God, Caesar and Robin Hood: How the Middle Ages were Built


Dr Simon Thurley is a leading architectural historian, a regular broadcaster on television and radio and is the Chief Executive of English Heritage, the Government’s principal advisor on the historic environment in England.

In 2010 and 2011, Dr.Thurley served as the Visiting Professor of the Built Environment at Gresham College, and gave a series of lectures entitled God, Caesar and Robin Hood: How the Middle Ages were Built. The English Middle Ages saw the construction of some of the world’s greatest buildings, structures that still shape our towns, cities and countryside and mould our national identity. These four lectures give a controversial new view of how medieval England was built starting with the departure of the Romans and ending with the Reformation.

Making England: The Shadow of Rome, 410-1130
Given on November 3, 2010

When the English nation rose out of the ruins of the Roman Province of Britannia, people remained obsessed with their Roman past. Seismic social and political change in 1066 barely upset the vision of patrons and architects and Rome remained England’s cultural capital driving the imagination of its architects.

A New Jerusalem: Reaching for Heaven, 1130-1300
Given on December 1, 2010

During the thirteenth century Jerusalem surplanted Rome as the inspiration for English architecture. Huge national wealth led to an outburst of building of great creativity and individuality. The new gothic style which emerged by the 1220s was a national style for England creating some of the most remarkable buildings in European history. This is a part if the series of lectures, God, Caesar and Robin Hood: How the Middle Ages were Built: The English Middle Ages saw the construction of some of the world’s greatest buildings, structures that still shape our towns, cities and countryside and mould our national identity.

How the Middle Ages were Built: Exuberance to Crisis, 1300-1408
Given on March 23, 2011

England’s economic success peaked in 1300 amidst a riot of architectural excess and was followed by a series of disasters which lasted much of the fourteenth century. Yet against a catastrophic background English architectural individualism flourished and out of radically changed social structures an architectural consensus emerged.

How the Middle Ages were Built: Coming of Age, 1408-1530
Given on April 13, 2011

Against a background of political instability architectural initiative was captured by a new class of patrons who built in a style that expressed confidence in their worldly position and fear of the afterlife. On the very eve of the Reformation English architecture had reached a perfection that was to be destroyed by Henry VIII and new world order.

Sharan Newman