Prof David Abulafia CBE, MA, PhD

Prof David Abulafia CBE, MA, PhD Image

University of Gibraltar:

Beacon Professor
Beacon Professor
History & Culture
Academic Board


David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at the University of Cambridge, where he has spent his academic career. He is a Papathomas Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College, and has served as Chairman of the History Faculty, as well as spending more than four years on the governing Council of Cambridge University as an elected member. David is also a Beacon Professor at the University of Gibraltar.

He is a Fellow of the British Academy (where he has sat on a number of committees) and a Member of the Academia Europaea, and has been decorated by the President of Italy for his services to history. He won the Wolfson History Prize following the publication of his most recent book The Boundless Sea: A Human History of the Oceans, published by Penguin Books in 2019. His other books include The Great Sea: a Human History of the Mediterranean (Penguin Books, 2011), which was awarded the Mountbatten Maritime Award and the British Academy Medal, a biography of Emperor Frederick II and The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic Encounters in the Age of Columbus (Yale University Press, 2008).

Research Interests

Professor David Abulafia’s research focuses on the economic, social and political history of the Mediterranean from a southern perspective. His work focuses on the Mediterranean in all periods, but especially the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Italy and Spain. His work in Italy includes the Italian ‘despotisms’ and the Italian islands, and the trade and society of the Spanish lands of the crown of Aragon.

He also studies the interaction of the three religions in medieval Spain and Sicily, including the problem of Jewish (and Muslim) ‘servitude’. He has a special interest in the opening of the Eastern and Western Atlantic in the 15th and early 16th century, with particular emphasis on the encounter of Europeans with native peoples and the Levant trade, which links between Italy and the lands across the Adriatic, and 19th and 20th century historiography of medieval Europe.

His books include Frederick II (1988), The Mediterranean in History (2003), Italy in the central Middle Ages (2004), The Discovery of Mankind: Atlantic encounters in the age of Columbus (2008) and The Great Sea: a human history of the Mediterranean (2011).

Selected Publications

Abulafia, D. (2019). The boundless sea: A human history of the oceans.

Abulafia, D., & In Berend, N. (2016). Medieval frontiers: Concepts and practices.

Abulafia, D. (2011). The great sea: A human history of the Mediterranean. New York: Oxford University Press.

Abulafia, D. (2008). The discovery of mankind: Atlantic encounters in the age of Columbus. New Haven [Conn.: Yale University Press.

McKitterick, R., Fouracre, P., James, E., Reuter, T., Luscombe, D. E., Abulafia, D., Allmand, C. T., … Jones, M. (2005). The new Cambridge medieval history: 1. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.

Full Publications List