Dr Karine Varley



Personal statement

I am a historian of modern Europe with particular interests in modern French history and war. I am a graduate of Sidney Sussex College, University of Cambridge, the University of Leeds, and Royal Holloway, University of London. Prior to my appointment at Strathclyde, I was Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Durham and then Lecturer in Modern European History at the University of Edinburgh. Before moving into an academic career, I worked in financial services in London, specialising in Corporate Tax.

My first research project explored the memory and impact of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. My book, Under the Shadow of Defeat: The War of 1870-71 in French Memory (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), is the first wide-ranging analysis of how memories of the Franco-Prussian War impacted upon French political culture and identities, and analyses the first widespread war remembrance in Europe. This research was funded with grants from the AHRC, Royal Historical Society, University of London Central Research Fund, and Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. I am working on a new related project exploring the European impact of the Franco-Prussian War. I sit on the scientific committee organising the official Franco-German commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Franco-Prussian War led by the Souvenir Français.

My second book, Vichy's Double Bind: French Collaboration between Hitler and Mussolini during the Second World War, is currently under review at Cambridge University Press. My research analyses relations between Vichy France and Fascist Italy at government level and locally in south-eastern France, Corsica and North Africa, and the Italian occupation of France. This project seeks to shift the focus of historical investigation away from analyses of collaboration and resistance that are conceived exclusively in Franco-German terms. This research has been funded by grants from the British Academy and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland.

In 2016-18, I worked on a project funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 'Relations between Britain and France in World War Two', which involved collaborations with the British Embassy in Paris, the French Embassy in London, the Institut Français d’Ecosse and the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni.

I have also co-edited A Fascist Decade of War: 1935-45 in International Perspective, with Dr Marco Maria Aterrano, which was published by Routledge in 2020.

My research blog on the history of modern France at war can be found at: http://francehistory.wordpress.com/

I am a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. I am currently the Treasurer of the Society for the Study of French History. I am also a member of the AHRC Peer Review College.


Introduction : the Franco-Prussian War in French and German history
Varley Karine
French History (2021)
Memories not yet formed : commemorating the Franco-Prussian War and the Paris Commune
Varley Karine
Journal of War and Culture Studies Vol 14, pp. 231-250 (2021)
[Book Review] Alfred Kelly, Carl Rückert's memoirs of the Franco-Prussian war
Varley Karine
51 (2021)
A duel of nations: Germany, France, and the diplomacy of the war of 1870–1871
Varley Karine
National Identities (2021)
'Ambassador brawls with minister' : emotions and internal and external crisis at the French embassy to the Holy See in 1940
Varley Karine
Embassies in Crisis Studies of Diplomatic Missions in Testing Situations (2020) (2020)
Death and sacrifice in the Franco-Prussian war
Varley Karine
70 (2020)

More publications


I teach the following undergraduate and postgraduate classes:

V1217 Modern Europe

V1303/V1440 France at War, 1870-1962

V1399/1706 Identity War and Revolution in Europe, 1789-1918

R1107/8 French Language 1a/1b

R1203/4 French Language 2a/2b

R1215 French Culture and History 2

R1315 French Culture and History 3

R1408 France since 1945

R1502 French Language (Interpreting)

R1506 French Studies 4 (Core Class)

History and French Dissertations


Postgraduate teaching:

V1977 War, Sacrifice and the Nation in Europe, 1789-1918

Research interests

My research interests lie primarily in the following areas:

  • Vichy France
  • The Franco-Prussian War 
  • French-Italian relations in the Second World War
  • Memory and commemoration of war
  • Relations between Britain and France in the Second World War
  • Corsican nationalism, history and politics

I have recently completed the manuscript for my second book, Vichy's Double Bind: French Axis Entanglements and Relations with Fascist Italy, 1940-43. This book advances a significant new interpretation of the Vichy regime that governed France between 1940 and 1944. Challenging the often exclusive focus upon French encounters with the Nazis in much of the scholarship on France during the Second World War, this book argues that in its dealings with Fascist Italy, Vichy found itself confronted with a double bind. Offering the first wide-ranging study of French relations with Fascist Italy between 1940 and 1943 across France, North Africa and the Levant, this book suggests that Italy presented a set of challenges that had far-reaching consequences for Vichy’s pursuit of collaboration, its response to occupation and its domestic and foreign policies more broadly.

Professional activities

France and the Second World War in Global Perspective, 1919-45
Modern and Contemporary France (Journal)
Editorial board member
War commemorations and politics: Lessons from the nineteenth century
Society for the Study of French History 28th Annual Conference 2014
Society for the Study of French History Annual Conference
Wonders of Europe Television Documentary Series

More professional activities


Relations between Britain and France in World War Two
Pastor-Castro, Rogelia (Principal Investigator) Varley, Karine (Co-investigator)
01-Jan-2016 - 31-Jan-2018
Britain and France in War and Peace
Varley, Karine (Academic) Pastor-Castro, Rogelia (Academic)

More projects