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Robert Jean Knecht 20 September 1926–4 November 2023

For the Bulletin Forum: H-France Mark Greengrass (Professor Emeritus, University of Sheffield), David Potter (Professor Emeritus, University of Kent), Penny Roberts, Professor of History, University of Warwick

Born in London on 20 September 1926, Robert Jean Knecht spent all his career at the University of Birmingham (UK), where he was in post from 1956 to 1994. A specialist in the political and cultural life of Renaissance France, he had a remarkable gift at conveying his knowledge and passion for the subject to a wider audience. His biography of Francis I (Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I) (Cambridge, CUP, 1994), translated into French (Un prince de la Renaissance, François Ier et son royaume (Paris; Fayard, 1998), exemplified the ease with which he married culture and politics, and conveyed complex subjects with effortless clarity. Later works included The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France, 1483-1610) (Oxford; Blackwell, 2001) and The French Renaissance Court (New Haven and London; Yale U.P., 2008), which exemplified his gift for elegant synthesis. Those who knew him personally will remember with affection his capacity for telling anecdotes that reduced listeners to helpless laughter. Some of that quality is captured in an interview, conducted (in French) with him by Cédric Michon and published online: opens in a new window


For the obituary in The Guardian newspaper, written by Mark Greengrass, see opens in a new window