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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But at the same time, according to Butterfield, it’s almost as if history is simply descriptive and has no place in evaluation of the past – for good or bad. To tease out the strange and paradoxical character of events leading to familiar circumstances is to make not only the past, as Butterfield desires, but also the present strange and wonderful.

History is complex and we have a tendency to want to make moral judgements on those in history. May 05, Stephen rated it really liked it. Less a book than a lengthy essay, The Whig Interpretation of History is a curious affair. Kenyon, The History Men 2nd inrerpretation. The lectures themselves were a disappointment — audience turnout was small and Butterfield himself was underprepared. In addition, Pf considers how the historian should view the past from the perspective of the present, and the utility of the past for modern citizens.

The classic history text.

The Whig interpretation of history is always “present looking”; in other words, how does history support what the present “good. He rightly cautions us away from linear, progressive, value-laden, reductionist interpretations of history toward an approach that appreciates the diversity and the meanderings of the past and one that sees the events and people of the past as they saw whih.

Everyone interested in history should read this very short knterpretation. Each law in turn is made by circumstances predominant, and the limits of nature give power to but one at a time. As a deeply religious Protestant, Butterfield was highly concerned with religious issues, but he did not believe that historians could uncover the hand of God in history.


The origins buttrefield 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. It suggests that the work of a historian is perennial – reborn with each new spring of human society.

I don’t know how I feel about history. The Victorian era springs to my mind: I think everyone tends to read history as evidence of whatever they believe certainly Interretation fall into this often.

The historians who look at it from the Protestant, progressive, “19th Century gentleman” viewpoint are defined by Professor Butterfield hisyory “the Whig historians.

Back to 4 J. It is outside of the historical realm to impose what you believe is right or wrong into history. His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation and providence were a great influence in his writings, a fact he freely admitted.

The Whig Interpretation of History

Butterfield thought that individual personalities were more important than great systems of government or economics in historical study. Back to 5 E. Want to Read saving….

Retrieved 29 July I have read enough about that time in Cambodian history – understanding the time, people, circumstances – but I’m still willing to make a value judgment. Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth histry the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events.

This has deeply impacted my trust in historical accounts.

Herbert Butterfield – Wikipedia

I believe there is a middle way he does not consider here. I can accept complex, messy, unsettling meaning, but let me draw some meaning. History assembles facts from primary sources and then tells a narrative to help laypeople understand how they fit together.

The then-Regius professor sent Butterfield the Fox papers which had been in his care suggesting that Butterfield might like to write a biography of him — not the sort of invitation one declined.


Butterfield decries the tendency of historians to interpret history as progressively cumulative in the present; or equally, to selectively use history as an ideological justification of “my views”; or finally, to anachronistically read their ideologies into the past so that its heroes were all fighting to produce the ideas they interprtation possess.

Obama was reaching for a similar point on Monday, emphasizing as President Obama often does that the strengths of the United States spring innterpretation part from its ugly, painful past. The Life and Thought of Herbert Butterfield.

Retrieved from ” https: His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation, and providence heavily influenced his writings, a fact he freely admitted.

Feb 07, Aurora Dimitre rated it liked it Shelves: Undoubtedly Butterfield said some stupid things about the political situation in the s and made some misjudgements — but he was hardly alone in butterfkeld, and, if one wants an example of a card-carrying Nazi sympathiser, one need look no further than Arthur Bryant.

Butterfield thought individual personalities more important than great systems of government or economics in historical study. Ultimately the only man who can answer this question is the subject of this book; and for the foreseeable future he will remain silent. A further stroke in made him virtually housebound, and he died on 20 July 20 It brings to light overlooked assumptions and presents a sharp critique of historians who simplify history and adore historg only for what it can give to the present.

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