Hélène Carrère d'Encausse: French historian and politician (1929 - 2023) | Biography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
French historian and politician

Hélène Carrère d'Encausse

Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro French historian and politician
Was Politician Historian Professor Educator
From France
Field Academia Politics Social science
Gender female
Birth 6 July 1929, 16th arrondissement of Paris, Paris, Seine, France; Paris, Seine, Île-de-France, France
Death 5 August 2023, 15th arrondissement of Paris, Paris, Seine, France; Paris, Seine, Île-de-France, France (aged 94 years)
Star sign Cancer
Politics Rally for the Republic
Mother: Nathalie Zourabichvili
Father: Giorgi Zurabishvili
Siblings: Nicolas Zourabichvili
Spouse: Louis Carrère d'Encausse
Children: Emmanuel CarrèreMarina Carrère d'EncausseNathalie Carrère
Sciences Po
Faculty of Arts of Paris doctorate in France (-1963)
Notable Works
The Split Empire  
Russia Between Two Worlds  
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour 2011
Officer of the National Order of Merit  
Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres‎ 1996
Order of Honour 2009
Commander with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland 2011
Commander of the Order of Leopold  
Today Prize 1978
honorary doctor of the Catholic University of Louvain  
Lomonosov Gold Medal 2008
Ambassadors' Prize 1997
prix du nouveau cercle de l'Union 2000
The details (from wikipedia)


Hélène Carrère d'Encausse (French pronunciation: [elɛn kaʁɛːʁ dɑ̃kos]; née Zourabichvili; 6 July 1929 – 5 August 2023) was a French political historian who specialised in Russian history. From 1999 up until her death in 2023, she served as the Perpetual Secretary of the Académie Française, to which she was first elected in 1990.

Carrère d'Encausse was a member of the European Parliament between 1994 and 1999, representing the Gaullist-conservative party RPR. She was awarded the Lomonosov Gold Medal and Grand Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 2008 and 2011, respectively. She was a cousin of Salome Zourabichvili, the current President of Georgia. In 2023 she was awarded the Princess of Asturias Award in Social Sciences.

Early life and career

Hélène Zourabichvili was born in the 16th arrondissement of Paris to Georges Zourabichvili, a Georgian émigré, and his German-Russian wife. In Georgia, her father had been a doctor of philosophy and economics who spoke five languages. The family had lost their possessions in the October revolution. In France, her father had to make money, first as a cab driver. The family spoke Russian at home, and she learned French at age four.

The family survived the war in Bordeaux where her father worked as a translator for the Germans. He disappeared in 1944 during the Liberation of France, presumably murdered by members of the Resistance.

After completing her secondary education at the 16th arrondissement's Lycée Molière, she studied history at the Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), graduating in 1952. She completed her Doctorat de troisième cycle in 1963 and, in 1976, earned a Doctorat ès lettres from Panthéon-Sorbonne University (Paris 1) with a dissertation supervised by Maxime Rodinson and Roger Portal. She lectured in history at both Sciences Po and the Sorbonne.

Russian scholarship

Hélène Carrère d'Encausse
Carrère d'Encausse with Vladimir Putin in October 2000

Due to her interest in her family history, the bulk of Carrère d'Encausse's work focused on Russia and the Soviet Union. She had over two dozen books published in French, many of which have been translated into English. Her 1978 work L'Empire éclaté [fr] (English version, Decline of an Empire: The Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt) predicted that the Soviet Union was destined to break up along the lines of its 15 constituent republics, although she was incorrect in foreseeing that demographic pressures from the Muslim-majority republics of Central Asia would be the trigger.

In commenting on current Russian affairs, Carrère d'Encausse warned against applying Western yardsticks to Russian democracy and said she regretted the excessive demonisation of the government of Vladimir Putin. Up until the final days before Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine she refused to countenance such an eventuality, although her opinion of Putin changed after the start of hostilities.

European and domestic politics

In 1992, Carrère d'Encausse was invited by Culture Minister Jack Lang to chair the committee he had founded to promote a "yes" vote in that year's referendum on the Maastricht Treaty, a task that Lang said she performed with "fervour and enthusiasm".

She was elected as a member of the European Parliament in 1994, representing Jacques Chirac's Gaullist-conservative party Rassemblement pour la République (RPR). During her time in the parliament from 1994 to 1999, she sat first with the European Democratic Alliance and later with the Union for Europe group, and she served as one of the vice-chairs of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and as a member of the delegation for relations with Russia.

In 2005, she controversially identified polygamy as one of the causes of France's 2005 civil unrest. During an interview given to the Russian television channel NTV, she claimed: "Why can't their parents buy an apartment? It's clear why. Many of these Africans, I tell you, are polygamous. In an apartment, there are three or four wives and 25 children." She also said that political correctness on French television was "a nightmare" and was almost comparable to media censorship in Russia.

Académie Française

Carrère d'Encausse was elected to seat 14 of the Académie Française on 13 December 1990, then the third woman, and was elected its Perpetual Secretary [fr] on 21 October 1999, making her the first woman to hold its top position. Her academician's sword [fr] was made by the Franco-Georgian sculptor Goudji.

As a member of the Academy, Carrère d'Encausse opposed both the feminisation of language, insisting that she be styled Madame le secrétaire perpétuel, and gender-inclusive language, describing the use of the interpunct to accommodate both genders (as in les auteur·rice·s) as "stupid" because of its impact on the musicality of a text. Her 2020 ruling that Covid be considered a feminine noun was also fiercely criticised, including by fellow members of the Academy.

