Robin Chapman Stacey

Professor Emeritus
Professor Robin Stacey

Contact Information


Ph.D. Yale University, 1986
M.Litt. Oxon, 1982
Curriculum Vitae (390.43 KB)

I am an historian of the European Middle Ages focusing particularly on Ireland, Wales, and England from the Iron Age through the thirteenth century, and I have been at the University of Washington since 1988. I hold graduate degrees from Yale and Oxford, and my particular academic interest is law, especially the vernacular laws of Ireland and Wales. Over the years, my research has come to center on three main issues within the field of medieval Irish and Welsh law: legal education, law and its relationship to language (particularly the vernacular), and the literary aspects of legal writing. I have also written on the subject of women in the medieval period, and have recently begun teaching and publishing as well on the mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien. My regular lecture class rotation features courses on the early and high middle ages, Celtic civilizations, medieval women, and Tolkien, and I have taught undergraduate seminars in these and other fields, including law, heresy, sanctity, and kingship. In addition to my appointment in History, I am an Adjunct Professor in the Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department; I have also worked frequently with graduate students from English and Comparative Literatures.

My first book, The Road to Judgment: From Custom to Court in Medieval Ireland and Wales (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1994), examined the Irish and Welsh institution of personal suretyship, situating it in its appropriate social context and tracing the integration of such "private law" enforcing mechanisms into the emergent court system of the high middle ages. My second book, Dark Speech: The Performance of Law in Early Ireland (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), focused on the role played by speech and performance in ensuring social order in early medieval Ireland. My current book project, Law and the Imagination in Medieval Wales, examines the literary and political aspects of the Welsh lawbooks, arguing that they are best read not as objective (if idealized) records of native custom but, rather, as important and often humorous commentaries on thirteenth-century Welsh politics. In addition, I am the author of more than twenty articles on a variety of subjects pertaining to medieval Ireland, Wales, and England, including divorce, law and memory, riddles, and legal education. My research has been supported over the years by grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, All Souls College Oxford, and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; my books have received prizes from the Medieval Academy of America, the American Conference for Irish Studies, and the Board of Celtic Studies of the University of Wales.

I am a Past President of the Celtic Studies Association of North America, have served on the Board of Directors of the American Society for Legal History, and am a past Councillor and Executive Board member of the Medieval Academy of America. I serve on several editorial boards, including Law and History Review, the Celtic Studies Association of North America Yearbook, and Welsh History Review, and am a past winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award at UW.