Arthur Conte, a French politician, author and historian, was born on March 31, 1920, in Salses, in the Western Pyrenees.
He received his secondary-school education at Lycée François Arago in Perpignan and earned a Bachelor of Arts and then a postgraduate degree in classical studies in Montpellier. Working as a journalist, he contributed to Le Quotidien de Paris, Paris Match, Le Figaro, France-Soir and Jours de France. He became the president of the ORTF (Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française) and put Italiques (ORTF) in the hands of Marc Gilbert, who recruited Ennio Morricone and Jean-Michel Folon for the theme song. He also produced the television series Histoires de France for FR3. At the same time, he pursued a political career. He is the father of writer Dominique Bona and of Pierre Conte, president of Le Figaro media group. 




Jean-François Champollion (23 December 1790 – 4 March 1832) was a French classical scholar, philologist and orientalist, decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Champollion published the first translation of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822, showing that the Egyptian writing system was a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs.


Champollion was born in Figeac, Lot, the last of seven children (two of whom had already died before he was born). He was raised in humble circumstances; because his parents could not afford to send him to school, and he was taught to read by his brother Jacques. Jacques, although studious and largely self-educated, did not have Jean-François' genius for language; however, he was talented at earning a living, and supported Jean-François for most of his life.

He lived with his brother in Grenoble for several years, and even as a child showed an extraordinary linguistic talent. By the age of 16 he had mastered a dozen languages and had read a paper before the Grenoble Academy concerning the Coptic language. By 20 he could also speak Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Amharic, Sanskrit, Avestan, Pahlavi, Arabic, Syriac, Chaldean, Persian and Ge'ez in addition to his native French. In 1809, he became assistant-professor of History at Grenoble. His interest in oriental languages, especially Coptic, led to his being entrusted with the task of deciphering the writing on the then recently-discovered Rosetta Stone, and he spent the years 1822–1824 on this task. His 1824 work Précis du système hiéroglyphique gave birth to the entire field of modern Egyptology. He also identified the importance of the Turin King List, and dated the Dendera zodiac to the Roman period. His interest in Egyptology was originally inspired by Napoleon's Egyptian Campaigns 1798–1801. Champollion was subsequently made Professor of Egyptology at the Collège de France.

Egyptian hieroglyphs

Thomas Young was one of the first to attempt decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, basing his own work on the investigations of Swedish diplomat Åkerblad, who built up a demotic alphabet of 29 letters (15 turned out to be correct) and translated all personal names and other words in the Demotic part of the Rosetta Stone in 1802. Åkerblad however, wrongly believed that demotic was entirely phonetic or alphabetic. Young thought the same, and by 1814 he had completely translated the enchorial (which Champollion labeled Demotic as it is called today) text of the Rosetta Stone (he had a list with 86 demotic words). Young then studied the hieroglyphic alphabet and made some progress but failed to recognise that demotic and hieroglyphic texts were paraphrases and not simple translations. In 1823 he published an Account of the Recent Discoveries in Hieroglyphic Literature and Egyptian Antiquities. Some of Young's conclusions appeared in the famous article Egypt he wrote for the 1818 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

When Champollion, in 1822, published his translation of the hieroglyphs and the key to the grammatical system, Young and all others praised this work. Young had indicated in a letter to Gurney that he wished to see Champollion acknowledge that he had made use of Young's earlier work in assisting his eventual deciphering of hieroglyphics. Champollion was unwilling to share the credit even though initially he had not recognized that hieroglyphics were phonetic. Young corrected him on this, and Champollion attempted to have an early article withdrawn once he realized his mistake. Strongly motivated by the political tensions of that time, the British supported Young and the French Champollion. Champollion completely translated the hieroglyphic grammar based in part upon the earlier work of others including Young. However, Champollion maintained that he alone had deciphered the hieroglyphs. After 1826, he did offer Young access to demotic manuscripts in the Louvre, when he was a curator. Baron Georges Cuvier (1825) credited Champollion's work as an important aid in dating the Dendera Zodiac.

Franco-Tuscan Expedition


In 1827 Ippolito Rosellini, considered the founder of Egyptology in Italy, went to Paris for a year in order to improve his knowledge of the method of decipherment proposed by Champollion. The two philologists decided to organize an expedition to Egypt to confirm the validity of the discovery. Headed by Champollion and assisted by Rosellini his first disciple and great friend, the mission was known as the Franco-Tuscan Expedition, and was made possible by the support of the grand-duke of Tuscany, Leopold II, and the King of France, Charles X.

