Eighty years have passed since a young Cambridge don named Herbert Butterfield published in a slender volume entitled The Whig. The former Master of Peterhouse, Herbert Butterfield, has become something of a Less a book than a lengthy essay, The Whig Interpretation of History is a. Herbert Butterfield (). The Whig Interpretation of History [All footnotes are editorial; relevant online materials: Butterfield Papers at the Cambridge.

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The Peace Tactics of Napoleon, Jan 21, Douglas Wilson rated it it was ok Shelves: She is at the service of good causes and bad.

Back to 16 See also Sewell, pp. He was knighted in Butterfield spends too much space up front arguing that historians hisstory seek out the origins of or analogies to current phenomena, but instead should point out the differentness of the past in order to make it comprehensible to us. George III and the historians.

Herbert Butterfield

Nov 26, Mike rated it liked it. Those who, perhaps in the misguided austerity of youth, wish to drive out that whig interpretation, that particular thesis which controls interprretation abridgment of English history, are sweeping a room which humanly speaking cannot long remain empty.

The Study of the History of Historical Scholarship.

He also wrote about how simple pick-and-choose history misses the point, “Very strange bridges are used to make the passage from one state of things to another; we may lose sight of them in our surveys of general history, but their discovery is the glory of historical research.

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Whilst Butterfield’s work clearly has laudable strengths, his style is dated the frequent reference to a historian as male didn’t fit with my inner feminist and on a few occasions he begins to make broad statements of the past, which I suppose is inevitable but seems slightly hypocritical regarding his condemnation of the Whigs.

Sep 12, Justin Daniel rated it it was amazing Shelves: Kate rated it liked it Aug 23, thf He looks for agency in history. Retrieved 26 July Norton Company first published Use has been made of words like conjuncture and contingency to describe what appear as such to the observer and to the historian.

The Whig Interpretation of History – Herbert Butterfield – Google Books

In his biography of G. It is right that intdrpretation of this relationship should be included in a biography, but aside from telling us the fact that Peace Tactics of Napoleon was completed seven years before it was published, it does not really tell us anything new about Butterfield the historian. Butterfield’s book, The Whig Interpretation of Historybecame a classic for history students and is still widely read. A classic work in historiography. John Bird rated it really liked it Oct 18, However, as Butterfield himself might say, these things have to be looked at in context.

Influences Harold Temperley [1]. 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 He is especially useful for early 21st Cent Americans because he pushed against the cartoonish and reductionistic tendency to render Protestantism as “liberal” or “modern” and Roman Catholicism as “conservative” or “traditional.


Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives. Butterfield’s main interests interpretatioh historiographythe history of science18th century constitutional history, Christianity and history as well as the theory of international politics.

In The Whig Interpretation of History, Herbert Butterfield presages the hyper-political and hyper-moralizing nature of modern history and historiography, in which the past is measured by the present and history is shown as a linear evolution towards progress.

Obama was reaching for a similar point on Monday, emphasizing as President Obama often does that the strengths of the United States spring in teh from its ugly, painful past. 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.

Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Excellent analysis of Whig history–that is, defining the past in terms of the present. Retrieved from ” https: