Prof. Richard Abels
Department of History,
Courses (and sample syllabi):
Web Articles for Teaching
(Some of these are short pieces I wrote for use in my classes; others are documents that I edited and annotated. Feel free to use them but please give appropriate credit):
My research has focused on military and political institutions of Anglo-Saxon England, although I have also written about medieval heresy. I am currently writing a book on the influence of culture on the practice and representation of warfare in the medieval West, 500-1500.
Ph.D. awarded February, 1982
(J.M.W. Bean, Sponsor; John Mundy, Second Reader)
Dissertation: "Lordship and
Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon
M.Phil. awarded May, 1976
Orals: February, 1976. 'Excellent' in Medieval History (major field) and Early Modern Europe (minor field)
Examiners: Profs. J.M.W. Bean, John Mundy, J.W. Smit, and N. Garsoian
M.A. awarded January, 1976
Master's Thesis: "The effects of the Norman Conquest on the English thegnage"
B.A. awarded magna cum laude May, 1973
Chair, History Dept, The United
States Naval Academy,
Professor of History, The United
States Naval Academy,
Associate Professor of History, The
Assistant Professor of History, The
Assistant Professor of History
(Visiting), Cornell College,
Instructor in History,
Preceptor in History,
HONORS AND AWARD
Member of the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study,
The U.S. Naval Academy’s Service Excellence Award (2008)
The U.S. Naval Academy’s Excellence in Teaching Award (1991)
National Endowment for the Humanities Grant: "Teaching Ethics in the Humanities Core at USNA" (1993-1994)
Dept. of the Navy Superior Civil Service Medal (2003)
Dept. of the Navy Meritorious Civil Service Medal (1991, 2008)
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (elected 1990)
Chamberlain Fellow, Columbia University, 1980-81
President's Fellow, Columbia University, 1974-77
Harry J. Carman Fellow, Columbia University, 1973-74
B.A. magna cum laude
Phi Beta Kappa (May, 1973)
Great: War, Kingship and Culture in Anglo-Saxon
Raoul of Cambrai: An Old French Epic, trans. J. Crosland (1926). Revised translation with introduction by R. Abels. American
Heritage CP, 1994.
Military Obligation in Anglo-Saxon
The Normans and their
Adversaries: Essays in Memory of C. Warren Hollister. Co-edited with
Articles and Chapters in Books
“The Evolution of Civil Defense in Anglo-Saxon
Comparative Perspectives. Brepols in the Studies in the Early Middle Ages 28 (forthcoming).
“What has Weland to do with Christ?
The Franks Casket and the Acculturation of Christianity in
Speculum (July 2009).
“The Historiography of a Construct: ‘Feudalism’ and the Medieval Historian.” History Compass. Online at
“Cultural Representation and the Practice of War in the Middle Ages.” Journal of Medieval Military History 6 (2008): 1-31.
“Mercenaries and Paid Men in Anglo-Saxon England.” Pp. 143-66 in Mercenaries and Paid Men: The Mercenary Identity in the
Middle Ages. Ed. John France. Brill, 2008.
“Paying the Danegeld: Anglo-Saxon peacemaking with vikings.” Pp. 173-92 in War and Peace in Ancient and Medieval History.
Philip de Souza and John France.
“Concluding Remarks.” Pp. 256-64 in Lay Intellectuals in the Carolingian World. Ed. Patrick Wormald and Janet Nelson.
Alfred the Great, Asser, feudalism, fyrd, and
“"King Alfred the Great and his Biographers: Images and Imagination." Pp. 61-75 in Writing Medieval Biography, 750-1250:
“Cowardice and Duty in Anglo-Saxon England.” J. of Medieval Military History 4 (2006): 29-48.
“A Lying Legacy? A Preliminary Discussion of Images of Antiquity and Altered Reality in Medieval Military History.” J. of
Medieval Military History 5 (2005): 1-13. (With Stephen Morillo).
Entries for “Thorkell the Tall,”
“Ulfcetel, and ”Brihtnoth” in the
“Alfred the Great, the micel hæthen here and the viking threat.” Pp. 265-79 in Alfred the Great:Papers from the Eleventh-
Centenary Conferences. Ed. Timothy Reuter.Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2003.
"Royal Succession and the
Growth of Political Stability in Ninth-Century
History. 12 (2002 for 2003): 83-97.
“From Alfred to Harold II: The Military Failure of the Late Anglo-Saxon State.” Pp. 15-30 in The Normans and their Adversaries.
Ed. R. Abels and B. Bacharach (2001).
Military history entries for Blackwell Companion to Anglo-Saxon Studies, ed. S. Keynes and M. Lapidge, Blackwell, 1999.