On the 21st of July 1828, with four members, they boarded the ship Eglé at Toulon and set sail for Egypt. They travelled upstream along the Nile and studied an exhaustive number of monuments and inscriptions. The expedition led to a posthumously-published extensive Monuments de l'Égypte et de la Nubie (1845). Unfortunately, Champollion's expedition was blemished by unchecked looting. Most notably, while studying the Valley of the Kings, he damaged KV17, the tomb of Seti I, by removing a wall pannel of 2.26 x 1.05 m in a corridor while other elements were removed by his companion Rossellini or the german expedition of 1845. The scenes are now in the collections of the Louvre, the museums of Florence and Berlin. During his stay, the Khedive of Egypt, Muhammad Ali Pasha, offered the two obelisks standing at the entrance of Luxor Temple to France in 1829, but only one was transported to Paris where it now stands on the Place de la Concorde.

Exhausted by his labours during and after his scientific expedition to Egypt, Champollion died of an apoplectic attack in Paris in 1832 at the age of 41. He is buried in the Père Lachaise cemetery.

Certain portions of Champollion's works were edited by his elder brother, Jacques Joseph Champollion-Figeac; Jacques Joseph's son, Aimé-Louis (1812–1894), wrote a biography of the two brothers.

In popular culture

Champollion was portrayed by Elliot Cowan in the 2005 BBC docudrama Egypt. He was prominently featured in an episode of Carl Sagan's television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The History Channel's Secrets of the Rosetta Stone featured Champollion's efforts.




Jules Michelet (21 August 1798 – 9 February 1874) was a French historian. He was born in Paris to a family with Huguenot traditions.

Early life

His father was a master printer, not very prosperous, and Jules assisted him in the actual work of the press. A place was offered him in the imperial printing office, but his father was able to send him to the famous Collège or Lycée Charlemagne, where he distinguished himself. He passed the university examination in 1821, and was soon appointed to a professorship of history in the Collège Rollin.

Soon after this, in 1824, he married. This was one of the most favourable periods ever for scholars and men of letters in France, and Michelet had powerful patrons in Abel-François Villemain and Victor Cousin, among others. Although he was an ardent politician (having from his childhood embraced republicanism and a peculiar variety of romantic free-thought), he was above all a man of letters and an inquirer into the history of the past. His earliest works were school textbooks. Between 1825 and 1827 he produced diverse sketches, chronological tables, etc., of modern history. His précis of the subject, published in 1827, is a sound and careful book, far better than anything that had appeared before it, and written in a sober yet interesting style. In the same year he was appointed maître de conferences at the École normale supérieure. Four years later, in 1831, the Introduction à l'histoire universelle showed a very different style, exhibiting the idiosyncrasy and literary power of the writer to greater advantage, but also displaying, in the words of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, "the peculiar visionary qualities which made Michelet the most stimulating, but the most untrustworthy (not in facts, which he never consciously falsifies, but in suggestion) of all historians."

Record Office

The events of 1830 had placed him in a better position for study by obtaining him a place in the Record Office, and a deputy-professorship under Guizot in the literary faculty of the university. Soon afterwards he began his chief and monumental work, the Histoire de France that would take 30 years to complete. But he accompanied this with numerous other books, chiefly of erudition, such as the Œuvres choisies de Vico, the Mémoires de Luther écrits par lui-même, the Origines du droit français, and somewhat later the le Procès des Templiers.

1838 was a year of great importance in Michelet's life. He was in the fullness of his powers, his studies had fed his natural aversion to the principles of authority and ecclesiasticism, and at a moment when the revived activity of the Jesuits caused some real and more pretended alarm he was appointed to the chair of history at the Collège de France. Assisted by his friend Edgar Quinet, he began a violent polemic against the unpopular order and the principles which it represented, a polemic which made their lectures, and especially Michelet's, one of the most popular resorts of the day. He published, in 1839, his Histoire romaine, but this was in his graver and earlier manner. The results of his lectures appeared in the volumes Du prêtre, de la femme et de la famille and Le peuple. These books do not display the apocalyptic style which, partly borrowed from Lamennais, characterizes Michelet's later works, but they contain in miniature almost the whole of his curious ethicopolitico-theological creed—a mixture of sentimentalism, communism, and anti-sacerdotalism, supported by the most eccentric arguments, but urged with a great deal of eloquence.

The principles of the outbreak of 1848 were in the air, and Michelet was one of many who condensed and propagated them: his original lectures were of so incendiary a kind that the course had to be interdicted. However, when the revolution broke out, Michelet, unlike many other men of letters, did not attempt to enter active political life, and merely devoted himself more strenuously to his literary work. Besides continuing the great history, he undertook and carried out, during the years between the downfall of Louis Philippe and the final establishment of Napoleon III, an enthusiastic Histoire de la revolution française.

