James M. Powell

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James Matthew Powell (born June 9, 1930 in Ohio - † January 27, 2011 ) was an American historian .

James M. Powell made his bachelor's degree in 1953 and his master's degree from Xavier University in 1955 . He studied Medieval History at the University of Cincinnati from 1955 to 1957 . In 1957 he moved to Indiana University . There followed in 1959 the Ph.D. under the supervision of Arthur Hogue with the work The Economic Policy of Frederik II in the Kingdom of Sicily . With this study began his long-standing interest in the medieval history of Italy. He began teaching in 1959 at Kent State University , and in 1961 he moved to the University of Illinois . Powell taught as a professor of medieval history at Syracuse University from 1965 until his retirement in 1997, initially as an assistant professor, since 1967 as an associate professor and since 1972 as a full professor.

His research focus was the age of the crusades . In 1971 he submitted an English translation of the Melfi Constitutions . It was the first translation from Latin into a modern language. Powell published numerous studies on the Popes Innocent III. and Honorius III. In 2004 a translation of the Gesta innocentii ( The Deeds of Pope Innocent III ) followed. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (1989/1990) in Princeton, President of the American Catholic Historical Association (2007) and founder of the Midwest Medieval History Conference . In 1998 he became a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society . He was President of the Society for Italian Historical Studies from 1993 to 1995 . For his portrayal of Anatomy of a Crusade, 1213-1221 he was awarded the 1987 John Gilmary Shea Prize of the American Catholic Historical Association. In 2007 his essays were published in the anthology The Crusades, the Kingdom of Sicily, and the Mediterranean . Powell is considered to be the founder of modern, source-based tendril research. The Ranke Library with its sources and source editions was once the largest private library in Berlin and was sold to Syracuse University after Leopold von Ranke's death . It had been part of the Syracuse University Library since 1888, but had not been maintained for several generations. Powell has been able to renew the library over many years since 1970 and make it accessible to the public online. In 2011 he died of injuries in a car accident.



  • Siegfried Baur: On the death of Prof. James M. Powell. In: Historical communications. On behalf of the Ranke Society. Volume 23, 2010, pp. 10-16.

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