Claude Cahen

Claude Cahen and his wife (1989) Claude Cahen (26 February 1909 – 18 November 1991) was a 20th-century French Marxist orientalist and historian. He specialized in the studies of the Islamic Middle Ages, Muslim sources about the Crusades, and social history of the medieval Islamic society (works on Futuwa orders).

Claude Cahen was born in Paris to a French Jewish family. After studying at the École Normale Supérieure on the rue d'Ulm, he attended the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, receiving a doctorate in 1940. He was a professor at the University of Strasbourg from 1945 to 1959 and then at the Sorbonne; in 1967 he was invited to teach at the University of Michigan, and in 1973, he was elected to the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres.

Cahen was married and had six children, including the historian Michel Cahen, who wrote a biography of his father. Cahen was a member of the French Communist Party from the 1930s until 1960, and remained an active Marxist afterwards. Despite his origins, he neither self-identified as Jewish nor supported the State of Israel.

In 1954 he published "An Introduction to the First Crusade" in the Oxford journal ''Past and Present''. Cahen has been called "the ''doyen'' of Islamic social history and one of the most influential Islamic historians of [his] century," and "the best historian of the Middle East in the twentieth century." Mark Cohen describes him as a distinguished Islamic historian. He was a prisoner of war in World War II. The Festschrift ''Itineraires d'Orient: Hommages a Claude Cahen'', edited by Raoul Curiel and Rika Gyselen, appeared in 1995 as an honor to his "distinguished career", and an issue of the journal ''Arabica'' (43/1 (1996)) was dedicated to him. That issue also includes a nearly complete bibliography of his works. Provided by Wikipedia
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