historiography


historiography
historiographic /hi stawr'ee euh graf"ik, -stohr'-/, historiographical, adj.historiographically, adv.
/hi stawr'ee og"reuh fee, -stohr'-/, n., pl. historiographies.
1. the body of literature dealing with historical matters; histories collectively.
2. the body of techniques, theories, and principles of historical research and presentation; methods of historical scholarship.
3. the narrative presentation of history based on a critical examination, evaluation, and selection of material from primary and secondary sources and subject to scholarly criteria.
4. an official history: medieval historiographies.
[1560-70; < MF historiographie < Gk historiographía. See HISTORY, -O-, -GRAPHY]

* * *

Writing of history, especially that based on the critical examination of sources and the synthesis of chosen particulars from those sources into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods.

Two major tendencies in history writing are evident from the beginnings of the Western tradition: the concept of historiography as the accumulation of records and the concept of history as storytelling, filled with explanations of cause and effect. In the 5th century BC the Greek historians Herodotus and, later, Thucydides emphasized firsthand inquiry in their efforts to impose a narrative on contemporary events. The dominance of Christian historiography by the 4th century introduced the idea of world history as a result of divine intervention in human affairs, an idea that prevailed throughout the Middle Ages in the work of such historians as Bede. Humanism and the gradual secularization of critical thought influenced early modern European historiography. The 19th and 20th centuries saw the development of modern methods of historical investigation based on the use of primary source materials. Modern historians, aiming for a fuller picture of the past, have tried to reconstruct a record of ordinary human activities and practices; the French Annales school has been influential in this respect.

* * *

Introduction

      the writing of history, especially the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials in those sources, and the synthesis of those particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods. The term historiography also refers to the theory and history of historical writing.

      Modern historians aim to reconstruct a record of human activities and to achieve a more profound understanding of them. This conception of their task is quite recent, dating from the development in the late 18th and early 19th centuries of scientific history, cultivated largely by professional historians. It springs from an outlook that is very new in human experience: the assumption that the study of history is a natural, inevitable human activity. Before the late 18th century, historiography did not stand at the centre of any civilization. History was almost never an important part of regular education, and it never claimed to provide an interpretation of human life as a whole. This was more appropriately the function of religion, of philosophy, even perhaps of poetry and other imaginative literature.

History of historiography

Ancient historiography
Greco-Roman era
      The older, pre-18th-century outlook has been particularly well studied in the historiography of the ancient Greeks and Romans. But, although two of the most important ancient historians, Herodotus and Thucydides, wrote as early as the 5th century BC, when recorded Greek historiography was only just beginning, they had few successors of comparable quality. It is a symptom of the relative lack of importance attached in antiquity to this type of activity.

      Ancient history was a branch of literature. The most appreciated historians were the writers who, like Thucydides, were able to touch on universal human problems or who, like the Roman (Latin literature) author Tacitus (died c. AD 120), wrote in a dramatic way about important events or who, at least, attracted readers by their excellent style and skill in composition. Many of the works that lacked some of these literary qualities failed to survive.

      About 1,000 ancient Greeks wrote in antiquity on historical subjects, but most of these writers are mere names. Many of the losses appear to have occurred in antiquity itself. Even historians of first rank have fared badly. Only in a few cases have complete texts of all their writings survived. Of the voluminous history of Polybius (covering originally the period 220–144 BC) only about one-third survives. Nearly half of Livy's (Livy) Roman history (originally covering the period 753–9 BC) is lost. The text that remains is reasonably good only through the efforts of a group of Roman aristocrats who, in about AD 500, were trying to salvage the chief glories of Roman literature. A considerable part of Tacitus is missing, and the surviving portions of his Annals and Histories (originally AD 14–96) derive from two unique manuscripts.

      Herodotus, whom the Roman statesman Cicero called “the father of history,” came from the western coast of Asia Minor. The writers who preceded him were mainly Ionians (Ionian school) from the Greek settlements in the same area. The origin of Greek historiography lies in the Ionian thought of the 6th century. The Ionian philosophers were doing something unprecedented: they were assuming that the universe is an intelligible whole and that through rational inquiries men might discover the general principles that govern it. Hecateus of Miletus (Hecataeus of Miletus), the most important Ionian predecessor of Herodotus, was applying the same critical spirit to the largely mythical Greek traditions when he wrote, early in the 5th century, “the stories of the Greeks are numerous and in my opinion ridiculous.” Herodotus was more of a traditionalist, but he introduced his work as an “inquiry” (historia).

Egyptian and Babylonian (Babylonia) historiography
      A glance at the older historiography of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the other peoples of the ancient Near East will heighten one's appreciation of the novelty of the task undertaken by Herodotus. The kings of Egypt, of Babylonia and Assyria, and of the Hittites (Hittite) and the Persians all sought to preserve their glorious deeds for posterity in monumental inscriptions. The more important rulers also accumulated large archives, including both ordinary administrative documents and records specially commemorating their achievements. Some 20,000 clay tablets remain from the collections written for Ashurbanipal of Assyria (668–627 BC). Both in Egypt (Egypt, ancient) and in Babylonia (art and architecture, Mesopotamian) lists of kings were kept in the temples, and these were sometimes supplemented by brief annals recording the principal events, though the hatred felt by certain rulers for their predecessors led to periodic destructions of older material. The exceptional meagreness of the narrative sources for Babylonian history before 747 BC seems due to the obliteration of the older annals by Nabonassar of Babylonia (ruled 747–734). Apart from changes in literary style, there was surprisingly little development over a period of more than 1,000 years in all these types of commemorative records. The inscriptions and temple records were normally intended to perpetuate the glory of the gods in whose service these rulers had accomplished great deeds. The names and dates of dynasties and of particular rulers can be reconstructed fairly adequately with the aid of these sources, but one cannot expect much accurate information about particular events. Nor, with rare exceptions, were those who had access to this material interested in using it to write continuous histories.

      Herodotus and his immediate Ionian predecessors shared a very novel outlook. Its distinctive features were a lively curiosity and a capacity to treat sources in a critical spirit. Boundless curiosity about people and their diverse customs is one of the most endearing traits of Herodotus. Like other Greeks from western Asia Minor, he was particularly stimulated by contacts with the great Persian Empire, which offered opportunities for reasonably secure travel. The resultant immense widening of historical perspective is illustrated by a story told by Herodotus about Hecateus. When the latter assured the Egyptian priests at Thebes that he could trace his descent through 16 generations, the Egyptians showed him evidence of the descent of their high priests through 345 generations. Herodotus was the first to link his geographic inquiries with true history. His descriptions of the barbarian world that confronted the Greeks provided an introduction to the epic of the successful Greek resistance to the Persians.

Ancient history and biography
      The types of history written by the ancient Greeks and Romans influenced profoundly all subsequent historiography down to the 18th century. In order to interpret sympathetically this classical historiography, it is necessary to bear in mind the literary conventions that governed this branch of literature. The ancient Greeks distinguished between history and biography. The origin of both forms can be traced back to at least the 5th century BC, and the differences between them were observed throughout antiquity. The writer of history was supposed to aim at giving a true story, but the biographer was entitled to treat historical personages in a manner that resembled legend. There existed, of course, some exceptions. The lives of the early Roman emperors written by Suetonius in the 2nd century AD, while conforming to the traditional, topical arrangement of biographies, constitute an unusually valuable historical source, especially for Augustus, whose correspondence is repeatedly quoted. Yet another distinction was drawn between history and the study of “antiquities,” to use a term employed by Varro (Varro, Marcus Terentius) (116–27 BC), perhaps the greatest of all the ancient Roman scholars. This distinction was already implicit in Aristotle's (Aristotle) contemptuous dismissal of history (in his Poetics) as a branch of literature dealing with the particular rather than with things of general significance. The histories he condemned provided chronological narratives of wars and political events. Aristotle and his disciples were engaged in several enterprises that they regarded as something quite different from history. For example, they embarked on the study of the constitutions of all the Greek states. Such work was to be based on systematic inquiries. The student of the “antiquities” tried to use a wider range of evidence than the sources normally consulted by the ancient historians, and he arranged his results systematically by topics.

      In antiquity a writer of history was usually preoccupied at least as much with style as with content. A generation before Aristotle, the rules of rhetoric, as they might be applied to history, were fully elaborated by Isocrates, a teacher of rhetoric at Athens. Cicero tried (especially in his De oratore, 55 BC) to familiarize the Romans with these Isocratean precepts. History was to be written in a clear but solemn style, akin to fine oratory. The historian was to introduce all manner of literary embellishments but was also to stress the moral lessons of his story. At its worst this type of historiography could lead to serious misrepresentations of the past. Among the Roman historians, Livy (died AD 17) was an important practitioner of this kind of writing, which was particularly well suited to the patriotic myths that he was trying to immortalize, of a Rome that owed its magnificent destiny to the unique virtues of its citizens and the perfection of its antique institutions. Some outstanding historians, such as Polybius (2nd century BC) and Caesar (Caesar, Julius) (died 44 BC), eschewed these rhetorical precepts, but in all the ancient writers an important element of literary artifice was always present. This is one of the reasons why they offend modern standards, which demand absolute accuracy in the presentation of evidence. One of the most striking contrasts is the reluctance of the ancient historians to quote documents. Tacitus might rely heavily on the archives of the Roman Senate, but he never mentions his documentary sources. An inscription discovered at Lyons, France, preserves a speech delivered by the emperor Claudius to the Senate in AD 48, and it is clear that Tacitus utilized another version of the same text. His skill in using it is matched by the freedom with which he adapts it to suit his purpose.

Methods of Thucydides
      The greatest and the most original achievement of the best Greek historians lay in their clear grasp of the need to distinguish truth from fiction and their conscious preoccupation with the methods of achieving this. This is admirably conveyed in a famous passage of Thucydides.

And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. My conclusions have cost me some labour from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from deficient memory, sometimes from deficient impartiality.

      His practice did not fully live up to this ideal, however. The greatest of his Greek successors, Polybius, is reasonably impartial, except in his treatment of some of the events in Greece. Among the Romans, the writing of history was chiefly the preserve of members of the senatorial class, who almost invariably had some personal axes to grind. But the correctness of the rules formulated by Thucydides was accepted, in principle, by most ancient historians.

      Thucydides had deliberately restricted himself to the history of his own time, and many of the subsequent ancient historians did likewise. They could depend on their own experience or could question well-informed contemporaries. The surviving fragments of Livy relating to his own lifetime (64/59 BC–AD 17) are much more vivid and convincing than the earlier books of his history (surviving today only down to 167 BC). The tendency to prefer contemporary history was strengthened by the practical bent of many of these writers. Several ancient historians were men of action familiar with warfare and politics. Interested in history as a source of instruction for statesmen, they could write with authority only about wars and political transactions of their own time. Polybius, the exiled Achaean general and a great traveller, derides unpractical, sedentary historians such as Timaeus, who had been writing about the peoples of the western Mediterranean without stirring for 50 years from Athens.

      The historians of antiquity were much less skillful in dealing with noncontemporary history, for which they relied on older historians. Where none was to be found, they felt lost, as Livy complains in the early portions of his Roman history. The modern recourse to non-narrative sources was alien to the habits of most ancient historians. They were usually incapable of doing this successfully, just as they were ill equipped to discuss critically the sources used by the older writers.

      Herodotus chose for his theme the successful resistance of the Greeks against the Persians at the beginning of the 5th century BC. Thucydides wrote about the Peloponnesian War, in which virtually all the Greek states became involved in the last decades of that century. These were limited subjects of obvious importance for which it was possible to find ample evidence. The strength of the ancient historians lay precisely in imposing an interesting pattern on the events of a selected period, usually contemporary or fairly recent, for which they had manageable sources. The best of them could thereby achieve a sense of dramatic unity and produce literary masterpieces. The speeches that Thucydides invented for some of the main protagonists in his story are artistically the most satisfying parts of his work, and at times they even seem to recapture the spirit of what might have been said on these occasions. In a superb writer like Tacitus, whose political career had included long periods of frustration and insecurity, one does not look for impartiality or for scrupulous truthfulness but, rather, for fascinating insights into what the development of Roman imperial power from Augustus to Domitian (the period AD 14–96) meant to the proud, sophisticated Roman aristocracy for whom he was writing.

Classical study of “antiquities”
      The study of “antiquities,” as opposed to narrative history, did not normally produce works of literary merit, and this is probably the main reason why most of them disappeared. One important group of such writings originated with Aristotle and his collaborators, writing in the third quarter of the 4th century BC. They were interested in both literary “antiquities” and in the systematic study of the constitutions of Greek states. They had described 158 different constitutions, though only their account of Athens now survives. A comparison of its two main parts illustrates the contrast between the deficiencies of ancient historiography and the impressive achievements of the antiquarian researchers. In the introductory, historical section, Aristotle was baffled by the problem of dealing with the fairly remote past. For each particular period he tried to follow some contemporary sources. The resultant juxtaposition of several writers differing widely in their political outlook produced an account full of contradictions. The second part, however, containing a systematic description of the Athenian constitution, is a masterpiece of shrewd analysis, as are the empirical portions of Aristotle's Politics (Books IV–VI), which are based on a wealth of concrete examples derived from the different Greek states.

      Aristotle inspired in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC a great mass of philological and antiquarian research. The most important scholars were to be found in the new Hellenistic (Hellenistic Age) states, especially at Alexandria in Egypt and at Pergamum in Asia Minor. Among the surviving Hellenistic fragments, there are commentaries on Herodotus and Thucydides. The Hellenistic scholars were interested in many subjects connected with history and did pioneering work in chronology, geography, and topography. They were accustomed to using every kind of source and to quoting documents extensively. Their greatest Roman disciple was Varro, who tried to recover all the vestiges of the old Roman society and to make a systematic survey of Roman life based on the evidence provided by language, literature, religion, and ancient customs. Most of his writings have been lost, but he supplied the conjectural (though incorrect) date of 753 BC for the foundation of Rome and knowledge of the probable boundaries between some of the groups whose union produced the city of Rome. Unfortunately, antiquarian researches of such penetrating nature were almost never applied in antiquity to the writing of narrative histories.

