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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The London Gazette Supplement. In my view, Buttefield absolutely suggests the past should be valued as an intrinsic end, something which should be valued, understood and explored of its own right, rather than to reassert some pre-existing position. 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.

This book was read for a class, and I was intrigued by it from almost the first page. Undoubtedly Butterfield said some stupid things about the political situation in 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.

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

Back to 11 According to J. The term Whig is actually a name originally used pejoratively to refer to the British Whigs, who bistory the power of Parliament, by their Tory opponents who were usual supporters of the King and the Aristocracy, in a long drawn out ideological contest principally interretation out in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The lectures themselves wuig a disappointment — audience turnout was small and Butterfield himself was underprepared.

Ms Malin Dahlstrom NA. 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 John Bird rated it really liked it Oct 18, Everyone interested in history should read this very short book. A much needed–still, after all interprettation years–call for humility and restraint for the historian.

I also appreciated his point that the past must be measured by its own merits and studied within its own context rather than in light of what it contributed to the present. 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.


I can accept complex, messy, unsettling meaning, but let me draw some meaning. From my perspective, whilst the past should not be viewed as a guidebook to ‘learn from’, and historians should not delve into the past in search of solutions to contemporary problems, the past undoubtedly does teach but not in the didactic sense of the word – whether on a personal level, with regard to family history, or on a universal level as a human being.

Feb 07, Aurora Dimitre interprftation it liked it Shelves: She is at the service of good causes and bad.

The Englishman and His History. Influences Harold Temperley [1]. One issue of constant consternation is the basis of our own country: The Whigs felt that this form constitutional monarchy was allied to political liberty allowing the constitutional subjects of the Monarch, who were also subject to Parliamentary laws, many opportunities for a progressive life. In addition, Butterfield considers how the histody should view the past from the perspective of the present, and the utility of the past for modern citizens.

He shows great insight in pointing out how the condensation of history leads naturally into generalization, which often tends toward sweeping, tenuous value judgments hisfory history. Great quote from the book.

The Whig interpretation of history

But the history of science was not one triumphant march towards greater knowledge of nature, a fact both Butterfield and Kuhn recognised. This is akin to blatant dishonesty. In his biography of G. Perhaps one is being too hard on Bentley here; given that this is to all intents and purposes an official biography, one suspects he is trying to straddle two horses at the same time when he writes about this relationship.

Take another example in the Civil Rights Movement. Butterfield, though, was never one for archival work at the best of times.

Herbert Butterfield

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Ihterpretation the thought is always prior to the fact; all the facts of history preexist in the mind as laws.

I think he underestimates the inevitability and, indeed, desirability of origins stories. Fair enough, but I’m willing to step out and make the claim that Pol Pot was a wicked man. His Wiles lectures, after a stuttering start, quickly got into their stride. Jan 05, Usha Chilukuri rated it really liked it. It was honestly eye opening despite being almost a century old, and I highly recommend it to anyone hitory in the study of history – it is an incredibly histoey read, and though the prose is sometimes complicated, it is for the most part very engaging.


To some extent, I am frankly tempted to label it “required reading” for any student of history.

Eliohs – Butterfield – The Whig Interpretation of History – Preface

In other projects Wikiquote Wikisource. Relativistic to the core. Retrieved 26 July Lord Acton exhorted historians to study problems, not periods; but Butterfield seemed to have ehig the reverse, and the book lacked a problematic.

Man is explicable by nothing less than all his history. Butterfield was a fellow at Cambridge from —79 and in the s, he was a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. Nov 26, Mike rated it liked it.

Without hurry, without rest, the human spirit goes forth from the beginning to embody every faculty, every thought, every emotion, which belongs to it in appropriate events. At least it covers all that is ordinarily understood by the words, though possibly it gives them also an extended sense.

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.

The butterfirld historian makes no attempt to get inside the minds of what a person thought and how he lived in order to understand the facts of history. Back butterfieeld 4 J. Despite his humble origins, receiving his education at the Trade and Grammar School butteerfield Keighleyin he won a scholarship to study at Peterhouse, Cambridgegraduating with a BA infollowed by an MA four years later.

The former Master of Peterhouse, Herbert Butterfield, has become something of a cottage industry over the past ten years or so, with a number of monographs resurrecting a career that had previously fallen into neglect.