Denys Hay

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Prof Denys Hay FRSE FBA (29 August 1915 – 14 June 1994) was a British historian specializing in medieval and Renaissance Europe, and notable for demonstrating the influence of Italy on events in the rest of the continent.


He was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on 29 August 1918 the son of Rev W K Hay and his wife, Janet Waugh. He was educated at the Newcastle Royal Grammar School then won a place at Oxford University.[1]

During the Second World War he was officially employed as a war historian.

He lectured in Modern History at the University of Edinburgh from 1945 until 1954, then becoming Professor of Medieval and Renaissance History[2] until he retired in 1980, and is remembered with the "Denys Hay Seminar" there. His final posting was to the European University Institute in Florence, where he was Professor in the History Department.

He died in Edinburgh on 14 June 1994.


In 1937 he married Sarah Gwyneth Morley.

They had one son and two daughters.[3]


  • The Anglica historia of Polydore Vergil, AD 1485-1537, editor (1950)
  • Polydore Vergil: Renaissance Historian and Man of Letters (Clarendon Press, 1952)
  • From Roman Empire to Renaissance Europe (1953), revised as The Medieval Centuries (1964)
  • Europe: the Emergence of an Idea (Edinburgh University Press, 1957)
  • The Italian Renaissance in its Historical Background (1961, 1977)
  • Europe in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries (1966, 2nd ed 1989) ISBN 0-582-49179-7
  • Italian Clergy and Italian Culture in the Fifteenth Century (1973)
  • Renaissance Essays (1988)
  • Italy in the Age of the Renaissance, 1380-1530 (Longman History of Italy) (1989) ISBN 0-582-48359-X
  • New Cambridge Modern History, volume 1 (1957), ed.
  • Annalists and historians : Western historiography from the eighth to the eighteenth centuries (1977)


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