Early Christian era
      The triumph of Christianity in the Roman Empire during the 4th century assured the predominance of a type of historiography radically different from the works of the pagan Greek and Roman historians. Its origins were Jewish (Judaism). The Jews were the only people of antiquity who had the supreme religious duty of remembering the past because their traditional histories commemorated the working out of God's plan for his chosen people. By contrast, no Greek ever heard his gods ordering him to remember. It was the duty of every Jew to be familiar with the Jewish sacred writings, which were ultimately gathered into what became the Old Testament. The writers of these biblical books (Bible) only gave an authoritative version of what everybody was supposed to know, and they were only concerned with the selection of such facts as seemed relevant in interpreting God's purpose. In addition, the Jews also cherished unwritten traditions. To quote Josephus, a Jewish historian of the 1st century AD, “what had not been written down, was yet entrusted to the collective memory of the people of Israel and especially of its priests.”

      The Christians took over the Old Testament and added to it an additional body of sacred history. The writers of the four Gospels (Gospel) included in the New Testament were bearing witness to assured truths that the faithful ought to know, and no convincing reconstruction of historical facts is possible from these books of the New Testament. The only avowedly historical book in it is the Acts of the Apostles (Acts of the Apostles, The). The New Testament as a whole represents merely a selection from the early Christian writings. It includes only what conformed to the doctrine of the church when, later on, that doctrine became fixed in one form. Between the Acts of the Apostles, dating probably from the late 1st century, and the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea (died c. 340) and his contemporaries in the first quarter of the 4th century, there is an almost complete gap in Christian historiography.

      For the Christian writers (patristic literature) the story of Jesus, as recorded in the Gospels, represented the fulfillment of the prophecies that could be found in various parts of the Old Testament. The Jewish part of the Bible also assured for Christianity the authority of a long antiquity. The history contained in the two parts of the Bible, now indissolubly linked together, became the only authentic record of God's revelation for mankind, dwarfing into insignificance all the records of other peoples and religious groups. The concept of a universal history had not been wholly unknown to the pagan world, but the Christians were the first to apply it effectively. Christian history had to be a universal history, though of a very peculiar sort, where only one sequence of privileged events, Jewish and Christian, deserved detailed record. The Christian claims must have seemed more extravagant to the pagans than even the Jewish ones. Thus Eusebius stated that the Christians were, in fact, born with the world, anticipating St. Augustine's vision of the city of God existing since the beginning of time.

      In defending their religion against hostile critics, the early Christians were forced to fit some pagan history into their universal scheme. This was achieved by means of universal chronologies (chronology) from the creation of the world to each writer's own time. The events of Jewish and Christian history were thus synchronized with the main dates of the pagan myth and history. Sextus Julius Africanus (Africanus, Sextus Julius), who wrote in the early 3rd century, is the first Christian writer known to have attempted this feat. He allotted 6,000 years to the whole span of human history and placed the birth of Christ in the year 5500 from the creation of the world. This work provided the model for the more elaborate Chronographia (Chronicle) of Eusebius. It became the foundation for a long succession of Greek chronographies produced by Byzantine writers. A Latin adaptation by St. Jerome (Jerome, Saint) (died 419/420) was immensely influential in western Europe for more than 1,000 years. A modern scholar is filled with mingled admiration and despair at the ingenuity of Eusebius and of his more eminent successors and at the absurdity of many of their conclusions. But they did originate and impose on the world a unified scheme of universal chronology. The dating from the birth of Christ was introduced by Dionysius Exiguus, who wrote at Rome in the early 6th century, and it was successfully popularized in the 8th century by the English historian Bede.

      The writing of history of their own time was not an essential task for the Christians of the 4th and 5th centuries. When they did so, they wrote primarily in defense of their religion against the pagan world or against rival Christian groups branded as heretical. All these histories belong to religious apologetics. They suffer from inevitable distortions in the choice of what should be mentioned and what must be suppressed, and they are often excessively unfair to outsiders and opponents. These faults were not uncommon among the classical historians, though the Christians were somewhat unusual in their extreme conviction that they alone must be right. A comparison between the Christian historians and an outstanding pagan writer, such as Ammianus Marcellinus (second half of the 4th century), who was very ready to admire those Christians who merited it, brings out the intolerance and narrowness of outlook of his Christian contemporaries.

      Eusebius was the earliest and the most important of the Christian historians of the 4th century. He is quite frank about the practical and apologetic aims of his Historia ecclesiastica (written 312–324; Ecclesiastical History) designed to show how, through a long series of acts of Divine Providence, a Christian empire was finally brought into existence by Constantine. He admits that “we shall introduce into this history in general only those events which may be useful first to ourselves and afterward, to posterity.” This work, like his other historical writings, is a mixture of devout fiction and invaluable detail. But there is plenty of the latter in Ecclesiastical History. Contrary to the usual practice of the ancient historians, Eusebius tries to specify his sources, and he quotes from them extensively in order to document as fully as possible the developments that resulted in the triumph of Christianity. He provided in this respect a valuable model for his medieval successors. The most astonishing thing about Eusebius was his capacity to handle his sources critically, in matters where it seemed permissible to do so. In one passage of his Chronicle he sets aside the authority of St. Paul in favour of a piece of evidence contained in the Book of Judges. In later patristic literature nothing similar is found.

      Biography, as it was habitually written in antiquity, could be readily adapted to Christian purposes. St. Jerome modelled himself on Suetonius in compiling the lives of 135 Christian writers (written in 392) as a way of demonstrating the high level of culture attained by his coreligionists. The ancient biographers had freely mingled fact with fiction for the edification of their readers and could be readily imitated by the writers of the lives of Christian saints (hagiography). The life of St. Anthony of Egypt by St. Athanasius (mid-4th century) set the pattern for this most popular type of medieval literature.

      St. Augustine (Augustine, Saint), the greatest of the Latin Church Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries, was certainly not concerned with writing of history in any ordinary sense of the term. In his De civitate Dei (City of God) he might invoke historical evidence to demonstrate the utter degradation of all the non-Christian societies, and he encouraged his pupil Orosius (Orosius, Paulus) to develop this theme more fully in the latter's Historiarum libri VII adversus paganos (Seven Books of History Against the Pagans, to 417). Nearly 200 manuscripts of Orosius have survived, testifying to the immense popularity of his work in the Middle Ages. Augustine's greatest influence on historiography lay in his main message. His vision of the divine and the earthly cities confronting each other dominated the outlook of all the medieval Christian thinkers and profoundly affected their treatment of history. Within that divine plan for the world, purely secular history seemed an insignificant thing.

Early China
      The preservation of some records (Chinese literature) of historical events can be traced in China to at least the early part of the 1st millennium BC. Confucius (551–479 BC) was credited, rightly or wrongly, in the later Chinese (Chinese civil service) tradition with editing the annals of his native state of Lu. But the appearance of the first works fully deserving the name of histories resulted from the unification of China under a single ruler in 221 BC. The first such work to survive, the Shih chi (“Historical Records”), dates from c. 85 BC. Its author, Ssu-ma Ch'ien (Sima Qian), is quite justifiably called the father of Chinese historiography. His history exhibits many of the main features of the later Chinese official histories as they continued to be written down to the deposition of the last Chinese imperial dynasty in 1911. Within this fairly unified tradition, China produced a mass of historical writings unequalled by any other country before modern times. Until the late 19th century, Japanese historiography formed an offshoot of this tradition.

      Chinese scholars showed an interest in the history of China from the earliest times. According to the Chinese conception, history makes sense only if it can furnish practical directives for action or supply correct information upon which action can wisely be based. All the schools of Chinese thought quoted the lessons of history. Confucius, with his stress on the moral content of these lessons, formed part of this universal belief in the value of history. One of the duties inculcated by him was the scrupulous transmission of authentic records. When, some centuries after his death, the unified Imperial state began to recruit its bureaucracy among the Confucian scholars, the recording of all the necessary information and the careful preservation of records became one of the main functions of the Chinese government, both centrally and locally. A long series of official histories and of records connected with them has survived from the time of the T'ang dynasty (618–907) onward. From then on, the great bulk of Chinese history was written by bureaucrats for bureaucrats. From a practical point of view this immense body of historical writings fulfilled a very useful purpose. Such histories were bound to be highly stereotyped and restricted in content to what interested the higher officialdom. It is easy to condemn it by modern Western standards for its excessive preoccupation with concrete details and inability to produce works of wider synthesis. But this Chinese tradition did gradually evolve in the direction of greater rationality and subtlety. Its scope widened as the sphere of government expanded. Furthermore, within this tradition there appeared from time to time writers of genius, men of bold critical spirit, genuine historical insight, and overriding integrity. One of the greatest was Liu Chih-chi (661–721), the writer of the Shih t'ung, the first thorough treatise in Chinese, or any other language, on historical method, which also constituted in effect a history of Chinese historiography. He had a successor in Ssu-ma Kuang (Sima Guang) (1019–86), the author of the first fairly comprehensive general history of China (covering the years 403 BC–AD 959). In the 17th century a remarkable group of historical scholars virtually founded a school of critical Chinese philology. None of these writers succeeded in radically transforming Chinese historiography, but they created an increasingly sophisticated and critical tradition. Their successors in the 20th century assimilated some valuable features of modern Western historiography.

Medieval (Middle Ages) historiography
Europe from the 5th to the 11th century
      The period stretching from the 5th to the 11th century was a time of very profound cultural decline in regions that had once constituted the western half of the Roman Empire. Almost all the inhabitants of these provinces again became illiterate. There are long periods for which there are virtually no narrative sources, and the bulk of surviving historical writings consists merely of meagre factual annals. Virtually all the writers were ecclesiastics, in marked contrast to the Byzantine lands, where a strong tradition of lay historiography persisted throughout the Middle Ages. The annalists and chroniclers of the West were predominantly monks (monk), and their lack of experience of the secular world outside their cloisters made them into blinkered and unpractical historians. This was true even of Bede (Bede the Venerable, Saint), an Anglo-Saxon monk, who was by far the greatest historian of the early Middle Ages.

      All the historians of this period were seriously affected by the cultural decline around them. They were having to write in part for a more uncultured audience. Sulpicius Severus, probably the best Western historian of the early 5th century, still intended his Chronica (to 403) for educated Roman Christians, but his life of St. Martin of Tours is a piece of medieval hagiography. This model could inspire lives full of folklore and miracle, from which the real human personalities of the saints were almost wholly absent. The same duality of purpose is a notable feature of Bede's voluminous writings. He explicitly recognized that he must adapt himself to his audience when he explained that he was writing in a simple Latin style so that he might be more easily understood by his Anglo-Saxonreaders. There is a marked contrast of tone between his theological and his historical writings. As a theologian, Bede follows Eusebius and the earlier Church Fathers in not exaggerating the frequency of miracles and in believing that they were most common in the earliest days of Christianity. But Bede's lives of the English saints and his Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People), covering chiefly the years 597–731, are full of miracles and visions. There is one or other on almost every page. It is possible that some of these incidents were included by Bede because he thought that his readers expected mentions of these familiar, traditional stories.

      In preparing his historical works, Bede not only took great care to assemble the widest possible collection of sources but also tells the reader what he is using. In dedicating his Ecclesiastical History to King Ceolwulf of Northumbria, he requests that

in order to remove all occasions of doubt about those things I have written, either in your mind or in the minds of any others who listen to or read this history, I will make it my business to state briefly from what sources I have gained my information.

      An impressive list follows, including mentions of documents copied for him by friends at Rome, Canterbury, and other places. Like Eusebius, on whom Bede modelled himself, he quotes some of the documents integrally. Bede's methods of securing and recording information are so similar to the practices of modern historians and the judicious tone of his writing is so impressive that the reader is almost taken in into treating him as if he were a modern scholar. But Bede's Ecclesiastical History was written as a work of edification in order to strengthen the faith of his readers in Divine Providence, through which, as he saw it, his Anglo-Saxon countrymen had been converted to Christianity. All matters not connected with his main theme are ignored. Bede's handling of evidence on subjects that he regarded as embarrassing inspires mistrust. But these are small matters in comparison with the enormous mass of information that he alone has preserved and the encouragement that Bede continued to give for many centuries to the writing of history.

      The influence of Bede and other Anglo-Saxon scholars was greatly felt during the later 8th and the 9th centuries in the Frankish (Frank) kingdom, where under Charlemagne (Carolingian dynasty) and his successor, Louis the Pious, there was a modest revival of historical writing. Besides the annals kept at various monasteries, which tended to convey information in a manner that suited the Frankish rulers, there were a few more ambitious ventures. The important Historia Langobardorum (History of the Lombards), written c. 774–785 by Paulus Diaconus, or Paul the Deacon, was the work of one of the best educated men of the time. Nithard, a grandson of Charlemagne, left an invaluable narrative of the disintegration of the Carolingian state during his lifetime. The work that exerted the greatest influence on the medieval writers of biographies was Einhard's (Einhard) Vita Karoli Magni (written c. 830–833; Life of Charlemagne). The author was a leading official and a close companion of Charles, and his work was naturally intended as a eulogy of the great king. Einhard says that Charlemagne retreated safely from Spain, returning with his army safe and sound, except that on a ridge of the Pyrenees, on the way home, he happened to experience some small effects of Gascon perfidy. Nobody would gather from this that the Franks had narrowly escaped a major disaster. Einhard was merely echoing the story told in the semiofficial contemporary annals. Another source of distortion was Einhard's use of a classical model, the Lives of the Caesars by Suetonius. The subject headings under which he described Charles and even the very words used were partly borrowed from the lives of Roman emperors, but his Charlemagne is probably in essentials an authentic and credible portrait.

      If bulk alone is to be taken as a criterion, annals were the main product of medieval historiography. The annalist merely sets down the most important events of the current year. In the case of the earliest medieval annals, the events were often noted down in Easter tables, in the blank spaces between the dates calculated for the forthcoming Easters. Such paschal annals would be extremely brief. When, as often happened, annals came to be written down in separate manuscripts, distinct from the Easter tables, there was room for the expansion of individual entries. In either case, the resultant annals cannot be regarded as history since the events are necessarily recorded in isolation. But they preserve in a right order the essential facts, which could be rearranged into a continuous narrative. Such a narrative, if it still followed the chronological arrangement of its various annalistic sources, should properly be termed a chronicle.

