Skip to main content

Matthew Vester, Ph.D.


Teaching Fields


Research Interests

Dr. Vester researchers political culture, which includes institutional practices, patronage systems and other informal political ties, and political thought (customary and written). His research is informed by a desire to uncover the rich variety of political interactions in the past (especially within families, localities, and regions), thereby avoiding an anachronistic exaggeration of the role of ‘the state’ in early modern political life. 

The territorial context in which he has investigated these problems is that of the lands formerly ruled by the house of Savoy, in current-day southeastern France, northwestern Italy, and western Switzerland. 

His current project examines political practices and assumptions within rural communities, noble families, and regional institutions in the Alpine duchy of Aosta between 1550 and 1630, drawing attention to the spatial dimensions of family power. 

Another ongoing project explores similar problems through an analysis of a border dispute in the sixteenth-century Maritime Alps between the parish of Ormea (subject to the duke of Savoy) and villagers from Pieve di Teco (subject to the Republic of Genoa). 

He is beginning a new project on the transfer of political technology in early modern Europe, using as a case study Duke Emanuel Filibert of Savoy’s transition from governor of the Netherlands during the 1550s to ruler of the restored Sabaudian lands after the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis. 

His study of Jacques de Savoie-Nemours, ruler of the apanage of the Genevois, deals with relations between two branches of the Savoy dynasty, and the institutional and political ramifications of that relationships. He has also published on the history of taxation and on the political use of ecclesiastical revenues.

Courses Offered

Selected Publications

Editor, Sabaudian Studies: Political Culture, Territory, and Dynasty, 1400-1700 (Kirksville MO: Truman State University Press, 2013).

Renaissance Dynasticism and Apanage Politics: Jacques de Savoie-Nemours, 1531-1585 (Kirksville MO: Truman State University Press, 2012)

“Regionalism and Fiscal Policy in the Southern Savoyard Lands, 1550-1580,” Quaderni storici 47, 1 (2012): 191-220

“Who Benefited from Tithe Payments in Late Renaissance Bresse?” The Catholic Historical Review 96, 1 (2010): 1-26

“The Political Autonomy of a Tax Farm: The Nice-Piedmont Gabelle of the Dukes of Savoy, 1535-1580,” The Journal of Modern History 76 (December 2004): 745-92

Grants and awards:
Renaissance Society of America Research Grant, 2008
Chester Penn Higby Prize (Modern European History section, AHA), 2007
Villa I Tatti Fellow, 2006-7
UCLA Clark Library Postdoctoral Fellow, 1997-98