Albert Mathiez was born to an innkeeper’s family at La Bruyère in eastern France on Jan. 10, He graduated from the École Normale in After teaching. Albert Mathiez, an Historian at War. James Friguglietti. The present great war will not only change the face of the world in which we live. It will also transform our. Albert Mathiez, his pupil in method, and for the last twenty years the antagonist of his point of view, was struck down by apoplexy in the middle of a lecture on

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No other history of the Revolution has so closely approached reality. None has advanced science so far. It is a starting point more than an arrival point. It set in motion a movement of research and ideas that, alas, had not yet produced all its results.

Arrival point, departure point: Aulard had rendered eminent services to Revolutionary historiography, having discerned that the historians of the French Revolution should submit themselves to the same discipline as other historians, should compel themselves to carry out patient research in archives, to discover, critique, and publish texts as the chartists had been doing for some time with the history of the Middle Ages. This was a singular merit when we realize that Aulard was alert by literary studies as they were understood at the end of the Second Empire and that he arrived at the history of the Revolution via the study slbert its orators.

Given that, it must be said that his oeuvre bore the mark of his time. Aulard belonged to that generation which from had fought, through the Republic, to found a parliamentary and secular democracy. What interested mathies in the Revolution was the political history, essentially that of parties and assemblies. And in his eyes this history was dominated mathies the evolution of ideas.

Aulard counted himself among the ranks of the republican bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie appeared to him to be the natural mentor of the Third Estate; the popular masses could do nothing but xlbert it, and if need be goad it into realizing the fullest political democracy.

Aulard viewed the Revolution from above, as if the popular maathiez had no other interests, no other needs, no other passions than those of the bourgeoisie. Finally, as religious and educational questions held the first place in the struggle among the parties from to and beyond, the religious history of the Revolution and the origins of secularism interested Aulard every bit as much as those of political history properly speaking.

The end of the nineteenth century nevertheless saw the acceleration of the progress of the capitalist economy, and its domain little by little extend until it dominated every continent. Economic questions took a growing, and finally a preponderant place mathiwz the policies of states and in international relations.

One of the consequences of this evolution was unquestionably the accentuating of class oppositions and their growing magnitude and clarity. From this flowed the development of the working class movement and the growth of socialist ideas. Facts like these could not but have an effect on Revolutionary historiography. People began to seek the ideological origins of socialism in the eighteenth century, to seek out the first attempts at their realization over the course of the Revolution.


At the turn of the century some were not far from considering the economic policies of the Committee of Public Safety as a preliminary outline of collectivism. But let us leave aside these exaggerations, which have nevertheless had a long life. A happier consequence was that historians now took mayhiez popular masses into consideration who they had heretofore ranked behind the bourgeoisie within the Third Estate, and began to more closely study the conditions of their existence and the motives that set them in movement from to the Year III.

These concerns imposed themselves with all the msthiez force because socialism, in the form given it by Marx, rests on a concept whose vigor exercised a strong intellectual attraction, by which we mean, in the ideological field of the period, historical materialism or, more broadly, the economic interpretation of history.

Whatever one might think of this doctrine it cannot be denied that it stimulated historical research and oriented it towards new paths.

To be convinced of this it suffices to refer to the labors of Philippe Sagnac, who cannot be suspected of complacency towards historical materialism and socialism: The French Revolution and socialism were in the air.

But thrown into the liberal combat against reaction and strong in their bourgeois consciousness, the historians insisted on the class character of the Revolution.

Long before me the bourgeois historians had described the historical development of the class struggle. An arrival point and a departure point: We will not speak here of albrrt novelty of the work, of the new paths qlbert to Revolutionary historiography: Following Albert Mathiez, let us nevertheless stress two points.

Pages like these will live long in the memory of men. More daringly in time: As for Georges Lefebvre, he was especially sensitive, as he wrote into the deepening of the economic and social analysis. In Revolutionary historiography this is the great movement that marks its novelty.

Georges Lefebvre recognized no master other than him. As for Albert Mathiez: There is no question albery I arrive at different conclusions on more than one important point, but it is because he wrote before me that I was able to undertake certain investigations that would not have taken place without him. The best of his spirit lives in me, even when I contradict him.

Albert Mathiez – Wikipedia

He was closer to them, and he understood their least hint. At that time it was more difficult to escape the generalities ordinarily accepted by historians of the Marxist school and to deliver a precise, detailed, and penetrating study of mathidz economic might of the bourgeois class before In fact, it was in the wake albedt his teacher Aulard, who he long spoke in praise of, that Mathiez at first attached himself to the political, and even more, the religious, element of the Revolution.

When he began to mafhiez himself for his teacher it was on a question of political history: This primary influence remained inerasable: A simple remark from mathiex start: The First World War arrived. While continuing his previous studies, in particular on Danton, Mathiez oriented himself towards a new sector for him, that of the economic and social history of the Revolution. Mathiez now arrived at considering the French Revolution as a class struggle, the Third Estate against the privileged, and to interest himself in the social and political dissociation of the Third Estate.


The more mathies deepened his Robespierrist studies, the more he insisted on the social opposition that gradually manifested itself between the Girondins and the Montagnards. The war imposed the economic point of view on Mathiez by making all the economic and social difficulties the Committee of Public Safety ran up against in the conduct of a great national war reappear, obliging the government to have recourse to the same procedures of control and constraint: Whatever the elegies delivered, we cannot hide their points of disagreement.

Mathiez wrote in In short, he extended the practices of parliamentary camaraderie to albet maladapted and the appeased of the revolutionary assemblies.

Albert Mathiez

This would be, he said, my defense and my glory. How could anyone accuse of treason and baseness the man who, before dying, leaves such a secret to posterity? Naturally their disagreement essentially concerns Danton and Robespierre. And having palliated the faults and crimes of the guilty he demonstrated a sometimes excessive severity towards those who meted out justice.

The French Revolution – Albert Mathiez – Google Books

He was not able to separate himself from a legend that was commonly accepted. He showed himself fair regarding Robespierre during the crisis of the summer of ; he no longer understood him starting with the great trials of the spring of Having arrived at a more serene vision we will not intervene in this quarrel.

Beyond these divergences Albert Mathiez, whose evolution sped up after his brief communist interlude we are inspoke of the very orientation of the work. That dry-hearted generation was no longer capable of understanding the great men of the Revolution, who were so different from them. They saw in the Revolution only a minuscule bourgeois movement from which there was nothing to learn. Being ignorant of history, these socialists were influenced by the teachings of M.

Aulard and his school. They shared all his anti-Robespierrist prejudices. Marxism had called him to socialism. He thus undertook his history with the prejudices of the school. An influence, to be sure, but limited. Without a doubt his merit was that of having finally realized that the French Revolution can only be explained by its economic and social roots.

A historical work only remains living if, read and meditated on, it is deepened. Erudite investigation and critical reflection can then arrive at putting the work in question. Was the peasant revolution the expression of one of the possible variants of the bourgeois revolution?

To pose these questions demonstrates the continued fecundity of the work that suggested them. An act of faith, it still inspires enthusiasm and strengthens liberating convictions. A lesson in civismeit teaches us patriotism in the literal sense of the term, as a virtue according to Rousseau and Robespierre.

A work of science, it teaches us the demands of erudition, the imperatives of method, the need for critical reflection. It is far from having lost its creative spark. It is this triple heritage that we intend to sustain and promote.