      Medieval historians show little awareness of the process of historical change. They were unable to imagine that any earlier age was substantially different from their own. The unawareness of the meaning of anachronism helps to explain the strange wanderings of medieval annals and chronicles. If a religious community wanted to acquire a historical narrative, it copied some work that happened to be most readily accessible. A continuation might then be added at the manuscript's new abode, and, later on, this composite version might be copied and further altered by a succession of other writers. Hence there are at least six main versions of the annals known as the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. They all derive from the annals kept down to 892 at Winchester, the West Saxon capital. Thereafter, copies were acquired by religious centres in the most diverse parts of England, and one manuscript was being kept up to date at the abbey of Peterborough as late as 1154. An extreme case of wanderings is represented by the annals of the cathedral church of Cracow, the medieval Polish capital. The first section is based on Orosius, the next comprises annals beginning with the death of Bede and containing notices of Frankish and German events, while the Polish section starts with the conversion of Poland to Christianity (965–966) and ends in the 13th century.

Europe from the 12th to the 14th century
      Historians are accustomed to regarding the late 11th and 12th centuries as an age of intensified progress in culture and learning; this development, however, did not greatly affect historiography. There was a modest revival of interest in some of the ancient Latin writers, but would-be historians were unsure which ancient models they ought to imitate. A whole series of attempts was made to apply to other races the theme in Virgil's Aeneid of a noble group of people guided by the gods toward a splendid destiny. The first essential step was to establish the descent of one's nation from the ancient Trojans (Troy) and then to trace subsequent history through a series of heroic conquests. The most ambitious of these writings was the Historia regum Britanniae (History of the Kings of Britain), by Geoffrey Of Monmouth (died 1155), which attempted to establish for the Celts a historical destiny greater than any other. Although some, even contemporary, readers were not deceived by the work, and William Of Newburgh, one of the best English historians of the 12th century, denounced it as a tissue of absurdities, many seriously accepted it as history.

      With a few exceptions, the ablest minds of the 12th century were attracted into enterprises that ignored history; they were more concerned with systematization of thought and with philosophical speculations. One of the exceptions was Otto, bishop of Freising (Otto Of Freising), in Bavaria. He was a grandson of the Holy Roman emperor Henry IV. He received the best education that his age could give, but he was also briefly a Cistercian monk during the most austere period of that order's history. Otto was torn between conflicting impulses to seek the city of God as the only reality and yet to hope for the progress of the German empire. Out of this conflict came his first work, Chronica (The Two Cities), a chronicle of world history to 1146, perhaps the most profound medieval attempt at a Christian philosophy of history. As Otto himself confessed, it was composed “in bitterness of spirit . . . in the manner of tragedy.” The election in 1152 of his nephew and friend Frederick Barbarossa, as emperor, filled Otto with a new elation. The excellence of his second work, Gesta Friderici I imperatoris (The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa), derives in a considerable measure from a quality rare in medieval historians, a sense of optimistic belief in the value of writing history because it might become a record of human progress. The Deeds of Frederick Barbarossa contains a penetrating analysis of the problems encountered by the German rulers in trying to rule the precociously urbanized Italian society.

      As in antiquity, the best medieval works were accounts of contemporary history by men who had participated in the events that they were describing. It is, however, very significant that some of the writers that are prized most highly today survive in only very few manuscripts and were presumably not appreciated by most of their contemporaries. One such work was the Historia pontificalis (“Pontifical History”) covering the period 1148–52, of John Of Salisbury, one of the most accomplished scholars of his age, who was writing about the period when he was in the papal service. Another instance of undeserved neglect is furnished by the Liber de regno Siciliae (“Book of the Kingdom of Sicily”) covering the period 1154–69, written by an anonymous member of the Sicilian court.

      Unlike the ancient historians, the medieval writers of contemporary history had no inhibitions about extensively quoting official documents. In England, a succession of writers preserved a large quantity of such texts. Roger Of Hoveden was, in the last quarter of the 12th century, treated by the English kings as a kind of court historian. He preserved valuable legal and administrative records with which he was familiar through his activities as a royal official and justice. Matthew Paris (Paris, Matthew), the most important English monastic historian of the 13th century, was highly regarded by King Henry III and had excellent sources of information. He left behind a collection of transcripts of royal and ecclesiastical documents that today fills a large printed volume. Some writers made their chronicles into an anthology of official records, thinly connected by the author's brief comments. Such is the chronicle of Robert of Avesbury, consisting mainly of the military dispatches of King Edward III and other interesting documents to 1356. Another variant of the same method was for a wholly mediocre chronicle to incorporate exciting pieces of eyewitness narratives by other writers. A dull English monastic product of the late 14th century, the Anonimalle Chronicle, includes a narrative of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, which is one of the most dramatic and interesting eyewitness accounts to be found in medieval historiography.

      The most popular histories of the 13th and 14th centuries were encyclopaedic compilations giving all the important facts neatly arranged under the dates of popes, emperors, and other rulers. There were even more ambitious ventures aiming at summarizing all the important facts from all the different branches of human activity. The Dominican Order, created at the beginning of the 13th century, was especially concerned with producing such aids for the dissemination of useful knowledge. The best known of these Dominican works is the immense Speculum historiale (“Mirror of History”), by Vincent Of Beauvais, written under the patronage of King Louis IX of France. It is a compilation made up of excerpts from many authors.

      The 13th and 14th centuries were not a period of any fundamental innovations in the techniques and nature of historiography, but there was a growing diversity of types of historical writing. Very detailed, chatty narratives multiplied, often badly organized and inaccurate, but conveying the authentic atmosphere of the times and vividly portraying leading personalities. Such were the St. Albans chronicles of Matthew Paris (to 1259), the reminiscences of Joinville (Joinville, Jean, sire de) about St. Louis during the Seventh Crusade (1248–54), the Lombard chronicle of Fra Salimbene (Salimbene Di Adam) (to 1287), or the vast history of the first part of the Hundred Years' War written in the second half of the 14th century by Froissart (Froissart, Jean). Memoirs and histories written in vernacular languages, such as those of Joinville and Froissart, came to be quite common. Laymen began to write histories. Some were great men, like Geoffroi de Villehardouin (Villehardouin, Geoffrey of), one of the leaders of the Fourth Crusade (which captured Constantinople 1202–04), of which he wrote an account. Important urban chronicles began to appear, such as the Florentine chronicle of Giovanni Villani (Villani, Giovanni), with its invaluable statistics of Florentine population and activities around 1338. The extraordinary personality of St. Francis, who died in 1226, inspired lives of him more convincingly human than any previous medieval biographies of saints.

      The Humanist (humanism) historians of the 15th century tried to make a deliberate break with the tradition of medieval historiography. By their insistence on a more coherent arrangement of subject matter, by their superior critical outlook, and, above all, by their much more accurate awareness of the process of historical change, they had introduced innovations of fundamental importance. In part they owed their grasp of these new possibilities to the influence of Byzantine scholars. In historiography, as in other matters, the new humanistic scholarship was a joint product of Western and Byzantine traditions.

Byzantine (Byzantine Empire) historiography
      During the millennium that elapsed between the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West in the 5th century AD and the Italian Renaissance of the 15th century, in no part of Europe did the writers of history consistently maintain as high a standard of achievement as in the Byzantine Empire. Parts of the 7th and the 8th centuries form lengthy gaps in the record of Byzantine historiography, but this seems mainly to be the result of subsequent losses of manuscripts. When, in the middle of the 9th century, Photius (Photius, Saint), future patriarch of Constantinople, compiled a record of some 280 books that he had read, he mentioned works of 33 Greek historians, dating mostly from the late Roman Empire and the Byzantine period, 20 of which are now lost. But, among the Byzantines of the 7th and 8th centuries, there was certainly no parallel to the Dark Ages in western Europe.

      The Byzantine historians were heirs to the combined traditions of classical Greek writing, of the subsequent Hellenistic historiography, and of the Christian historical writing of the 4th century. Few ancient Latin historians were ever translated into Greek, and their influence on the Byzantines was, therefore, very slight. The older classical Greek historians provided the Byzantines with their cherished models of language and style. Like all educated Byzantines, the historians continued for a millennium to write in a literary language that soon became unintelligible to the vast majority of their compatriots. Hence, from the 6th century onward, there appeared, side by side with the learned historiography, a succession of popular chronicles written in the ordinary language. Most of these popular writings form—in their prejudice, ignorance, and crudity—a startling contrast to the works of the more eminent classicizing historians, but they do provide valuable glimpses of the sort of hagiographical history, more religious myth than sober fact, that ordinary Byzantines apparently wanted to read.

       Herodotus and Thucydides were frequently invoked by Byzantine historians as models of fine prose. The influence of these two writers on the substance of what was written usually remained slight and superficial, however. The only Byzantine writers who seriously modelled themselves on these two oldest Greek historians wrote during the 15th century. The earlier Byzantine historians owed most to Polybius and to the Greek biographer Plutarch (died c. AD 119), the two Hellenistic writers who had the greatest influence on Byzantine notions of how history and historical biography should be written.

      Like Polybius, the majority of Byzantine historians, including most of the best ones, perferred to write about their own times; and within these limits they produced some real masterpieces. Unlike the majority of the ancient historians, Polybius had included much autobiographical detail, and his influence reinforced the readiness of the Byzantine historians to talk about themselves, thus providing abundant information about several of these authors. Their histories are likely to be one-sided and full of details about what interested them, while remaining silent about a great mass of other contemporary happenings. They are frequently gossipy and patently prejudiced, inspiring much less confidence than the austere, impartial writings of authors such as Thucydides. This is one of the main reasons why the Byzantine historians have often been excessively underestimated by modern readers. The bulk of the Byzantine contemporary histories were written by statesmen, high officials, and prelates—men with access to important information. They have to be used critically and cautiously but can be immensely valuable.

      Priscus of Panium (c. 450), a member of a Byzantine embassy to Attila's camp, is the best source of information about that terrible king of the Huns and his followers. A century later, the reconquest of Vandal Africa and of Ostrogothic Italy by the emperor Justinian was the main theme of the History of the Wars of Procopius, a leading civilian adviser of Belisarius, the Byzantine commander. Subsequently, Procopius also wrote a Historia arcana (Secret History), containing a horrible indictment of the activities of Justinian and Belisarius. Many of his details about the corruption at court and the oppressive nature of the government may be substantially correct. In the 11th century Michael Psellus (Psellus, Michael), who wrote a history of his own times, was a leading Byzantine scholar and official, for a time even the chief adviser of emperors. His Chronographia is concerned almost entirely with the happenings at the Byzantine court and is one of the most gossipy and amusing narratives ever written on such a subject. His psychological insight and his lively and subtle style delighted the educated Byzantines. Anna Comnena, the daughter and biographer of the emperor Alexius I, greatly admired Psellus. Her own Alexiad is a much less fascinating work, but the recovery of the Byzantine power under her father provided her with an important theme.

      The last, increasingly disastrous, centuries of Byzantine history are recorded by a series of scholarly and interesting historians. Nicetas Choniates (Choniates, Nicetas), a high imperial official, provides a surprisingly balanced eyewitness account of the siege and capture of Constantinople by the forces of the Fourth Crusade (1202–04). George Acropolites (Acropolites, George), a leading adviser of the Greek emperors of Nicaea, carries the story from 1203 to the recapture of Constantinople by the Byzantines in 1261. The later 13th and 14th centuries are covered by a succession of writers deeply immersed in contemporary theological disputations. Perhaps the most readable of all Byzantine histories is the largely autobiographical work of the leading politician and emperor John VI (John VI Cantacuzenus) (reigned 1347 to 1354), written after his deposition during his years of enforced retirement in a monastery. George Sphrantzes (Sphrantzes, George), a close friend of the last emperor, Constantine XI, included in his history an eyewitness account of the siege and capture of Constantinople by Mehmed II in 1453. Two of Sphrantzes' contemporaries chose to write primarily about the Turks. Their methods place them among Renaissance historians. Laonicos Chalcocondyles (Chalcocondyles, Laonicus) wrote (in about 1464) an account of the rise of the Turkish state. He did so in the manner of Herodotus, with long digressions on various neighbouring nations. A little later, Critobulos of Imbros (Critobulus, Michael), in his account of the Turkish conquest of Constantinople, made Mehmed II his chief hero and modelled his history on Thucydides.

      The study of what might be called “historical antiquities” was not much cultivated by Byzantine scholars. The most notable exception was the emperor Constantine VII (Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus), but only some fragments of his voluminous collections have survived (dating from about 940 to 959). They include a very interesting account of the various peoples with whom the Byzantines had to deal. Such ancient Greek literature as still survives, including that of all the historians, was preserved by the Byzantine scholars. When, around the year 1400, the teaching of Greek was introduced into Italian universities by Byzantine scholars, they brought also their superior techniques of literary scholarship, transforming thereby the study of Latin authors as well as introducing into western Europe the treasures of Greek literature. One result was the emergence of the new Renaissance historiography.

Muslim (Islāmic world) historiography
      Muslim historiography appears to have originally developed independently of European influences. Until the 19th century Muslim writers only very seldom consulted Christian sources and almost never noted events in Christian countries. Fortunately, they displayed at times more curiosity about the non-Muslim peoples of Asia. The first and best history of the Mongol conquests in the first half of the 13th century was the work of a Persian, Joveynī (Joveynī, ʿAṭā Malek). On a visit to Mongolia in 1252–53, he was able to consult the recently compiled, earliest Mongol narrative (Secret History of the Mongols).

      The origins of Arabic (Arabic literature) historiography still remain obscure because of the gap between the legendary traditions of pre-Islāmic Arabia before the start of the Muslim era (AD 622) and the sophisticated and fairly exact chronicles that began to appear in the later 8th and 9th centuries. But while the detailed stages of this development still await reconstruction, the main influences shaping the early Muslim historiography are clear enough. As in the case of the ancient Jews, it was created and perpetuated by religion. Muḥammad (died 632) regarded himself as a successor to a long series of Jewish and Christian prophets, and he made Islām a religion with a strong sense of history. The Qurʾān, Islām's holy book, is full of warnings derived from the lessons of history.

