Lefebvre, Georges

Lefebvre, Georges

(zhôrzh ləfĕ`vrə), 1874–1959, French historian, an authority on the French Revolutionary period. From 1937 to 1945 he held the chair of French Revolutionary history at the Sorbonne, and he founded the Institut d'histoire de la Révolution française. Lefebvre's most original contributions were the writing of history from below, particularly the French Revolution as viewed from the experiences of the peasantry, and his mastery of quantitative research. Both are evident in Les Paysans du Nord pendant la Révolution française (1924). Although influenced by Marxism, he was predominantly an empiricist and a humanist; he saw in history a complex interaction of social, economic, and political phenomena. His La Révolution française (rev. ed. 1951), considered an authoritative work, has been translated in two volumes as The French Revolution (1962–64) and The French Revolution from 1793 to 1799 (1964). Another work is Napoléon (4th ed. 1953; tr., 2 vol., 1969), a judicious study of the Napoleonic era.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Lefebvre, Georges

 

Born Aug. 8, 1874, in Lille; died Aug. 28, 1959, in Boulogne-Billancourt. French historian.

In 1924, Lefebvre published and defended as a doctoral dissertation his fundamental research on the peasantry of northern France during the Great French Revolution. He began teaching the same year in higher educational institutions in France (from 1935 to 1945 at the Sorbonne, where, beginning in 1937, he was chairman of the subdepartment of the history of the French Revolution). In 1932, after the death of A. Mathiez, Lefebvre became permanent president of the Robespierre Society and editor of the journal Annales historiques de la Révolution française. Lefebvre, a dedicated democrat, resolutely opposed the policy of collaboration during the fascist German occupation of France.

As an historian, Lefebvre was greatly influenced by Marxism. He made a significant contribution to the study of the socioeconomic (principally agrarian) history of the Great French Revolution. His principal interest was in the class stuggle in the countryside during the Jacobin dictatorship. His work The Agrarian Question During the Reign of Terror was translated into Russian in 1936.

Lefebvre had a considerable influence on the development of the progressive wing of Western European historiography, inspiring a school of researchers who focused their attention on the role of popular movements during the revolutionary period (A. Soboul, G. Rudé, and C. Tenneson).

WORKS

Les Paysans du Nord pendant la Révolution française [2nd ed.]. Bari, 1959.
La Révolution française, 3rd ed. Paris, 1963.
La Grande Peur de 1789. Paris, 1932.
Napoléon, 5th ed. Paris, 1965.
Les Thermidoriens. Paris, 1937.
Le Directoire. Paris, 1946.
Études sur la Révolution française, 2nd ed. Paris, 1963.
Études orléanaises, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1962–63.
La Naissance de l’historiographie moderne. Paris, 1971.

REFERENCES

Lukin, N. M. Izbr. trudy, vol. 1. Moscow, 1960. Pages 307–22. Soboul, A. “Zh. Lefevr—istorik Frantsuzskoi revoliutsii.” In Frantsuzskii ezhegodnik, 1959. Moscow, 1961.

V. M. DALIN

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