Universiteit Leiden

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Roel Konijnendijk


Dr. R.B. Konijnendijk
+31 71 527 1289

I am an Ancient Historian interested in Classical Greek warfare, its place in Greek society and culture, and its ancient and modern historiography. My PhD research at University College London focused on the principles of Greek tactical thought. My current Marie Curie Fellowship is devoted to the early historiography of Greek warfare and the peculiar perspectives of its 19th-century Prussian pioneers.

More information about Roel Konijnendijk


My PhD research, funded by a UCL History Department Studentship, re-examined Greek approaches to pitched battle. Over a century of scholarship has insisted that these approaches were deliberately restricted and formulaic, but the evidence is on the side of more recent works arguing for unrestrained, brutal warfare. I argued that the Greeks fully intended to destroy their enemies in a conspicuous display of their capacity for violence, but that they were restricted by the amateurism of their armies. Reliance on untrained and ill-disciplined militias necessarily restricted the sophistication of Greek tactics, but never their willingness to do harm.

In the course of my PhD, I began to realise that the roots of the warped, traditional perspective on Greek warfare lie in a collection of works produced in Germany between about 1850 and 1930. These works long remained unchallenged and provided the bedrock of all modern studies of Greek warfare. But they reflect the peculiar, militarist perspective of their Prussian authors; they show a desire to make Greek tactics fit a didactic narrative for the modern officer academy. To gain a better understanding of the origins of modern ideas on Greek warfare, I turned to these works and their authors as my next area of study.

My current project, funded by the European Research Council through a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, is about historiography in 19th-century Germany; it is about the reception of ancient warfare in Prussian intellectual and military circles; it is about tracing the origin of ideas that have defined the study of this aspect of Antiquity for generations.

I have also published academic and public engagement articles on Sparta and war, Herodotos, Xenophon, Persian royal ideology, and the encounter between the Greek and Persian military systems. I have taught an honours module on Democracy and Imperialism in Classical Athens and participated in several British Academy interdisciplinary conferences on the interplay between democracy and violence. I have organised conferences on Greek warfare in its Mediterranean context, on wild schemes and foiled plots, and on ancient warfare and economics; I am currently organising a conference on citizenship in Antiquity.


2004-2007: BA History (Leiden)
2007-2009: MPhil Ancient History (Leiden)
2011-2015: PhD Ancient History (University College London)
2015-2017: Past & Present Junior Research Fellow (Institute of Historical Research, University of London)
2017-2018: Teaching Fellow in Greek History (University of Warwick)
2018-present: MSCA Postdoctoral Fellow (Leiden University) 

Grants & Awards

  • UCL History Department Studentship (2011-2015)
  • ICS George Grote Prize in Ancient History (2012)
  • Past & Present Junior Research Fellowship (2015-2017)
  • Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (2018-2020) 


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Institute for History
  • Algemene Geschiedenis

Work address

Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room number 0.18b



No relevant ancillary activities

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