Marc Bloch

Marc Bloch

Marc Bloch was born in Lyons, France in 1886. He studied history in Paris, Leipzig and Berlin. After graduating he taught at Montpellier and Amiens. Bloch served as an infantry soldier in the First World War and won four citations and the Legion d'Honneur.

In 1919 Bloch became Professor of Medieval History at Strasbourg University. In 1929 Bloch and Lucien Febvre founded the influential journal, the Annales d'histoire economique et sociale. In a series of articles he emphasized the importance of economic structures and systems of belief in history.

Most of Bloch's research concerned medieval history and the relationship between freedom and servitude. Books by him included Kings and Serfs (1920), Magic Working Kings (1924) and Original Characteristics of French Rural History (1931).

In 1936 Bloch became Professor of Economic History at the Sorbonne. In his book Feudal Society (1939) Bloch described the legal institutions of feudalism.

On the outbreak of the Second World War Bloch joined the French Army. A book on his experiences, Strange Defeat, was published after the war. When Henri-Philippe Petain signed an armistice with Germany Bloch knew that as a Jew he would be a target for the Gestapo. Bloch tried but failed to get his family to the United States.

Bloch now joined the French Resistance and by 1942 he was one of the leaders of the Francs-Tireur group. Bloch was captured by the Germans on 16th June 1944, and after being interrogated and tortured was executed with 27 other members of the resistance in a field outside Lyons. Books published after his death include The Historian's Craft and Feudal Society.