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08th February 2024 Evan Leonhard (2023, MSt English)

Emeritus Fellow Dr John Maddicott honoured with new edited volume

Dr John Maddicott FBA, Emeritus Fellow in Medieval History at Exeter College, has recently been honoured with a festschrift entitled English Medieval Government and Administration, in celebration of his career as a preeminent scholar of medieval England. Dr Maddicott arrived at Exeter in 1969, after completing both his BA and DPhil at Worcester College. His time as an Exeter College fellow and lecturer spanned 37 years, and he became an Emeritus Fellow in 2006.

The volume consists of a collection of historical documents with new editing and commentary by friends and former students of Dr Maddicott. It covers a range of topics related to thirteenth- and fourteenth-century political life, including “the magna carta rebellion,” “the Baronial wars of the 1260s,” and “gentry material culture as revealed by inventories.” The editors of the volume, both former students of Dr Maddicott, are Dr Nigel Saul, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Dr Nicholas Vincent, Professor of Medieval History at the University of East Anglia.

Both Dr Saul and Dr Vincent have gone on to pursue distinguished academic careers in their own right and are eager to express gratitude for their former DPhil supervisor. “John has probably seen more postgraduates through to completion than many other of the flashier Oxbridge supervisors,” says Dr Vincent. “His secret: total reliability, and a willingness to trust his students to give their best.” Dr Saul, an early mentee of Dr Maddicott, recalls his supervisor’s characteristically high standards and directly attributes them to his professional success. “He set high standards and expected me to maintain them,” Saul stated. “He wanted me to write and to submit to him a chapter by the end of each term—a cracking rate by the standards of the time… That I was to go on to enjoy a successful academic career I owe in large part to John’s careful and sympathetic supervision and to all the encouragement he gave.”

Dr Saul also commented on Dr Maddicott’s scholarly prominence: “To me in the mid-1970s, John was the exemplar of the new breed of younger scholars who were then beginning to get teaching jobs in Oxford. He came across to me as ‘cutting edge.’ He was an active researcher, absolutely on top of his subject.”  Dr Maddicott’s first book, Thomas of Lancaster, 1307-22: A Study in the Reign of Edward II offered an account of Edward II’s reign through, as the title suggests, the eyes of his cousin Thomas of Lancaster. Alongside a distinguished corpus of scholarly essays and articles, he is also the author of The Origins of English Parliament, 924-1327, a magisterial account of the birth and development of English parliament from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the fourteenth century.

Much of Dr Maddicott’s later work has dealt with the medieval history of Exeter College itself. His book Founders and Fellowship: The Early History of Exeter College, Oxford 1314-1592 (Oxford University Press, 2014) provides a sweeping history of the College between the years of its founding by Walter de Stepeldon, Bishop of Exeter, and the ascendency of Thomas Holland, the Calvinist theologian whose rectorship brought an end to Exeter’s reputation as an anti-reformation stronghold. His later book, Between Scholarship and Politics: The Lives of John Prideaux, 1578-1650 (Oxford University Press, 2021), offers a biography of Thomas Holland’s protégé, John Prideaux, who served as Exeter’s rector for some 30 years during the early sixteenth century.

Dr John Maddicott

Dr John Maddicott

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