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FERNAND BRAUDEL The Mediterranean and the Mediter W orld ... fileFERNAND BRAUDEL The Mediterranean and the Mediter W orld in the Age ofPhilip II Preface to the First Edition 1949 Fernand

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  • FERNAND BRAUDEL

    The Mediterranean and the Mediter W orld in the Age ofPhilip II

    Preface to the First Edition

    1949

    Fernand Braudel ( 1902-1985) is probably the most celebrated French historian of the second half of the twentieth century and cer- tainly the best known outside France. He carne to history relatively late, however, his work and career interrupted by World War II. While confined as a prisoner of war in Germany from 1940 to 1945, he wrote, without books or notes, entirely from memory, the book that made his reputation overnight: La Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen a l'époque de Philippe 11 (The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age ofPhilip /!), which he defended as a thesis in 1947 and published in 1949· This was an abundant worly the book of a lifetime, and it would undergo severa/ revisions and amplifications. Thirty years later, it was followed by the three volumes of Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme ( 1979), and then by an unfinished, posthumously published three- volume worly L'Identité de la France ( 1986). Braudel's work was thus at once massive and highly concentrated, but it was only one aspect of a lije devoted to inspiring and managing the scientific work of others. As Lucien Febvre's successor as both the editor of Annales and chairman of the Sixth Section of the Eco/e Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Braudel reigned over much of French social science in the 1950s, 196os, and 1970s. He also headed a powerful international network of collaborating scholars, as]. H. Hexter notes in his article, "Fernand Braudel and the Monde Braudellien . . ." (see pp. 355-366).

    Here, then, are the first and most famous pages ofThe Mediterra- nean. The book deals with the history of a geographic region, a sea,

    From The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip Il, by Sian Reynolds (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), pp. 17-22. First published lA Méditerranée et le monde méditerranéen a l'époque de Philippe II (París: Armand lin, 1949), pp. ix-xv.

    NG MODELS ANO RESEARCH AGENDAS [ 83 ] co)IPt:TI

    ~untries along its coast, during the second half of the six- IJ th century. Yet the ambition behind it was far more vast. This lte:riment in geohistory grew in both time and space. Braudel aimed e~othing less than a total history of the Mediterranean basin, rang- ~~ Jrom its incredibly varied geography to its multiple trade links, '';;;al structures, and patterns of waifare and diplomacy. The au- ~or's model for historical study proved enduringly injluential, even though hardly anyone tried to imitate his scope of analysis: the funda- mentals oftopography, climate, and long-term population trends pro- vided the basis for the history of enduring economic and social pat- JtmS. Braudel did not ignore political history or even particular battles, but they definitely carne last and were by implication only explicable in terms of larger, more lasting injluences.

    The book a !so had another goal, namely, to explore the complexity of social time in terms of a hierarchy of three time frames: the deep, almos! static, history of the environment, the overlapping cycles of the economy, and the quick time of events, which for Braudel was of little concern.

    1 have loved the Mediterranean with a passion, no doubt because 1 am a northerner like so many others in whose footsteps I have fol- lowed. 1 have joyfully dedicated long years of study to it-much

    more than all my youth. In return, 1 hope that a little of this joy and a great deal of Mediterranean sunlight will shine from the pages of this book. Ideally, perhaps one should, like the novelist, have one's subject under control, never losing it from sight and constantly aware of its overpowering presence. Fortunately or unfortunately, the historian has n~t ~he novelist's freedom. The reader who approaches this book in the 5~1rlt I would wish will do well to bring with him his own memories, hts own vision of the Mediterranean to add color to the text and to help rn . . e conJure up this vast presence, as 1 ha ve done m y best todo. M y feeling ~s that the sea itself, the one we see and love, is the greatest document of ttshpast existence. If 1 ha ve retained nothing else from the geographers w 0 taught me at the Sorbonne, 1 have retained this lesson with an un~av~ring conviction that has guided me throughout my project.

