Ohio State University History Professor Awarded Top International Prize

News Release Date: 
03.19.12

Geoffrey Parker, Distinguished University Professor, Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History, and Associate of Ohio State’s Mershon Center; has been awarded the highly-coveted Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for History 2012 by the 200-year old Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The prize is given biennially to recognize international scholars and scientists in five different fields who exemplify the highest levels of accomplishment in their areas. Recipients receive a $150,000 cash award at a special ceremony later this year in Amsterdam. Although several of the past Heineken History Prize winners teach at American universities, Parker is the first Ohio State historian to be selected.

The selection committee cites Parker’s “outstanding scholarship on the social, political and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, in particular Spain, Phillip II, and the Dutch revolt; for contributions to military history in general; and for research in the role of climate in world history.”

"This is the sort of honor that, if it comes at all, only comes once,” Parker said. “And, it's a particular privilege for me to join my OSU colleague and friend earth scientist Lonnie Thompson, who won a Heineken Prize for his work in environmental sciences back in 2002"
Parker was nominated for the award by history department chair Peter Hahn, who said, “Geoffrey Parker is one of Ohio State’s most eminent faculty members.  He has published 36 books, is perhaps the world’s foremost authority on early modern European history, and has an established record of expertise in military history and world history.  Moreover, he has shaped the minds and won the hearts of thousands of students over his 45 years in the classroom.  I was deeply honored to nominate Geoffrey for the Heineken Prize and I am very pleased that he will be awarded it.”

Parker studied history at Christ’s College Cambridge, where he received a BA, PhD, and Litt.D. He then taught at the Universities of Cambridge and St. Andrews in Great Britain, the University of British Columbia in Canada, and at Illinois, and Yale in the U.S. He moved from Yale to join Ohio State’s Department of History in 1997.

He specializes in the social, political and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, with special reference to Spain and its empire.

He is the author of several seminal books in the area: The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road: The logistics of Spanish victory and defeat in the Low Countries Wars, 1567-1659 (1972; revised 2004), an explanation of why Spain – the only western superpower of its day – failed to suppress the Dutch Revolt. This was followed by a biography of Philip II (1978, translated into Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Italian and Polish) which he thoroughly revised and expanded for a new Spanish edition in 2010, now in its fifth printing; The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998); and, with Colin Martin (a former graduate advisee) The Spanish Armada, published in 1988 (the 400th anniversary), with a revised and expanded edition in 1999 in English and a further revised Spanish edition in 2011, already in its third printing.

Parker has written several other books on early modern Europe, including Europe in Crisis, 1598-1648 (1979; new edition, 2000), The Dutch Revolt (1977, revised edition, 1984; Spanish, German and Dutch translations), and The Thirty Years’ War (1984, revised edition, 1997; French, German and Spanish translations).

His best-known book is probably, The Military Revolution. Military innovation and the rise of the West, 1500-1800, published by Cambridge University Press in 1988 and winner of two book prizes. An expanded edition came out in 2002, with Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish translations. Parker plans to prepare a third, thoroughly revised edition. Also, he has just recently published a new edition of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare, which he edited and co-authored, taking the narrative and analysis down to 2007.

Additionally, Parker’s interest in world history is evident; he has edited The Times History of the World (third edition, 1995, many foreign language editions), the third edition of The Times Atlas of World History (1993), and The Times Compact Atlas of World History (fifth edition, 2008, many foreign language editions.)

To date, Parker has authored, edited or co-edited 36 books, published about 100 articles and book chapters, and 200 book reviews.

Not only a consummate scholar, Parker is a dedicated educator; he mentors students and teaches courses on the Reformation, European history and military history at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has directed six Senior Honors essays and 30 Doctoral Dissertations (with three more in progress.) In 2006, he was recognized for his outstanding teaching with an OSU Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.

Currently, Parker has just completed a narrative and analytical history, The Global Crisis: climate, war and catastrophe in the 17th-century world, to be published in 2013 by Yale University Press in English with simultaneous Spanish and Dutch language versions, concerning the climatically-induced crisis that created acute political, economic, intellectual and social upheaval around the globe in the 1640s and ’50s.  Although not the first such worldwide crisis, it is both the most recent and the only one that has left plentiful surviving records. His hope is that this study will help inform the current debate on the consequences for human society of sudden climatic change.

Parker is a fellow of the British Academy, the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Spanish-American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Academy of History (Madrid). He has received the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize from the Society for Military History, two book prizes, and two Guggenheim awards.  He holds three honorary doctorates, most recently from the University of Burgos in Spain (2010), and in 1992 the king of Spain made him Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic.

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