Augustin Thierry and the Many Eyes of a Blind Historian

By Giorgia Vocino

Born in 1795, shortly after the end of the reign of Terror, Jacques Nicolas Augustin Thierry was an enfant prodige. Born in a modest family, delicate and often sick, he could not live off his family income nor start a military career, but he could count on his sharp intelligence to climb the social ladder. Graduate from the École Normale, in 1811 he started working as the secretary of Claude-Henri de Rouvroy, count of Saint-Simon. Vibrant supporter of the liberal party and close to the milieu of the Carbonari, Thierry began an independent career as a journalist, but was soon drawn to the study of history: in 1820 he published in the Courrier Français nine Lettres sur l’Histoire de France, while in 1825 the publication of the Histoire de la conquête de l’Angleterre par les Normands crowned him as a historian and won him a place among the most reputed scholars and authors of his time. It was in those years of hectic and passionate study that his health problems starte…

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