Francois Auguste Marie Mignet

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mignet, Francois Auguste Marie


Born May 8, 1796, in Aix-en-Provence; died Mar. 24, 1884, in Paris. French historian. Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences (1833). Member of the Académic Française (1836).

Educated in the law, Mignet was an advocate in Aix from 1818. In the early 1820’s he moved to Paris. He and his closest friend, A. Thiers, were active in the struggle of the liberal opposition against the Bourbon monarchy. He contributed to the journal Courrier fran$ais, and in 1830 he and A. Carrel and Thiers founded the newspaper the National. Mignet was among the opposition journalists who signed a declaration of protest against the July Ordinances of 1830. An ardent partisan of constitutional bourgeois monarchy, he took part in the July Revolution of 1830. From 1830 to 1848 he was director of the archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mignet, A. Thierry, F. Guizot, and A. Thiers were the pioneers of a new orientation in bourgeois historiography that viewed the struggle of classes as the chief motive force in historical events. Mignet became best known for the book A History of the French Revolution (1824; Russian translation, 1906). In his opinion, the French Revolution was inevitable because the feudal system had ceased to meet the needs of the rising bourgeoisie. Mignet divided the third estate into the “middle class,” or the bourgeoisie, with whom his sympathies lay, and the “mob.” Despite his hostility toward the “common people,” he considered the Jacobin dictatorship an inevitable and important stage in the revolution, indispensable for overcoming the resistance of the aristocracy. Mignet understood and approved of the class struggle only so long as it was led by the bourgeoisie and directed against the feudal lords. He sharply condemned proletarian actions against the bourgeoisie. After the Revolution of 1848, Mignet abandoned revolutionary themes and turned primarily to the study of 16th-century history (for example, The History of Mary Stuart, 1851; Russian translation, 1863).

A substantial number of his works were devoted to the Middle Ages. He focused on the negative aspects of the feudal system, seeing in feudalism political instability and anarchy. Mignet regarded the emergence of medieval urban communes, which he associated with the rise of the bourgeoisie, the main rival of the class of feudal lords, as a great turning point in history.


De La Féodalité, des institutions de St. Louis et de l’influence de la l’gislation de ce prince. Paris, 1822.
Histoire de la Révolution française…, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1824.
Rivalite de François I et de Charles-Quint, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1875.


Reizov, B. G. Frantsuzskaia romanticheskaia istoriografiia. Leningrad, 1956. Pages 228–51.
Kosminskii, E. A. Istoriografiia srednikh vekov. Moscow, 1963. Pages 397–99.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.