Who is Marc Bloch?June 26, 2021
Marc Bloch (July 6, 1886 – June 16, 1944) was a French historian.
Together with Lucien Febvre, he is the founder of the Annales school, which has been extremely influential in French social history. He studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure. He then continued his education in Leipzig and Berlin in 1908-9. In 1919, he began teaching medieval history at the University of Strasbourg. After all the German professors were fired, he was invited to the University of Paris in 1936 as a professor of economic history. He is particularly known for two books: The Advocacy of History, or The Historiographic Profession, and Feudal Society.
Born into a Jewish family, the son of Gustave Bloch, a former history professor in Lyon, Marc studied at the École Normale Supérieure and Fondation Thiers in Paris, and later in Berlin and Leipzig. During the First World War he served as an infantry officer and rose to the rank of captain. He was later awarded the Légion d’honneur. After the war he became a professor of economic history at the university in Strasbourg, then at the Sorbonne in 1936.
He developed the understanding of comparative history, according to him, this can be done in two ways, either the similarities between societies that are far from each other or the differences between societies that are spatially close to each other should be examined. Thus, by identifying similarities or differences, historical development can be revealed. While writing his books, he benefited from many different disciplines and always had a problem-oriented historiography approach rather than telling an event or a period. Unlike the historical approach of that time, the Annalesists asked questions and sought answers to them as a whole, instead of telling history. The Annales magazine, which they founded together with Febvre, became the center of this new school and started out with a focus on social and economic history. Bloch, II. Despite being a Jew and having the opportunity to escape from Paris, which was occupied during World War II, he refused to escape and joined the French underground resistance organization and fought against the Nazis, leaving his theoreticism aside. He was shot dead by the Gestapo in 1944.
Bloch followed an interdisciplinary approach, influenced by the geography studies of Paul Vidal de la Blache (1845-1918) and the sociology studies of Émile Durkheim (1858-1917). In Möthodologie Historique (written in 1906 but not published until 1988), Bloch rejected the histoire événementielle (history of events) of his mentors Charles-Victor Langlois and Charles Seignobos and sought further analysis of the role of structural and social phenomena in determining outcomes. he did. He was trying to reinvent history as a social science, but he and Durkheim disagreed on keeping psychology separate from history. Because Bloch argued that the individual actor should be considered together with social forces. Bloch’s methodology was heavily influenced by his father Gustave Bloch, an ancient historian, and 19th-century scholars such as Gabriel Monod, Ernest Renan, and Numa Denis Fustel de Coulanges. He also supported the idea of international academic cooperation and later unsuccessfully worked to establish an international journal with American support. While emphasizing the importance of German historiography and appreciating its scientific rigor, Bloch wrote about 500 reviews of German books and articles, criticizing its nationalism and methodological limitations.
Bloch expressed his ideas on rural history in his books French Rural History (1931) and Feudal Society (1939). In L’Individualisme Agraire du XVIIIe Siècle (1978) he considered the reasons for the failure of agrarian reforms in 18th century France as traditions in the region. Bloch’s argument on this subject is that, as a typical example of the Annales School’s understanding of history, he creates the connections between politics, culture and economy on the ground of class conflicts to show “how the conscious actions of people overcome the materialist causal order of history”. He argued that the formation of the anti-feudal ideas of the French peasants was linked to the fact that the lords significantly increased dues towards the end of the 18th century. Bloch argued that it was this intensified exploitation that provoked the peasant revolt.
The November 1935 issue of the Annales features Febvre’s introduction to three key approaches to the history of technology: researching technology, understanding technology’s progress, and understanding technology’s relationship to other human activities. Bloch’s article “The Development and Triumph of the Watermill in Europe in the Middle Ages” combines these approaches by exploring the links between technology and social issues.
Bloch joined the French Resistance in late 1942. Its code name was “Narbonne”. He was captured by Vichy police in Lyon in March 1944 and handed over to the Gestapo. Later, Montluc was held in prison and tortured by the Gestapo. Get interrogated by Klaus Barbie, who is in charge of interrogations at the prison