French Historian. He is remembered for his work "Historie de France" (1867) and was the first historian to use and define the word "Renaissance" (or "Re-birth" in French), as a period in Europe's cultural history from roughly the 14th to the 17th century, that represented a drastic break from the Middle Ages. Born in Paris, France, his father was a master printer and was able to send him to the famous College or Lycee Charlemagne, where he distinguished himself. He passed the university examination in 1821, and was soon appointed to a professorship of history in the College Rollin. He had a passion for history and between 1825 and 1827 he produced diverse sketches, chronological tables, and so forth, of modern history. In 1831 he published his "Introduction a l'histoire universelle" and by that time he had obtained a place in the government Record Office, and a deputy-professorship under French historian and statesman Francois Guizot in the literary faculty of the university. Soon afterwards he began his chief and monumental work, the "Histoire de France" that would take 30 years to complete. He accompanied this with numerous other books, such as the "Oeuvres choisies de Vico," the "Memoires de Luther ecrits par lui-meme," the "Origines du droit français," and somewhat later the "le Proces des Templiers." In 1838 he was appointed to the chair of history at the College de France. In the years leading up to the downfall of the French monarchy in 1848, he devoted himself to his literary work, the "Histoire de la Revolution française" and he ended up losing his position in the Record Office because he refused to take oaths to the empire. While his great work of history was still his main pursuit, a crowd of extraordinary little books accompanied and diversified it. At times they were expanded versions of its episodes, sometimes what may be called commentaries or companion volumes. Some of the best of them dealt with natural science, a new subject with him. The first of these was "Les Femmes de la Revolution" (1854), followed by "L'Oiseau" (1856), then "L'Amour" (1859, one of his most popular books), "La Mer" (1861), "La Sorciere" (1862), "Bible de l'humanite" (1864), "La Montagne" (1968), and finally "Nos fils" (1869). In 1867 his masterpiece "Historie de France" was completed and comprised of 19 volumes. The 1st volume deals with the early history up to the death of King Charlemagne, the 2nd volume with the flourishing time of feudal France, the 3rd volume with the 13th century, the 4th through the 6th volumes with the Hundred Years' War, the 7th and 8th volumes with the establishment of the rural power under Kings Charles VII and Louis XI, the 9th through the 12th volumes with the 16th century, the 13th through the 16th volumes with the 17th century, and the last three volumes carry on the history of the 18th century to the outbreak of the French Revolution. In 1870 he attempted to continue writing the "Historie de France" up bring it up to date but did not live long enough to carry it farther than the Battle of Waterloo which occurred in June 1815. He died of a heart attack at Hyeres, France, at the age of 75 and was originally interred there. Two years later, at his widow's request, his remains were exhumed and returned to Paris for reburial.
Bio by: William Bjornstad