Charles Oman

Charles Oman books and biography


Charles Oman


Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman (January 12, 1860 - June 23, 1946) was a notable British military historian of the early 20th century. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering. His style is an invigorating mixture of historical accuracy and emotional highlights, and it makes his narratives, though founded on deep research, often read as smoothly as fiction, especially in his History of the Peninsular War. Occasionally, his interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents by firepower alone. Paddy Griffiths, among modern historians, claims the British infantry's discipline and willingness to charge were equally important.

He was born in India, the son of a British planter, and was educated at Oxford University, where he studied under William Stubbs. In 1881 he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at All Souls College, where he would remain for the rest of his career.

He was elected to Chichele Professor of modern history at Oxford in 1905, in succession to Montagu Burrows. He was also elected FBA that year, serving as President of the Royal Historical and Numismatic societies, and of the Royal Archaeological Institute.

His academic career was interrupted by the First World War, during which he was employed by the government Press Bureau and Foreign Office.

Oman was a Conservative member of Parliament for the University of Oxford constituency from 1919 to 1935, and was knighted in 1920.

He became an honorary fellow of New College in 1936 and received the honorary degrees of DCL (Oxford, 1926) and LL.D (Edinburgh, 1911 and Cambridge, 1927). He died at Oxford.

Two of his children became authors. Son Charles wrote several volumes on British silverware and similar housewares. Daughter Carola was notable for her biographies, especially that of Nelson.


  • The Art of War in the Middle Ages (1885)
  • "The Anglo-Norman and Angevin Administrative System (1100-1265)", in Essays Introductory to the Study of English Constitutional History (1887)
  • A History of Greece From the Earliest Times to the Death of Alexander the Great (1888; 7th ed., 1900)
  • Warwick the Kingmaker (1891)
  • The Story of the Byzantine Empire (1892)
  • The Dark Ages 476-918, Period I of Periods of European History (1893; 5th ed. 1905)
  • A History of England (1895; 2nd ed. 1919)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Vol. I: A.D. 378-1278 (1898; 2nd ed. 1924)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages, Vol. II: A.D. 1278-1485 (1898; 2nd ed. 1924)
  • "Alfred as a Warrior", in Alfred The Great, Alfred Bowker, ed. (1899)
  • England in the Nineteenth Century (1900)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. I: 1807-1809 (1902)
  • Seven Roman Statesmen of the Later Roman Republic (1902)
  • England and the Hundred Years War, 1327-1485 A.D. (1903?), No. III of The Oxford Manuals of English History, Charles Oman, ed.
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. II: Jan. 1809-Sep. 1809 (1903)
  • "The Peninsular War, 1808-14", in The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. IX, Napoleon (1906)
  • "The Hundred Days, 1815", in The Cambridge Modern History, Vol. IX, Napoleon (1906)
  • "Inaugural lecture on the study of history" (1906?), in Oxford Lectures On University Studies, 1906-1921 (1924)
  • The Great Revolt of 1381 (1906)
  • From the Accession of Richard II. to the Death of Richard III. (1377-1485), Vol. IV of The Political History of England (1906)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. III: Sep. 1809-Dec. 1810 (1908)
  • A History of England Before the Norman Conquest (1910; 8th ed. 1937), Vol. I of A History of England in Seven Volumes (1904-), Charles Oman, ed.
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. IV: Dec. 1810-Dec. 1811 (1911)
  • Wellington's Army, 1809-1814 (1912)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. V: Oct. 1811-Aug. 1812 (1914)
  • The Outbreak of the War of 1914-18: A Narrative Based Mainly on British Official Documents (1919)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. VI: Sep. 1812-Aug. 1813 (1922)
  • The Unfortunate Colonel Despard & Other Studies (1922)
  • British Castles (1926)
  • "The Duke of Wellington", in Political Principles of Some Notable Prime Ministers of the Nineteenth Century, Fossey John Cobb Hearnshaw, ed. (1926)
  • Studies in the Napoleonic Wars (1929)
  • History of the Peninsular War, Vol. VII: Aug. 1813-Apr. 1814 (1930)
  • The Coinage of England (1931)
  • Things I Have Seen (1933)
  • "The Necessity for the Reformation" (1933) (public lecture)
  • A History of the Art of War in the Sixteenth Century (1937)
  • The Sixteenth Century (1937)
  • On the Writing of History (1939)
  • Memories of Victorian Oxford and of Some Early Years (1941)
  • The Lyons Mail (1945)

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