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Death of Prof Christopher Brooke

  • 30 December 2015

The College flag is flying at half-mast today following the death of Professor Christopher Brooke, Dixie Professor Emeritus of Ecclesiastical History and Life Fellow of Gonville & Caius.

Prof Brooke died peacefully on December 27, aged 88.

A medieval historian, Prof Brooke, CBE, FBA, Hon VPSA, was a Fellow at Caius from 1949 to 1956, and then from 1977 until 1994, when he became a Life Fellow.

He was the author of “A History of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge”, published by Boydell Press (1996).

In a 2008 interview for the project “Making history: the discipline in perspective”, Prof Brooke described himself as an “hereditary historian”, having learned from his father, the medieval historian Nugent Brooke. He said: “I had the opportunity of working really as apprentice to him from when I was 14 or 15. I gave up collecting engine numbers and took to collecting medieval archdeacons instead."

The other two major influences on his life were the historian Dom David Knowles, who taught him at Cambridge, and his wife Rosalind, Prof Brooke said.

Asked about the future of the discipline, he said: "I do think history is incomparable as cultural instruction. The difficulty is that it mustn't be propounded by people sort of ex-cathedra, as if they were issuing papal encyclicals...

"It is potentially one of the most powerful educational forces in the world, and the more scientific it is, the more effective and powerful it is.”

Historians, he concluded, “need to be rather humble and modest or else they'll get too big for their boots, because the world in a sense is at our feet.”

Professor Sir Alan Fersht, Master of Caius, said: “It is with great sadness that I report that Christopher died peacefully on 27 December 2015. His funeral will be held in the Chapel at a date later to be announced.”

A fuller obituary will be published shortly.

 

For more information, contact Lucy Ward, Communications Officer: news@cai.cam.ac.uk

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