James Francis Lydon
|Died||25 June 2013|
|Citizenship||Republic of Ireland|
|Alma mater||Trinity College Dublin|
James Francis Lydon, (1928 – 25 June 2013), was an Irish educator and historian. He served as the Lecky Professor of History at Trinity College, Dublin, from 1980 to 1993, and authored numerous works, particularly on the medieval history of Ireland.
Early life and education
Lydon studied both English and History at University College Galway, graduating in 1950. One of his external examiners was J. R. R. Tolkien, who was so impressed with his work that he invited Lydon to tea after the university refused Tolkien permission to invite him for lunch. After completing his B.A., Lydon stayed on at UCG to undertake research for a master's degree. His adviser, history department professor Mary Donovan O'Sullivan, suggested to him that "Ireland's contribution to the military activities of the English crown in the thirteenth century might be a subject that would repay investigation." Lydon moved to England to attend the University of London and studied under the influential medievalist Sir Maurice Powicke.
In 1955 he completed his thesis, "Ireland's participation in the military activities of English kings in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries." Revised for publication, it became the first of many scholarly contributions to the history of the era. Having a full year left on his Travelling Fellowship after his studies were concluded, he was advised by his mentor Powicke to "use the residue of the funding to travel on the continent...stay clear of archives...read, visit galleries, listen to music, meet people and generally lift his eyes beyond the confines of the [Public] Record Office in Chancery Lane." This experience "gave him an appreciation of European 'culture' in its broadest sense" and enabled Lydon to "bring the historiography of late medieval Ireland to maturity." Returning to Galway in 1956 he taught history through the media of Irish and English and, in 1959, moved to Dublin to lecture at Trinity College. He became a full lecturer in 1962, a Fellow in 1965, and an associate professor in 1969.
Primarily an Irish mediaevalist, Lydon published his first major work, The lordship of Ireland in the Middle Ages, in 1972. In the 1980s, he served as a contributor to the Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland. Lydon's other works include:
- The Gill History of Ireland (1972)
- Ireland in the Later Middle Ages (1973)
- ‘Ireland and the English Crown, 1171-1541’ in IHS (Irish Historical Studies) xxix:115 (1995) [pp.] 281-94.
- Law and disorder in thirteenth-century Ireland: the Dublin Parliament of 1297 (1997)
- The Making of Ireland: From Ancient Times to the Present (1998)
- 'Richard II’s Expeditions to Ireland', in Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: Essays by Edmund Curtis, A.J. Otway-Ruthven and James Lydon, ed. Peter Crooks (Dublin, 2008).
Lydon was unmarried. He battled depression in later life. He was fond of music, particularly opera.
- "Interview with Professor James Lydon". History Ireland. History Publications Ltd. 3 (1). Spring 1995. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- "Maverick Medieval Historian and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin". The Irish Times. 13 July 2013. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013.
- "Professor James Francis Michael Lydon: Biography and bibliography". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
- Haigh, Christopher, ed. (1990) . The Cambridge Historical Encyclopedia of Great Britain and Ireland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 6. ISBN 9780521395526.
- Government, War and Society in Medieval Ireland: Essays by Edmund Curtis, A.J. Otway-Ruthven and James Lydon, edited by Peter Crooks. Four Courts Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-84682-105-9.
- Colony & Frontier in Medieval England: Essays presented to J.F. Lydon, edited by T. B. Barry, Frame, Katharine Simms. Hambledon Press, 1995. ISBN 9781852851224.
- The James Lydon Research Seminar in Medieval History at Trinity College