Freedman, Paul H. 1949–

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FREEDMAN, Paul H. 1949–

(Paul Harris Freedman)


Born September 15, 1949, in New York, NY; son of Alfred M. (a doctor) and Marcia (an economist) Freedman; married Bonnie Jean Roe (an attorney), August 15, 1982. Ethnicity: "Jewish (white)." Education: University of California, Santa Cruz, B.A., 1971; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1972, M.L.S., 1977, Ph.D., 1978.


Home—Pelham, NY. Office—Department of History, Yale University, P.O. Box 208324, New Haven, CT 06520; fax: 914-738-7359. E-mail[email protected].


University of California, Davis, lecturer in history, 1978-79; Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, assistant professor, 1979-84, associate professor of history, beginning 1984; Yale University, New Haven, CT, professor of history, 1997—, department chair, 2004—. Member of Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ, 1986-87; New York Public Library, fellow at Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, 2002-03.


Medieval Academy of America (fellow; council member, 1995-98), Society for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies, American Historical Association, Royal Academy of Belles Lettres (Barcelona, Spain; corresponding fellow).


Elliott Prize, Mediaeval Academy of America, 1981, for article "An Unsuccessful Attempt at Urban Organization in Medieval Catalonia," and Haskins Medal, 2002, for Images of the Medieval Peasant; Premio del Rey, 1993, for The Origins of Peasant Servitude in Medieval Catalonia; Guggenheim fellowship, 1994-95; Eugene M. Kaydon Prize, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2000, and Otto Gründler Prize, International Congress of Medieval Studies, 2001, both for Images of the Medieval Peasant.


The Diocese of Vic: Tradition and Regeneration in Medieval Catalonia, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1983.

The Origins of Peasant Servitude in Medieval Catalonia, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Church, Law, and Society in Catalonia, 900-1500, Ashgate Publishing (Brookfield, VT), 1994.

(Editor, with Caroline Walker Bynum) Last Things: Death and the Apocalypse in the Middle Ages, University of Pennsylvania Press (University Park, PA), 1999.

Images of the Medieval Peasant, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1999.

Contributor to history journals in the United States, Spain, France, Russian, Italy, Slovenia, and India.


Paul H. Freedman once told CA: "I was attracted to working on Catalan history because of the central role it played in medieval Europe. Barcelona was a rival of Genoa for dominance of the Western Mediterranean. The kingdom of Aragon united with the more populous county of Barcelona in the twelfth century, and under its kings Sicily, Sardinia, and even parts of Greece were for a time conquered while the Balearic Islands and the Moslem kingdom of Valencia were more permanently occupied by the Catalans. Catalonia was also a center of troubador poetry and chivalric culture of the high Middle Ages.

"I spent nine months in Vic and Barcelona from 1975 to 1976 and have returned most years since. Catalonia has very rich and not well-explored archives that are especially unusual in the amount they have preserved from the ninth and tenth centuries, periods that in most of northern Europe are known for only a handful of original records. In my current research, which has involved the use of about fifteen archival collections, I hope to show why peasants, who were free pioneers in the tenth century, became subject to one of the most harsh forms of medieval serfdom. I want to trace the course of this decline in their autonomy from the tenth to fourteenth centuries and suggest how this could have taken place at a time of economic expansion and increasing political stability."

Freedmdan later added: "In recent years I have been interested in the history of luxury products, especially spices, in the Middle Ages (roughly 1000 to 1500). I've tried to focus on the demand side—why these things are so highly prized—rather than on the trade routes or prices that constitute a better-understood supply side. This represents a change from work on medieval peasants. In looking at the images of peasants, especially as portrayed by satirical writings of the clergy and nobility, I was struck by how significant stereotypes about peasant eating habits were. Certain foods such as root vegetables or dairy products were identified as typical (and lowly) peasant fare, while spices, swans, peacocks, and large fish such as sturgeons or lampreys were properly consumed only by the aristocracy. After completing my book on images of medieval peasants, I thought I'd look more at the courtly world of the nobles and what sorts of things they consumed or considered high-status items.

"I am working on a book on the demand for spices in the Middle Ages and editing another on the history of food that begins with prehistoric humans and ends with the contemporary situation. In both works I'd like to see how taste, consumer preference, and ideas about what food is proper or elegant influence specific cultures and time periods."

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Freedman, Paul H. 1949–

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