      Teachings of Muḥammad not included in the Qurʾān came to be regarded after his death as authoritative tradition left behind by him. All his sayings and actions were therefore carefully treasured and ultimately came to form, in combination with the Qurʾān, the foundation for the body of Muslim law ( Sharīʿah), common to all Islāmic communities. These traditions ( Ḥadīth) were transmitted orally for several generations, until they were written down in the 8th and 9th centuries. The resultant collections were only partly historical, as myths and inventions crept into them. The scholars who were engaged in preserving and verifying these traditions were chiefly preoccupied with organizing them into legal and theological systems, and they were frequently hostile to the historians. The earliest authoritative life of Muḥammad, written by Ibn Isḥāq (died 768), was attacked by a leading exponent of the legal “traditionist” learning. This confirms the independence of the historical scholars from the theological and legal interests. But both groups shared some common materials, and the strict rules evolved by the legal “traditionists” for recording their sources and tracing a continuous chain of authoritative transmitters of the traditions encouraged similar exact habits in the Muslim historians. The resultant histories were often pedantic, full of unrelated facts, and deficient in reflective comment, though there are some astonishing exceptions, such as the writings of Ibn Khaldūn (1332–1406). But the better Muslim historians scrupulously quoted their authorities and tried to be truthful. This was particularly true of the “classical” school of historians, who were writing at the centre of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate in Iraq in the 9th and 10th centuries. Aṭ-Ṭabarī (Ṭabarī, aṭ-) (died 923), the most authoritative of them all, wrote his “History of Prophets and Kings” as a supplement to his earlier commentary on the Qurʾān, and subsequent Muslim historians were content to follow his reconstruction of the early Islāmic history. The Syrian and Iraqi historiography of the 12th and early 13th centuries is at least as valuable as the Western historical writing of this period, and sometimes it is clearly better.

      To orthodox Muslims, the development of the Islāmic community represented a continuous manifestation of God's purpose. Consequently, the recording of the religious progress of the Islāmic society continued to be sacred duty. One of the original features of Muslim historiography is the large amount of attention devoted to the lives of devout men and of scholars. To many Muslim historians, these spiritual and intellectual activities were of much greater importance than the doings of princes and warriors. One of the peculiarities of Muslim historiography was the liking for encyclopaedic dictionaries of famous men. The earliest of these were devoted to the Companions of Muḥammad and to the early transmitters of the Muslim traditions. For a thousand years extremely diverse types of biographical collections have continued to appear in the Muslim world. Those devoted to religious scholars attained a particularly wide diffusion. Saladin (Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn), who took Jerusalem from the crusaders in 1187 and later opposed the Third Crusade, offered to the Muslim writers the particularly congenial subject of a ruler dominated by a sense of religious duty. A particularly fine example of medieval Muslim historiography is the biography of Saladin by Bahāʾ ad-Dīn (died 1234), which gives an exceptional insight into Saladin's motives for many of his critical decisions.

      But the greatest Arab historian and one of the most penetrating thinkers about historiography in any time or place was undoubtedly Ibn Khaldūn. The introduction (al-Muqaddimah) to his Kitāb al-ʿibar, a universal history (begun in 1375), is, in A.J. Toynbee's judgment (1934), “the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind.” Ibn Khaldūn had absorbed all the learning accessible to a Muslim of his time. He was a master of religious learning, an outstanding judge, a writer on logic. He turned a subtle and most disciplined mind to historiography in order to explain his personal tragedy. He had served a succession of rulers in Islāmic Spain and the Maghrib (Northwest Africa) as a general, a politician, and even once as a chief minister, and his activities had always ended in disaster. In order to explain what had gone wrong, he sought to achieve a correct understanding of the forces that governed the societies known to him. He concluded that political stability had become impossible in his native Maghrib, because over centuries economic prosperity had declined excessively and the forces of lawlessness had become too strong.

      As a detailed chronicler of events Ibn Khaldūn is not always exact, but, like contemporary historians, he knew how to reconstruct correctly the main trends over several centuries. His ability to formulate general laws that govern the fate of societies and to establish rules for the criticism of sources provided him with an intelligent framework for the correct reconstruction of past history.

      Ibn Khaldūn's Muqaddimah has survived in at least a score of manuscripts, but he has had no effective influence on Muslim historiography until recently; after his time, as before, the writing of history continued to be a normal feature of Muslim civilization in the more advanced Islāmic societies. In several countries, notably in parts of India, the first works that deserve the name of history appeared only after the Muslim conquest or the conversion to Islām. After the 12th century Arabic ceased to be the main language of Muslim historiography. Distinguished histories were written in Persian in the 13th century, and subsequently Turkish and other vernaculars came to be used by historians in different parts of the Islāmic world. But, in its isolation from non-Muslim influences and its traditional interests, Islāmic historiography underwent no intrinsic change until the 19th century, when it began to be affected by the impact of modern Western civilization.

Historiography in the European Renaissance
The early Humanists
      If there is one thing that united the men of the Renaissance, it was the notion of belonging to a new time. Lorenzo Valla (Valla, Lorenzo), one of the ablest of the early Humanists, in a preliminary draft of his history of King Ferdinand I of Aragon (written in 1445–46), proudly enumerates the modern technical inventions made in recent centuries, and especially near his own day. The sense of the novelty and excellence of their achievements was particularly felt by the men of the Renaissance in connection with their attempts to imitate the works of the ancient Greek and Roman writers and artists. They were not yet claiming that an era of unlimited progress was dawning for mankind—such concepts belong to the 18th century—but the belief in the progressiveness of their own age soon spurred the best Renaissance scholars and artists into achievements that, in some important respects, surpassed their ancient models. This happened in historiography, and especially in the sciences connected with it. The pace of change must not be exaggerated, however. Despite promising beginnings, historiography as a systematic discipline did not emerge during the Renaissance and, in fact, this development did not occur until the 19th century. The reasons for this delay form one of the main problems in any study of historiography between the years 1400 and 1800.

      In the early Renaissance one by-product of the newly won sense of modernity was the tendency to regard the millennium between the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and the 15th century as an era of prolonged decline. The concept of the Middle Ages was thus introduced for this intervening period. Two very important histories written in the first half of the 15th century deliberately concentrate on the medieval centuries. Their authors were leading Italian Humanists. The first to appear was the Historiae Florentini populi (“History of Florence”) of Leonardo Bruni (Bruni, Leonardo), the city's chancellor from 1427 to 1444. The second, the Historiarum ab inclinatione Romanorum imperii decades (“Decades”; mainly devoted to Italy), was written by Flavio Biondo (Biondo, Flavio), an important papal official. It covered the period from the sack of Rome by Alaric in AD 410 to the writer's own time. The “invention” of the Middle Ages as a separate historical period remains one of the most enduring legacies of Renaissance historiography.

      Unlike the medieval historians, the Renaissance Humanists became much more acutely aware of the process of historical change. This was a gradual development. They were trying to understand the ancient writers, whom they were seeking to emulate, and they became increasingly aware of the need to replace these writers in their correct historical setting. When Petrarch (1304–74), the pioneer Italian Humanist, unearthed in 1345 a collection of Cicero's letters, he was shocked to discover that Cicero was not a cloistered scholar of the medieval tradition but a busy politician who wrote his dialogues in moments of banishment from active life. In 1361, in a letter to the Holy Roman emperor Charles IV, Petrarch was able to use his increased familiarity with classical documents to expose a medieval forgery of the Austrian archduke masquerading as a charter of Julius Caesar.

      Between about 1440 and his death in 1457, Valla was one of the most influential Humanists. His Elegantiae linguae latinae (1444; “Elegancies of the Latin Language”) was a treasury of information about correct Latin usages. For Valla the meaning of words was not natural but conventional and historical, because it was derived from changing custom. Thus a sense of ceaseless historical evolution was planted at the very centre of Humanist preoccupations with the recovery, the correction, and the interpretation of ancient texts.

      In 1440 Valla's patron, King Alfonso of Naples, at war with the papacy, asked Valla to write a treatise against Pope Eugenius IV. Valla obliged by decisively disproving, on both linguistic and historical grounds, the genuineness of the “ Donation of Constantine.” From the middle of the 8th century, when this document was probably concocted, it had been used by the popes as one of the weightiest justifications for their claims to secular authority in Italy. Its authenticity had been sometimes questioned in the past by some of the acutest minds, such as Bishop Otto of Freising in the 12th century and Marsilius of Padua in the first half of the 14th century, but it required Valla's expert techniques to dispose of the “Donation” forever. The validity of Valla's methods of historical criticism was at once recognized by at least one other leading Humanist. Biondo wrote the relevant portions of his “Decades” of papal and Italian history between 1440 and 1443, while remaining in the service of the very same Eugenius IV who had been the chief object of Valla's attack. Yet Biondo tacitly accepted Valla's conclusions, and he never mentions the “Donation of Constantine.” Biondo's critical outlook found still another expression in his summary dismissal of the fabulous history of Geoffrey Of Monmouth. In his copy of Geoffrey he entered only a single note: “I have never come across anything so stuffed with lies and frivolities.”

Historical philology
      Valla's work (exegesis) on the texts (textual criticism) of the New Testament proved in the long run to be one of the most influential applications of the new science of historical philology. His aim was to recover, so far as possible, the original Greek version through the use of the oldest extant manuscripts. He defended these researches by pointing out that he was not correcting the Holy Scriptures but merely the Latin Vulgate translation of St. Jerome that had been adopted by the Catholic Church. The revolutionary nature of Valla's historical approach comes out most strikingly in his comment that “none of the words of Christ have come to us, for Christ spoke in Hebrew and never wrote down anything.” The corrections assembled by Valla became generally known when, in 1505, Erasmus (Erasmus, Desiderius) published them as Annotationes on the New Testament. They provided a model for Erasmus' edition of a Greek New Testament in 1516, from which stem all the new Protestant versions of the 16th century.

      The new historical philology was also soon applied to the study of philosophical and legal texts. In this, the most striking progress was made in the second half of the 15th century by Politian, who lectured at Florence, and by his friend Ermolao Barbaro, who taught at Padua. They were inaugurating the history of ideas and of intellectual movements. In his studies of Aristotelian texts, Barbaro insisted on using only the commentators of antiquity. In his lectures and writings (1489–94), Politian tried to reestablish from internal evidence the correct sequence of Aristotelian treatises, and he traced the gradual liberation of Aristotle's (Aristotle) thought from the influence of Plato. The meaning of the terms used by Aristotle was rigorously investigated in the light of the linguistic usage of his Greek contemporaries. Politian's ventures into the field of legal texts proved particularly influential. He had at his disposal a very good 6th-century version of the Digest (Pandects)—that is, the section of Justinian's Corpus Juris Civilis (Body of Civil Law) based on the rulings of the Roman jurists. Politian's collation of it with the first printed edition of the Digest (in 1490) formed part of an inquiry into the transmission of the texts of the Roman law during the Middle Ages. Politian's researches stimulated a remarkable school of Humanist jurists, mostly Frenchmen, headed by Guillaume Budé, who published the first historical commentary on the Digest in 1508. In the course of the 16th century, these scholars laid the foundations of a new branch of scholarship, the history of laws and institutions.

      The methods of textual criticism used by Politian and his friends were designed to produce definitive editions of classical texts. Politian was aware of the need to establish the correct descent of manuscripts and to disentangle the best textual tradition. In all this he was far ahead of almost all his contemporaries, and he was anticipating the procedures that were systematically adopted for the first time by Karl Lachmann and other German scholars in the 19th century. The historical philology of Politian was a program for the future rather than a dawn of a new era in the editing of classical texts. In contrast to his methods, most of the other Humanist editions of the Latin and Greek classics are very unsatisfactory. This is particularly true of the editions produced between about 1400 and 1550. The reckless emendations of Humanist editors, coupled with the subsequent disappearance of some of the manuscripts used by them, created grave problems for later scholars. Ever since the 17th century the task of the more modern editors has consisted largely in reconstructing, so far as possible, the manuscript versions available before 1400.

Notable works from the period
      Modern historiography was created in the 19th century through a successful combination of the use of narrative sources with every other type of evidence. Some 15th-century Italian Humanists were already aware of these possibilities. The idea of recovering an entire civilization through a systematic collection of all the relics of the past was not alien to them. Biondo used mainly conventional narrative sources for his “Decades” of Italian history, but his description of the city of Rome in antiquity (Roma instaurata, 1444–46) was based on a novel combination of the narratives of other historians with a wide range of miscellaneous sources. These included topographical guides, public and private documents, studies of surviving buildings, inscriptions, and coins. But in practice most histories and biographies continued to be written in a conventional way, while the revived study of “antiquities” was cultivated in separation from narrative historiography.

      Imitation of ancient models is the feature most often stressed in the modern descriptions of Humanist histories. This meant that style mattered at least as much as content and that historical truth might be obscured by literary conventions. On the more positive side, there was the renewed insistence on the choice of definite, clearly delimited subjects and on a more coherent arrangement of material. The abler Humanist historians, however, were also making innovations that bring their practice a little nearer to present notions of writing history.

      Several Humanist historians were particularly attracted to the study of the origins of the states about which they were writing. In the 15th century Bruni (Bruni, Leonardo) did this for Florence, and Biondo and Bernardo Giustiniani for Venice, to mention some notable examples. In the 16th and early 17th centuries, French and English scholars inaugurated a critical study of the origins of their national institutions. Humanist historians prided themselves on their critical ability to overthrow the legends in which various countries had concealed their ignorance of their own origins. The incentives to revise the earliest history were often political. Bruni deemed it essential to prove that Florence had not been founded under the tyranny of the Roman emperors but in the time of the free republic. He happened to be right. The Humanist historians were more confident than their ancient predecessors that they could write competent histories of a remote past. In practice they were much less successful in this than they imagined. In dealing with periods before their own time, they usually followed only a restricted number of earlier narratives, though the best of them, such as Bruni and Biondo, displayed in their histories of medieval Italy a novel ingenuity in combining well-chosen sources. Biondo, for example, made effective use of Dante's correspondence.

      There was also some modest progress through the better use of documentary sources. This is often far from obvious, because Humanist historians, like their ancient predecessors, do not usually refer to their sources, even when they quote texts verbatim. Hence came Leopold von Ranke's (Ranke, Leopold von) utter misjudgment of the historical value of the Storia d'Italia (“History of Italy”) of Francesco Guicciardini (Guicciardini, Francesco). Before Ranke's time it was universally accepted as the most authoritative contemporary history of Italy in the years 1494 to 1534. Ranke, who became one of the pioneers of “scientific” history in Germany, first established his reputation in 1824 by his attack on the reliability of Guicciardini. Ranke argued that the statements of that great Florentine statesman were contradicted by documentary evidence and that his history must have been based on unreliable secondary authorities. The discovery in the 20th century of Guicciardini's private archive proved that his history was scrupulously based on original documents of the highest value.

