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Professor Helmut Koenigsberger

Posted on 11/03/2014

It is with sadness that the History Department announces the death of our former colleague and Head of Department Professor Helmut Koenigsberger.

Helmut, known to everybody as Helli, was Professor of History at King’s from 1973 until his retirement in 1984. He was a leading scholar of early modern Europe, with a particular interest in the politics of art and culture in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. His collection of essays, Politicians and Virtuosi (1986), was reissued by Bloomsbury in paperback as recently as 2006. He was also an excellent synthesist of the early modern period, and his retirement was marked by a landmark festschrift, Politics and Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honour of H. G. Koenigsberger (1987), ed. Margaret Jacob and Phyllis Mack.

Emeritus Professor Jinty Nelson writes, in memory of Helli:

'Helli was an inspirational  teacher, and a fine successor to John Elliott. No wonder Early Modern Europe throve at King's then and has thriven since! Helli was a generous and convivial man, who loved playing chamber music (with, among others, Andrew Porter), and enjoyed departmental parties - enlivened by the presence of his delightful teenage daughters. Helli was a brilliantly original historian: he invented the concept of 'composite states'; he was keenly interested in Europe's contributions to the history of representative government; and when asked to write an American-style survey-book on Europe from 400 to 1500, leaped at the chance to offer a fresh account of the multicentredness that gave rise to a distinctive dynamism. This is a textbook that is still worth reading. But even more so are his essays, which fizz with intellectual energy. Politicians and Virtuosi (1986) is my favourite. Helli embodied the best of European culture.'

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