Zoé Oldenbourg

Zoé B. Oldenbourg (1916 - 2002) was a Russian-born French historian and novelist who specialized in mediæval French history, in particular the Crusades and Cathars.


She was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia into a family of scholars and historians. Her early childhood was spent among the privations of the Russian revolutionary period and the first years of Communism. With her family, she emigrated to Paris at the age of nine, and her education and her works have been completely French. She married in 1947 and had two children.


She combined a genius for scholarship and a deep feeling for the Middle Ages in her historical novels. The World is Not Enough, a vast panorama of the twelfth century immediately put her in the ranks of the foremost historical novelists. Her second, The Cornerstone, won her the Prix Femina and was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection in America. Other works include The Awakened, The Chains of Love, Massacre at Montsegur, Destiny by Fire, Cities of the Flesh, and Catherine the Great, a Literary Guild selection. In The Crusades, Zoe Oldenbourg returned to the Middle Ages she knew and loved so well.

List of Works

  • Argile et Cendres (1946), published in English as The World is Not Enough (translated by Willard A. Trask).
  • La Pierre Angulaire (1953), published in English as The Cornerstone (translated by Edward Hyams).
  • Réveillés de la vie (1956).
  • Les irréductibles: roman (1958).
  • Le Bûcher de Montségur (1959), non-fiction, published in English as Massacre at Montségur: A History of the Albigensian Crusade (translated by Peter Green).
  • Les Brûlés (1960), published in English as Destiny of Fire (translated by Peter Green).
  • Les Cités Charnelles: ou, l'Histoire de Roger de Montbrun: roman (1961), published in English as Cities of the flesh: or, The story of Roger de Montbrun (Translated by Anne Carter).
  • Les Croisades (1965), non-fiction, published in English as The Crusades (translated by Anne Carter).
  • Catherine de Russie (1966).
  • La Joie des Pauvres (1970), published in English as The heirs of the kingdom (translated by Anne Carter).
  • Saint Bernard. Textes de Saint Bernard, Abélard, Pierre le Vénérable, Geoffroi de Clairvaux, Bérenger de Poitiers, Bossuet (1970).
  • Que vous a donc fait Israël? (1974).
  • Visages d'un Autoportrait (1977).
  • La joie-souffrance (1980).
  • Le Procès du Rêve (1982).
  • L'eveque et la vieille dame, ou, La belle-mere de Peytavi Borsier: Pièce en dix tableaux et un prologue (1983)
  • Que nous est Hécube?, ou, Un plaidoyer pour l'humain : essai (1984)
  • Les amours égarées: roman (1987).
  • Déguisements: nouvelles (1989).
  • Aliénor: pièce en quatre tableaux (1992)

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