Biographies of François Mitterrand have proliferated throughout the course of his presidency. These have ranged from intellectually reputable journalism, to the totally scurrilous tract. They have been of variable quality. 1 Each work has forwarded a somewhat different portrayal of François Mitterrand, but most have despaired of reconciling his apparent contradictions as a political leader. In this chapter, we shall attempt to unravel Mitterrand’s complex political persona, to explain the evolution of his beliefs and to situate him within the context of French Republican culture and of European social-democracy.