Henri Pirenne (1862–1935) was a Belgian historian of international stature. He had an intellectual reputation that extended far beyond the borders of his own country. The Histoire de Belgique, which he published in the early decades of the twentieth century, was regarded as a model of innovative national history. His ideas about the development of the medieval city attracted attention, and his thesis on the influence of Islam on European history initiated a debate that continues today. Pirenne is now established as one of the twentieth century's greatest historians, who inspired not only a whole generation of French historians but also numerous other European and American intellectuals.
This book is not merely a writer’s oeuvre. It is a life in pictures: Pirenne’s biography is probingly enhanced by means of original and attractive pictorial material. The photos illustrate how the historian was intellectually formed and how his career developed. They illuminate the growth of his oeuvre and the rise of his reputation. They depict his teachers and friends. They recapture the events at which he was honored as well as his wartime exile. Henri Pirenne, Historian opens to view the work and life of an historian whose significance continues to be recognized well beyond the confines of his own discipline.
About the Author
Sarah Keymeulen is a researcher at Ghent University.
Jo Tollebeek is Professor of Cultural History at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Table of Contents
The formative years, 1862-1890 13
Background and childhood 13
Training in Belgium and abroad 15
A young medievalist on new paths 26
The Productive years, 1890-1914 31
The pre-war oeuvre 31
An enviable status 38
The First World War as turning-point, 1914-1922 43
Broken relationships 43
Orchestrated resistance 44
Exile in Germany 46
The new Pirenne 56
An eminent historian, 1922-1935 73
The Nouvelle Histoire 73
The American connection 76
Mahomet et Charlemagne 84
The completion of the Histoire de Belgique 92
Death of an historian 97
Posthumous publications 103
Far-reaching influence 108
The Pirenne Archive at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) 115
Origin of the illustrations 117