Charles Oman

Oman in 1940
Oman in 1940
BornCharles William Chadwick Oman
(1860-01-12)12 January 1860
Muzaffarpur district, India
Died23 June 1946(1946-06-23) (aged 86)
Oxford, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Oxford

Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, KBE, FBA (12 January 1860 – 23 June 1946) was a British military historian. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering. Occasionally his interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents by firepower alone.[citation needed] Paddy Griffith, among modern historians, argues that the British infantry's discipline and willingness to attack were equally important.

Early life

Oman was born in Muzaffarpur district, India,[1] the son of a British planter, and was educated at Winchester College and at the University of Oxford, where he studied under William Stubbs. Here, he was invited to become a founding member of the Stubbs Society, which was under Stubbs's patronage.


In 1881 he was elected to a Prize Fellowship at All Souls College, where he remained for the rest of his academic career. He was elected the Chichele Professor of Modern History at Oxford in 1905, in succession to Montagu Burrows. He was also elected to the FBA that year, and served as president of the Royal Historical Society (1917–1921), the Numismatic Society and the Royal Archaeological Institute.

Among his teaching activities at Oxford, he taught the special subject in military history with C. T. Atkinson of Exeter College that focused on the Peninsular War.

Oman's academic career was interrupted by the First World War, during which he was employed by the government's Press Bureau and the Foreign Office.

Oman was the Conservative Member of Parliament for the University of Oxford constituency from 1919 to 1935, and was knighted KBE in the 1920 civilian war honours list.[2]

The parody history book 1066 and All That, published in 1930, includes the dedication "Absit Oman", a distortion of the Latin phrase "Absit omen". It can be translated as "may Oman be absent", reflecting the prominence of Oman among English historians at the time.


He became an honorary fellow of New College in 1936, and received the honorary degrees of DCL (Oxford, 1926) and LL.D (Edinburgh, 1911 and Cambridge, 1927). He was awarded the Medal of the Royal Numismatic Society in 1928.[3] He died at Oxford aged 86.


Two of Oman's children became authors. His daughter Carola Oman CBE was a writer of history, biography, and fiction for adults and children, including a retelling of the Robin Hood legend and biographies of Admiral Lord Nelson and Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. His son Charles C. Oman wrote several volumes on British silverware and similar houseware, worked as a Keeper of the Department of Metalwork in the Victoria and Albert Museum,[4] and was active in the Folklore Society[5] (and was in turn father to Julia Trevelyan Oman).










  1. ^ "OMAN, Charles William Chadwick". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 332.
  2. ^ "No. 31840". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 March 1920. p. 3759.
  3. ^ "The Royal Numismatic Society-The Society's Medal". The Royal Numismatic Society. 23 May 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Society Meetings, 18 June 1958". Folklore. 69 (3): 216. 1958. JSTOR 1258870.
  5. ^ "Minutes of Meeting: June 15, 1949". Folklore. 60 (3): 305–306. 1949. doi:10.1080/0015587X.1949.9717940. JSTOR 1256648.
  6. ^ Tait, James (October 1892). "Review of Warwick the Kingmaker by Charles W. Oman". The English Historical Review. 7: 761–767.
  7. ^ "Review of A History of the Peninsular War, Vol. II, January–September 1809 by Charles Oman". The Athenæum (3953): 145–146. 1 August 1903.
  8. ^ Tait, James. (January 1907). "Review of The Great Revolt of 1381 by Charles Oman". The English Historical Review. 22: 161–164. doi:10.1093/ehr/XXII.LXXXV.161.