• Distinguished Professor, History
  • University Distinguished Professor, History

Research Summary

Research interests span the social, cultural and religious history of late ancient and medieval Europe. Publications on medieval views of death and the afterlife, cult of saints, material culture.


  • Master of Arts, MAHIST, University Of St Andrews
  • Doctor of Philosophy, DHIST, University Of St Andrews


Isabel Moreira, Distinguished Professor. Department of History.

My scholarship focuses on the social, cultural, religious and intellectual history of Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages with an emphasis on cultural expressions of religious ideas in the Merovingian period. My most recent publications have focused on the history of purgatory and the afterlife as expressions of ideas about power, religion, and justice.

I am editor (with Bonnie Effros) of The Oxford Handbook of the Merovingian World (publication 2020), 45 essays by prominent and emergent scholars, historians and archaeologists, exploring the history and connections of the Merovingian World (480-751). Author of Heaven's Purge: Purgatory in Late Antiquity published by Oxford University Press  in 2010 (2014 paperback), and also in 2010 published, with Margaret Toscano as co-editor, Hell and Its Afterlife: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, a collection of 15 essays from hell's classical roots to the modern era of graphic novels and journalism in an era of terrorism. In 2000 Dreams, Visions and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul was published by Cornell University Press, a work that examines how authority was constructed at the margins of established institutions of power and how ultimately, a commitment to the idea of access to the spiritual realm was maintained in the face of more restrictive voices, allowing for the negotiation of power in individual communities.

Recent book chapters published on "the last day" in Augustine's City of God, on purgatory and ghost narratives, and on Merovingian material culture  - monogram rings as a means of women's religious  expression.