Aston, Margaret, 1932-2014

by Susan Brigden FBA

31 Oct 2019
Number of pages
12 (pages 325-336)

The Hon. Margaret Aston was an historian who studied English religious life between the late Middle Ages and the Civil War. She was born into families of great distinction, dedicated to high public service and the arts. Her first study was of the career of Archbishop Arundel, and from it grew an abiding interest in heterodoxy and popular belief. In a series of articles, she reconstructed the mental and social worlds of the Lollards. She was fascinated by the relationship between the image and the word, and by art and its power and spiritual dangers; this became the principal focus of her work. Her summa was her great diptych, conceived in 1971, which occupied the rest of her scholarly life: England’s Iconoclasts I: Laws against Images (1988) and Broken Idols of the English Reformation (2016). These are works of great depth and range, which transformed the understanding of the long Reformation in England. An independent scholar for most of her career, she was involved in many scholarly collaborations.

Posted to Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the British Academy, XVIII

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