We are deeply saddened by the death of Sir John Elliott, on 10 March 2022, at the age of 91.
As Oxford's Regius Professor of Modern History from 1990 to 1997, and a Distinguished Fellow of the RAI, Sir John played a vital role in the development of the RAI as an intellectual project and as an academic community. With the transatlantic perspective he so innovatively brought to his path-breaking scholarship on early modern Spain, he provided essential and enthusiastic support for the establishment of an Oxford-based centre for the study of America and its place in the world. The Institute established the Sir John Elliott Lecture in Atlantic History to honour his contributions to our community; the event is a highlight of the RAI year, and we will be acutely conscious of Sir John’s absence when the 2022 lecture takes place in May.
Sir John, whose career spanned seven decades, was perhaps the last of a great generation of postwar historians. For many of us – through his lucid prose, his respect for the pastness of the past, and his recognition of the importance of human behaviour and cultural conditioning – he exemplified the qualities of a master historian. It is a testament to the impact of Sir John’s work as a Hispanist and to his stature in the Spanish-speaking world that a great many of the most appreciative tributes that have appeared since his death have come from Spain and Latin America. It is an even more fitting tribute to Sir John's legacy that remembrances of him dwell as much on his kindness, humility, gentleness, generosity, and graciousness of spirit as upon his formidable intellectual achievements. He will be much missed.