A Fellow of Saint Cross College, Oxford, and Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford.
He is a Fellow of the British Academy, the Royal Historical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London; he co-edited the Journal of Ecclesiastical History for twenty years.
He was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1987 and in 2012 was knighted for services to scholarship.
His chosen research field has been Tudor England (including a biography of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and a study of the Reformation under Edward VI); he has also written on the wider history of the European Reformation and on world Christianity generally.
His History of Christianity: the first three thousand years (winner of the 2010 Hessell-Tiltman Prize and the 2010 Cundill History Prize, Montreal) was followed by the BBC series A History of Christianity (given the Radio Times Readers’ Award, May 2010).
Further television work has included ‘How God made the English’, 2012, ‘Henry VIII’s Fixer: the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell’, 2013, and ‘Sex and the Church’, 2015.
His biography of Thomas Cromwell was published in September 2018. He won the Wolfson History Prize in 2004 for ‘Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700′.