Bruce O’Brien

Bruce O'Brien
  • History & American Studies
  • Academic Degrees

    • B.A., St. Olaf College
    • M.A., M. Phil., Ph.D., Yale University
  • Areas of Expertise

    • European History Before 1300
    • Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England
    • Early Medieval Law
    • Translation During the Middle Ages

Bruce R. O’Brien, Jr., Professor of History, earned a Ph.D. (1990), M.Phil. (1985) and M.A. (1984) in history from Yale University, after receiving a B.A. (1982) in creative writing and medieval history from St. Olaf College (Minnesota).

Dr. O’Brien, who also has received training at Oxford University and Harvard University, was a Visiting Fellow of Harvard Law School (1995-96) and is currently a Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research (London). His areas of expertise are European history before 1300, Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman England, ancient and medieval forgery, translation during the Middle Ages, early medieval law, and the history of English law before Magna Carta. He currently is leading a collaborative project, Early English Laws, with the Institute of Historical Research of the University of London and the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London to reedit and translate online all English laws up to Magna Carta (1215). He discusses the project in an interview on the With Good Reason public radio program.

His first book, God’s Peace and King’s Peace: The Laws of Edward the Confessor, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1999. His new book, Reversing Babel: Translation among the English during an Age of Conquests, c. 800 to c.1200, was published by the University of Delaware Press in 2011. He is past president of the Charles Homer Haskins Society, a member of the Medieval Academy of America, and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Information on current research, books, and copies of some articles can be found at