I was born in St Petersburg, Russia and began my university career at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he pursued two concurrent degrees in History and Violin Performance. I received my PhD in Medieval History from the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto (2008). Before joining Stirling in 2018, I spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Economic Growth Center, at Yale University (2008-10), three years as a Mellon Fellow and faculty lecturer at McGill University, Montreal (2010-3) and five years as a lecturer and then senior lecturer at the University of Kent (2013-8).
When outside a classroom or his office, I enjoy listening to and playing music (be it Classical, Jazz, Rock or Folk), tasting ales and whiskies (the more obscure the better), cooking, and hiking (the further away from 'Civilization' the better). I love languages and have always been attracted to their beauty, written or spoken.
My scientific creed and research interests
Rather than seeing myself as an historian in the ‘traditional’ sense, I view myself as a ‘scientist of the past’, trained to work across disciplines and collaborate with colleagues in sciences, to promote a unified knowledge and science of the past. In my research, I use historical knowledge as a powerful tool to understand some of the most important issues and challenges that the human race and its wider bio-ecological environment face today.
My principle research interests fall into two main categories. Firstly, I am interested in the history of natural environment, economy, health, and society of the late-medieval world, with a particular focus on the British Isles within the wider North Atlantic context, and Central Asia within the wider Eurasian context. My first monograph Bread and Ale for the Brethren: The Provisioning of Norwich Cathedral Priory, c.1260-1536 (2012) offers a re-interpretation of the decline of feudal system in England, through the prism of food production and consumption by local landlords. My second monograph Experiencing Famine: A Fourteenth-Century Environmental Shock in the British Isles , recently published with Brepols, examines the Great European Famine of 1315-17 (arguably the single worst subsistence crisis in Europe in the last two millennia) as a case-study to answer the most pressing question ‘What creates famine?’ In addition, I have authored (and in some cases co-authored) 34 articles on various topics related to environmental, economic and social history of late-medieval world.
Secondly, in recent years I have expanded my interests in these topics to a global ‘deep history’ perspective, all the way from early hunters-gatherers to our contemporary world. These topics are among the most pressing and complex socio-economic, environmental and political issues that scientists, NGOs and policy makers are struggling with today. Before these issues can be solved, we need a better understanding of their determinants and dynamics in a long-run historical context. I am currently working on two large-scale monograph projects. The one will examine the historical roots of global economic inequality, in a very long run. It argues that we cannot fully appreciate the phenomenon of global economic inequality, unless we study the development of socio-economic and cultural institutions from a ‘deep history’ perspective, which follows this development from early hunter-gatherer societies to our contemporary world. The other monograph is a global history of the single most notorious killer: plague - all the way from the Late Neolithic Period until sporadic outbreaks in the 21st century. This book, too, takes a deep history perspective, to answer some most pressing questions related to the phenomenon of ‘emerging diseases’, such as ‘What makes some diseases so deadly?’ ‘What is the relationship between emerging diseases and a wider bio-ecological and climatic environment?’ ‘What makes those diseases fade and disappear – or, by contrast – re-emerge again?’
I welcome enquiries from prospective research students interested in the environmental, economic, social and medical history of late-medieval and early modern British Isles and other parts of the European and North Atlantic world.