      Guicciardini, in a work that forms the nearest Renaissance parallel to the history of Thucydides, tries to comprehend the succession of tragedies that befell Italy from the start of the French invasions in 1494. This desire to recapture the rational causes of events is one of the most mature features of the best Renaissance historiography.

Early modern historiography
Spread of Humanism
      Italian Humanist historians provided models that could be imitated easily in other countries. Almost everywhere in western and central Europe, local writers were encouraged to produce descriptions and histories of their own lands, intent with patriotic pride. In such countries as Spain and Poland, which had only recently achieved their unity, this was a way of commemorating their newly won cohesion. In the 15th century it was the object of a pioneer work on the earliest antiquities of Spain, the Paralipomena Hispaniae, by the Catalan Humanist bishop Joan Margarit i Pau, and of the invaluable Annales seu cronicae incliti regni Poloniae (“History of Poland”), by Jan Długosz (Długosz, Jan), which included an exceptionally precise geographic description of his country. In Germany a sense of national identity could be vindicated by Humanist historians striving to minimize the importance of the continued political division of their land. The Germania of Tacitus was printed in Germany as early as 1473 and started the fashion of using this collective name for that country. Tacitus called the Germans “the indigenous inhabitants.” This was used by a leading patriotic Humanist, Conradus Celtis (Celtis, Conradus), as a proof that Germany should be free from all foreign domination. Celtis and his other Humanist contemporaries deliberately hunted for manuscripts of medieval German writers to prove that their country, despite its disunity, could have a national history. Some important masterpieces were recovered, including the histories of Otto of Freising. Celtis' pet project of a description of Germany modelled on Biondo's Italia illustrata was carried out in 1530 by Sebastian Münster (Münster, Sebastian), and Münster's fuller Cosmographia (1544; “Cosmography”), though purporting to describe the known world, devoted one-half of its 818 pages to “the German nation.” There was also a spate of histories of Germany, mostly very laborious and unreflective but incorporating the newly rediscovered medieval narratives and even some documentary sources. Greater originality came only in the wake of the Reformation. The same thing happened in France and in England. In both countries patriotic preoccupations were a leading feature of works written by Humanist historians, and the appearance of Protestantism reinforced in a peculiar way the existing nationalist tendencies.

      The influence of the Reformation on historiography must first be discussed at a more universal level. As the philosopher Francis Bacon shrewdly observed, Martin Luther (Luther, Martin) had been obliged “to awake all antiquity and to call former times to his succours . . . so that the ancient authors . . . which had a long time slept in libraries, began generally to be read.” This was not because Luther would have regarded himself as a historian. But as early as 1519, in his disputation with Johann Eck, he encountered the assertion that the primacy of the pope was of divine origin. In order to disprove this and to demonstrate that they alone represented the true church, the Protestants had to retell in a new way the entire history of Christianity. In a preface to the Vitae Romanorum pontificum (“Lives of the Pontiffs”), published by Robert Barnes in 1535, Luther himself confessed that, although he himself had not originally attacked the papacy with historical arguments,

now it is a wonderful delight to me to find that others are doing the same thing . . . from history—and it gives me the greatest joy . . . to see . . . that history and Scripture entirely coincide in this respect.

Protestant history
      The starting point for the Protestant rewriting of Christian history could best be found in St. Augustine's teachings. The true church, the city of God, had always existed, even though at times it seemed to be overshadowed by the enemies of the divine order. Those enemies were not only the pagans and the heretics, as St. Augustine had believed. In more recent times they had included also the upholders of the papal authority and the persecutors of such medieval true Christians as John Wycliffe (died 1384) and John Hus (died 1415). The writings of Eusebius provided the model for chronicling the sufferings of the faithful until the dawn of freedom for the true church in the 16th century. These views about the correct history of Christianity were presented with exceptional cogency in John Calvin's (Calvin, John) Christianiae religionis institutio (fullest edition 1559; Institutes of the Christian Religion) and were shared by most Protestant scholars. The only obvious disagreements arose when Protestants tried to pinpoint the moment at which the church took the fatal turn away from God's true purpose. While the radical sectarians considered that the papacy had always been corrupt, less extremist Protestants were prepared to accept the earlier popes and to argue that the rot set in at some date between the time of Eusebius (died c. 340) and the 7th century. The choice of precise date might depend on the national traditions of each country. Thus, Bishop Richard Davies, in his preface to the New Testament in Welsh (1567), treats Pope Gregory the Great (died 604) as a special enemy because Gregory's effort to convert the Anglo-Saxons led ultimately to the subjugation of the autonomous British (England) church.

      Historians writing in this spirit were incapable of impartiality. But the historical controversies between the Catholics and the Protestants produced from both sides huge compilations. Their authors were determined to prove their respective cases by a stupendous marshalling of authorities and documentary sources. The habit of giving copious references and long, exact quotations, missing from the Humanist historiography, was reintroduced by the religious controversialists. On the Protestant side, the largest work is the Ecclesiastica historia, or the so-called Centuriae Magdeburgenses (13 volumes, 1559–74; “Magdeburg Centuries”), retelling the history of the church down to 1200. The Catholic reply, equally huge and graceless, was produced in 12 volumes by Cardinal Baronius. The chief Protestant critic of this work, the great Greek scholar Isaac Casaubon, was astonished by the Cardinal's ignorance of Greek and Hebrew, his gross mistakes, and his boundless credulity.

      The narratives of contemporary events written in the 16th and early 17th centuries by the participants in the religious struggles, though equally partisan, include some works of great historical value and high literary merit. The earliest and best German Protestant narrative, that by Johannes Sleidanus, received a grudging tribute from his great opponent, the Holy Roman emperor Charles V, who remarked that “the rogue has certainly known much . . . ; he has either been in our privy council or our Councilors have been traitors.” John Foxe's (Foxe, John) Book of Martyrs (1563) contains a great mass of exact information about the persecution of reformed religion in England and Wales during the reign of Mary Tudor, and it has influenced many generations of British Protestants. The achievements of Queen Elizabeth I and the Anglican Church's settlement of her reign found an outstanding defender in William Camden (Camden, William), who was encouraged to write by Elizabeth's leading ministers. In his Annales Rerum Anglicarum, et Hibernicarum Regnante Elizabetha (“Annals of Elizabeth's Reign”) Camden made excellent use of a mass of official records at his disposal, though his treatment of confidential matters had to be discreet.

      Out of a conflict between Venice and the papacy in the first years of the 17th century was born the Istoria del concilio tridentino (1619; History of the Council of Trent, 1676) of Fra Paolo Sarpi (Sarpi, Paolo). A Catholic friar, but a passionate defender of Venetian autonomy, Sarpi drew a dark picture of worldly papal policies and the unscrupulous machinations of the Jesuits. It is a bitter, prejudiced, but splendidly written and well-informed work, which profoundly influenced the anticlerical historians of the 18th century. All these contemporary narratives, however, have one serious limitation. They deal almost exclusively with political events and with changes in ecclesiastical organization. The Protestant schism is treated as merely a revolt against the abuses of the old church, and the deeper reasons for the alienation of the Protestants from the Catholic faith are never explained. Furthermore, these historians, by attributing the origins of the schism almost exclusively to Luther's sudden conflict with the papacy, obscured the existence in the early 16th century of numerous Catholic reformers, whose sole aim was to transform the Catholic Church from within. This one-sided approach to the history of the Reformation was destined to persist for a long time. Two influential histories published in the years 1683–88, one by a great Catholic prelate, Bishop Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, and the other by Pierre Jurieu, a leading Protestant, still agreed on the same superficial account of the causes of the Reformation.

      The rewriting by the Protestants of universal church history naturally involved a drastic revision of the history of the national churches. In Germany, particularly, the history of the church had become inextricably intermixed with the destinies of the German empire. Their hatred of the papacy made the Lutherans visualize the course of German history with unusual clarity. Nobody before them had attempted to impose on that history a single intelligible pattern of any sort. Theirs was bound to be a prejudiced pattern, a story of gradual national disintegration as the result of the successive defeats of the German emperors by the papacy. Johannes Stumpf's (Stumpf, Johannes) tragic chronicle of the Holy Roman emperor Henry IV (published in 1556) treated his struggles with Pope Gregory VII as the beginning of the empire's tribulations. The whole course of German history was retraced in this fashion under the influence of Luther's chief Humanist collaborator, Philipp Melanchthon, in the so-called Chronicle of Carion, written in its final versions (1572–73) by Melanchthon's son-in-law, Caspar Peucer.

      One of the most novel features of the English Protestant historiography was the reawakening of scholarly interest in the period before the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century. Matthew Parker (Parker, Matthew), Queen Elizabeth's first archbishop of Canterbury, thought he could discern in the pre-Conquest church elements of true Christianity that were destroyed thereafter and had only been reintroduced by the Protestants. The Anglican (Anglicanism) Church could be represented as a return to the traditional practices and beliefs of the early English Christians. Thus the replacement of Latin by English in the Protestant church services could be justified by citing the presence in Anglo-Saxon England of Bibles, liturgies, and devotional literature in the Old English language. Parker and his friend Lord Burghley (Cecil, William, 1st Baron Burghley), Elizabeth's most trusted minister, gathered around them a circle of enthusiastic scholars, whose work preserved most of the important Anglo-Saxon texts as well as of some leading post-Conquest chronicles. Parker's own method of editing texts horrifies modern scholars, but some of the antiquarian works published by members of this group were of high quality. Camden's Britannia (first edition 1586, later much enlarged) was a pioneer work on the topography of Roman and early medieval Britain. The edition by Sir Henry Spelman (Spelman, Sir Henry) of the records of the pre-Conquest church councils was the first serious attempt to apply to an important type of early sources the best methods of continental scholarship.

Historical outlook and legal histories
      The growth of a historical outlook can be traced in the 16th century in many diverse fields of learning. For the first time men were realizing that there was a historical side to every branch of knowledge concerned with human affairs. “I have become aware that law books are the products of history,” wrote the French legal historian François Baudouin in 1561. In each branch of study there developed a special historical technique particularly appropriate to it. The most sophisticated scholarship was to be found in the field of classical studies. A group of scholars active in the second half of the 16th century were achieving results much superior to the work of the earlier Renaissance classicists. They combined philological expertise with a determination to reach a really adequate understanding of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations. A few were Italians, such as Carlo Sigonio, but most of the important works were written in France and in the Protestant centres of Switzerland and Holland. As textual critics these scholars were reacting sharply to the earlier, more haphazard, methods of emending and editing classical authors. They were trying to bring the text of one writer after another to a state of near perfection. Some leading ancient historians, such as Tacitus, benefitted greatly from this treatment (edition of Lipsius in 1575). Though their methods do not quite reach the standards of modern scholarship, they anticipate intelligently many of the procedures more systematically adopted in the 19th century. Isaac Casaubon (Casaubon, Isaac) was the first to point out in his edition of Suetonius (1595) that Einhard's 9th-century life of Charlemagne was modelled on the work of that Roman historian. Casaubon's friend Joseph Scaliger (Scaliger, Joseph Justus) renewed the science of classical chronology (1583) and was the first to reconstruct the original Greek Chronicle of Eusebius lying behind St. Jerome's Latin translation. Sigonio's pioneer work on the rights and duties of Roman citizens (1560) was later much used by Theodor Mommsen, one of the founders in the 19th century of the modern study of Roman history.

      In the course of the 16th century, non-narrative historical work of the highest originality and complexity was being carried on in the legal faculties of French universities. One important stimulus was provided by the existence in France of different legal systems—the uncodified provincial customs in the north and the written law in the south. The latter ultimately derived from the Roman law, and, in the southern French universities, there arose an eager demand for the introduction of the new Italian methods of interpreting the Roman legal texts. Andrea Alciato, a pioneer in the historical treatment of the Roman law, taught at Bourges from 1529 to 1533, and his pupils founded the “Romanist” school of French legal historians.

      Important advances were made in the study both of the Roman law and of the origins of the French legal customs, laying virtually the foundations of a new branch of scholarship, the history of law and institutions. François Baudouin published in 1545 the first historical survey of the development of the Roman legal science. The treatise on the custom of Paris by Charles Dumoulin (published 1539–58) resulted from his advocacy of the codification of the northern French legal customs. It was the first scholarly exposition of a body of customary French law derived from feudal practices, and it amounted to a first comprehensive history of European feudalism. It prompted a series of controversial works by a succession of scholars. The Roman, the Germanic, and the Celtic roots of feudalism all found advocates, and the respective claims of Lombard and Frankish texts to provide the best clues were vigorously canvassed. The complexity of the problems presented by the unravelling of the origins of feudalism dawned on scholars for the first time. The most valuable of these attempts to rediscover the “ancient French constitution” were the researches on “the antiquities of France” of Étienne Pasquier (Pasquier, Étienne) (published 1560–1607), which form a basis for all later study of medieval French institutions.

      One of the novel features of European civilization in the later 16th and 17th centuries was a secularization of mental interests. Secular learning could now produce ideas more fascinating to intelligent men than theology. History was one of the most popular types of literature sought by a growing reading public. Several treatises on the proper way of writing history appeared in the third quarter of the 16th century. An anthology consisting of 12 such works, including the famous Methodus of the French political philosopher Jean Bodin, was published at Basel in 1576. Nearly 100 years later a “Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England” (1657) showed that history books constituted a large proportion of the total works published (publishing, history of). It has been estimated that between 1460 and 1700 at least 2,500,000 copies of 17 leading ancient historians were published in Europe.

      The late 16th century and the 17th witnessed the publication of several great collections of historical materials. The men who undertook these gigantic tasks often were antiquarians accumulating miscellaneous records rather than historians, but they were supplying materials for generations of future historians. Some of the most important publications of sources appeared in France and the Netherlands. Pierre Pithou was a pioneer in editing materials for the history of the Frankish period. The collections of André Duchesne are a vast storehouse of chronicles and other sources for the study of medieval French history. Le Nain de Tillemont edited 20 volumes of records devoted to Roman and church history during the first six centuries of the Christian Era, which a century later furnished one of the principal sources for Edward Gibbon's work The History of the Decline and Fall ofthe Roman Empire. In 1629 a Belgian Jesuit, Jean Bolland (Bolland, Jean), embarked systematically on the editing of records connected with all the saints whose feasts had at any time been celebrated by the church, and this series of publications has been continued to the present day. In the second half of the 17th century, the French Benedictine congregation of Saint-Maur started an immense series of publications commemorating the history of the Benedictines and of other monastic orders. The greatest Maurist scholar, Jean Mabillon (Mabillon, Jean), was accepted throughout Europe as the most erudite historian of his time.

