Dr Ambrogio Caiani

Senior Lecturer
TEF Coordinator


Dr Ambrogio Caiani received his doctorate from Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge in 2009. Since then he has taught at the universities of Greenwich and York and at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford. He became Lecturer in Modern European History at Kent in 2013. 

Research interests

Ambrogio's main research interests have focused on Revolutionary France and Napoleonic Italy. His doctorate examined the declining fortunes of Louis XVI's court during the early French Revolution and was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012.

Ambrogio is also very interested in how the Ancien Régime was invented and conceptualised during the 19th century. With Professor Michael Broers of the University of Oxford he organised an international conference in August 2016 entitled: ‘The Price of Peace, Modernising the Ancien Régime? 1815-1848’. This encouraged scholars to engage and share new comparative perspectives on the political history of the European Restorations and Vormärz periods. A two-volume edited collection based on the conference proceedings will be published by Bloomsbury in October 2019.

He is currently under contract to complete a book entitled: To Kidnap a Pope: Napoleon and Pius VII 1800-1815. 

Ambrogio has published his research in several journals including The Historical Journal, English Historical Review, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, European History Quarterly and International History Review


Ambrogio's teaching focuses on 18th- and 19th-century Europe, his main area of expertise being the French Revolution, Napoleonic Empire and European Restorations.


Ambrogio welcomes enquiries from potential MA and PhD students interested in high politics, Empire, diplomacy, military history and princely courts during 18th- and 19th-century Europe, especially France and Italy.


Ambrogio reviews for the Literary Review, English Historical Review, French History, H-France, History (the Journal of the HA), International History Review, War in History, European History Quarterly, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Diplomacy and Statecraft, Modern Languages Review and The Coat of Arms.


Showing 50 of 52 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Caiani, A. (2019). The Concile National of 1811: Napoleon, Gallicanism and the Failure of Neo-Conciliarism. Journal of Ecclesiastical History [Online] 70:546-564. Available at: https://doi.org//10.1017/S0022046918001999.
    The concile national of 1811 was, among, the greatest flashpoints in the struggle that pitted the Napoleonic Empire against the papacy. The concile deserves to be situated within more recent historiographical trends. This incident reveals much about the nature of Napoleonic imperialism and the Church’s distrust for the power of the state. This article puts forward the view that the failure of the concile national was not strategic but tactical. Several bishops were frustrated with the pope’s recalcitrance over episcopal investiture and fearful of schism. Their initial openness to neo-conciliarism turned to hostility when confronted with the state’s intolerance.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). Re-inventing the Ancien Régime in Post-Napoleonic Europe. European History Quarterly [Online] 47:437-460. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/0265691417701812.
    ‘Revolution’ as an historical category has received continuous academic interest and scrutiny, whereas the regime invented by the French Revolution has received less sophisticated theoretical analysis and unpacking. The term ancien régime was created the moment of its death. The subsequent restructuring and politicisation of this concept during the post-Napoleonic era remains largely unstudied. It is the argument here that the world after 1815 created a number of ‘new old regimes.’ These political systems, which made reference to ancien régime inheritances, were not straightforward reflections of a ‘real past.’ They were malleable discourses that could be calibrated to corroborate the competing claims made by conservatives, radicals and liberals about how post-Napoleonic Europe was to be organised. The ‘new old regime’ of the nineteenth century, though historically grounded, was instrumental in design and made little effort to resurrect the ‘real past’ to which it purportedly made constant reference. The battle to define the ‘new old regime’ was not a rear guard action but lay at the very heart of European politics after 1815. The forces of nationhood, constitutionalism, parliamentarianism, liberalism and democracy unfurled by the twin gorgons of revolution and Napoleonic conquest were not guaranteed to win the day. Dynasticism, aristocratic hierarchy, military glory, religious revival, village communalism and regionalism continued to prosper during the first half of the nineteenth century.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). Collaborators, Collaboration, and the Problems of Empire in Napoleonic Italy, The Oppizzoni Affair, 1805-1807. Historical Journal [Online] 60:385-407. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X16000248.
    The recent bicentennial commemorations of the Napoleonic empire have witnessed a proliferation of new studies. Scholars now possess much more sophisticated conceptual tools than in past decades with which to gauge the problems faced by French imperial administrators throughout Europe. Well-trodden concepts, like centre/periphery or collaboration/resistance, have been reinvigorated by more sophisticated understandings of how rulers and ruled interacted in the early nineteenth century. This article argues that, while much progress has been made in understanding problems of ‘resistance’, there is more to be said about the other side of the same coin, namely: ‘collaboration’. Using the micro/local history of a scandal in Napoleonic Bologna, this article wishes to reaffirm that collaboration was an active agent that shaped, and often shook, the French imperial project. The biggest problem remained that, despite ‘good intentions’, collaborators sometimes simply did not collaborate with each other. After all, imperial clients were determined to benefit from the experience of empire. The centre was often submerged by local petty squabbles. This article will use a specific micro-history in Bologna to highlight the extent to which Napoleonic empire builders had to thread a fine line between the impracticalities of direct control and the dangers of ‘going native’.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). Ornamentalism in a European Context? Napoleon’s Italian Coronation, 26 May 1805. English Historical Review [Online] 132:41-72. Available at: https://doi.org/Doi:10.1093/ehr/cex067.
    Napoleon’s Italian Coronation has been neglected, or at best consigned to a footnote, by historical scholarship. The ceremony elicited immense expenditure and involved thousands of participants, but its true importance lay in the elusive, and somewhat confused, semiotic claims put forward by its organisers. The manner in which the events of May 1805 were choreographed reveal much about how French Imperialists viewed their nascent Empire and their relationship with their Northern Italian citizen-subjects. The argument put forward here is inspired by the concept of ‘ornamentalism.’ While the realities of imperial brutality, cultural chauvinism and economic exploitation over conquered territories cannot be brushed under the carpet, the reverse side of this coin is also worthy of further investigation. Nowhere more than in the satellite Kingdom of Italy did Napoleon seek to promote collaboration and local investment in his supranational Empire. He rewarded, honoured and rallied his Lombard and Emilian officials to endow them with a sense that they belonged to, and benefited from membership, of the wider imperial community. The Coronation in Milan, on 26 May 1805, was an essential experiment in the creation of new hierarchies and elite affinities. It left a mixed, though significant, legacy which was continued, to a certain extent, by Napoleon’s Habsburg successors well into the first half of the nineteenth century.
  • Caiani, A. (2016). Louis XVI, the Court of the Tuileries, and the Corps Diplomatique 1789–91. International History Review [Online] 38:421-439. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2015.1056820.
    The French Revolution sought to erect an edifice which would bridge the chasm between ancien regime realpolitik and a more idealistic vision of international relations based on natural law. The deputies of the Constituent Assembly, despite their noble intentions, failed to do so. They ended up hurtling into an all-too familiar vortex, where appeals to natural law hid naked military aggression and strategic egocentrism. Whether this outcome was inevitable or contingent on circumstances continues to pose a dilemma for historical writing on the early Revolution. This article explores the question from the unmined perspective of the foreign Ambassadors resident in Paris during the French Revolution. It uses their unpublished despatches and French police reports to shed new light on the French Revolution’s alienation from the international relations system of the ancien regime.


