Thursday, September 30, 2004

Patrick Wormald, RIP

It is a sad day for Anglo-Saxon studies. Patrick Wormald, an Oxford professor and one of the truly great twentieth-century historians of Anglo-Saxon passed away at his home. Patrick was also one of the nicest people in Anglo-Saxon studies. I first met him at ISAS 97 in Palermo, where he took the time to have a long, detailed discussion about some of my ideas about the Benedictine Reform. Thereafter we chatted at various conferences and he gave me a great many good ideas for my work, directing me to sources and correcting errors. He had no particular reason to help me out other than being a genuinely kind and generous person.

Patrick was probably the greatest historian of Anglo-Saxon law since Felix Liebermann in the 19th century. His work was always beautifully written as well as brilliantly argued. I think his essay in the Barbara Yorke's Bishop Athelwold collection, "AEthelwold and his Continental Counterparts," helped me as much as any other single piece of scholarship in writing How Tradition Works.

In the past few years Anglo-Saxon studies has lost three scholars who were both academic titans and great people: Ted Irving, Phil Pulsiano, and Patrick Wormald. It's a great credit to the profession that so many people like this are in it, but it's crushingly sad to lose them.

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