      In spite of its popularity among an expanding reading public and of the large number of learned editions of materials that it inspired, history was not, for most of the 17th century, one of the sciences that made men proud of living in a modern age. Immense progress was taking place in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. History not only did not seem capable of much further development, but scientifically minded men were beginning to dismiss it as a branch of knowledge that would never be worthy of serious respect. Mabillon's De Re Diplomatica (1681) helped to challenge this pessimistic view, but a further century elapsed before history began to be accepted as an authoritative discipline.

      One major obstacle to the progress of historiography was the hostility of rulers to publications that did not favour their governments. The growth of an influential reading public made rulers increasingly suspicious of historical writings; for example, the censorship exercised by Cosimo I de' Medici, ruler of Florence from 1537 to 1574, precipitated the decline of Florentine historiography. Comparisons with the past also could be invidious. In 1599 Elizabeth I of England censured an author for describing the deposition of one of her predecessors, Richard II, 200 years earlier. Fear of possible trouble made highly intelligent scholars into one-sided historians. The great jurist Hugo Grotius avoided in his history of the wars of the Dutch against Spain discussions of the religious aspects. Samuel Pufendorf (Pufendorf, Samuel, Freiherr von), the historian of the Swedish conquests, carefully left out the internal developments in 17th-century Sweden.

      The scholars who in that century were responsible for the great advances in the mathematical sciences were convinced that their achievements would ultimately give mankind a novel mastery over its natural environment. This is particularly true of Francis Bacon and of René Descartes. Their optimism was laying the foundations for a belief in a possibility of continuous progress without which the purposeful and assured historiography of the 19th century would be inconceivable. But the attitude toward history of most of the leading thinkers and scientists of the 17th century was not helpful to its immediate development. Bacon, who wrote a readable and rationally argued biography of King Henry VII of England, attached no importance to accuracy; for example, he antedated Henry's death by a whole year and could not be bothered to undertake any detailed research. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm) was a great mathematician, but his attempts to apply science to historiography led to mechanistic constructions from which real human beings were largely missing. Numerous influential thinkers were decidedly hostile to history. Descartes, the most eminent of the anti-historical scientists, was not simply disgusted by the unsystematic and imprecise methods of the historians of his time but also doubted whether, strictly speaking, history could be regarded as a branch of knowledge at all. But it is important to remember that much of the 17th-century criticism of history was an attitude of men who simply had other priorities and were concerned to attack doctrines that, for one reason or another, historians seemed to support. In the late 17th century the most successful defenders of history were the members of certain particularly scholarly Catholic orders. Catholicism rested its authority on tradition to a much greater extent than did its Protestant opponents. For Catholic scholars such as Mabillon, the defense of history became really a defense of their religion. They were trying to show that historians were capable of discovering scientifically demonstrable truths. The decisive publication was Mabillon's De Re Diplomatica of 1681. A member of a rival order, the Jesuit Daniel van Papebroch, had challenged (in 1675) the authenticity of the oldest charters of two French Benedictine monasteries, Saint-Denis and Corbie. Mabillon applied his powerful critical intelligence not only to vindicating these documents but also to formulating the general rules that must be used to prove the authenticity of medieval records. He illustrated his rules by admirable examples and stated his conclusions with a candor and a common sense that convinced most readers. Mabillon's survey of the tests that must be applied by scholars covered the writing materials, the scripts (thus founding the science of medieval Latin paleography), the seals and other devices of authentication, the official formulas, and the vocabulary used at different periods. Above all, he stressed that the authenticity of a document usually rested not just on isolated details but on consistent correctness of all its features.

      Mabillon was not just a “historical scientist.” He had a passionate interest in the past and a vivid historical imagination. He displayed these qualities abundantly in his last and most important work, the Annales Ordinis s. Benedicti (“Annals of the Benedictine Order,” to 1066). In the Traité des études monastiques (1691; “Manual of Monastic Studies”), he defended the importance of scholarly work as the principal activity of an elite of Benedictine monks. But it would be an anachronism to regard Mabillon and his chief associates as fully comparable to modern historians. They were constrained by the limitations of their time and of their special position as monks. For example, Bernard de Montfaucon (Montfaucon, Bernard de), Mabillon's most important successor, is the creator of the science of medieval Greek paleography. But he shares with most of his contemporaries a complete inability to treat the Old Testament as a historical source.

Developments in 17th-century England
      Historical and antiquarian studies developed in 17th-century England in several very distinctive ways. The political struggles and religious controversies of that period made some issues of older English history into matters of immediate practical importance. The other distinctive feature was the delay in the absorption of European continental learning, so that the great progress made in the study of feudal origins in the 16th century began to affect the thinking of English scholars only by about 1625. But there persisted also elements of continuity growing out of earlier Tudor scholarship. The interest in the Anglo-Saxon church and civilization continued to stimulate important editions of records throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, including, especially, Sir Henry Spelman's edition of the records of church councils and Sir William Dugdale's (Dugdale, Sir William) Monasticon Anglicanum (1655–73), which is still valuable today. Another element of continuity with the Tudor period was the perennial interest of the English notables in heraldry, genealogy, and the antiquities of their native regions. Dugdale's Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656) set a pattern and a standard for county histories.

      Students of English law and institutions, lacking the stimulus that was provided for French lawyers by the diversity of legal systems and by the notable progress in the study of Roman law in that country, continued to ascribe immemorial origins to the common law of England and to approach the development of English institutions in a completely unhistorical spirit. Among the parliamentary opposition to the Stuarts, these attitudes were part of a belief in the “ancient constitution,” which these sovereigns were supposed to be defying. Spelman, who was a devout Anglican and a royalist, though a moderate one, was perhaps the first major scholar to break away from this myth. Under the influence of continental publications and correspondents, he accepted that feudal tenure had been introduced into England after the Norman Conquest and that all the English institutions after 1066 must be redefined in feudal terms. But his discoveries were hidden in a dictionary of antiquarian words (Archaeologus, vol. 1, 1626; 2 vol. 1664) and made very little impact until some 50 years had elapsed. Spelman had an acute sense of historical development, and he sadly castigated his countrymen for their lack of it in their attitude to parliamentary origins:

when States are departed from their original Constitution and that original by tract of time worn out of memory; the succeeding Ages viewing what is past by the present, conceive the former to have been like to that they live in. (Of Parliaments, written in about 1640, published 1698.)

      His greatest contribution to English history was to grasp that parliaments had developed out of feudal assemblies convoked by the Norman kings and that the Commons were introduced into parliaments subsequently, as a result of the growing prosperity of the lesser landholders. These views first became generally accessible in the 1664 edition of Spelman's dictionary. They were adopted by Robert Brady (in 1681) and by other partisans of the Stuarts and expanded into a Royalist statement of the English past. Violently polemical though this view was, it did at least lay to rest the myth of the immemorial “ancient constitution.” The Whig triumph at the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established a doctrine that the king ruled by parliamentary consent, led to the neglect of these discoveries for much of the 18th century. This was the common fate of much of the research of 17th-century antiquarians, who were very much ahead of their time and were writing for a limited audience. John Aubrey's pioneer description in the 1670s of the prehistoric sites of Avebury and Stonehenge had to wait two centuries for full publication. Even the best of these antiquarians, such as Spelman and Dugdale, were less critical in their handling of the original sources than Mabillon was. Higher standards were reached by a few of their successors in the early 18th century, especially by Thomas Madox (Madox, Thomas), whose Formulare Anglicanum (1702) imitated Mabillon by attempting a systematic introduction to English medieval documents. But this did not save Madox from prolonged oblivion. After about 1730 this English tradition of antiquarian scholarship largely ended and remained unfashionable for most of the 18th century.

Historiography in the Age of the Enlightenment
      The impulse given to historiography by the Italian Humanists and the religious controversialists had largely spent itself by about 1715. Men knew again how to write rationally satisfying contemporary histories, though often it needed courage to do so. Much less progress had been achieved in reconstructing the more distant past. Impressive collections of historical materials were being accumulated, but most scholars still lacked the capacity to rethink the thoughts of past generations and thus really to understand them. Mabillon could write with insight about early Benedictine history, as he possessed both sympathy with the subject and adequate technical expertise, but he was exceptional. Spelman (Spelman, Sir Henry) had grasped that a particular society would be molded in a peculiar way by its institutions. He could not reconstruct and explain the gradual changes from one set of institutions to a later one, but he was aware of the problem.

      Judged by the quality of its historical output, the 18th century was not, on the whole, an age of successful historians, but some of the defects of earlier historiography were beginning to be overcome. There were also losses, however, for some of the achievements of the preceding period were in danger of being forgotten. In the leading countries of western Europe, religious controversies were becoming less important, and a massive secularization of interests took place, which affected even ecclesiastical scholars. The French Maurists continued until 1790 to publish imposing historical collections, but their choice of subjects was determined much less than in the time of Mabillon by religious priorities. The greatest Italian ecclesiastical disciple of Mabillon (Mabillon, Jean) was Ludovico Antonio Muratori (Muratori, Lodovico Antonio), a social reformer. In a divided country like Italy, the best way of expressing his patriotism lay in reminding Italians of the former greatness of their country. Muratori spent much of his long life on his editions of Italian medieval sources.

      The nationalist motivation shown by Muratori was peculiar to Italy and also to parts of Germany, another divided country. Elsewhere in Europe there was a danger that, as men lost interest in constitutional or religious disputes that might be settled by appeals to the past, they might turn away altogether from history or at least neglect long stretches of it. This did happen to some extent in the 18th century. Some of the radical French reformers, such as Jean Le Rond d'Alembert (Alembert, Jean Le Rond d'), one of the main inspirers in the 1750s of the French Encyclopédie, wanted to jettison completely much of the past. The Marquis de Condorcet (Condorcet, Marie-Jean-Antoine-Nicolas de Caritat, marquis de), an early prophet of the doctrine of endless progress of mankind and a pioneer historian of European civilization, was a prominent member of a French parliamentary commission that in 1792–93 deliberately destroyed some of the royal records as comprising relics of past servitude.

      During much of the 18th century it was safer and easier to publish controversial works of history than it had been in the past. The point is important, as without this greater freedom, the peculiarly radical “philosophical” historiography, so typical of that century, would have been inconceivable. In Italy such writing was still dangerous. Pietro Giannone, the author of an anticlerical history of Naples (1723), was tracked down by the Inquisition and spent 12 years in prison, where he died in 1748. Even the great Muratori, who tried to help Giannone, came into danger of having some of his works banned and had to be rescued by the personal intervention of Pope Benedict XIV. In France, Louis XIV in 1714 imprisoned Nicolas Fréret in the Bastille for alleging (correctly) that the Franks were originally a confederacy of German tribes and not descendants of more illustrious ancestors. Under the successors of Louis, nothing quite so absurd happened again, but critics of the government or the church were often in trouble. Great Britain, Holland, Switzerland, and parts of Germany, on the other hand, provided safe oases where most things could be published. It was no accident that the most independent and historically minded group of German professors should have congregated at the University of Göttingen, founded in 1734, in the Hanoverian territory of the kings of Great Britain.

      A real renewal of historiography in the 18th century could only come if fresh reasons were discovered for making it again worthwhile. Nationalism could supply one such motive; but this only became decisively influential in the 19th century. An alternative was a historiography inspired by the progress in the natural sciences and based on formulating the general rules governing the development of human societies. The chief features of this “new” historiography were a sense of the unity of all human history, including an interest in the continents outside Europe; a capacity for bold generalizations about the salient features of particular periods or societies; and a preference for topics connected with the progress of human civilization. Condorcet's historical sketch of the progress of the human mind, written in 1794, subdivided all known history into nine periods, each starting with some great invention or with geographical discoveries.

      The shortcomings of this “rationalistic” historiography have been rehearsed often enough. For many of its writers it was primarily a weapon of propaganda against their enemies in church and state. Their redeeming virtue was the fearlessly critical attitude to all existing authorities, however august or sacred. The vast scale of their generalizations often precluded any detailed research. This was particularly true of the attempts to write histories of civilization, as the existing collections of printed materials did not cater for such interests, while systematic research in archives was seldom possible in the 18th century. In preparing his pioneer essay on the history of civilization, covering the millennium from the Carolingians to Louis XIV (Essai sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations, 1745–53), the French author Voltaire had to collect bits and pieces from most diverse sources.

      One of the most valuable achievements of the thinkers of the 18th century was their capacity to study particular societies as coherent units and to formulate the theory that the various aspects of each society's life were closely interrelated. This was not an entirely novel idea, but it first became commonly accepted during this period. Nor were all its adherents anticlericals. Giambattista Vico (Vico, Giambattista), a Neapolitan Catholic, was ahead of his contemporaries in his particularly subtle sense of the complex influences by which one phase of society gives place to another. In his reconstruction of these transitions during the early stages of Roman history, he makes no clear lines between periods. His countryman Giannone explains in his autobiography that he had studied Roman law not for its own sake but in order to understand the changes in the society of the Roman Empire. The French philosopher Montesquieu (Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de), who owed much to Giannone, was not really a historian, but he displays an acute sense of historical realities. His De l'esprit des lois (1748; The Spirit of Laws), more than any other book, accustomed his contemporaries to ponder the complex factors that shaped each society. It inspired Gibbon's definition of the kind of history he wanted to write. It was to be a “history related to and explained by the social institutions in which it is contained.”

      This ideal was realized in Gibbon's (Gibbon, Edward) History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–88), one of the masterpieces of “philosophical” historiography. Gibbon was preoccupied above all with the problem of human progress. The belief that continuous progress was possible for mankind had been publicly formulated in the mid-18th century by Anne-Robert-Jacques Turgot (Turgot, Anne-Robert-Jacques, baron de l'Aulne) in France and by Adam Smith (Smith, Adam) in Scotland, independently, it seems, of each other. Gibbon had read works and known scholars influenced by both these thinkers. A belief in continuous progress would confer a new purposefulness on the study of the entire course of human history and could justify a lengthy account of what otherwise might have seemed very obscure stretches of the past. Such a justification was to inspire most of the historiography of the 19th century. But the problem of progress had a special urgency for Gibbon's generation, which worried at the thought that their own enlightened civilization might also subsequently collapse. By unravelling the causes of the decline of the Roman Empire, Gibbon was determined to show that the Europe of his own day had attained a much superior degree of development and was immune from the fate of the ancient world.

