Fernand Braudel

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Fernand Paul Achille Braudel (August 24, 1902November 27, 1985) was a French historian, who, together with Marc Bloch, revolutionized the 20th century study of his discipline by considering the effects of economics and geography on global history. Leader of the Annales School, his scholarship focused on three main projects: The Mediterranean (1923–49, then 1949–66), Civilization and Capitalism (1955–79), and the unfinished Identity of France (1970–85).


  • [T]he entire course of French history since then has been influenced by something that happened in the eighteenth century” and asks “did France cease to be a great power not, as is usually thought, on 15 June 1815 on the field of Waterloo, but well before that, during the reign of Louis XV when the natural birth-rate was interrupted?
    • 1986. The identity of France: People and production; translated from the French by Sian Reynolds. Vol. 2. 1990 ed., London:Collins. p. 190
  • For four or five centuries, Islam was the most brilliant civilization in the Old World. ... At its higher level the golden age of Muslim civilization was both an immense scientific success and a exceptional revival of ancient philosophy. These was not its only triumphs; literature was another: but they eclipse the rest. First, science: it was there that the Saracens ... made the most original contributions. These, in brief, were nothing less than trigonometry and algebra (with its significantly Arab name). ... Equally distinguished were Islam's mathematical geographers, its astronomical observatories and instruments ... [.] The Muslims also deserve high marks for optics, for chemistry ... and for pharmacy. More than half the remedies and healing aids used by the West came from Islam ... [.] Muslim medical skill was incontestable. ... In the field of philosophy, what took place was rediscovery - a return, essentially of the peripatetic philosophy. The scope of this rediscovery, however, was not limited to copying and handling on, valuable as that undoubtely was. It also involved continuing, elucidating and creating.
    • A History of Civilizations , Penguin, 1995, p. 73-81
  • Events are the ephemera of history; they pass across its stage like fireflies, hardly glimpsed before they settle back into darkness and as often as not into oblivion. Every event, however brief, has to be sure a contribution to make, lights up some dark corner or even some wide vista of history.
    • The Mediterranean (1949)
  • India survived only by virtue of its patience, its superhuman power and its immense size. The levies it had to pay were so crushing that one catastrophic harvest was enough to unleash famines and epidemics capable of killing a million people at a time. Appalling poverty was the constant counterpart of the conquerors’ opulence. … The Muslims … could not rule the country except by systematic terror. Cruelty was the norm burnings, summary executions, crucifixions or impalements, inventive tortures. Hindu temples were destroyed to make way for mosques. On occasion there were forced conversions. If ever there were an uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed: houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves.

Quotes about F. Braudel


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