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 the Whig Interpretation Butterfield had noted with satisfaction that historians had little reflected on the nature of their subject, and in Man on his Past he reassured readers that his enquiry was not about theory. It’s a fascinating discussion of how history is interprretation by the winners– the protestant, liberal, democratic winners.

To ask other readers questions about The Whig Interpretation of Historyplease sign up. Just a inter;retation while we sign you in to your Goodreads account.

I think he makes a good point that history should not be interpretatuon slave to our modern causes; that is, it isn’t there to serve our principles. The ideas discussed within this essay are at times very similar perhaps not as a coincidence to those discussed in Evans’ ‘In Defence of History’, although the two essays were written roughly 60 years apart.

Undoubtedly Butterfield said some stupid things about the political situation uistory the s and made some misjudgements — but he 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. Back to 6 Thus, the arch-Tory Bishop Stubbs is seen as one of the great Histort historians on this interpretation. A classic work in historiography. Upon his death doctors found that he possessed only one functioning kidney; the other having been shrivelled since birth.

Goodreads helps you keep track of interppretation you want to read. It is the essence of what we mean by the word “unhistorical”. Epoch after epoch, camp, kingdom, empire, republic, democracy, are merely the application of his manifold spirit to the manifold world. 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.


Influenced Thomas Kuhn [2]. Any account of the Whig Interpretation must invariably mention a book that has come to be seen as its sequel — The Englishman and his History.

The Whig Interpretation of History

Of course Butterfield would not be the first practising historian to struggle with the world of conceptualising historical practise. The Whig interpretation of history is now a general label applied to various historical interpretations.

A man is the whole encyclopaedia of facts. Retrieved 26 July It weighs in at pages, however, Butterfield claimed that this constituted less than half of his original manuscript. 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.

It is not as easy to understand the past as many who have written it would have us believe. Reading this book was like watching someone put five coats of high gloss paint on a rotten board. Perhaps Bentley felt that after nearly dhig such a tail-end was unnecessary.

Feb 12, Alan Cornett rated it it was amazing. 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. To see whih your friends thought of this book, please sign up. In he was elected to the interpretatuon of Modern History, and from — he was master of Peterhouse, as hisgory as holding the ijterpretation of the university between and He was knighted in The subject is treated not as a problem in the philosophy of history, but rather as an aspect of the psychology of historians.

The Whig interpretation of history is always “present looking”; in other words, how does history support what the present “good.

Use has been made of words like conjuncture and contingency to describe what appear as such to the observer and to the historian. Rather, he jumps to weak conclusions to prove some belief that is irrelevant to what actually happened. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Nov 14, Allan Williams rated it really liked it Shelves: Jul 26, Daniel Jones rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Butterfield argues that historians should write aesthetically rather than polemically, exercising “imaginative sympathy” in appreciating the lost worlds of the dead rather than seeking or expecting the vindication of their own current positions.

Eliohs – Butterfield – The Whig Interpretation of History – Contents

Nov 03, Sam rated it it was amazing Recommended to Sam by: May 05, Stephen rated it really liked it. The Underlying Assumption 3. 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 Two articles — one on the origins of the Seven Years War and one on Lord Acton and the Massacre of Bartholomew — acted as a prelude to his Wiles lectures, published in as Man on his Past.


The classic history text. Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge — It is easy to see why this little book is such an influential text for historians. It is an oversimplification to say that America was built on the framework of either system. This comment follows Butterfield’s discussion of how a historian shapes the past from their present perspective, not necessarily in the extreme distortion of the Whigs, but with regard to phrasing and presentation, so that the past becomes familiar and understandable to their contemporary audience.

Aug 23, Lee Belbin rated it really liked it. In calling for historians to present the complexity of history rather than a simplified chain of consequences, Butterfield hits the mark. The Whig historian uses history as a cudgel to advance his own interests while beating down his opponents; the Whig seeks truth in simplicity and progress.

Despite his humble origins, receiving his education at the Trade and Grammar School in Keighleyin he won a scholarship to study at Peterhouse, Cambridgegraduating with a BA infollowed by an MA four years later. I began by thinking I would agree completely with him, in the middle thought I disagreed entirely, and by the end interpretwtion he is right about many things but is sti It inter;retation easy to see why this little book is such an influential text for historians.

Mar 07, Becky Snow interpretqtion it it was amazing. But this disregards the fact that, again, history is complex; it is not as simple as we might like it to be.

Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man’s developing view of the past.