Professor Paul Hyams


The College is saddened to learn of the death of Emeritus Fellow Professor Paul Raphael Hyams, who was Fellow and Tutor in Medieval History at Pembroke for twenty years.

After graduating from Modern History at Worcester College, Oxford, Professor Hyams was appointed Scurry Jones Junior Research Fellow at Jesus College in 1965.  Four years later, he was elected to a Fellowship at Pembroke, succeeding the Revd. Colin Morris.

Alongside his commitment to his duties as College tutor, Professor Hymans was a prolific writer.  He published numerous books, chapters and articles on interdisciplinary history, spanning topics from law to economics and politics.  His publications include Rancor and Reconciliation in Medieval England (2003) and Vengeance in the Middle Ages: Emotion, Religion and Feud (2010) as well as entries on 'Blood Libel’ and 'Host Desecration' for The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, and 'The Legal Revolution and the Discourse of Dispute in the Twelfth Century' in The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Culture.

He gained an international reputation as a distinguished legal historian, renowned for his work on common law ‘on the ground’ in England; his pioneering social histories of law; and his ground-breaking research on the Jewish minority in England.

At Pembroke Professor Hyams was heavily involved in College life.  He was instrumental in forming the Pembroke Smithson Society, aiming to draw together junior and senior members of all disciplines and, in particular, to bridge the arts-science gap.  He served as Dean of Graduates for his last three years at the College.  When he left in 1989 to take up a post at Cornell University, he was credited by the then Master, Sir Roger Bannister, not only for conveying his medieval enthusiasms to generations of Pembroke historians, but also for the great hospitality that he and his wife Elaine showed to undergraduates over many years.

We extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Elaine, and their children Deborah and David.

An obituary is published in The Guardian here.