Georges Duby

Georges Duby Biography

Georges Duby Biography

Georges Duby (October 7, 1919 – December 3, 1996) historian. He was born in Paris, France. He is known for being a reference in medieval history, in themes of agrarian and artistic-cultural history, from a sociological angle. He graduated in Letters, then taught medieval history at the University of Besançon. From then on, he stood out as Professor of Social History of the Middle Ages at the Collège de France.

Duby is one of the representatives of the New History movement that emerged as a result of the historiographic revolution carried out by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre. Duby was dedicated to combining the interpretation of the mental attitudes of the people of an era with economic, demographic and social aspects. In this regard, he wrote some essays: La société aux XIe et XIIe siècles dans la région mâconnaise (1954) and Rural economy and country life in the medieval West (1962), there, Duby established the peculiar features of society European rural emerged from the slow dissolution of the Roman Empire, beginning in the evolution of the establishment of the property until the levels reached by the techniques of production and communication.

Thanks to a fairly modern research, the following were born: Warriors and peasants: initial development of the European economy (1973), in this work the analysis of the relations and mobility of the social strata is developed through a shrewd recourse to the new disciplines that feed historiographic research (anthropology, social demography, ecology, community psychology, etc.).

He considered the ideologies of medieval society as representation systems endowed with a historical role. To build his stories he used biographies, letters, chronicles, anal, epitaphs, sermons, figurative objects or recurring rhetorical figures. The above constitutes an advance for the historical discipline. An example of this was the work The Thousand-Year: A new and different vision of a crucial moment in history (1957), assembles literary documents belonging to the millennium, many admire it for being a particular essay on the history of mentalities. Many other works share the same line, such as the three orders or the imaginary of feudalism (1978) and the knight, the woman and the priest: marriage in feudal France (1981).

In the time of the cathedrals, he analyzed the artist’s social function concerning the philosophical-religious conceptions and the economy of the medieval world. Georges Duby postulated a relatively easy periodization for the French sphere: the time of light (1130-1190), of the reason (1190-1250) and happiness (1250-1280).

He paid attention to the European event: the black plague. He said that, although this stagnated the economy of the country stoked the cultural values ​​of the Europeans: in the middle of a mess, everything seems to be renewed and rejuvenated. Art is transformed by the will of artists and patrons. That is, art became narration, illustration, and the artist is at the service of man. It is the warning of the beginning of the Renaissance.

The achievements of the history of mentalities are the subject of a reflection of Duby on the new historiography. Now, in the preface to Europe in the Middle Ages, Georges Duby makes a superficial exposition of the genesis of this book, which originated from films for television based on his previous work The Time of the Cathedrals. At the end of each chapter, Duby incorporates medieval original texts that illustrate and support the subject, allowing the reader a greater understanding of the Middle Ages and its contradictions so that he discovers the relationship that medieval European art maintained with society as a whole and with culture, of which it is a legitimate expression.

After the great death of the black plague epidemic of 1348, there is a proliferation in the work of art, which becomes an object of current consumption. However, Georges Duby discovers that the fourteenth century produces a large work of art that is not a cathedral or palace: it is the grave. The tomb affirmed the power of the great princes and ecclesiastics, becoming a monument of civil majesty. The poor of the 14th-century cities did not have access to this, they only enjoyed altarpieces and ecclesiastical engravings.



  • The Middle Ages (in the General History of Civilizations).
  • Faire de l’histoire, with Jacques Le Goff and Pierre Nora.
  • Histoire de la France rurale.
  • History of private life, with Philip Ariès.
  • Women’s history, with Michelle Perrot.

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