Society of Fellows


Thomas F. Mayer, FAAR 2008

Thomas F. Mayer
Photo: Augustana College
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Dear Friends,

I write with the sad news that Thomas F. Mayer (1951-2014), FAAR '08, has passed away after a long illness. Tom, as he was known to friends, was a Rome Prize Fellow in Renaissance and Early Modern Studies.  

A professor of history at Augustana College, Tom was a very productive scholar, whose work, always tied to primary sources, touched on the history of early modern Catholicism in many different ways. Those of us in the field knew that he always could be counted on to write history that combined clarity, incisiveness, and a willingness to question received opinion. Most recently Tom published The Roman Inquisition (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), a fine book that sought to understand the Roman Inquisition, founded in 1542, from the inside and as a legal institution that never ceased to undergo alterations as situations changed. Other books include a fine study of the trial of Galileo through the lens of a collection of key primary sources (The Trial of Galileo, 1612-33, published in 2012 by the University of Toronto Press), and a major book, to which Tom devoted many years, his study of Reginald Pole, the last Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, who broke with Henry VIII in 1536 (Reginald Pole: Prince and Prophet, 2000, published by Cambridge University Press).  

There were many other books and articles, professional honors, and services to the scholarly world that one could cite. But Tom was also a much beloved and dedicated teacher, who saw his undergraduate students as colleagues as well as students, encouraging them to do original, interdisciplinary, and multi-lingual research. Augustana College has posted a remembrance here and has established a prize in his name.

Finally, those of us who knew Tom personally will remember his pleasant company, lively intelligence, and vibrant wit. Tom passed through the Academy just last year and dined with our community. As always, he livened up the dinner with talk about his work, tales of scholars from the old days, and his willingness to learn about the work of others.  He will be greatly missed.


Chris Celenza