David Bates is a historian of Britain and France during the period from the tenth to the thirteenth centuries. He has written many books and articles during his career, with the most important among the books being Normandy before 1066 (1982), Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum: The Acta of William I, 1066-1087 (1998), The Normans and Empire (2013), and William the Conqueror (2016). The two most recent of these are, in the first case, an argument for a new an analytical framework for the expansion of the Normans in Western Europe and, in the second, a radical revision of the life of William the Conqueror. The Normans and Empire was published by Oxford University Press and William the Conqueror by Yale University Press in the English Monarchs series. All of these books are based on extensive researches in the archives and libraries in France and Normandy that have uncovered a lot of new or inadequately known material, some if it published in Regum Anglo-Normannorum: The Acta of William I. He retains an interest in the interpretation of charters as literary sources and is currently working on further innovative approaches to the history of northern Europe during the period from the tenth to the thirteenth century. He has always been committed to encouraging collaboration between scholars from different countries. A Festschrift has been published in his honour (Normandy and its Neighbours, 900-1250: Essays for David Bates, ed. David Crouch and Kathleen Thompson (2011)).
He was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School Nuneaton and the University of Exeter (BA, 1966, and PhD, 1970). After two years working as an archivist at the Imperial War Museum in London, he obtained an academic post at the then University College, Cardiff (now the University of Cardiff) in 1971 and remained there until 1994. He was Edwards Professor of Medieval History at the University of Glasgow from 1994 to 2003. He then took up the post of Director of the Institute of Historical Research in the University of London from 2003 until 2008 and was Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia from 2008 to 2010. He is now Professorial Fellow there. He also held a Visiting Professorship at the University of Caen Normandie from 2009-12, an institution which awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2000 (docteur honoris causa). During this peripatetic career, he has held several positions that have involved responsibilities for the general development of his subject, such as Head of History and Welsh History in Cardiff, Head of the Department of Medieval History, Head of the School of History and Archaeology, and Head of History in Glasgow, and Director of the Centre of East Anglian Studies at the University of East Anglia. His time at the Institute of Historical Research, among other things, required that he animate public debate about History’s role in British education and in public life and that he participate in delegations and projects that took him to Japan, Russia, Israel, and the United States.
Among many visiting posts and fellowships, he was a Huntington Library Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library, Pasadena, California in November-December 1984, a Visiting Professor at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes in Paris in April-May 1999, a British Academy Marc Fitch Research Reader from October 2001 until September 2003, a Visiting Fellow Commoner at Trinity College, Cambridge, from October 2002-March 2003, and Directeur d’Etudes Invité at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes in Paris in May 2003. From 2013 to 2015 he was a Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellow. He gave the Stenton Lecture at the University of Reading in 1999, the R. Allen Brown Memorial Lecture in 2002, and the Henry Loyn Memorial Lecture in 2006, and was James W. Ford Lecturer in British History at the University of Oxford in 2010, a post that required him to give the series of lectures on which The Normans and Empire is based.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a Centenary Fellow of the Historical Association, a Member of the Academy of Europe, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research, a Life Member of Clare Hall in the University of Cambridge and a Vice-President of the Dugdale Society. He was the founding editor of the Longmans/Pearson Medieval World series from 1987 to 2001, thereby encouraging publications by many other scholars, and was Director of the Battle Conference on Anglo-Norman Studies from 2010 to 2013. He has a notable record of editing volumes based on conference proceedings that have contributed to the general well-being of the discipline. In addition to the three volumes of Anglo-Norman Studies based on the three Battle Conferences, these include (with Anne Curry) England and Normandy in the Middle Ages (1994); (with Julia Crick and Sarah Hamilton) Writing Medieval Biography: Essays in Honour of Frank Barlow (2006); (with Robert Liddiard) East Anglia and its North Sea World in the Middle Ages (2013); (with Pierre Bauduin) 911-2011: Penser les mondes normands médiévaux: Actes du colloque international de Caen et Cerisy (29 septembre-2 octobre 2011) (2016).