Marjorie Chibnall

Marjorie Morgan McCallum Chibnall OBE FBA (27 September 1915 – 23 June 2012) was an English historian, medievalist and Latin translator. She edited Historia Ecclesiastica by Orderic Vitalis.

Marjorie Chibnall

Born(1915-09-27)27 September 1915
Died23 June 2012(2012-06-23) (aged 96)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Spouse(s)Charles Chibnall
Scientific career
FieldsMedieval History
InstitutionsClare Hall, University of Cambridge, Girton College, Cambridge, University of Aberdeen
Thesis'The English priories and manors of the abbey of Bec-Hellouin' (1942)
Doctoral advisorEileen Power
Other academic advisorsWilliam Abel Pantin


Born into a farming family at Atcham in Shropshire in 1915, Chibnall was educated at Shrewsbury Priory County Girls' School and Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she was taught by Evelyn Jamison, V. H. Galbraith and F. M. Powicke.[1]

In 1947, she married the biochemist and amateur medieval historian Charles Chibnall, who died in 1988.[2] They had a son and a daughter.[1][3] Chibnall died in Sheffield on 23 June 2012, at the age of 96.[2]

Scholarly life

Marjorie Chibnall took her BLitt at the University of Cambridge on the subject of ecclesiastical law, before moving on for her doctorate to a study of the relations between the mighty Bec Abbey in Normandy and its dependent English priories. She completed her doctorate in 1939 under the supervision of the economic historian Eileen Power. Her early career was spent teaching at the University of Southampton (1941–1943) and the University of Aberdeen (1943–1947).

Chibnall was from 1947 a lecturer in history at Girton College, Cambridge, and from 1953 a fellow of the college, but she relinquished her positions there in 1965 in order to complete her editorial work on the Historia Ecclesiastica of Orderic Vitalis. Four years later she was made a research fellow and subsequently a fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, and an honorary fellow of Girton College.

In a career spanning more than six decades, Marjorie Chibnall worked extensively on Anglo-Norman and Norman history. She encouraged much scholarship on these topics, as an active participant at the Battle Conferences on Anglo-Norman history and an editor of their proceedings. Chibnall's editions of the writings of Orderic Vitalis and of Atcham were acclaimed works, as was her biography of the Empress Matilda. She continued to publish when she was well into her nineties. Her last book, a short account of the Normans, was published in 2000.


Chibnall was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1978.[4] In 1979, the University of Birmingham granted her an honorary doctorate. In 2004, she was awarded an OBE for services to history.

Select bibliography

  • Select Documents of the English lands of the Abbey of Bec, (Royal Historical Society, Camden Third Series vol. 73, 1951)
  • John of Salisbury’s Memoirs of the Papal Court, (London, 1956)
  • (ed. & tr) The Ecclesiastical History of Orderic Vitalis, 6 vols., (Oxford, 1969–1980)
  • Charters and Custumals of the Abbey of Holy Trinity, Caen (Oxford, 1982)
  • The World of Orderic Vitalis, (Oxford, 1984)
  • Anglo-Norman England 1066–1166, (Oxford, 1986)
  • (ed.& tr.)The Historia Pontificalis of John of Salisbury, (Oxford, 1986)
  • Empress Matilda, (Oxford, 1991)
  • (ed. with Leslie Watkiss) The Waltham Chronicle : An Account of the Discovery of Our Holy Cross at Montacute and its Conveyance to Waltham (Oxford, 1994)
  • (ed. & tr. with R. H. C. Davis), The Gesta Guillelmi of William of Poitiers, (Oxford, 1998)
  • The Debate on the Norman Conquest, (Manchester, 1999)
  • Piety, Power and History in Medieval England and Normandy, (Aldershot, 2000)
  • The Normans (Oxford, 2000)


  1. "Marjorie Chibnall – Obituary". The Telegraph. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2014.
  2. "Marjorie McCallum CHIBNALL Obituary". The Times. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  3. Girton College (2012). The Year 2012. pp. 99–101.
  4. British Academy Fellowship record Archived 25 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine Accessed 25 July 2015
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