Marc Ferro

The History of France Publication date : April 1, 2003

What is unusual about this history of France is that it considers history itself to be one of the forces that can influence and affect society and its future.

In the first part of the book, called “The Novel of the Nation”, Marc Ferro reviews what the French collective memory has retained of its past, and how it has done so: Sainte Clotilde, the bourgeois of Calais, Roland, Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, Joan of Arc, the Battle of the Marne, the taking of the Bastille and the Paris Commune.

The second part deals with the “Specific characteristics of French society” and tries to determine the identity of France by examining how the society which resulted from this particular history is different from its neighbours: in the make-up of its population and the development of its geographic area, both of which have the nation into a crucible; in the nature of French political power; in the relations between church and state; and in the resulting centralised state.

The goal of this book is to realise Fernand Braudel’s dream of reconciling popular history, the history of events and academic history.

Marc Ferro is a director of studies at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales.