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Dr Henry Cohn

The History Department is deeply saddened by the passing of its Emeritus Reader, Dr Henry J. Cohn. Henry grew up in London and entered University College, Oxford, as a scholar, in 1954. Having taken his BA in 1957 and DPhil in 1963 (with a thesis on the government of the Rhine Palatinate in the fifteenth century), he moved on to a temporary post at Glasgow and a Lectureship in History at Leicester before coming to Warwick in 1967, two years after the foundation of the university​. Here, he immediately gained the respect of his colleagues, serving as acting head in 1969 when still a lecturer and leading the department formally from 1986-89. As he told Bernard Capp and Fred Reid respectively, the latter proved a 'doddle' early on but then turned into a demanding job that required all his managerial and administrative skills. He convened a second-year module on ‘Germany in the Age of the Reformation’ and a Year 3 special subject on ‘The German Peasants’ War 1524-25', taking all his academic duties extremely seriously and setting exacting standards in all student-facing activities right up to his retirement in​ 2003. At the same time, however, Henry remained a distinguished researcher, drawing not least on his knowledge of multiple languages. He had particular interests in the political history of the Holy Roman Empire on the eve of the Reformation (the subject of a monograph on The Government of the Rhine Palatinate in the Fifteenth Century, translated into German in 2013), the German Peasants’ War of 1525 (where he identified anticlericalism as a central factor in a seminal 1979 Past & Present article) and latterly the Imperial Diet (the subject of several recent essays). As a recognized authority in the field of Reformation studies, he served as external examiner to Lyndal Roper, now Regius Professor of History at Oxford. Alongside, Henry took a life-long interest in Jewish history, most recently with a focus on the contested pontificate of Pius XII. At this moment, our thoughts are with his wife Loretta, family and friends. The History Department will remember Dr Henry J. Cohn as an esteemed colleague, dedicated teacher and eminent scholar.

 

An interview with Richard Wallace for the ‘Voices of the University: Memories of Warwick, 1965-2015’ project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the university

 

For personal recollections by friends and former colleagues see here