The French political philosopher and historian François Guizot (1787–1874) was one of the French Doctrinaires, thinkers who sought to avoid the interpretations of the Revolution advanced by either extreme of Left or Right. He argued that in order to understand the nature of political institutions it is necessary to study first the society, its composition, mores, and the relation between various classes. At the very center of his theory lies the principle of the sovereignty of reason.
Originally given as a series of lectures at the Sorbonne, François Guizot’s History of Civilization in Europe was published to great acclaim in 1828 and is now regarded as a classic in modern historical research. History was particularly influential on Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Tocqueville, in fact, requested that a copy of History be sent to him when he arrived in the United States.