a. Published books
Bread and Ale for the Brethren: The Provisioning of Norwich Cathedral Priory, c.1260-1536 (University of Hertfordshire Press, 2012) ISBN 978-1-907396-62-5
Experiencing Famine: A Fourteenth-Century Environmental Shock in the British Isles (Brepols, 2019)
- New Environmental History of Pre-Industrial Europe (a two-volume series being co-edited with Timothy P. Newfield, under contract with Brill, to be published between 2019-20)
Articles in scholarly journals and essays in books
a. Forthcoming (final version, accepted for publication)
‘Mites and Merchants: Mites and Merchants: The Crisis of English Wool and Textile Trade Revisited, c.1275-1330,’ Economic History Review
‘Climate, Pathogens and Mammals: England in the Age of Emerging Diseases, c.1279-1362’, in Routledge Handbook of Rural Life in Medieval Europe, ca. 1050 to 1550, ed. Miriam Muller (London: Routledge, 2020)
‘Land Produce [in Europe between 1000 and 1350],’ in New Environmental History of Pre-Industrial Europe Vol. 2 (1000-1350), eds. Timothy P. Newfield and Philip Slavin (Leiden: Brill, 2019)
‘Mammals [in Europe between 1000 and 1350],’ in New Environmental History of Pre-Industrial Europe Vol. 2 (1000-1350), eds. Timothy P. Newfield and Philip Slavin (Leiden: Brill, 2019)
'Death by the Lake: Mortality Crisis in Early Fourteenth-Century Central Asia,’ Journal of Interdisciplinary History 50 (2019), 59-90
‘The 1310s Event’, in Palgrave Handbook of Climate History, eds. Christian Pfister, Franz Mauelshagen and Sam White (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), pp. 495-515
‘The Preacher in the Rye: Allegory and Reality of Rural Life in Middle English Sermons,’ in From Learning to Love: Essays on Medieval Pastoral Care, Law and Schools in Honour of Joseph W. Goering, ed. Tristan Sharp with the collaboration of Isabelle Cochelin, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, Abigail Firey and Giulio Silano (Toronto: PIMS, 2017), pp. 492-514
‘Epizootic Landscapes: Sheep Scab and Regional Environment in England in 1279-1280’ Landscapes 17 (2016), 156-70
(with 31 co-authors), ‘The 1430s: A Cold Period of Extraordinary Climate Variability during the Early Spörer Minimum with Social and Economic Impacts in North-Western and Central Europe’, Climate of the Past 12 (2016), 2017-26
(with Helen Nicholson) ‘The Real Da Vinci Code’: The Accounts of Templars’ Estates in England and Wales during the Suppression of the Order,’ in Templars, their Sources and their Competitors, 1119-1314, Crusades Subsidia Series, ed. Karl Borchardt (Ashgate: Farnham, 2016), pp. 233-46
(with Patrick Mahoney, Christopher W. Schmidt, Chris Deter, Ashley Remy, Sarah Johns, Justyna J. Miszkiewicz and Pia Nystrom), ‘Deciduous Enamel 3D Microwear Texture Analysis as an Indicator of Childhood Diet in Medieval Canterbury, England.’ Journal of Archaeological Science 66 (2016), 128-36
‘Climate and Famines: a Historical Reassessment.’ WIRES Climate Change 7 (2016), 433-47
‘The Fate of the Former Templar Estates in England, 1308-1330.’ Crusades 14 (2015), 209-35
‘‘Flogging a Dead Cow: Coping with Animal Panzootics on the Eve of the Black Death,’ in Coping with Crisis: Re-Evaluating the Role of Crises in Economic and Social History, eds. Alex Brown, Andy Burn and Rob Doherty (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2015), pp. 111-35
‘Peasant Livestock Husbandry in Late-Thirteenth-Century Suffolk: Economy, Environment and Society,’ in Peasants and Lords in Medieval English Economy: Essays in Honour of Bruce M.S. Campbell, eds. Maryanne Kowaleski, John Langdon and Phillipp R. Schofield (Turnhout: Brepols, 2015), pp. 3-26
‘Ecology, Warfare and Famine in Early Fourteenth-Century British Isles: A Small Prolegomenon to a Big Topic.’ In Guerra y carestía en la Edad Media, ed. Pere Benito i Monclús (Lleida: Milenio, 2015), pp. 85-99