  • Caiani, A. (2012). Louis XVI and the French Revolution 1789-1792. Cambridge University Press.
    The experience, and failure, of Louis XVI's short-lived constitutional monarchy of 1789–1792 deeply influenced the politics and course of the French Revolution. The dramatic breakdown of the political settlement of 1789 steered the French state into the decidedly stormy waters of political terror and warfare on an almost global scale. This book explores how the symbolic and political practices which underpinned traditional Bourbon kingship ultimately succumbed to the radical challenge posed by the Revolution's new 'proto-republican' culture. While most previous studies have focused on Louis XVI's real and imagined foreign counterrevolutionary plots, Ambrogio A. Caiani examines the king's hitherto neglected domestic activities in Paris. Drawing on previously unexplored archival source material, Caiani provides an alternative reading of Louis XVI in this period, arguing that the monarch's symbolic behaviour and the organisation of his daily activities and personal household were essential factors in the people's increasing alienation from the newly established constitutional monarchy.

Book section

  • Lawrence, M. (2019). From Restoration to Indoctrination: Liberals, Reactionaries and the People in Spain, 1814-23. In: Broers, M., Caiani, A. A. and Bann, S. eds. A History of the European Restorations, Vol. II: Culture, Society and Religion. Bloomsbury, pp. 85-95.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Introduction. In: Caiani, A. A. and Broers, M. G. eds. A History of the European Restorations: Volume 1 Governments, States and Monarchies. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 1-13.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). The Enlightenment: Who, When and Where?. In: Marsh, B. and Rapport, M. eds. Understanding and Teaching the Age of Revolutions. University of Wisconsin Press, pp. 55-77.
    The great reward in looking for or studying the Enlightenment, for both teachers and students, is that it continues to unsettle assumptions and forces us, as Kant urged so long ago, to think differently. Perhaps the best means of allowing students to taste the complexity of this intellectual effervescence is to utilize simple questions to uncover its intricacies. The Enlightenment unsettles historians by asking constantly, that highly irritating question, ‘how do you know what you know’? The point here is not to seek to reconstruct a ‘real’ Enlightenment. Indeed, such an individual self-contained movement probably never existed. The number of participants, the diversity of ideas and the transnational (perhaps oceanic) context involved makes this intellectual climate incommensurable. The object of the exercise is to ask better questions in order to know a little more and, if all goes well, think in more sophisticated ways about the eighteenth century. This chapter will show that seemingly simple questions can help students develop interesting ways of reflecting and learning about the Enlightenment. The following questions will be explored:

    1. Who was the Enlightenment?
    2. When was the Enlightenment?
    3. Where was the Enlightenment?
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In: Andress, D. ed. The Oxford Handbook of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 311-329. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199639748.013.018.
    The important role played by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in the radicalization of the early phase of the French Revolution has never been in doubt. Most histories continue to focus on the regal couple’s real, and supposed, role in fomenting counter-revolution at home and especially abroad. This chapter engages with the complex question of the dwindling fortunes of Louis XVI’s monarchy from a more domestic angle. It focuses on that neglected, though crucial, year of 1790 which witnessed the failure to erect a viable constitutional settlement. It became impossible to
    accommodate both Crown and assembly in a viable working relationship. Essentially, the king’s distrust for the deputies, who had little by little arrogated his remaining powers, proved insurmountable. The monarchy’s passive resistance to the revolution’s early reform programme and political culture became increasingly unpopular. This created a radicalized and tension-filled atmosphere which pushed the revolution into hitherto unexpected directions.

Edited book

  • Caiani, A. (2019). A History of the European Restorations, Volume 1 Governments, States and Monarchies. [Online]. Broers, M. G. and Caiani, A. A. eds. London: Bloomsbury. Available at: https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-history-of-the-european-restorations-9781786736581/.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). A History of the European Restorations. Volume 2 Culture, Society and Religion. Broers, M. G. and Caiani, A. A. eds. London: Bloomsbury.

Internet publication

  • Caiani, A. (2010). The Levée En Masse in History [Webpage]. Available at: http://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/alliances-and-wars/war-as-an-agent-of-transfer/conscription/ambrogio-a-caiani-levee-en-masse.
    When faced, in 1793, with the prospect of defeat, the National Convention issued an appeal for a levée en masse, which, theoretically, placed the entire population at the disposal of France's war machine. Thus was born the modern idea of the nation in arms. This concept has proved to have an enduring legacy, and has been adapted to suit a wide variety of contexts and time periods. This article explores the birth, development and transmission of the levée en masse. It seeks to understand why the concept survived beyond the 1790s and how it remained a compelling instrument of mass mobilisation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


  • Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, A. and Pompili, A. (2017). Manual of Ecclesiastical Heraldry within the Roman Catholic Church Caiani, A. A. ed. [book].
    Academic translation for Vatican's newest heraldic treatise.


