Joseph R. Strayer

Joseph R. Strayer books and biography


Joseph Strayer


Joseph Strayer (1904–1987) was an influential 20th century American medievalist historian. He was a student of, and mentored by, Charles H. Haskins, America's first prominent medievalist historian.

Strayer taught at Princeton University for many decades, starting in the 1930s. He was chair of the history department (1941–1961) and president of the American Historical Association in 1971. Strayer has been credited with training a large percentage of the American medievalists profession; many of his students are still teaching and active. A notable student was Norman F. Cantor.

When not teaching medieval history at Princeton, Strayer was involved with the CIA, traveling around the world on secret missions to install "democratic" governments.[1]

Norman Cantor recognized three books as most important to Strayer's legacy: Feudalism (1965), which summarized three decades of his research and thinking on the topic; On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (1970), in which he shows the relevance of medieval historical institutions to modern governmental institutions; and The Reign of Philip the Fair (1980), representing over 30 years of archival research and the most comprehensive work on the topic in any language.[1]


  • Administration of Normandy Under Saint Louis (1932)
  • The Middle Ages, 395-1500 (1942) - an extended textbook survey. Originally co-authored by Dana C. Munro in 1942, by the 1959 4th edition it was mostly all Strayer. Cantor says it is important for "its brilliant summary of European political history from about 1050 to 1350".[1]
    • Western Europe in the Middle Ages: a Short History (1955) - a brief version of the above, reprinted in later editions.
  • The Interpretation of History (1950)
  • The Course of Civilization (1961)
  • Feudalism (1965)
  • On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State (1970)
  • Medieval statecraft and the perspectives of history (1971)
  • The Albegensian Crusade (1972)
  • The Royal Domain in the Bailliage of Rouen (1976)


  1. ^ a b Cantor, chapter 7 "American Pie"


  • Norman Cantor (1991). Inventing the Middle Ages. ISBN 0688094066
  • A. L. C. Homem; J. G. Freitas (1991). «On a Medievalist’s Death»: Joseph R. Strayer (1904-1987), Revista da Faculdade de Letras [Porto University]. História, II sér., VIII (1991): 439-445.

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