Historian. He is remembered, as a wounded in action veteran of World War I, for writing several books along with more than a hundred and thirty articles, chronicles and reports on “why the war started.” Prior to World War I starting, he attended Lycee Louis le Grand in Paris, France before studying for a law degree. He prepared his graduated paper under the direction of Francois Victor Alphonse Aulard, the first noted historian of the French Revolution. Not yet twenty years old, he was awarded a PhD of History and Geography. After finishing his law degree, he made several trips to Germany and Russia. When World War I started, he enlisted and became a lieutenant in the French infantry. In February of 1916, he received a battle wound with his right thumb being amputated. Being patriotic, he refused to take a desk position but continued to be in combat. During the Nivelle offensive on April 16, 1917, he commanded a section of machine gunners on a road from Soissons to Reims. It was here that he saw for the first time tanks being used by the German artillery. He was seriously wounded with shrapnel and his left arm had to be amputated. Without his left arm and only four fingers on his right hand, he rehabilitated himself to preform activities of daily living. On June 10, 1918, he married Marie-Theresa Gabalda, the daughter of a publisher and they had three children. While being a professor at the Orleans High School, he wrote his thesis, “The Provincial Assemblies in 1787.” Being the ideal candidate, he was approached by Andre Honnorat, Minister of Public Education, to research the origin and history of the Great World War. The French public demanded to know why this war had happened. As a state employee, he became the official critic of the war. In 1920, he was appointed curator of the War History Library in Vincennes and became the Secretary General of the Review of World War History. He became a lecturer at Sorbonne between 1922 and 1933 and a professor there between 1933 and 1964. In 1925 he published two books on his findings about the war, The first book, “The Immediate Origins of the War: June 28 to August 4, 1914,” which showed that Germany was responsible for World War I and France had not started the war. The book has stood the test of time with many world-wide scholars, yet others such as the French left-wing political fraction, German historians, and German apologists claim France and Russia started the war, and that Renouvin was not an independent researcher, but paid by France to provide what the country's leaders wanted to hear. His second 1925 book was “The Forms of War Government,” and nine years later, he published “The European Crisis and the Great War, 1904 to 1918.” He wrote that the Armistice of 1918 was the worse possible way to end the Great War listing all his reasons including that the defeated German authority still had the mind-set that Germany would one day rule Europe. He wrote about the war continuing into 1919 to resolve many of these issues. With the beginning of World War II, some of his reasoning proved to be correct. His last book was co-authored with Jean-Baptiste Diroselle in 1964, “The Introduction to History of International Relations.” A few of his writings have been translated to English.
Bio by: Linda Davis