As those of you with an ear for accents will already know, and have had the pleasure of meeting her, Dr Briggs hails from Scotland (I feel sorry for those students whom apparently thought she was Canadian). She has close ties to Edinburgh, St Andrews and Glasgow, although undoubtedly she would prefer to keep the first and former in separate rooms at any future New Year’s Party.
Dr Briggs joined the Manchester History Department during the last academic year in the 2nd semester as an Early Modern Historian specialising in French History during said period. As a native Scot, she was able to vote in the recent Scottish referendum in September; as for the nature of her vote, this author cannot divulge – though she has told me she is happy to answer any who ask.
Moving on to what can be told, first and foremost I broadsided Dr Briggs with the most important question for any historian: Of any historical figure, who would you be and why? The answer emerged after some clarification that the figure she would be would be unable to be altered by her, “Emperor Constantine. His decision to allow tolerance for Christianity was monumental, and I’d like to see if he had any idea that the Council of Nicaea would retain such influence down the millennia.”
When asked to explain further she replied “Historians continue to disagree over whether his conversion was politically or religiously motivated, so I’d like insight there. His achievements as a military commander are equal to his achievements as a political leader, so I would experience the best of life on campaign. Finally, it would be great to see the old and new architecture of Rome before it crumbled and lost its colour.”
Indeed, the issues surrounding power, religion and society are consistent themes in Dr Brigg’s work and the multifaceted interest in Constantine is also something that carries over into her work. Dr Briggs was recently the assistant editor of an essay collection entitled ‘Waterborne Pageants and Festivities in the Renaissance’, “it was a lot work, as an assistant editor I was told to format everything! I also ended up translating French and Italian as it was a multinational piece,” she says. Any future students or indeed presents ones should take heed, as she admits this experience has hardened her attitude toward any grammatical mistakes on their part.
While working as assistant editor she also had her work own published as part of the essays in the third book of the series; for any of you that are feeling rich her essay entitled ‘Representations of Power in Royal entrees’ – i.e. the entrance of monarchs into cities at the head of procession of sorts – as a part of the whole the collection will cost you around £70.
It was during her studies at St. Andrews where Dr Briggs crossed path with Prince William. During a shopping trip he was spied down the cheese aisle and later would come out of the store to witness Dr Briggs’s friend parking: “she stalled the car right in front of him and his friends, he let out a barking laugh and moved on.” While this may be interesting in itself, ‘one’ does wonder what type of cheese he bought.
Since St. Andrews Dr Briggs completed her PhD at the University of Warwick where she worked until her job at Manchester, “I really love the department at Manchester; the breadth of study at the University is truly marvellous. I also love getting to know the city. I’ve been to the museum last year, John Ryland’s and Chetham’s library. I’ve been on Canal Street a couple of times but I much more prefer going home and reading a book. What I love most is the Manchester Cathedral; the late medieval and early modern architecture within it is beautifully carved.” Her clear love of history extends into the play she was to see shortly after our interview, “Hamlet is obviously early modern but that’s purely a coincidence” she says with a smile.
As a final remark, Dr Briggs offered some advice for students: “Read everything. And I don’t mean just on your course. Anything you can get your hands on! It will help you develop your own style of writing.”
We wish Linda a very happy time here in Manchester!