Edgard Blochet (1870-1937), the French orientalist, left his mark in several areas of Middle Eastern and Asian studies. In 1910 his introduction to Rashid al-Din's Jami` al-tawarikh was published as volume XII in the E.J.W. Gibb Memorial Series. The Jami` al-tawarikh has been described as the first `world history'; written at the start of the fourteenth century, in the Mongol Ilkhanate in Persia, it describes cultures and major events in world history from China to Europe and in addition, it covers Mongol history.
Introduction a l'Histoire des Mongols is a rich and complex work, and one that has been unduly lost sight of in more recent scholarship. Blochet is concerned chiefly with the transformation of the Mongol Empire from the death of its founder into a Chinese dynasty with complex relations with its former constituent territories in Transoxania, Russia and Iran in the period covered by the portion of the Jami` al-tawarikh that he was editing. This introductory volume does not offer conclusions, but it provides a valuable survey of the place of Rashid al-Din's chronicle in the historical literature of the time and its impact on later historiography. Despite the very considerable body of work dedicated to Rashid al-Din, his chronicle, the history of Ilkhanid Iran and Yuan China and the linguistic analysis of the primary sources since Blochet's time, this reprint of a work that has long been unavailable aims to encourage a re-evaluation of his pioneering contributions to the field. The original French text is re-published here, accompanied by a new preface by Charles Melville.
Edgard Blochet (1870-1937) worked at the manuscript department of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France from 1895 until 1935, during which time he produced a valuable series of catalogues, most notably his Catalogue des manuscrits persans de la Bibliotheque Nationale. In the field of mediaeval history, he edited the Arabic chronicle of the Mamluk historian, Mufaddal b. Abi'l-Fada'il (c. 759/1358). Blochet also edited a portion of the Jami' al-tawarikh, covering from the accession of Ogedei Qa'an to part of the reign of Temur Qa'an (1227-1303), published in the E.JW. Gibb Memorial Series as volume XVIII/2 (1911). Charles Melville is Professor of Persian History, University of Cambridge, and Vice-President of the British Institute of Persian Studies. His main research interests are in the history and historiography of medieval Iran, with a concentration on the Mongol-Safavid periods (13th-17th centuries), and text-image studies of Persian manuscripts, particularly the Shahnama of Firdausi and historical texts (chronicles). His most recent publication is The Mongols' Middle East: Continuity and transformation in Ilkhanid Iran (co-edited), Leiden 2016.