Marc Bloch

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The good historian is like the giant of the fairy tale

Marc Bloch (6 July 1886 – 16 June 1944) was a French historian, soldier and resistance fighter who, together with Lucien Febvre and Henri Hauser, was the co-founder of the enormously influential Annales School of historiography. The author of a variety of books, including his magnum opus The Historian's Craft, which he wrote as a political prisoner prior to his execution by the Gestapo for his work in the French Resistance, Bloch was instrumental to the foundation of the Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales journal, and its introduction of interdisciplinary history to twentieth century historiography.


  • "The good historian is like the giant of the fairy tale. He knows that wherever he catches the scent of human flesh, there his quarry lies."
    • The Historian's Craft, pg.26
  • "Thenceforth they thought that, rationally concluded, doubt could become an instrument of knowledge."
  • "Successive technological revolutions have immeasurably widened the psychological gap between generations. With some reason, perhaps, the man of the age of electricity and of the airplane feels himself removed from his masters."
    • The Historian's Craft, pg.36
  • "But history is neither watchmaking nor cabinet construction. It is an endeavour toward better understanding."
  • "There is no true understanding without a certain range of comparison."
    • The Historian's Craft, pg.42
  • "Misunderstanding of the present is the inevitable consequence of ignorance of the past. But a man may wear himself out just as fruitlessly in seeking to understand the past, if he is totally ignorant of the present...This faculty of understanding the living is, in very truth, the master quality of the historian."
    • The Historian's Craft, pg.43
  • "The historian is, by definition, absolutely incapable of observing the facts which he examines."
  • For in the last analysis it is human consciousness which is the subject matter of history.
    • The Historian's Craft, pg.151


  • "Marc Bloch has been a source of way to give some indicaion of my reaction to his work is to provide my thoughts in different decades to his work for...he meant something different to me in different phases of my work and my understanding of what he was saying has shifted considerably."


"Marc Bloch and the Historian's Craft," by Alan Macfarlane

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