Pierre Renouvin (January 9, 1893 – December 7, 1974) was a French diplomatic historian. Renouvin was born in Paris and attended the Lycée-Louis-le-Grand, where he was rewarded his aggrégation in 1912. Renouvin spent the years 1912-1914 travelling in Germany and Russia. Renouvin served as an infantryman in World War I, where he was badly wounded, losing his left arm and the use of his right hand in April 1917. Renouvin married Marie-Therese Gatialda and worked as teacher between 1918-20 at the Lycée d’Orleans. Renouvin served as the war of the War History Library at the Sorbonne between 1920–22, and then worked as lecturer at the Sorbonne between 1922–33 and as a professor between 1933-64.
Renouvin began his historical career specializing on the origins of the French Revolution, especially the Assembly of Notables of 1787 for which he was rewarded his PhD, but after World War I, he turned to the study of the origins of World War I. In 1925, Renouvin published two books described as “definitive” by The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing about World War I. In the first book, Les Origines immédiates de la guerre (28 juin-4 août 1914) Renouvin demolished German claims of non-responsibility for the First World War. In the second, Les Formes du gouverment de guerre, Renouvin offered a comparative political history of Germany and France in the First World War, describing how France was able under the strain of war to preserve her democracy whereas in Germany what small elements of democracy that had existed in 1914 had been swept away by military dictatorship by 1916. Both books involved Renouvin in a polemical debate with the French Left, German historians and German apologists like Harry Elmer Barnes who claimed that it was France together with Russia that were the aggressors in the July Crisis of 1914. During the 1920s, it was often claimed that in the years 1912-14, there had been a strategy of Poincaré-la-guerre (Poincaré's War), whereas the French President Raymond Poincaré had supposedly in conjunction with Russia planned an aggressive war to dismember Germany. Through a close study of the documents then available in the 1920s, Renouvin was able to rebut the charges of Poincaré-la-guerre and of Germany as a victim of Franco-Russian aggression, and subsequent research since then has confirmed Renouvin’s initial conclusions. Through Renouvin's work was funded by the French government to rebut the claims of the War Guilt Section of the German Foreign Ministry, and the French leftists attacked Renouvin for being an "official" historian, Renouvin was critical of aspects of French pre-war policy, and he was the first historian to expose the French Yellow Book of 1914 (a collection of diplomatic documents relating to the July Crisis) for containing forgeries. Renouvin described his work in 1929 as:
"Tens of thousands of diplomatic documents to read, the testimony of hundreds of thousands of witnesses to be sought out and criticized, a maze of controversy and debate to be traversed in quest of some occasional revelation of importance-this is the task of the historian who undertakes to attack as a whole the great problem of the origins of the World War".
Because the German government had published a selective and misleading collection of documents relating to the July Crisis, whereas the French government had not, Renouvin’s work was not widely accepted in the 1920s, but a fuller opening of the German archives after World War II has validated Renouvin's scholarship. Renouvin himself took the lead in having the French archives opened, becoming the president of the French historical commission in charge of publishing the French documents relating to the July Crisis. Renouvin himself created a magazine relating to the subject Revue d”histoire de la Guerre Mondiale (Review of the History of the World War), and published another book on the subject, La Crise européenne et la grande gueree (The European Crisis and the Great War) in 1934.
In addition, Renouvin expanded his historical work to feature broader studies of international relations. In 1946, Renouvin published La Question d'Extrême Orient, 1840-1940 (The Question of the Far East, 1840-1940), which was followed by Histoire des relations internationles between 1953–58, which covered international history from the Middles Ages to 1945. In 1964, Renouvin published with the French historian Jean-Baptiste Duroselle Introduction a l’histoire des relations internationals (Introduction to the History of International Relations). As a historian, Renouvin came to be concerned more and more with broader social forces that influenced diplomatic history. Together with his protégés Jean-Baptiste Duroselle and Maurice Baumont started a new type of international history that included taking into what Renouvin called forces profondes (profound forces) such as the influence of domestic politics on foreign policy. In many ways, Renouvin's work with forces profondes was the diplomatic historians' equivalent to the Annales school. His many disciples included not just French but also foreign historians as the famous Greek scholar Dimitri Kitsikis, in honor of whom the Greek State created the Dimitri Kitsikis Public Foundation.
- Watson, David Robin "Renovuin, Pierre" pages 993-995 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing page 995.
- Watson, David "Renovuin, Pierre" pages 993-995 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing Robin page 995.
- Watson, David Robin "Renovuin, Pierre" pages 993-995 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing page 994.
- Watson, David "Renovuin, Pierre" pages 993-995 from The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing Robin page 994.
- Mombauer, Annika The Origins of the First World War, London: Pearson, 2002 page 104.
- Jackson, Peter "Post-War Politics and the Historiography of French Strategy and Diplomacy Before the Second World War" pages 870–905 from History Compass, Volume 4/5, 2006 page 877
- Les formes du gouvernement de guerre, 1925.
- Les Origines immédiates de la guerre (28 juin-4 août 1914), 1925.
- La Crise europenne et la grande guerre, 1904-1918, 1934.
- La Question d'Extrême Orient, 1840-1940, 1946.
- Les Crises du XXe siècle de 1914-1929, 1957-1959.
- co-written with Jean-Baptiste Duroslle Introduction à l'histoire des relations internationales, 1964.
- Duroslle, Jean-Baptiste "Pierre Renouvin" pages 497-507 from Revue d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, Volume 27, 1975.
- Halperin, S.W. Some Twentieth-Century Historians: Essays on Eminent Europeans (University of Chicago Press, 1961). pp 143–70
- Jackson, Peter "Post-War Politics and the Historiography of French Strategy and Diplomacy Before the Second World War" pages 870–905 from History Compass, Volume 4/5, 2006.
- Mombauer, Annika The Origins of the First World War, London: Pearson, 2002
- Watson, David Robin "Renovuin, Pierre" pages 993-995 from Kelly Boyd, ed., The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing (Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1999) 2: 993-95
- Mélanges Pierre Renouvin: études d"Hisotire des relations internationles, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1966.