Spotlight on John Hudson
March 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Professor John Hudson joined the School of History at the beginning of October 1988, two days after submitting his Oxford DPhil. thesis. The subject of the thesis, which was pithily entitled ‘Legal Aspects of Seignorial Control of Land in the Century after the Norman Conquest’, has remained central to much of his subsequent work, leading up to his recent volume of The Oxford History of the Laws of England – which, despite its £150 price tag, could be considered a bargain in terms of words per pound.
He has two other main areas of research interest. One is mediaeval historical writing, mostly in England – as in his two-volume edition of the History of the Church of Abingdon, an important twelfth-century monastic text – but also more widely, as in his contribution on ‘Local Histories’ in the Oxford History of Historical Writing. The other is nineteenth-century writing on the Middle Ages, and in particular the work of the greatest of legal historians, F. W. Maitland. He shares the opinion of his own undergraduate tutor, James Campbell, that if his tutees have read at least some of Maitland’s Domesday Book and Beyond during their undergraduate degree, their time at University has been well spent.
Some of his legal history work plays with the applicability to mediaeval situations of ideas from modern legal theory. His amateur enthusiasm for this subject has been encouraged and checked by his visiting association with the University of Michigan Law School, where he enjoys the extravagant title of William W. Cook Global Law Professor. His other important collaborative work is with members of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cíentificas in Madrid, most recently a multi-million Euro project on institutionalisation in the Middle Ages (known as PIMIC).
John is in his second stint as Head of School, but normally enjoys teaching a wide range of courses both in and outside his main research areas. In particular he has taught a series of Honours modules about aristocratic culture, the latest mutation of which is called Courtroom Dramas: Law and Literature in Twelfth Century France.
As well as being well in to four figures in the number of squash matches he has played with Rob Bartlett (overall score a closely kept secret), a few years ago John joined with former and current students to start the now traditional participation in the Edinburgh relay marathon, running on behalf of MS Scotland.