Dr Joanna Bellis, Christ's




Biographical Information

I am a medievalist/early modernist working on historical writing. I am the author of The Hundred Years War in Literature, 1337-1600 (Cambridge: Brewer, 2016) and editor of John Page's The Siege of Rouen (Heidelberg: Winter, 2015). I co-edited Representing War and Violence, 12501600 (Cambridge: Brewer, 2016) with Laura Slater (Art History). At Christ's I teach the Part I medieval Paper, Practical Criticism, and the Part II medieval papers.

Research Interests

My research is about the writing of history from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, especially the ethical and political ways in which historiographers framed it. My first book was about the legend of the Hundred Years War, from its contemporary narrators to its Tudor afterlife; through that, I discovered John Page's little-known verse narrative of Henry V's siege of Rouen in 1418-19: a remarkable, ambitious, ethically foundering eyewitness poem, which I edited for Middle English Texts. Since then I've been involved with editing the Prioress's Tale and Second Nun's Tale for CUP's new Complete Works of Chaucer, and am beginning work on a book titled Verisimilitude and the Literary Eyewitness in the Middle Ages. Great claims were made for eyewitnessing: it was the cornerstone of historiography, the foundation of faith. Medieval people believed the Trojan War to have been eyewitnessed (by Dares Phrygius on the Trojan side, Dictys Cretensis on the Greek). What kind of truth claims were literary eyewitnesses making? How did they reconcile their assertions of veracity with their yearnings for fictional forms and modes of expression? How did they understand the ethical parameters bounding the idea of verisimilitude? In the longer term I would like to do some more editing: perhaps the Middle English Prose Brut (one can but dream).

Selected Publications


Joanna Bellis, The Hundred Years War in Literature, 1337-1600 (Cambridge: Brewer, 2016)

Joanna Bellis and Laura Slater, ed. Representing War and Violence, 12501600 (Cambridge: Brewer, 2016)

John Page, The Siege of Rouen, ed. Joanna Bellis, Middle English Texts 51 (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2015)


  1. The dregs of trembling, the draught of salvation: the dual symbolism of the cup in medieval literature’, in Feasts and Gifts of Food in Medieval Europe: Ritualised Constructions of Hierarchy, Identity and Community, ed. Lars Kjaer and A.J. Watson, special issue of The Journal of Medieval History, 37:1 (March 2011), 47-61.
  2. 'Purity and Pueritia: the anti-theme of childhood innocence in late-medieval English courtesy books’, Leeds Studies in English, 42 (2011), 1-16.
  3. ‘Rymes sette for a remembraunce: memorialization and mimetic language in the war poetry of the late Middle Ages’, Review of English Studies, 64:264 (2013), 183-207 (awarded the Beatrice White Prize 2015 by the English Association, for 'outstanding scholarly work in the field of English Literature before 1590', noted in The Year's Work in English Studies).
  4. ‘Page, John, (1418-1422), poet’, in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, stable URL: http://www.oxforddnb.com/ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, September 2013).
  5. ‘“We wanted þe trewe copy þereof”: John Page’s The Siege of Rouen, text and transmission’, Medium Ævum83:2 (2014), 209-233.
  6. With Venetia Bridges: ‘“What shalt thou do when thou hast an english to make into latin?” A study of the proverb collection of Cambridge, St John’s College, MS F.26’, Studies in Philology, 112.1 (2015), 68-92.
  7. 'An Anglo-Danish Naval Encounter in Two Fourteenth-Century Chronicles’, Reading Medieval Studies XLV (2019), 75-107.
  8. ‘Readings we don’t think about in The Prioress’s Tale’, The Chaucer Review (special edition ed. Susan Nakley and Karla Taylor), forthcoming 2024.


1. ‘Mapping the national narrative: place-name etymology in Laʒamon’s Brut and its sources’, in Reading Laʒamon’s Brut: Approaches and Explorations, ed. Rosamund Allen, Jane Roberts and Carole Weinberg, DQR Studies in Literature, 52 (Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2013), pp. 321-42.

2. ‘“The Reader myghte lamente”: The sieges of Calais (1346) and Rouen (1418) in chronicle, poem and play’, in War and Literature, ed. Laura Ashe and Ian Patterson (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2014), pp. 84-106.

3. ‘“Fresch anamalit termes”: the contradictory celebrity of Chaucer’s aureation’, in Chaucer and Fame: Reputation and Reception, ed. Catherine Nall and Isabel Davis (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2015), pp. 143-163.

4. ‘“I Was Enforced to Become an Eyed Witnes”: Documenting War in Medieval and Early Modern Literature’, in Emotions and War: Medieval to Romantic Literature, ed. Stephanie Downes, Andrew Lynch and Katrina O’Loughlin, Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotion (Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 133-151.

5. With Laura Slater, ‘Introduction: “Representation” and Medieval Mediations of Violence’, in Representing War and Violence, 12501600, ed. Joanna Bellis and Laura Slater (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2016), pp. 1-19.

6. ‘The Hundred Years War’ (overview), ‘Hundred Years War Literature’ (introductory article) and ‘The Chandos Herald’ (short entry), in The Encyclopaedia of Medieval Literature in Britain, Siân Echard and Robert Rouse (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017).

7. ‘Politics and Diplomacy’, and an edited selection from The Siege of Rouen, in Medieval English Travel: A Critical Anthology, ed. Sebastian Sobecki and Anthony Bale (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), pp. 56–63, 287–302.

8. ‘Propaganda or Parody? Latin Abuse Poetry from the Hundred Years War’, in Crossing Borders in the Insular Middle Ages, ed. Victoria Flood and Aisling Byrne (Turnhout: Brepols, 2019), pp. 89-112.

9. With Megan Leitch, ‘Chivalric Literature’, in A Companion to Chivalry, ed. Robert Jones and Peter Coss (Cambridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2019), pp. 241-62.

10. ‘King Arthur in the Hundred Years War’, in Littérature Arthurienne Tardive en Europe, ed. Ad Putter, Raluca Radulescu, Christine Ferlampin-Achier and others (Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2020).

11. ‘Edward of Woodstock (Black Prince)’ and 'Merton College', in The Chaucer Encyclopaedia, ed. Richard Newhauser, Vincent Gillespie, Jessica Rosenfeld and Katie Walter (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2023).

12. ‘Medieval Continuities’, in the Oxford Handbook of Renaissance Poetry, ed. Andrew Zurcher and Jason Scott-Warren (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).