Fernand Braudel (1902–1985) was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School. His scholarship focused on three main projects: The Mediterranean (1923–49, then 1949–66), Civilization and Capitalism(1955–79), and the unfinished Identity of France (1970–85). His reputation stems in part from his writings, but even more from his success in making the Annales School the most important engine of historical research in France and much of the world after 1950. As the dominant leader of the Annales School of historiography in the 1950s and 1960s, he exerted enormous influence on historical writing in France and other countries. He was a student of Henri Hauser (1866-1946).
Braudel has been considered one of the greatest of the modern historians who have emphasized the role of large-scale socioeconomic factors in the making and writing of history. He can also be considered as one of the precursors of world-systems theory.
A feature of Braudel's work was his compassion for the suffering of marginal people. He articulated that most surviving historical sources come from the literate wealthy classes. He emphasized the importance of the ephemeral lives of slaves, serfs, peasants, and the urban poor, demonstrating their contributions to the wealth and power of their respective masters and societies. His work was often illustrated with contemporary depictions of daily life, rarely with pictures of noblemen or kings.
In 1949 Braudel was elected to the Collège de France upon Febvre’s retirement. He co-founded the academic journal, Revue économique, in 1950. He retired in 1968. In 1983, he was elected to the Académie française.