The following study deals with “the whig interpretation of history” in what I conceive to be the accepted meaning of the phrase. At least it covers all that is. [All footnotes are editorial; relevant online materials: Butterfield Papers at the Cambridge University Library; E. Royle, The “Whig” Interpretation of History and its. His most widely known work is still The Whig Interpretation of History. saw the publication of the book Butterfield is most associated with. Less a book than.

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Butterfield’s book is a seminal corrective of the butterfied habits of two generations of Anglo-American historians in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After Butterfield increasingly turned to the study of butterfeld. Butterfield seems to argue butterfiled we cannot judge historical events or figures because we have to understand them in their time, not our own.

Of course not; there were some very good people who just had wrong ideas. The ideas discussed within this essay are at times very similar perhaps not as a coincidence to those discussed in Evans’ ‘In Defence of History’, although the two essays were written roughly 60 years apart. Vickers considers the book a late example of the earliest stage of modern analysis of the history of Renaissance magic in relation to the development of science, when magic was largely dismissed as being “entertaining but irrelevant”.

Butterfield saw an alarming trend in histories being written at that time. The following study deals with “the whig interpretation of intsrpretation in what I conceive to be the accepted meaning of the phrase.

Jul 05, Miles Smith rated it liked it Shelves: In his biography of G. Carr, What is History London,p.

Influenced Thomas Kuhn [2]. Be the first to ask a question about The Whig Interpretation of History.

The Whig interpretation of history

Put me down as a whig. At the time however, its merits were enough to convince the Master of Peterhouse to elect Butterfield to a History Fellowship alongside Temperley and Paul Vellacott.

Over the course of his career, Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man’s developing hutterfield of the past. They are opening the door for seven devils which, precisely because they are newcomers, are bound to be worse than the first. Excellent analysis of Whig history–that is, defining the past in terms of the present. He is right to decry the simplified, airbrushed, progressive Whiggish history.


I’m not an historian so I’m not sure I actually understood everything that the author discusses. To some extent, I am frankly tempted to label it “required reading” for any student of history.

Whig interpretation of history

Lists with This Book. Two articles — one on the origins of the Seven Years War and one on Lord Acton and the Massacre of Bartholomew — acted as a prelude to his Wiles lectures, published in as Man on his Past. Furthermore, in constructing this interpretation historians usually committed anachronisms by seeing the past entirely in terms of the present.

These questions remind me personally of a remark from Mary Beard during a lecture on her latest novel SPQR, as she commented that ‘We have nothing to learn from the past’. But the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws.

Back to 22 September One of the principal proponents of Whiggish history was Thomas Macaulay author of a celebrated, multivolume, History of England from the Accession of James IIthe first two volumes of which were issued in At least it covers all that is ordinarily understood by the words, though possibly it gives them also an extended sense. Were they all bad people? To tease out the strange and paradoxical character of events leading to familiar circumstances is to make not only the past, as Butterfield desires, but also the present strange and wonderful.

He shows great insight in pointing out how the condensation of history leads naturally into generalization, which often tends toward sweeping, tenuous value judgments about history.

Fair enough, but I’m willing to step out and make the claim that Pol Pot was a wicked man. Apr 17, Rebecca rated it really liked it. Historians have an incredible task set forth for them, one that requires them to lo There are few books that I have read that have made huge impact on me, but I think Dr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Norton Company first published Diplomatic history was traditionally a fairly dry subject, often consisting of what one clerk said to interptetation. One of my favorites.


Herbert Butterfield

Back to 4 J. Butterfield was born in Oxenhope in Yorkshire and was raised a devout Methodistwhich he remained for life. The Art of the Historian 6.

I began by thinking I would agree completely with him, in the middle thought I disagreed entirely, and by the end decided he is right about many things but is sti It is easy to see why this little book is such an influential text for historians. Jan 10, Eb Daniels rated it it was amazing. The examination of these raises problems concerning the relations between historical research and what is known as general history; concerning the nature of a historical transition inherpretation of what might be called the historical process; and also concerning the limits of history as a study, and particularly the attempt of the whig writers to gain from it a finality that it cannot give.

Herbert Butterfield – Wikipedia

From my perspective, whilst the past should not be viewed as a guidebook to ‘learn from’, and historians should not delve into the interppretation in search of solutions to contemporary problems, the past undoubtedly does teach but not in the didactic sense of the word – whether on a personal level, with regard to family history, or on a universal level as a human being.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Interoretation, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. Rather, he jumps to weak conclusions hisfory prove some belief that is irrelevant to what actually happened.

Back to 5 E. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Butterfield was a fellow at Cambridge from —79 and in the s, he was a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Liberty in the modern world. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. What a beautiful little book!! Tawney and Harold Temperley. I think he underestimates the inevitability and, indeed, desirability of origins stories.