Photo of Dr Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley

Dr Alex Fairfax-Cholmeley

Lecturer in European History


01392 724632

Office: Laver 301 (up main stairs in Laver to first floor, turn right and through double doors into Archaeology, my office is the first on the right)

Office hours 2017/18 Term 1 (Sep-Dec): Monday 17.30-18.30; Thursday 9.30-10.30; and by appointment (please email)

YEAR TUTOR office hours 2017/18 Term 1 (Sep-Dec): Monday 15.30-17.30; and by appointment (please email)

I joined the University of Exeter as Lecturer in European History at the start of September 2014. Before arriving here I had been researching and teaching at Queen Mary, University of London for seven years (including studying for my PhD from 2007-2011, under the supervision of Professor Colin Jones, FBA). I received my BA in History (2004) and MA in Early Modern History (2006) from King’s College London.

My research and teaching interests centre on the French Revolution (1789-1799), the concept of ‘revolutionary justice’, and the mechanics and impact of the Terror of 1793-4. I am also interested in eighteenth-century French and European legal history more generally, and in integrating colonial angles of study into European history (in particular, the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s). My most recent publication is ‘Mapping the Terror: the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal and the Development of a National System of Revolutionary Justice’, European History Quarterly, Vol.44, No.1 (January, 2014), 5-32.

In addition to my position as Lecturer in History, I have also been awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (September 2014-September 2017). For the duration of this award I will be undertaking research in the UK, France and the USA on the topic of ‘Victims and the French Revolutionary Terror, c.1793-1799’.

Research interests

The subject of my AHRC-funded PhD was ‘Reassessing Revolutionary Justice: Suspects, the Paris Revolutionary Tribunal and the Terror in France, 1793-1794’ (Queen Mary University of London, 2012, supervised by Professor Colin Jones, FBA). This research focused on the mechanics of the French Terror (1793-1794) and the reactions of those affected by it. I demonstrated the previously unacknowledged influence that defence activity had, both on the system of repression and wider French culture. This work is in the process of being turned into a monograph, provisionally titled ‘Contesting the Terror: Prosecution and Resistance in the French Revolutionary Justice System, 1793-1794’.

A British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-17) is funding my next major research project, titled ‘Victims and the French Revolutionary Terror, c.1793-1799’. This will focus on the activities of surviving Terrorist victims during the Thermidorian Reaction and Directory (August 1794-November 1799) and will track the political and cultural impact of their role in contemporary print culture (for example, in publishing histories of the Terror) and their use of the legal system (for example, to seek financial compensation for what they had experienced).

WATCH a video of the first paper I gave on this ongoing British Academy research at the annual conference of the Society for French Historical Studies (Colorado Springs, April 2015).

LISTEN to the latest paper I have given on this project, at the Institute of Historical Research (January 2017).

I am interested in print culture and the French Revolutionary tradition over the longer term, and I worked on this theme as part of a collaborative project with Professor Bertrand Taithe (University of Manchester) between January and August 2014, funded by the John Rylands Research Institute. A project blog can be found at I am also expanding the geographical limits of my research by thinking about how to harness colonial perspectives to French Revolutionary studies, especially metropolitan reactions to the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804). I have presented preliminary research in this latter area at national and international seminars and conferences in York, London, Exeter and Boston, MA.