“Sheriffs, Lord-Seeking and the
"King Alfred's Peace-Making Strategies with the Vikings," Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History 3 (1991): 23-34.
"English Tactics and Strategy
in the Late Tenth Century." Pp. 143-55 in The
Basil Blackwell, 1991.
"Historical Introduction to
Domesday Hertfordshire." Domesday Book Facsimile: Hertfordshire.
"Historical Introduction to
Domesday Bedfordshire." Domesday Book Facsimile: Bedfordshire.
"Bookland and Fyrd Service in
"The Devolution of Bookland in
"The Participation of Women in
Languedocian Catharism," Mediaeval Studies 41 (1979): 215-251 (with
CONFERENCE AND UNIVERSITY PRESENTATIONS
"Representations of Warfare in the Morgan Picture Bible." 2010. Charles Homer Haskins Society Conference, Boston College, 5 November.
“Evolving English Strategies during the Viking Wars.” Conduct of Warfare, c.950-c.1350: Strategy, Caceres, Spain. 11-12 November, 2009.
“’The crimes by which Wulfbald ruined himself with his lord’: The Limits of State Action in Late Anglo-Saxon England.”
“Cultural Representations of Warfare in the Morgan Picture Bible (Morgan Library Ms M.638).” School of Historical Studies,
Evolution of Civil Defense in Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon England and comparative perspectives.
Archaeology). 9-10 November 2007. (Keynote speaker.)
“The Surrender of
“Cultural Representation and the Practice of War in the Middle Ages.” Journal of Medieval Military History Annual Lecture at the
Forty-First Congress in Medieval
“Mercenaries and Paid Men in Anglo-Saxon
"Conceptions of Courage in Anglo-Saxon
"King Alfred the Great and his Biographers: Images and Imagination," The Limitations of Biography: Conference in Honour of
“‘What has Weland to do with Christ?’
The Franks Casket and the Acculturation of Christianity in Early Anglo-Saxon
Congress on Medieval Studies.
“Peace-making with Vikings: the
Anglo-Saxon Experience,” The Anglo-American Conference,
“The Generalship of Alfred the
Great,” Society for Military History,
“What ‘Great Heathen Army’? Alfred the Great and the Nature of the Viking Threat,” Alfred the Great Eleventh-Centenary
“The Growth of Political Stability
“The Role of Sheriffs in the Norman
Settlement,” 19th Annual
“Anglo-Saxon Logistics in the Late 9th and 10th Centuries,” Military Aspects of Scandinavian Society in a European Perspective,
AD 1-1300. The
“Love and Lordship: The Political
Vocabulary of Alfred the Great.” Medieval and Byzantine Studies Program at
University. 13 Feb. 1996.
"Wealth, Wisdom and War: The Political Ideas of King Alfred." Keynote Speaker at Annual Meeting of Phi Alpha Theta for
"Alfred the Great's Conception
of Kingship." International Congress on Medieval Studies.
"Paying the Danegeld: The War Policies of Alfred the Great and Æthelred the Unready." Annual Conference of the Charles
Society for Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Angevin, and Viking Studies.
"King Alfred's Peace-Making
Strategies with the Vikings." The Annual Conference of the Charles Homer
"Bede, Beowulf, and the Early
25 Oct. 1986.
"The Organization of the Late
Anglo-Saxon Army." American Historical Association.
The Military Organization of King
"Bookland Tenure and Military
Obligation in Late Anglo-Saxon
"The Worcestershire and Berkshire Domesday Custumals and Military Recruitment in late Saxon England." Nineteenth
Congress on Medieval Studies.
"The Introduction of Bookland Tenure and the Military Crisis of the Eighth Century." The Annual Conference of the Charles
"The Council of
I have also given public lectures at the Smithsonian for the Smithsonian Associates:
“The Knights Templar in History and Legend.” 22 July 2004.
BOOK REVIEWS. I regularly review for Speculum,
De Re Militari (online). I have also reviewed for AHR and EHR.
CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECT
Warfare and Culture in the Medieval West, 500-1500. Under contract with Yale University Press.
PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS AND OFFICES
President of the Charles Homer Haskins Society for Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman and Angevin Studies (1998-2001)
International Congress for Medieval Studies]
Associate editor for Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History (2001-05)
History reviewer for Old English Studies Newsletter (1998-2001)
J. F. Verbruggen Prize Committee (for best monograph in medieval military history), chair, 2001-2, member 2003-2007
North American Conference on British Studies, Walter D. Love Prize Committee for Best Article in British Studies, Chairman 1989;
Middle Atlantic Conference on British Studies, Program Organizer (with Assoc. Prof. N. Ellenberger, USNA) for Spring 1991
Refereed book manuscripts and proposals for Oxford (ms and proposals), University of Pennsylvanian (ms), University of California Press (mss), Cornell University Press (ms), Boydell & Brewer (ms and proposals), Houghton-Mifflin (ms), Routledge (proposals), Yale University Press (proposals), McGraw-Hill (proposal), Naval Institute (ms and proposals), and Basil Blackwell (proposals).
