Paul Hyams, my late husband, was a distinguished professor of medieval history who made significant contributions to his field including authoring two books on medieval England. He began his career at Oxford University and later went on to join Cornell University in the United States, where he finished his professional life.

He was born in Leeds to Henry Hyams, a solicitor, and Rachel (nee Hauser), an advocate for youth organizations. After completing his education at Bootham School in York, he attended Worcester College at Oxford where he studied history. He completed his postgraduate work and was awarded a doctorate in 1968 following a Scurry Jones research fellowship at Jesus College. The following year, he was appointed a fellow at Pembroke College where he tutored medieval history for an inspiring 20 years.

We met at a legal history conference in Wales, and got married in 1975. Paul and I moved to the United States in 1989, where he taught for numerous years in Cornell University’s history department. He used innovative teaching methods and was ahead of his time in posting source materials for his students online from the early 1990s onwards. He also assigned students with the task of writing their own "glosses" (explanatory notes or comments in the margin) on medieval legal texts.

Paul was always happy to help students who were struggling, and indeed he was well-known for guiding his students with great care through dissertation research and writing. As a proud Jew, he was deeply committed to the concept of "tikkun olam" or “repairing the world”, which partly explains the amount of time he devoted to his students.

In addition to his academic work, Paul wrote two books: Kings, Lords and Peasants in Medieval England, published in 1980, and Rancor and Reconciliation in Medieval England, published in 2003.

Paul retired from his position at Cornell in 2013, and we returned to the UK to live in Oxford. Although officially retired, he remained passionate about history and was actively involved in several professional associations such as the American Society for Legal History, the Jewish Historical Society, and the Charles Homer Haskins Society. He was also a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Medieval Academy of America.

He is survived by me, his two children, Deborah and David, and his sister Catherine.


  • owenbarrett

    I'm Owen Barrett, a 31-year-old educational blogger and traveler. I enjoy writing about the places I've visited and sharing educational content about travel and culture. When I'm not writing or traveling, I like spending time with my family and friends.