Henri Pirenne witnessed early on in his career the attempts to gain academic acceptance and visibility for the new field of sociology. He understood it presented challenges to history. The kind of social and economic history he envisaged came very close in its content to this early sociology, and was often associated with it. This did not imply a very open attitude, however. For Pirenne, sociology as a discipline was essentially a promise that, at least in concrete terms, remained unfulfilled. The high intellectual visibility of sociology did, however, encourage him to clearly define the specific character of his own discipline.