      In the 18th century, historiography was still only very rarely connected with the universities; and thus, except in such isolated places as Göttingen in Germany, no continuous schools of history could develop. Some of the most important achievements of the 18th-century historians meant much less to their contemporaries than to their successors in the 19th century. Gibbon was a pioneer in utilizing in a “rationalist” history the vast materials accumulated by generations of erudite antiquarians, but he had no immediate followers. The German archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (Winckelmann, Johann) tried to revive the true understanding of Greek sculpture and to make the history of art into something more than just the biographies of artists, but his work bore little fruit until the next century. The saddest fate was that of Vico's work. He was hardly ever read before the 19th century, when he at last influenced Barthold Georg Niebuhr and the rest of the German historical school, while Jules Michelet's rediscovery of Vico in 1824 started a new era in French writing on the Middle Ages.

Historiography in the 19th and 20th centuries
Growth of specialization
      From the early 19th century, historiography began to develop in a radically different way. The decisive changes occurred among the German historians, largely through a reaction to the French Revolution and to a temporary subjugation of their country by Napoleon. Organized teaching of history in schools and universities (higher education) became a matter of national importance, first in Prussia and then in other parts of Germany. As universal education spread to most European countries in the course of the 19th century, history was accepted everywhere as a necessary subject in schools. For the first time the bulk of historical writing came to be done by professional historians, for whom it became a condition of securing academic appointments or of consolidating their standings as university teachers. Historiography eventually became a continuously cooperative venture, where the achievements of past historians could be used systematically by their successors. But the growth of specialization and the bewildering number of types of works that came to be published constituted a new danger. In the past, important discoveries were frequently lost through lack of interest. But, by the second half of the 20th century, discoveries were in danger of being simply overlooked amid the flood of publications.

      Another great change lay in the growth of intellectual freedom. Free expression of independent or unorthodox ideas had become dangerous during the French Revolution and under Napoleon, both in the territories controlled by the French and, by way of frightened reaction, in the lands of their unconquered opponents. After 1815 conditions for freer historiography improved gradually in much of Europe. Charles Darwin's (Darwin, Charles) Origin of Species (1859), which put forth a theory of evolution at first unacceptable to church authorities, probably could not have been published with the same impunity any earlier.

      One feature of the growing tolerance of governments toward historiography was the gradual creation of public archives, such as the British Public Record Office in London, created in 1838, and the freer opening of the collections already in existence. Even the papacy accepted these changes, and Pope Leo XIII opened up the papal archive in 1883 as part of a deliberate new policy of encouraging historical study of Catholicism. For the first time historiography came to be based largely on unpublished records, and scholars were tempted into excessive reliance on original documents while unduly neglecting the older types of narrative sources.

      In the 20th century some grievous threats to the persistence of free scholarship recurred, and historiography suffered with other branches of humane studies. The establishment of a Communist regime in Russia led, at first, to the rejection of most pre-1917 history as a fit subject for schools and universities. This decision was reversed in the 1930s, and from 1945 Communist countries were encouraging a form of historiography especially concerned with economic history and the class struggles of the past. There was also an enthusiastic interest in the material remains of past ages, leading to an impressive development of archaeology, particularly in Poland. The rise of dictatorships in Italy and Germany had disastrous effects on historiography in those countries, and recovery after World War II was only gradual.

      Judged merely by the number of “practicing” historians and of their publications, historiography seemed in a very flourishing state in the 1970s. Its European traditions had spread to all the other continents and were largely accepted in all non-Communist countries.

      The Introduction aux études historiques (Introduction to the Study of History) of Charles V. Langlois (Langlois, Charles-Victor) and Charles Seignobos (1898), supplemented by critical comments of another outstanding French historian, Ferdinand Lot (in Le Moyen Age, 1898), provides an excellent starting point for the discussion of modern historical methods. History is an autonomous branch of learning, and some of its methods may be unique. Historians should not try to formulate general laws; their branch of learning merely “aims at explaining reality.” Langlois and Seignobos particularly stress that history is not a science of observation but a science of reasoning how to extract from imperfect documentary or narrative records some glimpses of what actually happened.

The historian's task
      A historian has to subject his sources to a whole series of preliminary investigations. First comes “external criticism (textual criticism),” aimed at determining whether the sources are appropriate and adequate for the particular task in hand. The provenance, date, and authenticity of each source must be established by using the techniques of diplomatic (diplomatics), the detailed study and assessment of documents, and of paleography, the study of ancient handwriting, and of other auxiliary sciences that were elaborated after the 17th century. In France a special institution for teaching some of these techniques, the École des Chartes, was created in 1821. The first specialized seminar for instruction in these subjects was established in 1854 at Vienna by Theodor von Sickel (Sickel, Theodor von), one of the greatest medievalists of the 19th century, and it was gradually imitated by leading German universities. One of the most important critical refinements introduced in the course of the 19th century was the improved handling of narrative sources brought about by seeking to discover the literary sources that lay behind them. Leopold von Ranke (Ranke, Leopold von), one of the foremost German historians, who began his career as a teacher of classics, was gradually attracted to history through a desire to understand better the sources of the Greek and Latin authors whom he was expounding. In the later decades of the 19th century, such a quest became a normal feature of historical scholarship.

      Once a historian has decided, through the application of “external criticism,” on the sources that are relevant to his purpose, he must next, by “internal criticism,” make sure that he fully understands what he has selected. German classical philologists were the first to bring these latter investigations to a high degree of perfection. Karl Lachmann (Lachmann, Karl (Konrad Friedrich Wilhelm)), an editor of the Latin poets, is justly regarded as the creator of modern textual criticism in its most rigorous forms, and historians gradually adopted similar methods. The language of the sources must be understood, corruptions in the text must be eliminated, and the historian must, as accurately as possible, penetrate the minds of the authors with whom he is dealing.

      All these critical operations on the sources are merely preliminaries, and the work of the historian proper only starts when he attempts a synthesis of his materials. F. Lot (Lot, Ferdinand) stresses that in this qualities other than the erudite skills come into play. There must be sympathy with the subjects under study, for without it there can be no imaginative insight into the past. Ideally, a historian must display capacities akin to those of a poet or an artist.

German historiography
      Such a quality was, by and large, lacking in the work of the historians of the Enlightenment, who had been unable to achieve imaginative insight into civilizations very different from their own. The greatest shortcoming of Gibbon was his temperamental inability to appreciate religion. The new historiography of the 19th century was created chiefly by Germans, who, through a reaction to the ungodly and cosmopolitan Enlightenment, were endowed to excess with a passion for extolling the unique nature of their fatherland and for tracing the roots of this uniqueness through the whole course of German history. These developments in German historiography can be traced back to some strands of German thought in the 18th century, especially to some features of the writings of Johann Gottfried von Herder (Herder, Johann Gottfried von). He denied that the purpose of history was to provide a bird's-eye view of the progress of the human mind. It was, rather, to reconstruct history as it had been, which means that all countries and periods are equally deserving of study. This view anticipated Ranke's oft-quoted aim to describe what has actually happened and his conviction that the description of all human history displays the workings of God's providence. The disasters inflicted upon Germany by Napoleon brought forth a patriotic school of historians whose urgent task it became to propagate these views as a means of restoring German independence. The centre of this movement was in Prussia, at the newly founded University of Berlin (1809). Wilhelm von Humboldt (Humboldt, Wilhelm, Baron von), its effective founder, believed that the task of the historian lay in discovering the ideas behind the facts. The concepts that had special validity for him were ideas of religion and of a national state. The German historical school prided itself on the scientific precision of its methods, on its determination to get all the details right, and on the scrupulous quotation of sources. This display of exact scholarship represented a great gain for historical sciences, but its chief purpose was to convince the reader. Yet these German historians were fundamentally inspired by a prejudiced, arbitrary set of assumptions. It is particularly difficult to detect Ranke's hidden bias, as he made a parade of refusing to pass judgments on the past. His preference for the study of foreign relations between states and his treatment of states as natural entities with a right to fulfill their individual destinies justified the successes of Prussia. The defeat in 1848 of the German aspirations to national unity inspired his pupil Wilhelm von Giesebrecht (Giesebrecht, Wilhelm von) to write the history of the medieval German empire to remind his countrymen of their past glories. When German unification was achieved in 1871, Giesebrecht doubted whether there was any need to bring out any further volumes of his great work. But many German historians, having contributed mightily to the unification of Germany, continued to describe complacently the triumphs of the Bismarckian state. This was one of the purposes of the school of historical economists led by Gustav von Schmoller. There were some dissenting voices. Theodor Mommsen (Mommsen, Theodor), the greatest historian of antiquity produced by the 19th century, deplored the tendency of his countrymen to worship state power. Friedrich Meinecke (Meinecke, Friedrich), a leading German historian of political ideas, who until 1914 accepted the ordinary nationalistic assumptions of his countrymen, gradually entirely changed his views and, after the defeat of Germany in two world wars, pleaded in his Deutsche Katastrophe (1946; The German Catastrophe) for a historiography concerned with the higher values of general civilization. Among the German historians, particularly striking progress was achieved in medieval studies. Meanwhile, attempts at imaginative reconstructions of the past were being made in other countries of western Europe. Jules Michelet (Michelet, Jules) wrote in 1833–43 the first history of medieval France based on the French national archives, of which he was at that time keeper. Macaulay's (Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron) History of England (1848–61), covering chiefly the years 1685–1702, represented again a remarkable though prejudiced attempt to relive the past.

      German scholarly techniques and the methods of German historical teaching spread to other countries in the course of the later 19th century, though it is important to note that until 1914 a significant proportion of leading historians from states outside Germany spent some time in that country. This is particularly true of some of the greatest Russian scholars, such as M.I. Rostovtzeff, one of the most important modern historians of antiquity. In England, William Stubbs, though self-taught, applied the results of German scholarship to the reconstruction of English medieval history. Gabriel Monod (Monod, Gabriel), who had studied in Germany, was prominent in introducing more scientific techniques into medieval French historiography, and he founded in 1876 the Revue Historique as the main organ of French historical scholarship. A succession of American students went to Germany, and some, on their return home, reorganized historical studies. Measured by the sheer bulk of publications, the amount of American history written since the 18th century is probably greater than that of any other modern nation. But apart from editions of sources, very few works on American history published before about 1900 are of much practical use today. The most influential pioneer in organizing scientific historiography was Herbert Baxter Adams (Adams, Herbert Baxter), who between 1876 and his death in 1901 made the Johns Hopkins University at Baltimore into the foremost American centre of historical studies. He was also one of the founders of the American Historical Association in 1884 and played a large part in successfully launching the American Historical Review in 1895 as the main organ of historical scholarship. Some of Adams' pupils became great scholars in various fields of general history. Charles Homer Haskins' (Haskins, Charles Homer) works on Norman institutions and on science and culture in the 12th and 13th centuries made him one of the foremost medievalists of the 20th century. But a movement for creating a purely American history was launched in 1893 by another of Adams' pupils, Frederick Jackson Turner (Turner, Frederick Jackson), who inaugurated a “progressive” school of historians through his conviction that the fundamental fact of American history down to 1890 was the settlement of a continent. In Turner's eyes the main theme of American history in the 19th century was the conflict between the patrician and capitalist groups of the Eastern Seaboard and the needs of the new settlers in the Middle West. Charles A. Beard (Beard, Charles A) inaugurated by his Economic Interpretation of the American Constitution (1913) an attempt to rewrite the entire history of the U.S. in terms of conflicts between different groups of economic interests. The weakness of this type of historiography was that it encouraged an excessive parochialism. After 1945 the “progressive” historians came under fire both from more conservative scholars who preferred to stress elements of common tradition and purpose in American development and from the historians of the “new left.” In the 1960s and 1970s the close connection between writings on American history and the active political life was infusing great variety and vitality into its historiography, though making it perhaps too susceptible to rapidly changing external pressures.

Edmund B. Fryde Ed.

Methodology of historiography
      The methodology of history does not differ in broadest outline from that of other disciplines in its regard for existing knowledge, its search for new and relevant data, and its creation of hypotheses. It is the same for all historical writing, success depending on skill and experience; and division of the past on temporal or topical lines merely reflects the human limitations of historians. Although historical methodology has four facets, the more skilled the historian the less he gives them conscious consideration; and any historian is likely to be concerned with two or more concurrently. The four facets are heuristic, knowledge of current interpretation, research, and writing.

      The first two may be briefly considered. Heuristic has been adopted as a convenient term for the technique of investigation that can be acquired solely by practice and experience. In the case of the historian it embraces such things as knowledge of manuscript collections, methods of card indexing and classifying material, and knowledge of bibliography. It underlies other aspects of methodology as in knowledge of the capabilities of historians working in the same and similar fields or in the power of dealing expeditiously with documentary material. The necessity for knowledge of current interpretation is based on the working principle that inquiry proceeds from the known to the unknown; and the historian has to be well acquainted with existing work in his own field, in contiguous historical fields and in allied disciplines. The work in each case consists of both “fact” and interpretation, and the amount the historian accepts will vary. In his own field he will normally not accept facts, and certainly not current interpretation, on trust; in contiguous historical fields he will accept facts and current interpretation by experts in those fields, but qualified by heuristic and his general historical knowledge; in allied disciplines, such as anthropology, economics, geography, natural science, philology, psychology, sociology, he must unless there is strong evidence to the contrary presume the technical skill and intellectual honesty of scholars in those fields. There is, of course, no reason why a historian cannot be reasonably versed in one or more of these and other disciplines, and should the nature of his enquiry demand it he must be.

      Historical research is the term applied to the work necessary for the establishing of occurrences, happenings, or events in the field with which the historian is concerned. Knowledge of these is entirely dependent on the transmission of information from those living at the time, and this information forms what is known as the source material for the particular period or topic. The occurrences themselves can never be experienced by the historian, and what he has at his disposal are either accounts of occurrences as seen by contemporaries or something, be it verbal, written, or material, that is the end product of an occurrence. These accounts or end products have been variously termed relics, tracks, or traces of the occurrences that gave rise to them; and from them the historian can, with varying degrees of certainty, deduce the occurrences. The traces are thus the “facts” of history, the actual occurrences deductions from the facts; and historical research is concerned with the discovery of relevant traces and with deduction from those traces insofar as this will aid the search for further relevant traces.

