Rodney Howard Hilton 1916–2002

Christopher Dyer

in Proceedings of the British Academy Volume 130, Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, IV

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263501
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734212 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Rodney Howard Hilton 1916–2002

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Rodney Howard Hilton (1916–2002), a Fellow of the British Academy, was born in Middleton, England, to John James Hilton and Anne Howard Hilton. As a history undergraduate between 1935 and 1938, Hilton was attracted to the medieval period by the teaching of two outstanding Balliol scholars, Vivian Galbraith and Richard Southern. At the University of Oxford, he was influenced by ‘foreign ideas’ and joined the Communist Party. By 1956, Hilton had established an international reputation as an authority on the medieval economy in general, and in particular had put forward new ideas about social class, conflict, the crisis on feudalism, and the origins of capitalism. He was inspired by the writings of Karl Marx, Nikolai Lenin, and their more recent disciples, and applied their ideas. A constant theme running through all Hilton’s work was his commitment to the study of localities. He had a major role in making the subject of medieval economic and social history a lively field of enquiry and debate, which is a legacy that continues into the new century.

Keywords: Rodney Howard Hilton; England; University of Oxford; Communist Party; medieval economy; social class; capitalism; feudalism; localities; social history

Chapter.  11184 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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