Terry Jones, historian and Monty Python member, passes away

Terry Jones, a member of the Monty Python comedy troop, and who later became a medieval historian, has passed away at the age of 77.

Most of the world will remember Terry Jones for his comedy and film career. He was one of the members of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a British television series that began airing in 1969. The success of this comedy troupe led to several films, including Monty Python and the Holy Grail. He would go on to be involved in dozens of films and television series, some of which he directed.


Jones also developed an interest in the Middle Ages during his university days, and he would go on to do work as a medieval historian. His first book, Chaucer’s Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary, was published in 1980, where he argued that the Knight in the Canterbury Tales was not actually a professional mercenary and not the paragon of Christian virtue as he had been presented.

He would serve as the presenter for three major television documentaries that focused on the Middle Ages: Crusades in 1994, Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives in 2004, and Terry Jones’ Barbarians in 2006. Jones explained, “my constant theme is that the medieval world is similar to ours in that the same people always take advantage of the same people. Humanity doesn’t change all through the centuries.”


Jones also spoke at medieval conferences and collaborated with other historians for the book Who Murdered Chaucer?: A Medieval Mystery, which was published in 2003. It speculates that the English author Geoffrey Chaucer died in the midst of the power struggles for the English throne in the late 1390s – after the overthrow and death of King Richard II in 1399, Thomas Arundel persecuted those who opposed the new regime, including Chaucer.

In his final year Terry Jones was suffering from dementia. His last book,
The Tyrant and the Squire, was a fictional work for children set during the crusades.

Top Image: Terry Jones photographed in 2007. Photo by Lesley from Bletchley / Wikimedia Commons