Elton, Sir Geoffrey Rudolph

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ELTON, SIR GEOFFREY RUDOLPH (1921–1994), British historian. Elton, a son of Victor *Ehrenberg, was born in Tuebingen, Germany, and went to England in 1939. He began teaching at Cambridge University in 1949, and in 1967 was appointed professor of constitutional history. From 1983 to 1988 Elton was Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge.

Elton's interpretation of the political and constitutional history of 16th-century England has brought about a major reassessment of the Tudor period. His most important work, The Tudor Revolution in Government (1953), portrays the 1530s as a revolutionary decade, when Henry viii's minister, Thomas Cromwell, reshaped England's government. Elton later extended and consolidated his insights in England under the Tudors (1955), and in a collection of documents, The Tudor Constitution (1960). His other books include Reformation Europe (1963), which is a basic introduction to the subject, and The Practice of History (1967). He edited a number of volumes of the New Cambridge Modern History.

Elton was one of the most distinguished historians of early modern Britain, although many of his theories about Tudor government were widely disputed. He received innumerable honors, including honorary degrees from six universities, while no fewer than five Festschriften were published in his honor. He was knighted in 1986.

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