Personal life

Born stateless, Hélène Zourabichvili acquired French citizenship in 1950. In 1952 she married Louis Édouard Carrère d'Encausse, with whom she had three children: Emmanuel (born 1957), an author, screenwriter and director; Nathalie (1959), a lawyer; and Marina (1961), a physician and broadcast journalist. Her brother was the composer Nicolas Zourabichvili, and she was a cousin of Salome Zourabichvili, the current President of Georgia.

Carrère d'Encausse died in Paris on 5 August 2023, at age 94. President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would lead a national homage in her honour at the Hôtel des Invalides before the end of the summer.

Honours and awards


  • Belgium: Commander of the Order of Leopold (Belgium)
  • Brazil: Commander of the Order of the Southern Cross
  • France: Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour (2011)
  • France: Officer of the National Order of Merit
  • France: Commander of the Ordre des Palmes académiques
  • France: Commander of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  • Monaco: Commander of the Order of Cultural Merit (November 1999)
  • Poland: Commander's Cross with Star of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland
  • Russia: Medal of the Order of Honour (Russia)


  • Princess of Asturias Awards (2023; Spain)
  • Grande médaille d'or [fr] of the Society for the Encouragement of Progress (2020; France)
  • Lomonosov Gold Medal (2008; Russia)
  • Prix du nouveau cercle de l'union [fr] (2000; France)
  • Prix des Ambassadeurs [fr] (1997; France)
  • Prize Paulée de Meursault [fr] (1995; France)
  • Prix Comenius (1992; France)
  • Prix Aujourd'hui [fr] (1978; France)

Honorary degrees

  • HEC Paris
  • Université catholique de Louvain
  • Université de Montréal
  • Université Laval
  • University of Bucharest
  • Sofia University
  • Saint Joseph University


Carrère d'Encausse's page on the website of the Académie Française provides the following list of her publications.

  • 1963: Réforme et révolution chez les musulmans de l'Empire russe (Armand Colin)
  • 1966: Le Marxisme et l'Asie (with Stuart R. Schram), 1853–1964 (Armand Colin)
  • 1967: Central Asia, a century of Russian rule, Columbia Univ., réédition 1990 (Duke Univ. publication)
  • 1969: L'URSS et la Chine devant la révolution des sociétés pré-industrielles (avec Stuart R. Schram) (Armand Colin)
  • 1972: L'Union soviétique de Lénine à Staline (Éd. Richelieu), in English: History of the Soviet Union, 1917–1953. (Longman, New York 1981, 1982)
  • 1975: La Politique soviétique au Moyen-Orient, 1955–1975 (Presses de la F.N.S.P.)
  • 1978: L'Empire éclaté : la révolte des nations en URSS [fr] (Flammarion), in English: Decline of an Empire: The Soviet Socialist Republics in Revolt. (Newsweek Books, New York 1979)
  • 1979: Lénine, la Révolution et le Pouvoir (Flammarion), in English: Lenin: Revolution and Power. (Longman 1981)
  • 1979: Staline, l'ordre par la terreur (Flammarion), in English: Stalin: Order through Terror. (Longman 1982)
  • 1980: Le Pouvoir confisqué (Flammarion), in English: Confiscated Power: How Soviet Russia Really Works. (Harper and Row, New York 1982)
  • 1982: Le Grand Frère (Flammarion), in English: Big Brother: The Soviet Union and Soviet Europe. (Holmes and Meier, New York 1987)
  • 1985: La déstalinisation commence (Complexe)
  • 1986: Ni paix ni guerre (Flammarion)
  • 1987: Le Grand Défi (Flammarion), in English: The Great Challenge: Nationalities and the Bolshevik State, 1917–1930. (Holmes and Meier 1992)
  • 1988: Le Malheur russe (Fayard), in English: The Russian Syndrome: One Thousand Years of Political Murder (Holmes and Meier 1992)
  • 1990: La Gloire des Nations (Fayard), in English: The End of the Soviet Empire: The Triumph of the Nations. (Basic Books, New York 1993)
  • 1992: Victorieuse Russie (Fayard)
  • 1993: L'URSS, de la Révolution à la mort de Staline (Le Seuil)
  • 1996: Nicolas II, La transition interrompue (Fayard)
  • 1998: Lénine (Fayard)
  • 2000: La Russie inachevée (Fayard)
  • 2002: Catherine II (Fayard)
  • 2003: L'Impératrice et l'abbé : un duel littéraire inédit (Fayard)
  • 2005: L'Empire d'Eurasie (Fayard)
  • 2006: La Deuxième Mort de Staline
  • 2008: Alexandre II. Le printemps de la Russie (Fayard)
  • 2010: La Russie entre deux mondes [fr] (Fayard)
  • 2011: Des siècles d'immortalité. L'Académie française 1635-.... (Fayard)
  • 2013: Les Romanov – Une dynastie sous le règne du sang (Fayard)
  • 2015: Six années qui ont changé le monde 1985–1991 – La chute de l'empire soviétique (Fayard)
  • 2017: Le général de Gaulle et la Russie (Fayard)
  • 2019: La Russie et la France (Fayard)
  • 2021: Alexandra Kollontaï. La Walkyrie de la Révolution (Fayard)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 03 Oct 2023. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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