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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In addition, Butterfield considers how the historian should view the past from the perspective of the present, and the utility of the past for modern citizens.

Back to 4 J. Quotes from The Whig Interpre Butterfield was a devout Christian an Sir Herbert Butterfield was a British historian and philosopher of history who is remembered chiefly for two books—a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History and his Origins of Modern Science However, as Butterfield himself might say, these things histoyr to be looked at in context.

Less a book than a lengthy essay, The Whig Interpretation of History is a curious affair. To some extent, I am frankly tempted to label it “required reading” for any student of history.

Herbert Butterfield – Wikipedia

I will re-read sections this weekend. After the war the emphasis reversed: 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 by it from almost the first page. Back to 16 See also Sewell, pp.


As a result, Buttefield implies that as ages and social values change, so will our view of the past and consequently it will need to be reformulated. Mar 07, Becky Snow rated it it was amazing.

The Whig Interpretation of History

butterfirld At the same time Butterfield was writing on science, he was addressing the subject of religion. At the height of the Cold Warhe warned that conflicts between self-righteous value systems could be catastrophic:.

Butterfield’s main interests were historiographythe history of science18th century constitutional history, Christianity and history as well as the theory of international politics. Randy rated it it was amazing May 14, The Peace Tactics of Napoleon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge — Thanks for telling us about the problem.

Born inButterfield went up to Cambridge in University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed.

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 Bell, One of the inferpretation proponents of Whiggish history was Thomas Macaulay author of a celebrated, multivolume, History of England from the Accession of Whiig IIthe first two volumes of which were issued in However, from a historical point of view, history again is simply a recollection of facts put into a story.

Of course Butterfield would not be the first practising historian to struggle with the world of conceptualising historical practise. Paperbackpages.


History is complex and we have a tendency to want to make moral judgements on those in history. In calling for historians to present the complexity of history rather than a simplified chain of consequences, Butterfield hits the mark.

Working from an extended examination of the Reformation, Butterfield breaks down how a Whig progressive interpretation of history inherently dilutes historical inquiry into a simple chain of cause and effect flavored with a heady dose of moral indignation. 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.

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

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’. 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.

The very first paragraph of the first chapter of the first book sets out something of Macaulay’s congratulatory approach to British history as guided by Whig principles: Wikiquote has quotations related to: