J. B. Bury  

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"J. B. Bury was not a powerful philosophical intellect, but he read a certain amount of philosophy, and realized that there were philosophical problems connected with historical research." --The Idea of History (1946) by Robin George Collingwood.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

John Bagnell Bury (16 October 18611 June 1927), known as J.B. Bury, was an eminent Irish historian, classical scholar, Byzantinist and philologist.

Contents

Biography

Bury was born and raised in Clontibret, County Monaghan, where his father was Rector of the Anglican Church of Ireland, educated first by his parents, then at Foyle College in Derry and Trinity College in Dublin, where he graduated in 1882 and was made a fellow in 1885, at the age of 24. In 1893 he gained a chair in Modern History at Trinity College, which he held for nine years. In 1898 he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek, also at Trinity, a post he held simultaneously with his history professorship.<ref>Irish Times, 21 May 2008</ref> . In 1902 he became Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University.

At Cambridge, Bury became mentor to the great medievalist Sir Steven Runciman, who later commented that he had been Bury's "first, and only, student." At first the reclusive Bury tried to brush him off; then, when Runciman mentioned that he could read Russian, Bury gave him a stack of Bulgarian articles to edit, and so their relationship began. Bury was the author of the first truly authoritative biography of St Patrick (1905)

Bury remained at Cambridge until his death at the age of 65 in Rome. He is buried in the Protestant Cemetery there.

Writings

Bury's writings, on subjects ranging from ancient Greece to the 19th-century papacy, are at once scholarly and accessible to the layman. His two works on the philosophy of history elucidated the Victorian ideals of progress and rationality which undergirded his more specific histories. He also led a revival of Byzantine history, which English-speaking historians, following Edward Gibbon, had largely neglected. He contributed to, and was himself the subject of an article in, the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

Bibliography

As editor




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