Source material
      Source material falls into three groups which can be differentiated as written, material, and traditional. Written source material has two subdivisions, literary, sometimes called subjective, and official. The first consists of events as seen through the eyes of an individual and therefore as interpreted by him, normally entailing selection of occurrences or attribution of motive. The second subdivision, the official, consists of records produced in transacting business at any level from individual to international. The information given is basically in statement form, impersonal, and containing only the most superficial suggestions of causation and motivation. In practice the boundary between literary and official sources is blurred and a document may contain elements of both. The second main division, material source material, consists of objects that have resulted from activities of human beings in the past. The third group, traditional source material, covers what is handed on verbally or as practices, although later generations may commit such things to writing. Obvious examples are archaic forms, traditional practices, nursery rhymes, folklore, and place names. Comparison with parallel source material and knowledge of current interpretation will normally show the historian whether his particular source can be presumed true, partially true, or faked. If true or partially true allowance has to be made for the subjective element in literary and some traditional sources and for the difficulty of reconstructing the events themselves from the traces surviving in official, material, or other traditional sources.

      The classification of source material is essentially pragmatic, based on the differing techniques required in handling sources of the different groups: an inscribed tombstone, for example, can be either a written or a material source depending on whether the historian's concern is with the content of the inscription or with the stone. Specialized training in what are sometimes known as ancillary disciplines may, depending on the nature of his investigation, be necessary for the historian. The most important of these are archaeology, bibliography, chronology, diplomatics, epigraphy, genealogy, paleography, sigillography, and textual criticism. It need hardly be said that the historian must have competence in the languages used in his source material. Many historians give part of their time to the editing of source material. This is not historical writing but is of use to other historians in the same field. The collection of facts as an end in itself is, however, antiquarianism not history, and the essential end product of historical investigation is the historian's own writing.

Using source material
      The question of what history is belongs to the philosophy rather than the methodology of history. The word history itself is used ambiguously to describe both the past and what is written about the past; but it is this second meaning that is relevant to the working definition that history is the past experience of society. For what reasons society may wish to utilize its past experience is not the concern of the historian, whose task is to make available to society that past experience and to record it for future reference. An individual utilizing his own past experience has to recall the significant elements of that experience with accuracy and establish their causal and chronological relationships. The historian behaves similarly concerning the past experiences of society; but the reconstruction of events from traces, the selection of those relevant to his task, and the establishing of relationships allow a varying freedom of choice by the historian, which thus introduces the subjective element of the historian's personality. This cannot be eliminated from historical writing, and the historian's aim is to make the margin of intellectual error as small as possible. The handling of source material demands only care and technical competence, and it is mainly in the construction of hypotheses and in the establishing of relationships that this intellectual error can enter. A check is provided by the opinions of other historians working in the same field. His work will, if accepted, become part of current interpretation, sometimes described as accepted history but, as with all current interpretation, subject to revision by himself or others.

      Historical methodology became more clearly formulated during the 19th and 20th centuries, but there have been historians at times long past whose work can be judged by present-day standards. There are, however, certain important differences between present methodology and the general run of past methodology. Much medieval writing, for example, bows to precedent in literary sources and in current interpretation, and uncritical acceptance of an earlier writer's work can occur century after century. The comparative neglect of official sources by the majority of European historians before the 19th century gave no corrective to literary sources. The greatest impediment to the development of modern methodology lay, however, in the varying concepts of history, some of which survive today. The concept of history as a form of literature made it a type of imaginative art on which judgment was passed on grounds of elegance rather than accuracy. Closely allied with this is the “ethical” concept of history whereby historical writing became a series of value judgments on individuals and actions. The converse of this was the impossible “objective” or “scientific” history of the later 19th century, though it did popularize the concept of research and developed the ancillary disciplines. The use of history for propaganda purposes is in its crudest form virtually a branch of fiction and thus independent of research; in its more subtle forms it can encourage accuracy in research, but it will encourage also the suppression of inconvenient traces and intellectual dishonesty in the elucidation of relationships. In this it indicates one of the main impediments to methodological and historical development: the holding by the historian of a priori theories or laws to which all events and relationships must conform, whether it be the theory of divine intervention in human affairs favoured in medieval times or the Marxist theory current over much of the modern world.

Ed.

Additional Reading
C.V. Langlois and C. Seignobos, Introduction aux études historiques (1898; Eng. trans., Introduction to the Study of History, 1898); Harold Temperley (ed.), Selected Essays of J.B. Bury (1930, reprinted 1964); James T. Shotwell, The History of History (1939); James W. Thompson and Bernard J. Holm, A History of Historical Writing, 2 vol. (1942); Robin G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (1946); Herbert Butterfield, Man on His Past (1955); John W. Miller, The Philosophy of History with Reflections and Aphorisms (1981); Agnes Heller, A Theory of History (1982).J.B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians (1909, reprinted 1958); M.L.W. Laistner, The Greater Roman Historians (1947, reprinted 1963); Moses I. Finley (ed.), The Greek Historians (1959), selected passages in translation with a valuable introduction; Maurice Platnauer (ed.), Fifty Years of Classical Scholarship (1954; rev. ed. with appendixes, Fifty Years (and Twelve) of Classical Scholarship, 1968), especially chapters 6 by G.T. Griffith and 13 by A.H. MacDonald; Arnaldo Momigliano, Studies in Historiography (1966), a selection from his vast collection of valuable articles in Contributo alla storia degli studi classici e del mondo antico, 5 vol. (1959–69); T.A. Dorey (ed.), Latin Historians (1966) and Latin Biography (1967); John Barker, The Superhistorians: Makers of Our Past (1982).Gyula Moravcsik, Byzantinoturcica, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (1958), not always reliable in its judgments. There is no satisfactory study in English. There is much useful information in the appendixes to J.B. Bury's edition of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 7 vol. (1896–1900, reprinted 1909–14).Thomas F. Tout, “The Study of Mediaeval Chronicles,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 6:414–438 (1921), reprinted in The Collected Papers of Thomas Frederick Tout, 3 vol. (1932–34); Reginald L. Poole, Chronicles and Annals (1926); M.L.W. Laistner, Thought and Letters in Western Europe, A.D. 500 to 900, new ed. (1957); Charles H. Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (1927); Ralph H.C. Davis and John M. Wallace-Hadrill (eds.), The Writing of History in the Middle Ages (1981).Wallace K. Ferguson, The Renaissance in Historical Thought (1948); Denys Hay, “Flavio Biondo and the Middle Ages,” Proceedings of the British Academy, 45:97–128 (1960); Myron Gilmore, Humanists and Jurists (1963); Paul O. Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance, ch. 2 (1964), on Valla; Felix Gilbert, Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Florence (1965); Ida Maier, Ange Politien (1966); L.D. Reynolds and N.G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars: A Guide to the Transmission of Greek and Latin Literature (1968); Roberto Weiss, The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity (1969); E.J. Kenney, “The Character of Humanist Philology,” in R.R. Bolgar (ed.), Classical Influences on European Culture, A.D. 500–1500 (1971).J.G.A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (1957), also valuable for France; Herbert Butterfield, “The History of Historiography and the History of Science,” Mélanges Alexandre Koyré, vol. 2 (1964); and “Delays and Paradoxes in the Development of Historiography,” in Kenneth Bourne and D.C. Watt (ed.), Studies in International History: Essays Presented to W. Norton Medlicott (1967); Glanmor Williams, Reformation Views of Church History (1970); Donald R. Kelley, Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship: Language, Law, and History in the French Renaissance (1970); May McKisack, Medieval History in the Tudor Age (1971); G. Strauss, “The Course of German History: The Lutheran Interpretation,” in Anthony Molho and John A. Tedeschi (eds.), Renaissance: Studies in Honor of Hans Baron (1971).David C. Douglas, English Scholars, 1660–1730, 2nd rev. ed. (1951); Martin L. Clarke, Greek Studies in England, 1700–1830 (1945); David Knowles, “Jean Mabillon,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 10, no. 2 (1959), and Great Historical Enterprises (1962); Christopher Dawson, “Edward Gibbon,” Proceedings of the British Academy, 20:159–180 (1934); and Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 6 vol. (1776–86, best modern edition by J.B. Bury, op. cit.); Hugh Trevor-Roper, “The Historical Philosophy of the Enlightenment,” in Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 27:1667–87 (1963), and “The Idea of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” in The Age of the Enlightenment (1967).J.G.D. Clark, Prehistoric Europe: The Economic Basis, rev. ed. (1962); O.G.S. Crawford, Archaeology in the Field (1953); J.G.D. Clark, World Prehistory (1960); Charles Samaran (ed.), L'Histoire et ses méthodes, vol. 11 of the Encyclopédie de la Pléiade (1961); Vivian H. Galbraith, An Introduction to the Study of History (1964).Arthur M. Schlesinger (ed.), Historical Scholarship in America (1932); William T. Hutchinson (ed.), The Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography (1937); Hugh H. Bellot, American History and American Historians (1952); Donald Sheehan and Harold C. Syrett (eds.), Essays in American Historiography: Papers Presented in Honor of Allan Nevins (1960); John Higham (ed.), The Reconstruction of American History (1962); Thomas J. Pressly, Americans Interpret Their Civil War, 2nd ed. (1962); Richard Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians, Turner, Beard, Parrington (1968); Marcus Cunliffe and Robin W. Winks (eds.), Pastmasters: Some Essays on American Historians (1969); C.L. Sonnigsen, The Ambidextrous Historian: Historical Writers and Writing in the American West (1983).Lord Acton, Historical Essays and Studies (1907), see especially “German Schools of History”; J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress: An Inquiry into Its Origin and Growth (1920, reprinted 1960); Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (1940), especially for French historiography; Pieter Geyl, Napoleon, voor en tegen in de Franse geschiedschrijving (1946; Eng. trans., Napoleon, For and Against, 1949); Some Modern Historians of Britain: Essays in Honour of R.L. Schuyler (1951); G.P. Gooch, History and Historians in the Nineteenth Century, 2nd rev. ed. (1952); Ferdinand Schevill, Six Historians (1956), particularly interesting on Ranke; Georg G. Iggers, “The Image of Ranke in American and German Historical Thought,” in History and Theory, 2: 17–123 (1962); and The German Conception of History (1968); Henry E. Bell, Maitland: A Critical Examination and Assessment (1965); Frederick M. Barnard, Herder's Social and Political Thought: From Enlightenment to Nationalism (1965); John Cannon (ed.), The Historian at Work (1980); J.W. Burrow, A Liberal Descent: Victorian Historians and the English Past (1981).Eugene N. Anderson, “Meinecke's Ideengeschichte and the Crisis in Historical Thinking,” in Medieval and Historiographical Essays in Honor of James Westfall Thompson (1938); Marc Bloch, Apologie pour l'histoire; ou, Métier d'historien (1949; Eng. trans., The Historian's Craft, 1953); Architects and Craftsmen in History: Festschrift für Abbott Payson Usher (1956), biographies of leading historians; Jack H. Hexter, Reappraisals in History (1961); Richard Pares, The Historian's Business, and Other Essays (1961), particularly valuable for the works of Arnold Toynbee; Friedrich Meinecke, Die Idee der Staatsräson in der neueren Geschichte (1957; Eng. trans., Machiavellism: The Doctrine of Raison d'État and Its Place in Modern History, 1957); Donald C. Watt (ed.), Contemporary History in Europe (1968); Lawrence Stone, The Past and the Present (1981).On Russian historiography there is no satisfactory general survey in English. The following can be useful for particular periods or historians: Anatole G. Mazour, Modern Russian Historiography, 2nd ed. (1958); Alexander S. Vucinich, Science in Russian Culture: A History to 1860 (1963); and Richard Pipes (trans.), Karamzin's Memoir on Ancient and Modern Russia (1966); John S. Curtiss (ed.), Essays in Russian and Soviet History, in Honor of Gerold Tanquary Robinson (1962), especially on Semevsky; Alan D. Ferguson and Alfred Levin (eds.), Essays in Russian History: A Collection Dedicated to George Vernadsky (1964); John Keep and Liliana Brisby (eds.), Contemporary History in the Soviet Mirror (1964).Franz Rosenthal, A History of Muslim Historiography, 2nd rev. ed. (1968).William G. Beasley and E.G. Pulleyblank, Historians of China and Japan (1961); Charles S. Gardner, Chinese Traditional Historiography (1938, reprinted 1961).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Historiography — His*to ri*og ra*phy, n. The art of employment of an historiographer. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • historiography — 1560s; see from HISTORY (Cf. history) + GRAPHY (Cf. graphy). Related: Historiographer …   Etymology dictionary

  • historiography — ► NOUN 1) the study of the writing of history and of written histories. 2) the writing of history. DERIVATIVES historiographer noun historiographic adjective historiographical adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • historiography — [his tôr΄ē äg′rəfē] n. 1. the writing of history 2. HISTORY (sense 4); specif., the study of the techniques of historical research and historical writing, the methods of major historians, etc. 3. a body of historical writing …   English World dictionary

  • Historiography — See also: Historian Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic. Scholars discuss historiography topically – such as the… …   Wikipedia

  • HISTORIOGRAPHY — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the bible second temple period chronicles of the jews early middle ages spanish and portuguese sixteenth to the seventeenth centuries systematic histories early studies the wissenschaft …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • historiography —    The writing of Spain s history was a particularly sensitive issue during the period of the Franco dictatorship, especially since the regime sought its legitimization in carefully selected precedents from the past. Franco s rising against the… …   Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture

  • historiography — The art of, or employment of, writing history. To study historiography is to study the methodological (including epistemological) questions raised by the writing of historical accounts. In an article published in the Polish Sociological Bulletin… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • Historiography —    During the early Middle Ages, several kinds of historical works were written in the countries that only subsequently constituted the Low Countries and the Dutch Republic, for exam ple, the chronicles of Alpertus Mettensis, Melis Stoke, Emo and …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • historiography — noun Date: 1569 1. a. the writing of history; especially the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will… …   New Collegiate Dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.