Robert Somerville

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Robert Eugene Somerville (born 1940 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is the Ada Byron Bampton Tremain Professor of Religion and Professor of History at Columbia University, New York. He has taught at Columbia since 1969, except for a year at the University of Pennsylvania (1976–1977)

Somerville did his doctoral work under Stephan Kuttner at Yale University. He has published widely on the high medieval history of the papacy and of canon law. He is internationally recognized as an authority on medieval church councils. With the publication of his 2011 book, he has published completely all the sources relating to the councils of Pope Urban II.

Somerville is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and of the Commission internationale de diplomatique. He is a corresponding member of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Munich, and of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous awards, including two John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowships.

In 2012, the Catholic University of America Press published a festschrift in his honor Canon law, religion, and politics: Liber amicorum Robert Somerville, edited by his former students Uta-Renate Blumenthal and Anders Winroth, and also by Peter Landau.

He currently lives in the Upper West Side on Manhattan, New York, and his son, Gregory Somerville, is a rising senior at Columbia College.


  • The Councils of Urban II, Vol. 1: Decreta Claromontensia by Robert Somerville.
  • Law, Church, and Society: Essays in Honor of Stephan Kuttner edited by Robert Somerville and Kenneth Pennington.
  • Pope Alexander III and the Council of Tours (1163) by Robert Somerville.
  • Scotia pontificia: Papal Letters to Scotland before the Pontificate of Innocent III by Robert Somerville ISBN 0-19-822433-8
  • Florilegium Columbianum: Essays in Honor of Paul Oskar Kristeller edited by Robert Somerville and Karl-Ludwig Selig.
  • Papacy, Councils and Canon Law in the 11th-12th Centuries by Robert Somerville.
  • Paul Oskar Kristeller at Ninety edited by Robert Somerville
  • Pope Urban II: The Collectio Britannica, and the Council of Melfi (1089) by Robert Somerville with Stephan Kuttner ISBN 0-19-820569-4
  • Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity, Selected Translations, 500-1245 by Robert Somerville and Bruce C. Brasington.
  • Pope Urban II's Council of Piacenza by Robert Somerville (2011).

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