Michael McCormick

historian (1951-)

Michael McCormick (born 7 November 1951) is the Harvard's Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society (2003).


  • “Undergraduates, early in my classes, often think they’re smarter than the people who lived in 400 A.D.,” McCormick says. “Bit by bit, they begin to understand that those people were no more stupid or evil or smart than we are. They were very much like us.” (2011) [1]
  • “In recent years, historians have become increasingly aware of two things. The first is the power of material evidence — including scientific evidence — beyond the written sources we’ve traditionally worked with since the 18th and 19th centuries. The second is that … exogenous factors, such as environment, also play a role in the development of human societies.” (2014) [2]
  • “You and I have the extraordinary privilege of living in a time of revolutionary discovery … that extends advances of technology in the life sciences that are transforming the world today to … disciplines that are transforming our understanding of the human past, dissolving the timeworn barriers between history and prehistory, between science and the humanities.” (2014) [3]
  • “Modern leaders, with their careful preparation and with their detailed planning, sometimes lose sight … that there are exogenous jokers, wild cards, out there that are coming out of the blue and are capable of knocking civilization off its wheels.” (2016) [4]
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