What is FrenchHistorian.com?

This site is intended to be an online community for French historians, students, and other academics. The idea behind the site was to create a forum for online collaboration between French historians (and other related fields). The site also features a current events blog written by Dr. James B. Collins (bio below) and posts on digital humanities by Margaret Collins (creator of the site).

Who is the French historian?

The official French historian of this site is Dr. James Collins, a historian at Georgetown University.

Jim Collins was born in Boston and grew up in Hartford, CT, learning basketball on the local blacktop. A lifelong gym rat, he played basketball in high school and college, and, somewhat later, as a member of Hi Noon, who won seven Georgetown intramural championships before disbanding in 2001. He continues to be a regular at Yates’ Mon-Wed Noon-Time Basketball. His other interests include cycling and hiking. His life experiences include stints as a utility man in a ball-bearing factory, as an electrician, as a golf caddy (a peerless laboratory for studying human nature), as a sportswriter, and as a consultant for the United Nations Population Fund, to mention a small sample. Much of what he understands about history, he learned at those jobs. He enjoys cooking and good wine, hardly surprising for someone who has spent much of his life in New York City and Paris.

He has been at Georgetown since 1985, becoming a Professor of History in 1992. He’s been the Director of Graduate Studies in History (1991-95) and the Chair of the History Dept (2000-03). He has recently had the opportunity to live, teach, and lecture in Paris, Florence, Warsaw, and London; he looks forward to future such hardship duty. Following up a spring 2009 stint as Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the Centre for Early Modern Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK, in spring 2011, he will be Professeur invite at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.

James Collins C.V.

Books– see Publications

  • The State in Early Modern France. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009, 2nd edition.
  • From Tribes to Nation: The Making of France, c. 500 to 1799. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing, 2002.
  • The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution. Toronto: Wadsworth Publishing, 2002.
  • Classes, Estates, and Order in Early Modern Brittany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
  • La Bretagne dans l’État monarchique. Rennes: Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2006. French translation of Classes, Estates, and Order, with proceedings of a one-day conference held in May 2004, in honor of its tenth anniversary.
  • The Fiscal Limits of Absolutism: Direct Taxation in Early Seventeenth-Century France. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Early Modern Europe: Issues and Interpretations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 2005. Co-edited with Dr. Karen Taylor.

Articles (most recent)

  • “Pierre Goubert,” in French Historians 1900-2000 New Historical Writing in Twentieth Century France, P. Daileader and P. Whalen, eds. (NY and London: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • “Pierre de Saint Jacob,”  in French Historians 1900-2000 New Historical Writing in Twentieth Century France, P. Daileader and P. Whalen, eds. (NY and London: John Wiley & Sons, 2010).
  • “The Constitution of the Third May (1791) in European context,” Lex est Rex in Polonia et in Lithuania. (Warsaw: Supreme Constitutional Tribunal of Poland, 2009), 119-144. The Supreme Constitutional Tribunal hosted a series of conferences in 2007-08 on this theme. They published the essays in Polish and an English-language version is in press.
  • “County Republicans” and the Concept of Active Citizenship in Sixteenth-Century Poland and France,” in Citizenship and Identity in a Multinational Commonwealth: Poland-Lithuania in Context, 1550-1772, ed. K. Friedrich and B. Pendzich (Leiden: Brill, 2009), ch. 8.
  • “La campagne bourguignonne à la fin du XVIIe siècle,” in Campagnes en mouvement en France du XVIe au XIXe siècle. Autour de Pierre de Saint Jacob, ed. A. Follain, (Dijon: Éditions Universitaires de Dijon, 2008), 235-250.
  • “Guerres et fiscalité” in Actes du colloque d’Avallon. Vauban, opposant et réformateur, ed. J. Bart (Avallon: Cercle Condorcet de l’Avallonnais, 2008).


  • Ph.D. (1978) Columbia University
  • M.A. (1974) Columbia University
  • B.A. (1971) University of Rochester

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