Minor books

The coup d'état lost Michelet his place in the Record Office, since he refused to take the oaths to the empire. The new régime kindled afresh his republican zeal, and his second marriage with Mlle Athenais Mialaret, a lady of some literary capacity and of republican sympathies, seems to have further stimulated his powers. While his great work of history was still his main pursuit, a crowd of extraordinary little books accompanied and diversified it. Sometimes they were expanded versions of its episodes, sometimes what may be called commentaries or companion volumes. In some of the best of them natural science, a new subject with Michelet, to which his wife is believed to have introduced him, supplies the text. The first of these (by no means the best) was Les Femmes de la revolution (1854), in which Michelet's natural and inimitable faculty of dithyrambic too often gives way to tedious and not very conclusive argument and preaching. In the next, L'Oiseau (1856), a new and most successful vein was struck. The subject of natural history was treated, not from the point of view of mere science, nor from that of sentiment, nor of anecdote nor of gossip, but from that of the author's fervent democratic pantheism, and the result, though, as was to be expected, unequal, was often excellent.

L'Insecte, in the same key, but duller, followed. It was succeeded by L'Amour (1859), one of the author's most popular books. These remarkable works, half pamphlets half moral treatises, succeeded each other as a rule at the twelve months' interval, and the succession was almost unbroken for five or six years. L'Amour was followed by La Femme (1860), a book on which a whole critique of French literature and French character might be founded. Then came La Mer (1861), a return to the natural history class, which, considering the powers of the writer and the attraction of the subject, is perhaps a little disappointing. The next year (1862) the most striking of all Michelet's minor works, La Sorcière, made its appearance. Developed out of an episode of the history, it has all its author's peculiarities in the strongest degree. It is a nightmare and nothing more, but a nightmare of the most extraordinary verisimilitude and poetical power.

This remarkable series, every volume of which was a work at once of imagination and of research, was not even yet finished, but the later volumes exhibit a certain falling off. The ambitious Bible de l'humanité (1864), an historical sketch of religions, has but little merit. In La Montagne (1868), the last of the natural history series, the tricks of staccato style are pushed even farther than by Victor Hugo in his less inspired moments, though—as is inevitable, in the hands of such a master of language as Michelet—the effect is frequently grandiose if not grand. Nos fils (1869), the last of the string of smaller books published during the author's life, is a tractate on education, written with ample knowledge of the facts and with all Michelet's usual sweep, and range of view, if with visibly declining powers of expression. But in a book published posthumously, Le Banquet, these powers reappear at their fullest. The picture of the industrious and famishing populations of the Riviera is (whether true to fact or not) one of the best things that Michelet has done. To complete the list of his miscellaneous works, two collections of pieces, written and partly published at different times, may be mentioned. These are Les Soldats de la révolution and Legendes démocratiques du nord.

Michelet's Origines du droit français, cherchées dans les symboles et les formules du droit universel was edited by Émile Faguet in 1890 and went into a second edition in 1900.

The publication of this series of books, and the completion of his history, occupied Michelet during both decades of the empire. He lived partly in France, partly in Italy, and was accustomed to spend the winter on the Riviera, chiefly at Hyères.


At last, in 1867, the great work of his life was finished. In the usual edition it fills nineteen volumes. The first of these deals with the early history up to the death of Charlemagne, the second with the flourishing time of feudal France, the third with the 13th century, the fourth, fifth, and sixth with the Hundred Years' War, the seventh and eighth with the establishment of the rural power under Charles VII and Louis XI. The 16th and 17th centuries have four volumes apiece, much of which is very distantly connected with French history proper, especially in the two volumes entitled Renaissance and Reforme. The last three volumes carry on the history of the 18th century to the outbreak of the Revolution.

Academic reception

Michelet was perhaps the first historian to devote himself to anything like a picturesque history of the Middle Ages, and his account is still the most vivid that exists. His inquiry into manuscript and printed authorities was most laborious, but his lively imagination, and his strong religious and political prejudices, made him regard all things from a singularly personal point of view. There is an unevenness of treatment of historical incidents. However, Michelet insistence that history should concentrate on “the people, and not only its leaders or its institutions” clearly drew inspiration from the French Revolution. Michelet was one of the first historians to apply these liberal principles to historical scholarship.