Refereed articles for American
Refereed scholarship for promotion
for candidates at
Refereed research fellowships from the Leverhulme Foundation, Institute for Advanced Studies, Radcliffe Fellowship, Guggenheim
Outside reader and primary director
of Dr. Stefan Zimmer’s dissertation,
(MAJOR COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS)
Navy selection board for Permanent Military Professor (April 2006)
YARD AND HUM/SS DIVISION
Senate/Faculty Governance Involvement:
President of the Faculty Senate (AY 2006, 2007);
Vice President of the Faculty Senate (AY 2004, 2005).
Faculty Senate Rep for History Dept. AY 1993-1999; Division III representative (AY2004-present)
Co-chaired the Senate Constitution Committee and negotiated the formation of the Senate with Adm. Lynch during the summer of 1993.
Academic Assembly (Senate rep to, AY 2004-2005)
Senate rep to Commandant’s Staff meetings (2003-2005)
Senior Leadership Council (ex officio Senate rep, AY 2004-present)
President of Faculty Forum (AY summer 1992-fall 1993: presided over abolition to make way for a Faculty Senate); VP AY 1992; member (AY 1985-1986)
Objectives Review Board (AY1992);
Faculty Forum, Chair Curriculum Committee (AY 1992)
As President of the Faculty Forum I initiated the process that led to the reconstituting of the Civilian Faculty Committee and Faculty Forum into a single Faculty Senate. My most rewarding work as Faculty Senate President was to oversee the Senate initiative that made child care more readily available to civilian faculty and staff.
Rhodes, Marshall, and FitzGerald Program/British Scholarships Program (director, AY 1991, co-director, AY 1988-1991, member of British Scholarships Committee AY 1984-present.)
British Scholarships Youngster program (director Youngster program AY 2003-2004; co-director: AY 1984-1987)
Pownall Scholarship Committee (AY 1991-1992, 1996).
Promotion, Admissions, and Assessment Committees
Co-Chair of the Middle States Committee on Faculty (AY 2004-2005).
Yard-Wide Promotion and Tenure (co-chair AY 1995),
Admissions Board (AY 1993),
Teacher/Student Partnership PAT, chair. Defined “quality education at USNA and made proposals to improve educational process (AY1994).
Ad hoc Committee for Integrating the Civilian Faculty: responded to Turner Commission queries (AY 1998)
Periodic Middle States Review. Chair for committee on USNA organization. (AY 1999)
Naval Academy Research Committee (2001);
USNA 2000: academics and teaching committee (AY1992)
Character development/gender relations committees
Character Development Course PAT: worked with COL M. Hagee to develop program Integrity Development Seminar program (AY1994)
Human Relations Committee. AcDean’s representative (only civilian and academic on committee). The committee finally “answered the mail” on the Rondeau Report. (AY2003).
Academy Group (to realign training and education to meet warfighting needs of 21st century). (AY2002)
Steering Committee for Dignity and Respect Implementation Team. AcDean's representative (only civilian and only academic on committee). This Commandant's committee focused on improving the climate of dignity and respect at USNA (AY 2000-2001)
Faculty Awards Committees:
Research Excellence Committee (co-chair, 2004-2005);
Teaching Excellence Prize Committee (AY 2001-2003);
Clements Prize Committee for best military instructor (AY1998-2000);
Apgar Award Committee (AY 2001-2003)
Emergency Management Working Group (AY2006)
Helped preserve existing
Created (with Tom Brennan) departmental works-in progress seminar (1985)
Departmental Hiring Committees. Chaired four (most recently 2007) involving four full time hires and two one-year hires; served on four other hiring committees.
Chaired Departmental PMP Selection Committee (2000)
Promotion and Tenure (Dept). Chaired AY2002, 2005; served AY1991, 2000);
Pay, Promotion and Tenure (Dept) served (AY1986, 1988)
Pay and Awards (Dept). Chaired (AY1999, 1997); served (AY1990),
History honors committee (chaired for class of 1997)
I have also chaired and served on the Bancroft Committee, chaired the Shifrin Committee, been course coordinator several times for HH205, chaired the Majors Committee several times, chaired works-in-progress, and have been on the Research and Sabbatical Committee, IDP, Organized with Shifrin Professor V.D. Hanson a series of distinguished military historians and a year long History Department colloquia on the state of military history as a a discipline (AY 2003).
Organized (AY 2007) History Faculty colloquia in which History Dept.
military faculty discussed their activities and experiences in