back to news Oct. 9, 2012

Heineken Laureate Gives Closing Remarks at International Awards Ceremony

Geoffrey Parker, awarded the Dr. A.H. Heineken Prize for History 2012 earlier in the year, was asked to give the closing remarks on behalf of all the laureates and prize recipients at a special international awards ceremony in Amsterdam on September 27, 2012.

The prize in history, given biennially by the 200-year-old Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for historians.

The Heineken Prize recognizes international scholars and scientists in five different fields — biochemistry and biophysics, medicine, environmental sciences, history, and cognitive science — who exemplify the highest levels of accomplishment in their areas.

These five Heineken Awards, along with the Heineken Prize in Art, and the Heineken Young Scientists Awards, were presented by the Prince of Orange, crown prince of the Netherlands.

Parker is Distinguished University Professor, Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History, and Associate of Ohio State’s Mershon Center. He is the first Ohio State historian to receive this top international prize, which includes a $150,000 cash award.

Parker joins Ohio State’s only other Heineken Prize recipient, Distinguished University Professor Lonnie Thompson, School of Earth Sciences, who received the Heineken in 2002 for his outstanding work in environmental sciences — also the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for work in this area.

The selection committee cited Parker’s “outstanding scholarship on the social, political and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, in particular Spain, Phillip II, and the Dutch revolt; for contributions to military history in general; and for research in the role of climate in world history.”

Parker was nominated for the award by history department chair Peter Hahn, who said, “Geoffrey Parker is one of Ohio State’s most eminent faculty members.  He has published 36 books, is perhaps the world’s foremost authority on early modern European history, and has an established record of expertise in military history and world history. Moreover, he has shaped the minds and won the hearts of thousands of students over his 45 years in the classroom.” 

Parker studied history at Christ’s College Cambridge, where he received a BA, PhD, and Litt.D. He then taught at the Universities of Cambridge, St. Andrews (Scotland and British Columbia), Illinois, and Yale. He joined Ohio State’s Department of History in 1997.

He specializes in the social, political, and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, with special reference to Spain and its empire.

He is the author of several seminal books in the area: The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road: The logistics of Spanish victory and defeat in the Low Countries Wars, 1567-1659 (1972; revised 2004), an explanation of why Spain – the only western superpower of its day – failed to suppress the Dutch Revolt. This was followed by a biography of Philip II (1978, third edition 2002; translated into Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Italian and Polish); The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998); and, with Colin Martin (a former graduate advisee) The Spanish Armada, published in 1988 (the 400th anniversary), with a revised and expanded edition in 1999.

Parker has written several other books on early modern Europe, including Europe in Crisis, 1598-1648 (1979; new edition, 2000), The Dutch Revolt (revised edition, 1984; Spanish, German and Dutch translations), and The Thirty Years’ War (revised edition, 1997; French, German and Spanish translations).

His best-known book is probably, The Military Revolution: Military innovation and the rise of the West, 1500-1800, published by Cambridge University Press in 1988 and winner of two book prizes. An expanded edition came out in 2002, with Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish translations. Parker plans to prepare a third, thoroughly revised edition. Also, he has just published a new edition of The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare, which he edited and co-authored, taking the narrative and analysis down to 2007.

Additionally, Parker’s interest in world history is evident; he has edited The Times History of the World (third edition, 1995, many foreign language editions), the third edition of The Times Atlas of World History (1993), and The Times Compact Atlas of World History (fifth edition, 2008, many foreign language editions.)

To date, Parker has authored, edited or co-edited 36 books, published about 100 articles and book chapters, and 200 book reviews. 

Not only a consummate scholar, Parker is a dedicated educator; he mentors students and teaches courses on the Reformation, European history and military history at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has directed six Senior Honors essays and 26 Doctoral Dissertations (with 6 more in progress.) In 2006, he was recognized for his outstanding teaching with an OSU Alumni Distinguished Teaching Award.

Currently, Parker is completing a narrative and analytical history, The Global Crisis: climate, war and catastrophe in the 17th-century world, concerning the climatically-induced crisis that created acute political, economic, intellectual and social upheaval around the globe in the 1640s and ’50s. Although not the first such worldwide crisis, it is both the most recent and the only one that has plentiful surviving records. His hope is that this study will help inform the current debate on the consequences for human society of sudden climatic change.

Parker is a fellow of the British Academy, the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Spanish-American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Royal Academy of History (Madrid). He has received the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize from the Society for Military History, two book prizes, and two Guggenheim awards.  In September 2010, the University of Burgos in Spain conferred upon Parker an honorary doctorate.