Sorel, Albert(älbĕr` sôrĕl`), 1842–1906, French historian. After a diplomatic career that gave him unique access to the archives of the foreign ministry, Sorel concentrated on diplomatic history. His monumental Europe et la Révolution française (8 vol., 1895–1904) surveyed the influence of the French Revolution in Europe. Applying to diplomatic history the Tocqueville thesis of essential continuity between the ancien régime and Revolutionary France, Sorel asserted that after the revolutionists began to claim France's "natural frontiers," continuous struggle with Europe, and especially England, was inevitable. The introductory section of this work has been translated as Europe under the Old Regime (1947).
Born Aug. 13,1842, at Honfleur, Normandy; died June 29, 1906, in Paris. French historian. Member of the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques (1889) and the Académie Française (1894).
Sorel worked in the ministry of foreign affairs. A student of H. Taine, Sorel was greatly influenced by A. de Tocqueville. As a historiographer he sided with the bourgeois-conservative trend. His works, which deal with the history of diplomacy and international relations, were based on extensive documented material and are masterful works of prose. In his work Europe and the French Revolution (1885–1911; Russian translation of vols. 1–8, 1892–1908), Sorel gave a broad view of international relations during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. However, he did not recognize revolutionary France’s war of liberation and the predatory wars of the Directory, the Consulate, and the Empire. Sorel idealized Napoleon I.
WORKSHistoire diplomatique de la guerre franco-allemande, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1875.
La Question d’Orient au XVIII siècle. Paris, 1878.