    t rrught be thought that the connections between history and geo- !rap~ic space would be better illustrated by a more straightforward ex- t~p e than the Mediterranean, particular! y since in the sixteenth century pie sea Was such a vast expanse in relation to man. lts character is com- rn ex, awkward, and unique. lt cannot be contained within our measure- bie~ts and classifications. No simple biography beginning with date of

    rt can be written of this sea; no simple narrative of how things hap-

  • _(_8_4 __ 1 ________ s_o_c_r_A_L __ H_r_sT __ O_R_Y_A __ N_D_G __ L_O_B_A_L_H __ rs_T_O __ R_Y_(~r~9~45_ 1 pened would be appropriate to its historyo The Mediterran o . l o o 1 ean 15 ~v1enda sz~g e sea, 1t 1s a comp ex of seas; and these seas are broken IS an s, mterrupted by pemnsulas, ringed by intricate coastl" o ¡· k d h 1 d o Ineso lts IS m e to t e an , 1ts poetry more than half-rural, its sailors peasant with the seasons; it is the sea of vineyards and olive tre:a~ much as the sea of the long-oared galleys and the roundship f chants, and its history can no more be separated from that of :ho surrounding it thaon ~~e clay can be separ;ted fr~~ the handseof potter who shapes 1t. Lauso la maree tente n terro ( Praise the stay on land"), says a Proven~al proverbo sea

    So it will be no easy task to discover exactly what the historical ter of the Mediterranean has beeno lt will require much patienc different approaches, and no doubt a few unavoidable errorso e, could be clearer than the Mediterranean defined by oceanographe

    o ~ og1st, or even geographer. Its boundaries have been charted and labeledo But what of the Mediterranean of the historia;? no lack of authoritative statements asto what it is notolt is notan mous world; nor is it the preserve of any one power. Woe betide historian who thinks that this preliminary interrogation is un that the Mediterranean as an entity needs no definition because it long been clearly defined, is instantly recognizable and can be by dividing general history along the lines of its geographical What possible value could these contours ha ve for our studies?

    But how could one write any history of the sea, e ven over a only fifty years, if one stopped at one end with the Pillars of and at the other with the straits at whose entrance ancient Ilium stood guard? The question of boundaries is the first to be from it, all others flowo To draw a boundary around anything is to fine, analyze, and reconstruct it, in this case to select, indeed philosophy of historyo

    !o assist me, I did indeed have at my disposal a prodigious artJcles, papers, books, publications, surveys, sorne purely historical, ers no less interesting, written by specialists in neighboring disci ~nthropologists, geographers, botanists, geologists, technologistso 1s surely no region on this earth as well documented and written as t?e Mediterranean and the lands illuminated by its glowo But, say 1t, at the risk of seeming ungrateful to m y predecessors, that this of publications buries the researcher, as it were, under a rain of many of these studies speak a language of the past, outdated in w~ys tha~ oneo Their concern is not the sea in all its complexity but m mute ptece of the mosaic-not the grand movement ofMedo life, but the actions of a few princes and rich m en, the trivia of the bearing little relation to the slow and powerful march of history

    EfJ NG MODELS ANO RESEARCH AGENDAS [ Bs l subjecto So many of these works need to be revised, related to the

    l before they can come to life againo .rb.f:;n, roo, no history of the sea can be written without precise knowl- cd ofthe vast resources of its ~rc~i~eso He~e th~ task would appear to lletyond the power~ of an mdividual htstonano There is not one

    eenth-century Medlterranean state that does not possess its charter siJt rn usually well furnished with those documents that ha ve escaped : f¡;es, sieges, and disasters of eve~y kind known to the Mediterranean 1r0rldo To prospect and catalog thts unsuspected store, these mines of lht purest historical gold,. wo_uld take not one lifetime but at Ieast twenty, or the simultaneous dediCatwn of twenty researcherso Perhaps the day tril1 come when we shall no longer be working on the great sites of )listory with the methods of small craftsmeno Perhaps on that da y it will IJecome possible to write general history from original documents and Jll)l from more or less secondary workso Need I confess that I ha ve not been able to examine all the documents available to me in the archives, aomatter how hard I triedo This book is the result of a necessarily incom- plete studyo I know in advance that its conclusions will be examined, discussed, and replaced by others, and I a m glad of ito That is how history progresses and must progresso

    Another point is that by its inauspicious chronological position, be- tween the last flames of the Renaissance and Reformation and the harsh mward-looking age of the seventeenth century, the Mediterranean i~ tbe second ?alf of the sixteenth century might well be described, as it ~by Lucten Febvre, as a ''faux beau sujeto" Need I point out where lts mterest lies? It is of no small value to know what became of the Mediterranean at the threshold of modern times, when the world

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