‘Warfare and Ecological Destruction in Early Fourteenth-century British Isles.’ Environmental History 19 (2014), 528-50
‘Market Failure during the Great Famine in England and Wales (1315-7): Towards the
Re-Assessment of the Institutional Side of the Crisis.’ Past and Present, no. 222 (February 2014), pp. 9-49
‘Landed Estates of the Knights Templar in England and Wales and Their Management in the Early Fourteenth Century.’ Journal of Historical Geography 42 (2013), 36-49
(with Sharon DeWitte) ‘Between Famine and Death. Physiological Stress and Dairy Deficiency in England on the Eve of the Black Death (1315-50): New Evidence from Paleoepidemiology and Manorial Accounts.’ Journal of Interdisciplinary History 44:1 (2013), 37-60
‘Ecology, Famine and Religious Violence: The Case of the Popular Crusading Movement, 1095-1320.’ In Crisis a l'Edat Mitjana: models, explicacions i representacions, ed. Pere Benito i Monclús (Lleida: Milenio, 2013), pp. 173-90
‘Church and Food Provisioning in Late-Medieval England, 1250-1450: Production Costs, Markets and the Decline of Direct Demesne Management’, in Francesco Ammannati, ed., Religione e istituzioni religiose nell’economia europea, 1000 - 1800/ Religion and Religious Institutions in the European Economy, 1000 - 1800, Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica ‘F. Datini’, Prato, Serie II: Atti delle ‘Settimane de Studi’ e altri Convegni no. 43 (Florence: Firenze University Press, 2012), pp. 597-617.
‘The Great Bovine Pestilence and Its Economic and Environmental Consequences in England and Wales, 1318-50’, Economic History Review 2nd ser. 65:4 (November 2012), 1239-66.
‘Ale Production and Consumption in Late-Medieval England, c.1250-1530: Evidence from Manorial Estates’, AVISTA Forum Journal 22: 1/2 (2012), 62-72.
‘Food Security, Safety, and Crises’, in Ken Albala, ed., A Cultural History of Food. Vol. 3: The Renaissance, 1300-1600 (London: Berg, 2012), pp. 63-82.
‘Manorial and Rural Sources’, Joel Rosenthal, ed., Understanding Medieval Primary Sources: Using Historical Sources to Discover Medieval Europe, ed. Joel Rosenthal (Abingdon: Routledge 2011), pp. 131-149.
‘Crusaders in Crisis: Towards the Re-assessment of the Origins and Nature of the ‘People’s Crusade’ of 1095-6’, Imago Temporis 4 (2010), 175-199.
‘Late-Medieval Goose Farming: Evidence from Eastern England, c.1250-1400’, Agricultural History Review 58:1 (2010), 1-29.
‘Feeding the Brethren: Grain Provisioning of Norwich Cathedral Priory, c.1270-1380 [Summary of a Doctoral Dissertation]’, Journal of Economic History 70:2 (2010), 446-50.
‘The Fifth Rider of the Apocalypse: The Great Cattle Plague in England and Wales and its Economic Consequences, 1319-1350’, in Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., Le interazioni fra economia e ambiente biologic nell’Europa preindustriale, secc. XIII - XVIII/ Economic and Biological Interactions in Pre-Industrial Europe from the 13th to 18th Centuries, Fondazione Istituto Internazionale di Storia Economica ‘F. Datini’, Prato, Seri II: Atti delle ‘Settimane de Studi’ e altri Convegni no. 41 (Florence: Firenze University Press, 2010), pp. 165-79.
‘Chicken Husbandry in Late-Medieval Eastern England: c. 1250-1400’, Anthropozoologica 44:2 (2009), 35-56.
‘Hebrew Went Latin: Reflections of Latin Diplomatic Formulas and Terminology in Hebrew Private Deeds from Thirteenth-Century England’, Journal of Medieval Latin 18 (2009), 306-25.
‘From Constantinople to Moscow: Fourteenth Century Liturgical Response to the Muslin Incursion in Byzantium and Russia’, in Dimiter Angelov, ed., Church and Society in Late Byzantium (Kalamazoo: Western Michigan University Press, 2009), pp. 201-229
‘Between Death and Survival: Norfolk Cattle, c.1280-1370’, Fons Luminis, 1 (2008), 14-60