In memoriam Paul Meyvaert

October 9, 2015

Harvard's community of medievalists mourns the loss of Paul Meyvaert (1921-2015), magister, comes, amicus omnium. Our condolences to his family, friends, and students.

Paul Meyvaert passed away on October 6, 2015, unexpectedly at home. He was the loving husband of Ann (Freeman) for 43 years until her death in 2008. He was born in Wallasey, UK on Nov. 12, 1921 to Briton Jessie Ledger and Belgian Fernand Meyvaert. His father was a merchant marine officer, whom he hardly knew, and he was raised by his deeply religious mother in England, Ireland and his father's family home in Ghent. His mother led him into a pious life as a Benedictine monk at Fort Augustus Abbey in Scotland where he took the religious name Paul; he spent most of his cloistered life at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight. Without ever receiving a formal degree of any sort, he immersed himself in the abbey's library and acquired a vast self-taught knowledge of medieval civilization. At the abbey he met the accomplished scholar Ann Freeman when she was doing research there. They fell in love. Paul left the monastery in 1965 and, released from his vows by Rome, began a new life with Ann. Among his many accomplishments, he went on to become a husband, father, historian, executive director of the Medieval Academy of America, editor of Speculum, one of the world's leading scholarly journals in medieval studies, scholar, teacher and author of countless articles identifying authorship, forgery, or iconography behind famous works of early medieval art and literature. His several books include his autobiography Jeffrey's Story. Brilliant but exquisitely modest, he always had some interesting research to impart or fascinating story to tell. He generously shared his incomparable knowledge, especially with young scholars, and he will be truly, deeply missed. His long affiliation with Harvard University and its medieval studies community included summer seminars he taught in medieval palaeography (1977-1988) and appointment as an honorary associate in the Department of Classics. Among other national and international lectures, honors and awards, Paul received an honorary doctorate from the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in Toronto. Paul Jeffrey Meyvaert is survived by his loving daughter Jenny Meyvaert and her partner Janie Cron. He also leaves behind countless life-long friends, neighbors and colleagues around the world. Burial will be private at Mount Auburn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Paul Meyvaert's name to the Medieval Academy of America, 17 Dunster St. Suite 202, Cambridge MA 02138 or online at (From the Boston Globe, 11 October 2015)