Mark Ormrod, 1957-2020

Tributes paid to ‘a towering figure in the field of medieval studies’

September 3, 2020
Mark Ormrod
Source: Ian Martindale/University of York

A prolific historian who produced the definitive biography of Edward III has died.

Mark Ormrod was born in Neath, South Wales on 1 November 1957 and attended Neath Boys’ Grammar School before going on to a degree in history at King’s College London (1979) and then a DPhil in medieval history at Worcester College, Oxford (1984). He had already served as a part-time lecturer in medieval history at both the University of Sheffield and the UK campus of the University of Evansville, Indiana (1982-84) and took up a permanent position with the same title at Queens University Belfast (1984-87) and then a postdoctoral research fellowship at St Catharines College, Cambridge (1987-90).

In 1990, however, Professor Ormrod moved to the University of York as a lecturer in medieval history. He would remain there until illness forced him to retire early in 2017, after being promoted to professor of history in 1995 and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in 2009.

An exceptionally prolific writer who combined deep archival research with great narrative flair, Professor Ormrod is best known for a definitive 700-page biography of Edward III (2011). Even illness and nominal retirement did little to stem the flow of his productivity, with a book on Women and Parliament in Later Medieval England published in July and another delivered to his publisher just 10 days before he died.

Always committed to making research accessible, Professor Ormrod was closely involved in the York Festival of Ideas. One of his many externally funded projects identified about 70,000 immigrants in 15th-century England and led to a collaboration with the Historical Association and the Runnymede Trust to produce teaching materials for schools on the long history of migration to Britain. A Festschrift in his honour titled Monarchy, State and Political Culture, edited by Craig Taylor and Gwilym Dodd, was published in July.

Dr Dodd, Professor Ormrod’s first PhD student, is now associate professor of medieval history at the University of Nottingham. He described his mentor as “a towering figure in the field of medieval studies, who was held in the highest esteem throughout the international scholarly community. He completely transformed our understanding of how late medieval England was ruled, and was the leading expert in multiple fields, including state finance, parliament and the law.”

He added: “Behind a brilliant mind and the sharpest of intellects was a very down to earth, modest and approachable man...I will remember him for his cheeky laugh and the glint in his eye.”

Professor Ormrod died of cancer on 2 August and is survived by his partner, Richard Dobson.

matthew.reisz@timeshighereducation.com

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