Geoffrey Parker

Geoffrey Parker

Geoffrey Parker

Andreas Dorpalen Professor of History


173 Dulles Hall
230 Annie and John Glenn Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210

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  • D.Litt., Cambridge University (1981)
  • Ph.D., History, Cambridge University (1968)
  • B. A., History, Cambridge University (1965)


Geoffrey Parker studies the social, political and military history of Europe between 1500 and 1650, with special reference to Spain and its empire. He is author, editor, or co-editor of 37 books and more than 100 articles and book chapters.

Parker's most recent book is Imprudent King: A New Life of Philip II (Yale University Press, 2014), which includes much previously unknown material from a cache of 3,000 documents written by or to Philip that he recently found and cataloged at the Hispanic Society of America.

Parker is also author of  The Global Crisis: War, Climate, and Catastrophe in the 17th Century (Yale University Press, 2013), concerning the climatically-induced crisis that created acute political, economic, intellectual and social upheaval all round the globe, causing the premature death of around one-third of the human population. Although not the first such worldwide crisis, it is both the most recent and the only one for which plentiful records survive.

In 2014 the Society for Military History awarded The Global Crisis its “best book” prize, and the British Academy awarded the book one of its “medals” that recognize “a landmark academic achievement in any of the disciplines supported by the Academy, which has transformed understanding of a particular subject or field of study.”

Parker's best-known book is probably The Military Revolution: Military Innovation and the Rise of the West, 1500-1800, first 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. He plans to publish a third, thoroughly revised edition.

Parker's first book was The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road: The Logistics of Spanish Victory and Defeat in the Low Countries Wars, 1567-1659 (1972; revised edition 2004), based on his Ph.D. thesis. This book tried to explain why Spain – the only western superpower of its day – failed to suppress the Dutch Revolt.

He then published a biography of Philip II (1978, 3rd ed., 2002; translated into Spanish, Czech, Dutch, Italian and Polish); The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998); and The Spanish Armada, with Colin Martin, first published in 1988 (the 400th anniversary), with a revised and expanded edition in 1999.

Parker's other books on early modern Europe include Europe in Crisis, 1598-1648 (1979; rev. ed., 2000), The Dutch Revolt (rev. ed., 1984; Spanish, German and Dutch translations), and The Thirty Years’ War (rev. ed., 1997; French, German and Spanish translations).

In 2008 he published new editions of both The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare and The Cambridge History of Warfare, which he edited and co-authored, taking the narrative and analysis down to 2007.

Parker is also interested in world history, and edited The Times History of the World (3rd ed., 1995, many foreign language editions), The Times Atlas of World History (3rd ed., 1993), and The Times Compact Atlas of World History (5th ed., 2008, many foreign language editions).

In 2012 the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences awarded Parker the biennial Heineken Prize for History, open to scholars in any field and any period from any country. Parker was named University Distinguished Professor at The Ohio State University in 2007, and won the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2006. He is also winner of the Society for Military History's Samuel Eliot Morison Prize for work in military and naval history.

Faculty Links

Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Department web page

Media Links

Mershon Center: Two Mershon affiliates named to American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017)
Arts and Sciences: Faculty, Alumnus Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2017)
History Department: Parker Leads Workshop at University of Dundee (2016)
Arts and Sciences: Parker elected corresponding fellow of Royal Society of Edinburgh (2016)
WOSU: Looking back at World War I (2016)
Arts and Sciences: New Course Offers an Interdisciplinary Approach to Climate Change (2016)
Climate History Podcast: Climate Change and Crisis: Lessons from the Past (2015)
Arts and Sciences: History Begins With How (2015)
Arts and Sciences: Historian’s Ground-Breaking New Biography of Spain’s Most Famous Monarch Published This Week (2014)
Mershon Center: Book Panel on Global Crisis: War, Climate Change, and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (2014)
Mershon Center: Mershon, Byrd Polar join forces to launch new initiative on climate (2013)
Heineken Prize videos, Geoffrey Parker: YouTube, Vimeo (2012) 
Arts and Sciences: Heineken Laureate Gives Closing Remarks at International Awards Ceremony (2012)
Mershon Center: Parker Awarded Heineken Prize for Outstanding Scholarship (2012)
The Ohio State University: Commencement Address by Geoffrey Parker (2003)

Mershon Projects

Revising The Military Revolution (2011-13)
The World Crisis: Climate, Catastrophe, and State Breakdown in the 17th Century (2006-08)
Unmaking the West: "What If?" Scenarios That Rewrite World History, with Philip Tetlock (1998-2005)
Ohio and the World (2003)