Michael Richter, RIP

Michael Richter in 2006

Picture of the late Michael Richter from January 2006, taken by and used by kind permission of Robert Calder

There are some posts it’s worth putting ahead of the queue. I can be amazingly behind the times sometimes: I’ve only just learnt, via News for Medievalists, that Professor Michael Richter died in May. To be fair, this delay in reportage is not News for Medievalists’ fault, as they’re merely pointing to a story in The Irish Times that has also only lately appeared. But even if it’s not news it’s still a real shame. I only met Professor Richter the once, in St Andrews in 2003, where he gave a very courteous ear to my third-ever conference presentation and suggested two useful avenues of enquiry for the paper that eventually became my “Archbishop Ató”. He also revealed himself at the conference dinner to be a man with a richly mischievous sense of humour, which made those parts of his work I’d met much easier to understand; though no-one could question his rigour or application to the source materials, he was also, I thought, having a lot of fun seeing how far he could push them and what he could get away with. He seemed to be enjoying his life far too much to have died only a few years later; I just hope he didn’t have to stop enjoying it before he lost it. His will be a regretted absence.

5 responses to “Michael Richter, RIP

  1. Robert R. Calder

    I was ill myself and out of touch with Michael from late 2007 — I saw him last earlier that year in Konstanz, before he moved to Berlin — and resumed contact only in February of this year. I remember his enormous 60th birthday party in Konstanz, and great times with music and cod or lamb and wine, and up an alp. and the invitation to Berlin when I got back in touch with him.
    He swam in the lake earlier in the year than most, and not so long before he was sixty there was the surfboard on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.
    I knew he’d been ill, with some arduous treatment, but he’d got back to the daily jogging, and even after hearing of a subsequent broken leg he;d been recovering from the hews was a bolt from the blue. I remember him saying he was finished with writing books, and then all of a sudden there was his Bobbio volume.
    One of his Konstanz colleagues, not a historian, said that when he arrived at Konstanz he noticed a familiar blur going along a corridor and one day stopped it and asked had it been a teacher at University College, Dublin, and so it had; and it was Michael. Who said he did things “for Ireland” — where he was happily at home after his early years as a fatherless impoverished refugee child. He was pleased at how far he’d been able to come, through various postwar nonsenses of 1960s Berlin. I’m still somewhat devastated.
    I adapted an old toast for his birthday, “Michael the historian/ did you ever know a finer man…!”

  2. Diana Montague

    I am devastated to learn of the death of my friend Mike., I first met him in Germany in 1960 when out there working as an au pair and we had maintained a sporadic correspondence ever since. It improved his English – but did nothing for my German as I did not write in that language! I was the proud recipient of a copy of his first book Giraldus Cambrensis too. Just before I went to work abroad in the mid-sixties he hitch-hiked down from Edinburgh Uni to Somerset just to say bon voyage – He visited my husband and I a few years later and memorably sat on the window sill playing the flute. I sadly missed catching up with him and his sister when they visited the UK in 2006 but had hoped for another meeting . . . obviously no to be.
    He wrote from Berlin but I mislaid his address and didn’t have an email address since Konstanz. I knew he was ill – but had no idea how seriously and decided to try and “re-find” him on Google only to discover this news.
    God Bless you Michael – RIP.

    • I’m sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, in that case, but it’s touching to read your tribute and I hope at least that the post shows you that others also feel your loss. Thankyou for commenting.

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