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CHARLESJULIAN BISHKO 1906-2002 CHARLESJULIAN BISHKO (1906-2002) A PERSONAL MEMOIR Heath Dillard New York City Charles Julian Bishko, the renowned scholar and historian of medieval and early modern Iberia, died February 17, 2002 after several months of confining illness, at his home, the Westminster Canterbury Housejust outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Julian, who was my teacher and became my friend, was born in New York City on October 6, 1906 and trained in classics at Syracuse University and in history at Harvard. He moved permanently to the University ofVirginia with his wife and scholarly companion, Lucretia Ramsey, in 1938 and rose to become a Commonwealth Professor of History. This kind, witty and gallant individual was esteemed and honored by his many friends, colleagues and students for his deeply humane warmth as well as for the vast learning and keen scholarlyjudgment which he shared generously and modestly with others. He was a gentleman of the old school. Around the University he always doffed his hat to acquaintances he passed on the sidewalks, and he was invariably courteous to everyone. One summer afternoon, returning from a conference in Baltimore, the train broke down north ofCharlottesville, and he began to ferry paper cones ofcold water to Lucretia and other ladies who were wilting in the heat. Many, observing this kindness, also began to suffer and swoon in the hot railroad car, and by the time train and air conditioner started up, quite a few had availed themselves of his kindness, or imitated it, and little remained of the water cooler's contents. Well-known around "Grounds" (the University of Virginia campus ), Bishko was honored with many tributes during his scholarly lifetime at the University. He received both the Thomas Jefferson and Raven Society awards for service and the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Alumni Association. When he retired in 1977 colleagues and La corónica 31.1 (Fall, 2002): 142-59 144Heath DillardLa corónica 31.1, 2002 former students arranged for a precedent-setting gala in the Rotunda ballroom, under the dome of the University's newly restored monument , an event that was widely copied thereafter as an appropriate tribute to other retirees. Soon after this, an anonymous alumnus of the College established a chair of history in his name, a unique honor given by one of scores of admiring and affectionate former students. Member of numerous scholarly societies, Bishko was a fellow of the Medieval Academy ofAmerica and corresponding member of the Real Academia de Historia. Nearing retirement, he received from King Juan Carlos I the Order of Isabel la Católica awarded for service on behalf of Spanish history and culture abroad. An acknowledged expert in his chosen field of medieval history, he maintained a wideranging correspondence with others on numerous other topics of mutual interest. American and foreign scholars alike came to the University to consult with him, and some were occasionally enjoined to come to classes with students who knew their visitors' books from the monumental reading lists Bishko assigned. Remembrance is a precious and often fragile thing, especially of so private and reserved a person as was Julian Bishko. Some students feared him at first for the reserved manner and towering intellect of this small, slightly-built man, but most grew to revere him as an exceptional teacher, a scholar in whom they had the good fortune to have met up with one ofthe finest and most versatile minds on Grounds. Each of us remembers different events and gifts, but invariably we recall the superb teacher whose lectures never failed in interest or clarity. He brought to life the European Middle Ages and its Latin culture and, in particular, the history of Spain and Portugal for generations of us who ventured into the classrooms of this little man. Besides broad-brimmed hats, he favored dark, baggy suits which became generously dusted with blackboard chalk dust by the end of the hour, as he delineated, say, the four pillars ofmedieval feudalism (fief, oath, castle, horse). Distinctive was the way he pronounced Afilla the Hun, and consistent his hard 'c' in Celtic ("Oh, you're a soft 'c' man?", he would inquire). He was a waxer, not a waner, when...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1947-4261
Print ISSN
0193-3892
Pages
pp. 142-159
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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