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Simon Barton (1962-2017)

Earlier this week I learned about the unexpected death of Simon Barton, one of the leading historians of medieval Spain. A Professor of History at the University of Central Florida (and before that at the University of Exeter), Simon has produced a great deal of fine research about the political, military and social history of Iberia. By all accounts he was also an excellent teacher and supervisor who deeply cared for his students and colleagues.

While I don’t have a lot of personal experience with Professor Barton, we have communicated over the years and he was extremely helpful to me. Back when I created the De Re Militari website over 15 years ago he was gracious enough to allow us to republish two of his articles: From Tyrants to Soldiers of Christ: the nobility of twelfth-century Leon-Castile and the struggle against Islam and A Forgotten Crusade: Alfonso VII of Leon-Castile and the Campaign for Jaen (1148).

When I decided to create an issue of Medieval Warfare magazine about El Cid, Simon was the first person I reached out to, and again he was excited to help out. He offered to write about several topics, and we choose a piece examining Rodrigo Diaz’ rule over Valencia. That article - A man "raised up by God": El Cid and the Principality of Valencia - is part of the issue, and I couldn’t be more happier with what he contributed. Thank you Simon!

If you want to read more of Simon’s research, and learn why he is such a respected and influential scholar, check out any of these books:

Conquerors, brides, and concubines : interfaith relations and social power in medieval Iberia

The aristocracy in twelfth-century León and Castile

A history of Spain

The world of El Cid : chronicles of the Spanish reconquest (with Richard Fletcher)

Cross, crescent and conversion : studies on medieval Spain and Christendom in memory of Richard Fletcher (edited with Peter Linehan)

8 thoughts on “Simon Barton (1962-2017)”

  • Alun Williams

    He was my friend and a colleague of rare qualities. Always approachable and responsive, his scholarship embodied both humility and passion. His passing is a devastating personal blow and an immeasurable loss to medievalists and to the wider academic community.

  • Matthew Bennett

    It comes as a great shock to hear of Simon Barton's death. His academic work was of the highest standard and I have always turned to him for information on medieval Spain. He was also a charming and kindly person with whom I had the privilege to work on several occasions. We last met in at a conference in Lisbon in June when he spoke excitedly about his latest project. A sad loss.

  • Clive Dytor

    Such a shock and a tragedy. He was a great supporter and gave of his time so generously..what a loss to academic life and to the world. Our thoughts and prayers with his family. RIP Simon.

  • Asma Alshaiban

    I’m his student. He was really kind, and helpful. I can’t believe up to now. I remembered last time when I went to his office to say goodbye to him. He was happy and excited. Because he was good supervisor he promised me to read my thesis as he didn’t want to make me worried about my studying. When he left, he sent to me an email to tell me that he find my external examiner. He kept in touch with me as usual. When I email him he replied quickly. Last Friday I sent to him an email and it was the only email that wasn’t replied. I miss him too much.

  • Edwin Velez

    I was fortunate enough to learn under his guidance for a semester. Our time together was far too short. He will be sorely missed.

  • Barbara Gannon

    We at University of Central Florida only knew him a short while but I can say we are all devastated. Such a wonderful scholar and beautiful human being. So witty so kind. I have no words. To those who knew him at Exeter and his students, my profound condolences. .

  • Istvan T. Kristo-Nagy
    Istvan T. Kristo-Nagy January 27, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    What a mean, muddy thunder to kill the noblest tree…

  • Vaughan Birbeck

    I knew Simon years ago at the University of York when he was working on his Doctorate and I was an MA student. He always took an interest in where my studies were leading me (Anglo-Saxon kingship, as it turned out) and we had many a chat about the Venerable Bede. I still remember his warmth and kindness, and I'm shocked to hear of his passing. Condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

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