Lefebvre, Georges

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Lefebvre, Georges

Georges Lefebvre (zhôrzh ləfĕ´vrə), 1874–1959, French historian, an authority on the French Revolutionary period. From 1937 to 1945 he held the chair of French Revolutionary history at the Sorbonne, and he founded the Institut d'histoire de la Révolution française. Lefebvre's most original contributions were the writing of history from below, particularly the French Revolution as viewed from the experiences of the peasantry, and his mastery of quantitative research. Both are evident in Les Paysans du Nord pendant la Révolution française (1924). Although influenced by Marxism, he was predominantly an empiricist and a humanist; he saw in history a complex interaction of social, economic, and political phenomena. His La Révolution française (rev. ed. 1951), considered an authoritative work, has been translated in two volumes as The French Revolution (1962–64) and The French Revolution from 1793 to 1799 (1964). Another work is Napoléon (4th ed. 1953; tr., 2 vol., 1969), a judicious study of the Napoleonic era.

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