Lavisse, Ernest

Lavisse, Ernest

(ĕrnĕst` lävēs`), 1842–1922, French historian. He was for many years a professor at the Sorbonne. His early works deal chiefly with the history of Prussia, particularly Frederick the Great. His chief fame rests, however, on his brilliant editorship of several large collectively written works. With Alfred Rambaud he edited Histoire générale du 4e siècle à nos jours (12 vol., 1893–1901). Alone, he edited Histoire de France depuis les origines jusqu'à la révolution (9 vol. in 18, 1900–1911, repr. 1969) and Histoire de France contemporaine (10 vol., 1920–22). Some of the best volumes in all three collections are by Lavisse himself; among his distinguished collaborators were Aulard, Luchaire, Pirenne, and Seignobos. The volumes are a synthesis of political, cultural, economic, and social history, and they remain a model for similar undertakings.

Lavisse, Ernest


Born Dec. 17, 1842, in Nouvion-en-Thiérache; died Aug. 18, 1922, in Paris. French historian. Member of the Académie Française (1892).

Lavisse graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in 1865. He was a professor at the Sorbonne from 1888, and he directed the Ecole Normale Supérieure from 1904 to 1919.

After the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, Lavisse devoted particular attention to the study of the history of Germany, primarily Prussia, seeking to discover the explanation of its military and political success. A historian of the bourgeois-liberal strain, Lavisse did not base his conclusions on the analysis of socioeconomic factors, but on the phenomena derived from them—in particular, the organization of higher education in Germany.

Lavisse was editor and coauthor of multivolume works on world history and the history of France. The Universal History From the Fourth Century to the Present, published under the joint editorship of Lavisse and A. Rambaud, became famous (vols. 1–12, 1893–1901). The first eight volumes were published in Russian translation under the same title (1897–1903); the remaining volumes of the French edition were published in Russian as The History of the Nineteenth Century (vols. 1–8, 2nd ed., 1938–39).


Etudes sur l’histoire de Prusse, 6th ed. Paris, 1912.
Essais sur l’Allemagne impériale. Paris, 1888.
La Jeunesse du grand Frédéric. Paris, 1916.
Histoire de France depuis les origines jusqu’à la Revolution, vols. 1–9. Paris, 1903–11. (Coauthor.)
Histoire de France contemporaine ..., vols. 1–10. Paris, 1920–22. (Coauthor.)