Giles Constable, Leading Medievalist and Mentor, Dies at 91

Giles Constable, Professor Emeritus in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, has passed away at the age of 91. Constable was a vigorous explorer of medieval religious and intellectual history whose expansive work has provided new and authoritative perspectives on the Middle Ages. Constable joined the Institute Faculty in 1985 and became Professor Emeritus in 2003.

A giant in the field of medieval history, Constable is the author or editor of more than twenty books on medieval religious and intellectual history. His most influential works, centered around the religious and cultural history of the twelfth century, illuminated the origins of monastic tithes, Peter the Venerable, the people and power of Byzantium, medieval religious and social thought, the reformation of the twelfth century, twelfth-century crusading, and the history of Cluny.

“Giles will be remembered not only for a long history of field-shaping work, but also for his generosity and leadership in lifting up a new generation of researchers,” stated Robbert Dijkgraaf, IAS Director and Leon Levy Professor. “Naturally curious, his manner of leaving no stone unturned has enriched the study of medieval history in innumerable ways. He will be deeply missed.”

Constable was born in London on June 1, 1929. He was educated at Harvard (A.B. 1950; Ph.D. 1957) and at Cambridge (1952–53). He received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Humanities in 1967.

Prior to joining the Institute, Constable taught at the University of Iowa (1955–58) and at Harvard University (1958–1984). He was the Henry Charles Lea-Professor of Medieval History at Harvard University from 1966 to 1977 and served as Director of the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library from 1977 to 1984. He was a member of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Institut de France; Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei; American Historical Association; American Philosophical Society; Bavarian Academy of Sciences; British Academy; Instituto Lombardo, Accademia di Scienze e Lettere; and the Royal Historical Society.