  • Caiani, A. (2020). War and Diplomacy in the Napoleonic Era, Sir Charles Stewart, Castlereagh and the Balance of Power in Europe by Reider Payne. Diplomacy and Statecraft [Online] 31:386-388. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2020.1760042.
  • Caiani, A. (2020). The Decline of the Congress System: Metternich, Italy and European Diplomacy by Miroslav Šedivý. Diplomacy and Statecraft [Online] 31:385-386. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09592296.2020.1760041.
  • Caiani, A. (2020). Mark Braude. The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba From Exile to Escape. H-Diplo [Online]:1-4. Available at: https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/5704777/h-diplo-review-essay-183-invisible-emperor-napoleon-elba-exile.
    Review of The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba From Exile to Escape. London: Penguin, 2018
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Review: The pope who would be king. Journal of Ecclesiastical History [Online] 70:665-666. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022046919000204.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Review. The Military Enlightenment. English Historical Review [Online] 134:1014-1016. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cez175.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Review of Religious renewal in France, 1789–1870 The Roman Catholic Church between catastrophe and triumph. Journal of Ecclesiastical History [Online] 70:202-203. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022046918001744.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Review article: A World of Paper, Louis XIV, Colbert de Torcy, and the Rise of the Information State. International History Review [Online] 41:698-699. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2019.1589915.
  • Caiani, A. (2019). Review article: Wellington, Waterloo and the Fortunes of Peace 1814-1852. International History Review [Online] 41:938-939. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2019.1614721.
  • Caiani, A. (2018). Review. Correspondance du Président de Brosses. Modern Language Review [Online] 113:878-879. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.113.4.0878.
  • Caiani, A. (2018). Resurrections & False Dawns. Literary Review [Online]:10-11. Available at: https://literaryreview.co.uk/resurrections-false-dawns.
  • Caiani, A. (2018). Book Review: War, Demobilization and Memory, The Legacy of War in the Era of Atlantic Revolutions. War in History [Online] 25:127-129. Available at: http://wih.sagepub.com/.
  • Caiani, A. (2018). Review of Exile, Imprisonment or Death. The Politics of Disgrace in Bourbon France, 1610-1789. History, Journal of the Historical Association [Online] 103:341-343. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-229X.12587.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). Book Review: The Napoleonic Mediterranean: Enlightenment, Revolution and Empire. The brown book: Lady Margaret Hall [Online]:120-121. Available at: http://fliphtml5.com/zude/nkrh.
  • Caiani, A. (2017). Review. The Life of Louis XVI. History Journal of the Historical Association [Online] 102:314-316. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-229X.12389.
  • Caiani, A., Sperber, J., Aaslestad, K., Jackson, P., Jarrett, M. and Vick, B. (2016). H-Diplo Roundtable Review Maddux, T. and Labrosse, D. eds. H-Diplo Roundtable Review [Internet] 17:12-13. Available at: https://networks.h-net.org/system/files/contributed-files/roundtable-xvii-24.pdf.
    Cambridge:Harvard University Press. 2014. ISBN: 9780674729711 (hardcover, $45.00/£29.95/€35.00)
    Modern European history was under the anniversary spotlight in 2014-2015. The centenary of the beginning of the First World War brought forth a steady stream of commemorations and publications. Standing out was Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers, a global bestseller, whose controversial reinterpretation of the crisis of July 1914 and of the responsibility for its violent outcome ignited a widespread academic and public debate.1 Overshadowed by the anniversary of the Great War’s outbreak was the bicentenary of another great war’s conclusion, two hundred years after the end of the Napoleonic wars. In this relatively subdued realm, most of the attention was devoted to the final instance of armed conflict, with official commemorations of, books about, large-scale reenactments of, and multimedia exhibitions displaying the Battle of Waterloo.
  • Caiani, A. (2016). Review. Power in Concert. International History Review [Online] 38:618-620. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2016.1176314.
  • Caiani, A. (2016). H-France Review. Bonaparte 1769-1802. H-France [Online] 16:1-4. Available at: http://www.h-france.net/vol16reviews/vol16no28caiani.pdf.
  • Caiani, A. (2016). Review. Shadows of Revolution. French History [Online] 30:577-578. Available at: http://fh.oxfordjournals.org/.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. Saint-Simonians in Nineteenth-Century France. History Journal of the Historical Association [Online] 100:757-758. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1468-229X.12130_18.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. The Congress of Vienna. International History Review [Online] 37:1105-1107. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2015.1059039.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. The Congress of Vienna and Its Legacy. European History Quarterly [Online] 45:561-562. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0265691415587683o.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. Re-Imagining Democracy in the Age of Revolutions. International History Review [Online] 37:899-900. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07075332.2015.1059038.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. Experiences of War and Nationality in Denmark and Norway 1807–1815. English Historical Review [Online] 130:1571-1573. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cev316.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. The Four Horsemen Riding to Liberty in Post-Napoleonic Europe. English Historical Review [Online] 130:1573-1575. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cev296.
  • Caiani, A. (2015). Review. Napoleon. Soldier of Destiny. LMH Brown Book [Online]:151-153. Available at: http://online.fliphtml5.com/zude/vsff/#p=154.
  • Caiani, A. (2014). H-France Review. Marie-Thérèse de France. H-France [Online] 14:1-4. Available at: http://www.h-france.net/vol14reviews/vol14no73caiani.pdf.
  • Caiani, A. (2014). Review. From Deficit to Deluge. English Historical Review [Online] 129:223-224. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cet382.
  • Caiani, A. (2013). Book Review. La première campagne d’Italie. War in History [Online] 20:564-566. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0968344513505933e.
  • Caiani, A. (2013). Review. The Highland Furies. LMH Brown Book:94-95.
  • Caiani, A. (2012). Review. Les noblesses françaises dans l’Europe de la Révolution. French History [Online] 26:562-564. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fh/crs100.
  • Caiani, A. (2012). Review. Aristocracy and its Enemies in the Age of Revolution. French History [Online] 26:122-124. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fh/crr104.
  • Caiani, A. (2012). Review. A New Dictionary of the French Revolution. French History [Online] 26:266-266. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/fh/crs013.


  • Caiani, A. (2023). The Cesena Popes, Pius VI & Pius VII, The Papacy in Revolution 1775-1823. In: The Cambridge History of the Papacy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-32.
  • Caiani, A. (2021). Ch.12 Napoleon and the Church. In: Broers, M. and Dwyer, P. eds. The Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-26.
  • Caiani, A. (2021). Ch.81 The Legacy of Counter-Revolution: Conservative Ideology and Legitimism. In: Forrest, A. and Hicks, P. eds. The Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Caiani, A. (2021). To Kidnap a Pope, Napoleon and Pius VII 1800-1815. [Online]. London: Yale University Press. Available at: https://yalebooks.co.uk/.
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