Political life

Uncompromisingly hostile as Michelet was to the empire, its downfall and the accompanying disasters of the country once more stimulated him to activity. Not only did he write letters and pamphlets during the struggle, but when it was over he set himself to complete the vast task which his two great histories had almost covered by a Histoire du XIXe siècle. He did not, however, live to carry it farther than the Battle of Waterloo, and the best criticism of it is perhaps contained in the opening words of the introduction to the last volume--"l'âge me presse" (Age hurries me). The new republic was not altogether a restoration for Michelet, and his professorship at the Collège de France, of which he always contended he had been unjustly deprived, was not given back to him.




Eric John Ernest Hobsbawm (usually known as "Eric Hobsbawm" or "E. J. Hobsbawm"), CH, FBA, (born 9 June 1917) is a British Marxist historian and author.


Hobsbawm was born in 1917 in Alexandria, Egypt, to Leopold Percy Obstbaum and Nelly Grün, both Jewish, and he grew up in Vienna and Berlin. A clerical error at birth altered his surname from Obstbaum to Hobsbawm. Although the family lived in German-speaking countries, his parents spoke to him and his younger sister Nancy in English. His father died in 1929, and he started working as an au pair and English tutor. He became an orphan at age 14 upon the death of his mother. Subsequently, he and Nancy were adopted by his maternal aunt, Gretl, and paternal uncle, Sidney, who married and had a son named Peter. They all moved to London in 1933.

Hobsbawm married twice. His first wife was Muriel Seaman, whom he married in 1943 and divorced in 1951. His second marriage was to Marlene Schwarz, with whom he has two children, Julia Hobsbawm and Andy Hobsbawm. Julia is chief executive of Hobsbawm Media and Marketing and a visiting professor of public relations at the College of Communication, University of the Arts London. He also has a son, Joshua, from a previous relationship.

He is a Marxist and was a long-standing member of the now defunct Communist Party of Great Britain and the associated Communist Party Historians Group. He is president of Birkbeck, University of London. He was appointed a Companion of Honour in 1998. In 2003 he was awarded the Balzan Prize for European History since 1900 "For his brilliant analysis of the troubled history of twentieth-century Europe and for his ability to combine in-depth historical research with great literary talent."


Hobsbawm joined the Sozialistischer Schülerbund (Association of Socialist Pupils), an offshoot of the Young Communist League of Germany, in Berlin in 1931 and the Communist party in 1936, supporting both the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact and the Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939. He was a member of the Communist Party Historians Group from 1946 to 1956. The Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 marked the end of the Communist Party Historian's Group and led most of its members to remove themselves from the British Communist Party. Hobsbawm, uniquely among his colleagues, remained in the Party. Yet he denounced the USSR's crimes and abuses as early as 1956 (Daily Worker, November 18, 1956). In the same article he characterized the Polish and the Hungarian uprisings as "revolts of workers and intellectuals against bureaucracies and pseudo-communist political systems". Writing in the Daily Worker in late 1956, Hobsbawm argued that "Whilst approving, with a heavy heart, of what is now happening in Hungary, we should therefore also say frankly that we think the USSR should withdraw its troops from the country as soon as this is possible."

Later he came to support the Eurocommunist faction in the CPGB. In "The Forward March of Labour Halted?", originally a Marxism Today article published in September 1978, he argued that the working class was inevitably losing its central role in society, and that Left parties could no longer appeal only to this class; a controversial viewpoint in a period of trade union militancy. Hobsbawm supported Neil Kinnock's transformation of the British Labour Party from 1983. Until the cessation of publication in 1991, he contributed to the magazine Marxism Today. Since the 1960s his politics have taken a more moderate turn, as Hobsbawm came to recognize that his hopes were unlikely to be realized, and no longer advocates "socialist systems of the Soviet type". Yet, he remains firmly entrenched on the left, and thinks the long-term outlooks for humanity are 'bleak'.

Academic life

He was educated at Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium Berlin (today Friedrich-List-School), St Marylebone Grammar School (now defunct) and King's College, Cambridge, where he graduated with a Ph.D. in history on the Fabian Society. He was a member of the Cambridge Apostles. During World War II, he served in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Army Educational Corps.

In 1947, he became a lecturer in history at Birkbeck College, University of London. He became reader in 1959, professor between 1970–1982 and an Emeritus professor of history 1982. He was a fellow between 1949-1955 at King's College, Cambridge.

He was a visiting professor at Stanford in the 1960s. In 1970, he was appointed professor and in 1978 he became a Fellow of the British Academy. He is an honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He retired in 1982 but stayed as visiting professor at The New School for Social Research in Manhattan between 1984-1997. He is currently President of Birkbeck, University of London and Professor Emeritus in The New School for Social Research in the Political Science department. It is said that he speaks English, German, French, Spanish and Italian, and that he reads Dutch, Portuguese and even Catalan.

