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

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We are human; we crave meaning. Less a book than a lengthy essay, The Whig Interpretation of History is a curious affair.

The Whig Interpretation of History

In particular, he attacks a more or less literally whiggish tendency among British historians, who butterfeild always written history hiistory the story of liberty and constitutionalism. The whig interpretation came at exactly the crucial moment and, whatever it may have done to our history, it had a wonderful effect on English politics Those who, perhaps in the misguided austerity of youth, wish to drive out that whig interpretation, that particular thesis which controls our abridgment of English history, are sweeping a room which humanly speaking cannot long remain empty.

This is not to excuse their actions; indeed, we can say today that that was an evil thing.

However, Butterfield does not seem to contradict the idea that the past may offer some use, perhaps through exposing human nature or the power of chance? Upon his death doctors found that he possessed only one functioning kidney; the other having been shrivelled since birth.

Both historians raise the issue of historical bias, and the inevitable fact that a historian’s personal views and opinions will impact both the subject of their work, and the style. Also inButterfield won the Prince Consort Prize for a work on the problem of peace in Europe between and gistory I began by thinking I would agree completely with him, in the middle thought I disagreed entirely, and by the end decided he is right about many things but is still missing some essential elements.


But we can radically depart from truthful history, a history that is a reliable, when we interpret it in relation to the present. It brings to light overlooked assumptions and presents a sharp critique of historians who simplify history and adore it only for what it can give to the present. These questions remind me personally of a remark from Mary Beard during a lecture on her latest novel SPQR, as she commented that ‘We have nothing to learn from the past’.

At least it covers all that is ordinarily understood by the words, though possibly it gives them also an extended sense. Undoubtedly Butterfield said some stupid things about the political situation in the s and made some misjudgements — but interpdetation was hardly alone in this, and, if one wants an example of a card-carrying Nazi sympathiser, one need look no further than Arthur Bryant.

The Whig Interpretation of History. Apr 17, Rebecca rated it really liked it. It was honestly eye opening despite being almost a century old, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the study of history – it is an incredibly short read, and This book was read for a class, and I was intrigued whit it from almost the first page. Relativistic to the core. Norton Company first published Feb 12, Alan Cornett rated it it was amazing.

The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn, and Egypt, Greece, Rome, Gaul, Britain, America, lie folded already in the first man. At the same time, Butterfield’s early works emphasized the limits of a historian’s moral conclusions, “If history can do anything it is to remind us that all our judgments are merely relative to time and wihg. Kenyon, The History Men 2nd ed. In other projects Wikiquote Wikisource.

Eliohs – Butterfield – The Whig Interpretation of History – Preface

There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Carr, What is History London,p. The Underlying Assumption 3. Influences Harold Temperley [1].

The subject is treated not as a problem in the philosophy of history, but rather as an aspect of the psychology of historians. In he was hospitalised with pneumonia, and suffered a mild stroke in The historians who look at it from the Protestant, progressive, “19th Century gentleman” viewpoint are defined by Professor Butterfield as “the Whig historians.


Skip to main content. Sep 12, Justin Daniel rated it it was amazing Shelves: Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Ultimately the only man who can answer this question is the subject of this book; and for the foreseeable future he will remain silent.

His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation and providence were a great influence in his writings, a fact he freely admitted. At the same time, he was given the Seeley Medal.

While we can look back and say that the Civil Rights Movement was a good thing, we can easily run into trouble from a historical perspective when we throw the baby out with the bathwater in making overarching moral judgements on those who did not support the movement.

Reading this book was like watching someone put five coats of high gloss paint on a rotten board. Views Read Edit View history. To ask other readers questions about The Whig Interpretation of Historyplease sign up. Carr might say, surely this is an attempt to study the part without reference to the whole. Perhaps Bentley felt that after nearly pages such a tail-end was unnecessary. Butterfield wanted his history to be evocative, the story of how people wrestled with moral dilemmas in order to reach and carry their decisions.

September Index Preface 1. The Reconstruction of an Historical Episode: Historians have an incredible task set forth for them, one that requires them to look at history and make subjective statements about those events.

The origins of this book were hardly disinterested academic ones — during the academic session of —4 an unfreezing of positions presented an opportunity for Butterfield to occupy the Chair of Modern History and become Professor Butterfield.

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