Lady Margaret Hall congratulates Sir John H. Elliott, Oxford University Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History and LMH Honorary Fellow, who will receive the first ever Premio Órdenes Españolas Award for his outstanding achievements in the field of Hispanic history and culture.

The international prize, being given for the first time, is open to distinguished historians of any nationality some part of whose work is related to Hispanic civilisation. Sir John was nominated by the History Faculty, University of Oxford, and the selection process for the award involved nominations from over 30 different universities. The prize-giving will take place at the end of May at a special ceremony in El Escorial (Madrid).

Born in 1930, Sir John studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received his doctoral degree in History in 1952. His relationship with Spain dates back to the 1950s and it was at the Prado Museum where he discovered the figure of the Count-Duke of Olivares. Velázquez´s equestrian portrait of Olivares made such a great impression on him that he dedicated decades of work to this historical figure. In an interview with the Spanish newspaper, El País, in 2013, Sir John said: ‘Here was a statesman about whom we had been taught nothing at university. When I got back to England, I found even the basic text books on 17th-century Europe had little to say about the Count-Duke.’

On the subject of history, he said: "I think our obligation is to show that the past is complicated, that there are many shades of gray. We have to think and rethink what has been said about the past, and show those who want to reduce things to simplistic formulae that the past isn't like that."

Sir John held posts at Cambridge University, King’s College, London, and the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton before moving to Oxford in 1990 to become Regius Professor of Modern History. He retired in 1997. His honorary doctorates include degrees from Cambridge, London, Brown, and several Spanish universities. He is an Honorary Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall and Oriel College.

Sir John received the Prince of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 1996, has been decorated by the Spanish government on numerous occasions and is a trustee of the Prado Museum. He was also winner of the Wolfson Prize and the Balzan Prize for early modern history, and was knighted for his services to history in 1994.

His publications include The Revolt of the Catalans (1963); Imperial Spain (1963); Europe Divided (1968) (2nd ed. 2000); The Count-Duke of Olivares (1986); A Palace for a King – with Jonathan Brown (1980) (rev. ed. 2003); Empires of the Atlantic World (2006); Spain, Europe and the Wider World, 1500–1800 (2009); and History in the Making (2012). His latest book, on the highly topical subject of Scots and Catalans, will be published by Yale University Press in July this year.