John Bossy

Born(1933-04-30)30 April 1933
Edmonton, North London
Died23 October 2015(2015-10-23) (aged 82)
AwardsCWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction, Wolfson History Prize
Academic background
EducationSt Ignatius college, Stamford Hill, North London
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
ThesisElizabethan Catholicism: The Link with France (1961)
InfluencesWalter Ullmann
Academic work
Notable worksChristianity in the West, 1400-1700 (1985)
Notable ideas"social miracle", "migration of the holy"

John Antony Bossy FBA (30 April 1933 – 23 October 2015) was a British historian who was a professor of history at the University of York.[1][2]


Bossy was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he was inspired by Walter Ullmann.[3] He lived and lectured in London (1962–66) and Belfast (1966–78) and was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.[4]

Bossy specialised in the history of religion, particularly in that of Christianity during the Reformation period and beyond. According to some commentators, his approach fused together elements of disciplines such as sociology and theology.[5]

His Ph.D. thesis was written on the relations between French and English Catholics during the period of the Renaissance[6] which contained within it the seeds of later work regarding Michel de Castelnau.[7]

He frequently wrote for the London Review of Books[8] and published series of articles in the journals Recusant History and Past & Present.[9] In 1991 The Embassy Affair won the British Crime Writers' Association CWA Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction and (jointly) the Wolfson History Prize.[3]

He moved to the University of York in 1979, where he was professor of History until his retirement in 2000. In 1993 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.[3]



  1. ^ "Research Staff and Honorary Fellows". University of York. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  2. ^ Obituary: Professor John Bossy FBA Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, University of York, Department of History. Accessed 1 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Ditchfield, Simon (15 November 2015). "John Bossy obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  4. ^ "John Bossy". LibraryThing. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  5. ^ Wooding, Lucy (7 January 2010). "The canon: Christianity in the West 1400-1700. By John Bossy". Times Higher Education.
  6. ^ Abraham, Ralph. "John Bossy". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  7. ^ Bossy, John. "Surprise, Surprise - An Elizabethan Mystery". History Today. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  8. ^ "John Bossy". London Review of Books. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  9. ^ See external links below.
  10. ^ "Books by John Bossy". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  11. ^ Bossy, John (30 January 2003). Disputes and Settlements: Law andHuman Relations in the West. ISBN 9780521534451. Retrieved 7 August 2014.