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Mandell Creighton (1843-1901)

Biographer, Bishop, Classicist, Clergyman, Editor, Educationalist, Essayist, Historian, Lecturer, Reviewer, Scholar, Theologian.
Mandell Creighton was born in Carlisle in 1843, into a church-oriented family, and in 1870 was ordained into the Church of England. Throughout his life, he juggled the demands of his practical work in the church, and his literary and historical work, and the events of his life witness a constant shifting of emphasis occasionally interspersed with projects that drew the two sides of his work together. During the early part of his church career, he began his masterly "History of the Papacy", the work for which he is best remembered, and the first volume of which appeared in 1882; in 1884 he resigned his living in Northumberland to go to Cambridge as the first Dixie Professor of Ecclesiastical History, and in 1886 he became editor of the newly-launched English Historical Review.
Creighton resigned from both this editorship and his Chair in 1891 upon being made Bishop of Peterborough. The fifth and last volume of the History of the Papacy came out in 1894, the year he accepted the presidency of the Church Historical Society; and in 1897 he became Bishop of London. In addition to his most famous work he published many books on subjects as diverse as Roman history, Tudor biography, modern theology and English topography. His general philosophy is clear from the pages of his great papal history, in which he displays his support of the moderates of the Reformation, and his dislike of both Martin Luther and the Papacy; a dislike mirrored in the attempts he made to reconcile the evangelical and catholic wings of his church in his own times. His philosophy of history tended to stress the actions of individuals over processes, but he was no writer of heroic narrative: he informed his readers that history-writing should "give off light not heat", and his approach to research was reflected in the Statutes he drew up for the University of London. He died in 1901; although rarely-read today, his life was one of dedication to his discipline and for that he has retained some interest as an avatar of academic historical studies.

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