Patrick Boucheron



L'historien Patrick Boucheron assis sur une chaise

© Louise Quignon - Hans Lucas

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“I try to make history relate to our lives. I try to make people realize that they do not have to choose between knowledge-teaching and emotion-sharing.”

When asked who I am, I cannot easily say “I am a historian.” But I certainly “do” a historian’s work, as Italians say (fatto lo storico). That suits me: I have always seen history as a practice, not an identity. I practice the most serious form of history: I was trained as a researcher and have always taught history. Why history? And why the Middle Ages in particular? Simply because I enjoy it and find it liberating. 


But I also believe that academic knowledge should be politically independent, that the specificity of professional historians’ system of truth should be upheld. The discipline of history gives rise to knowledge that is neither opinion nor fiction. Yet I also know that to be a proper historian, you should not content yourself with simply being one. That is why I try to make history inviting to all that extends beyond it—literature, cinema, painting, and theater—as I look for new forms of writing that are simultaneously conceptually demanding and narratively stimulating. I like to emphasize that history is a way of thinking that should welcome unexpected insights, with a healthy concern for breaks in continuity. By looking for new experiences, I do not seek to popularize knowledge already amassed or broaden public interest in history. Instead, I try to make history relate to our lives. I try to make people realize that they do not have to choose between knowledge-teaching and emotion-sharing. 


Patrick Boucheron is a professor and chair of the History of Powers in Western Europe from the 7th to the 16th at Collège de France. He specializes in the Middles Ages, particularly in Italy. His work also concerns the writing of history and changes in the discipline. It was in this spirit that he wrote Histoire mondiale de la France (Seuil, 2017). Since 2017, he has partnered with the Théatre National de Bretagne (TNB) headed by actor and stage director Arthur Nauzyciel. For each program, he invites associates, academics, and artists to imagine and create with him a monthly gathering, “Rencontrer l’Histoire” (“A Rendez-vous with History”), based on the program’s themes or current affairs. In 2020, he and Mohamed El Khatib created the performance “Boule à neige”.


In partnership with

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Théâtre National de Bretagne (TNB)

The Théâtre National de Bretagne (TNB) traces its roots back to the very creation of the Centre Dramatique de l’Ouest in 1949 and of the Maison de la Culture in 1968 (a merger took place in 1990). As a European center for theatrical and choreographic production, emphasizes not only theater, but dance, music, cinema and education. The TNB organizes an annual international Festival and supports the School of the Dramatic Arts. The TNB welcomes about 200,000 spectators every season. Since 2017 the actor and stage director Arthur Nauzyciel has led the TNB and has introduced an artistic project grounded in 3 fundamental values: Share, Transmit, Connect. In addition, he appointed 18 associate artists, joined by another 10 other artists in 2021. 


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