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Chris Wickham, University of Oxford

Eric Hobsbawm was not very interested in medieval history, but he did edit and comment on Marx’s own thoughts on how ‘feudal’ economies worked. How do these stand up today? Do we have now to assume that medieval economies simply worked like capitalist ones in their basic rhythms, only less well? This lecture will look at alternative ways of understanding the economic logic which prevailed in the medieval period, and how its dynamic may have worked as well, on the basis of recent work on the Mediterranean, north-west Europe, and further afield.

Chris Wickham was Chichele Professor of Medieval History at the University of Oxford from 2005 to 2016. Before that, and after, he taught at the University of Birmingham. He knew Eric through his editorship of Past & Present from 1994 to 2009. He has written 15 books, amongst them Framing the Early Middle Ages (Oxford University Press, 2005); Sleepwalking into a New World: The Emergence of Italian City Communes in the Twelfth Century (Princeton University Press, 2015) and Medieval Europe (Yale University Press, 2016).

The Eric Hobsbawm Memorial Lecture is organised by Birkbeck’s Department of History, Classics and Archaeology in collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research. It is held annually to honour the lasting legacy of one of the greatest historians of the twentieth century. Birkbeck has established the Hobsbawm Scholarship Fund to support the next generation of historians in their pursuit of original research. You can find out more here. Please email Charlotte Belson or call 020 7380 3112 if you would like to support the fund.