One of Hobsbawm's interests is the development of traditions. His work is a study of their social construction in the context of the nation state. He argues that many traditions are invented by national elites to justify the existence and importance of their respective nation states.


Hobsbawm has written extensively on many subjects as one of Britain's most prominent historians. As a Marxist historiographer he has focused on analysis of the "dual revolution" (the political French revolution and the industrial British revolution). He sees their effect as a driving force behind the predominant trend towards liberal capitalism today. Another recurring theme in his work has been social banditry, a phenomenon that Hobsbawm has tried to place within the confines of relevant societal and historical context thus countering the traditional view of it being a spontaneous and unpredictable form of primitive rebellion.

Outside of his academic historical writing, Hobsbawm has written a regular column (under the pseudonym 'Francis Newton' – taken from the name of Billie Holiday's communist trumpet player, Frankie Newton) for the New Statesman as a jazz critic, and time to time over popular music such as with his "Beatles and before" article. He has published numerous essays in various intellectual journals, dealing with subjects like barbarity in the modern age to the troubles of labour movements and the conflict between anarchism and communism. His most recent publications are the autobiography, Interesting Times (2002), Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism (2007) and On Empire (2008).


Thirty years ago Hobsbawm was described as "arguably our greatest living historian — not only Britain's, but the world's." James Joll wrote in The New York Review of Books that "Eric Hobsbawm's nineteenth century trilogy is one of the great achievements of historical writing in recent decades." Tony Judt, director of the Erich Maria Remarque Institute at New York University, argued that Hobsbawm's tendency to disparage any nationalist movement as passing and irrational weakened his grasp of parts of the 20th century. Judt however, also wrote that "Hobsbawm is a cultural folk hero. His fame is well deserved. Hobsbawm doesn't just know more than other historians, he writes better, too." In Neal Ascherson's view "Eric's Jewishness increased his sensitivity about nationalism. He's the original happy cosmopolitan, who's benefited from being able to move freely."




  • Batisseurs de la France, de l'an 1000 à l'an 2000, Plon, Paris, 2004, 522p
  • "Les paysans de France: de l'an 1000 à aujourd'hui", Plon, Paris 2000, 404p.
  • L'épopée des chemins de fer français, Plon, Paris, 1996, 414 p.
  • L'épopée coloniale de la France, Plon, Paris, 1992
  • Yatridès Maître du temps, Editions Lumière et Espace, 1992, 272 p.




  • Principes de la philosophie de l'histoire de Vico (1827)
  • Précis de l'histoire de France jusqu'à la Révolution (1833)
  • Histoire de France (Tomes I et II [jusqu'à la date de 1270], 1833; tome III [jusqu'à la mort de Charles V], 1837; Tome IV [le règne de Charles VI], 1840; Tome V [Charles VII], 1841 (nouvelle préface en 1869) ; tome VI [“Louis XI et le Téméraire”], 1844) :
    • Hetzel : 5 volumes
    • A. Lacroix (1876) : 19 volumes
    • E. Flammarion (1893), dite "Édition définitive, revue et corrigée" : 16 volumes
    • Éditions Saint-Clair (années 60) : 18 volumes
    • Équateurs (2008) : 17 volumes : de la Gaule à Louis XVI, avec dans le tome 2 TABLEAU DE LA FRANCE




Partial publication list

Number  Book  Date  Publisher ISBN Notes References
1 Labour's Turning Point: Extracts from Contemporary Sources 1948 Lawrence & Wishart ISBN 0-9017-5965-1

2 Primitive Rebels: Studies in Archaic Forms of Social Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries 1959, 1963, 1971 Manchester University Press ISBN 0-7190-0493-4 in the US: Social Bandits and Primitive Rebels, Free Press, 1960

3 The Age of Revolution: Europe 1789-1848 1962 Abacus (UK)
Vintage Books (U.S.)
ISBN 0-679-77253-7

4 Labouring Men: studies in the history of labour 1964 Weidenfeld & Nicolson ISBN 0-2977-6402-0

5 Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations 1965 Lawrence & Wishart ISBN 0-7178-0165-9 editor; essays by Karl Marx




  • Le Normant, ed (1819). Annales des Lagides, ou chronologie des rois grecs d'Égypte successeurs d'Alexandre le Grand.  ;
  • Lettre à M. Dacier relative à l'alphabet des hiéroglyphes phonétiques. 1822.  ;
  • Panthéon égyptien, collection des personnages mythologiques de l'ancienne Égypte, d'après les monuments (explanatory text to illustrations by Léon-Jean-Joseph Dubois ). 1823. http://gallica.bnf.fr/notice?N=FRBNF30219351.