Fernand Braudel (1902-1985) was a renowned historian who made significant contributions to the field of history. He was greatly influenced by his predecessors, including Marc Bloch (1886-1944) and Lucien Febvre (1878-1956), with whom he shared intellectual pursuits.
Braudel was a pioneer of the "la nouvelle histoire" movement, which aimed to break away from the traditional compartmentalization of history. Instead, he advocated for a focus on structural changes, economic and social developments, and the lives of ordinary people, rather than solely concentrating on political and military events.
Marc Bloch, a colleague and friend of Braudel, specialized in medieval society and co-founded the journal Annales. Unfortunately, Bloch's life was tragically cut short when he was arrested and executed for his involvement in the resistance during World War II.
Lucien Febvre, another influential figure in Braudel's life, shared his passion for history. Together, they established the sixth section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, later known as the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales.
In 1949, Braudel published his groundbreaking work, "La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II," which explored the Mediterranean world in the 16th century. This work established Braudel as a prominent historian and earned him the title of the "father of French historical scholarship."
Braudel's approach to history introduced the concept of "la longue durée," recognizing three types of time: short-term events, conjunctural cycles, and long-term historical periods that spanned centuries or even millennia. This perspective bridged the gap between narrative history and structural analysis and facilitated interdisciplinary collaboration among historians, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and economists.
His three-volume masterpiece, "La Méditerranée," delved into the Mediterranean as a unified historical entity and revealed the emergence of an economic world system that transcended national boundaries. Braudel's work emphasized the importance of understanding the early roots of capitalism, dating back to around 1450.
Another significant contribution was his book "Civilisation matérielle et capitalisme, XVe-XVIIe siècle," translated into English as "Capitalism and Material Life, 1400-1800." This work explored the material aspects of capitalism in the 15th to 17th centuries.
Fernand Braudel's innovative approach to history and emphasis on long-term structural analysis continue to shape historical scholarship to this day. Among others, he influenced Immanuel Wallerstein.