Dr. Michael Breidenbach

Dr. Michael Breidenbach is Associate Professor and Chair of History at Ave Maria University. His research interests concern the history of political, legal, and religious thought, especially in early America and the Atlantic World. He has particular interests in religious liberty, church and state, and the relationship between religion and politics.

His first book, Our Dear-Bought Liberty: Catholics and Religious Toleration in Early America (Harvard University Press, forthcoming 2021), is a history of religious liberty and church-state relations in early America and the Atlantic World. He is also co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to the First Amendment and Religious Liberty (Cambridge University Press, 2020), and his recent work has been published in William and Mary Quarterly, Perspectives on Political Science, The Things that Matter: Essays Inspired by the Later Work of Jacques Maritain, and Disestablishment and Religious Dissent: Church-State Relations in the New American States, 1776-1833. His second book is a history of naming in early America. His other research interests include constitutional law and interpretation, human rights, secularization, immigration, republicanism, liberalism, medieval political thought, Catholic Enlightenment, the papacy, and Vatican II.

Professor Breidenbach has held research positions at Princeton University, St. John’s College, Oxford, Corpus Christi College, Oxfordthe Rothermere American Institute, Oxford, Wolfson College, Cambridge, Villanova University, McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Collegium Institute. He has presented his research at Princeton, Oxford, Cambridge, Penn, Penn Law, London, Trinity College Dublin, Notre Dame, George Washington, Villanova, Villanova Law, and Arizona State. He has also written for The Atlantic, Washington PostFirst Things, Philanthropy, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He has taught at Cambridge, Princeton, Ave Maria, and Villanova.

He obtained his Ph.D. in History from King’s College, Cambridge, where he was a Cambridge Overseas Trust Scholar. He was a visiting graduate student in History at the Sorbonne in Paris and earned a master’s degree with distinction in Political Thought and Intellectual History at Cambridge. He graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and with departmental honors from Northwestern University with a B.A. in History and American Studies.

He lives in Southwest Florida with his wife, Janice Chik Breidenbach, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, and their son. They were married in 2013 at Our Lady and the English Martyrs in Cambridge, England.

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