John Benton was a historian concerned with the European Middle Ages, particularly the period from 1050 to 1300.
Benton experimented with different methodologies and used literary as well as documentary sources to illuminate medieval society. His work, Self and Society in Medieval France: The Memoirs of Abbot Guibert of Nogent (1970), draws on medieval literature for the examination of the life of a twelfth-century monk. His studies of Abelard and Heloise raised questions about the authenticity of the correspondence between the famous lovers. His application of the techniques of computer enhancement of images to the study of erased or faded medieval manuscripts garnered international recognition. He edited a collection of charters issued by the counts of Champagne, a work that reflected his strong interest in France’s literary and administrative records.
A professor of history at the California Institute of Technology, Benton was also a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America and the Honorary President of the International Courtly Literature Society. His awards included a Fulbright Fellowship (1956) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (1963).
Benton received a B.A. (1953) from Haverford College, and an M.A. (1955) and Ph.D. (1959) from Princeton University.