergraduate Teaching

For 2019/20, I am module leader for:

HIS 3335 Europe and the Ottoman Empire, 1453-1798.

I also teach on: HIS 1030 Evidence and Argument; HIS 1027 Introduction to European History; HIS 1044 Aspects of British History; and supervise dissertations for HIS 3020 Writing History.

I am the Deputy Degree Programme Director for History (V100) and History and Politics (VL12). 


  • Mills S. A Commerce of Knowledge: Trade, Religion, and Scholarship between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1760. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020.
  • Mills S. Embassies, Trading Posts, Travellers, and Missionaries. In: Sonja Brentjes, ed. Routledge Handbook on Science in the Islamicate World: Practices From the 8th to the 19th Century. London: Routledge, 2021. Submitted.
  • Mills S, Merchán-Hamann C. The Huntington Collection. In: Rebecca Abrams and César Merchán-Hamann, ed. Jewish Treasures from Oxford Libraries. Oxford: Bodleian Library, 2020, pp.89-113.
  • Mills S. Reading Henry Maundrell’s Sacred Geography in Eighteenth-Century England and Germany. In: Tessa Whitehouse and N. H. Keeble, ed. Textual Transformations: Purposing and Repurposing Books from Richard Baxter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019, pp.210-226.
  • Mills Simon. Scholarship. In: William A. Pettigrew and David Veevers, ed. The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, c. 1550-1750. Leiden: Brill, 2018, pp.255-276.
  • Mills S. Learning Arabic in the Overseas Factories: The Case of the English. In: Jan Loop, Alastair Hamilton, Charles Burnett, ed. The Teaching and Learning of Arabic in Early Modern Europe. Leiden: Brill, 2017, pp.272–93.
  • Mills Simon. Scripture and Heresy in the Biblical Studies of Nathaniel Lardner, Joseph Priestley, and Thomas Belsham. In: Michael Ledger-Lomas and Scott Mandelbrote, ed. Dissent and the Bible in Britain, 1650–1950. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, pp.85–112.
  • Mills S. The English Chaplains at Aleppo: Exploration and Scholarship between England and the Ottoman Empire, 1620–1760. Bulletin for the Council for British Research in the Levant 2013, 60(1), 13–20.
  • Mills Simon. The Chaplains to the English Levant Company: Exploration and Biblical Scholarship in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century England. In: Judith Becker and Bettina Braun, ed. Die Begegnung mit Fremden und das Geschichtsbewusstsein. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012, pp.243–66.
  • Mills S, Burden M. Metaphysics, Pneumatology, and Philosophy of Mind. In: Isabel Rivers, ed. A History of the Dissenting Academies in the British Isles, 1660–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. In Preparation.
  • Mills S, Steers D. The Dissenting Academies and the Scottish Universities. In: Isabel Rivers, ed. A History of the Dissenting Academies in the British Isles, 1660–1860. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. In Preparation.