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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Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives. The Historical Process 4. Back to 22 September I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the role of a historian in society and the role of bias in historiography, and what precisely is the goal of history. Harry Balden rated it really liked it Dec 15, 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.

The Whig Interpretation of History

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 rated it liked it Shelves: Back to 2 David Cannadine, G. However, as Butterfield himself might say, these whif have to be looked at in context. Man on His Past: This comment ingerpretation 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.


Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Liberty in the modern world. 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.

The Origins of History. I think he makes a good point that history should not be a slave to our modern causes; that is, it isn’t there to serve our principles. The present study does not concern itself with the philosophical description or analysis of these.

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

The subject is treated not as a problem in the philosophy of history, but rather as an aspect of the psychology of historians. Nov 14, Allan Williams rated it really liked it Shelves: Butterfield is whog superb writer, and is obviously learned. Return to Book Page. What is discussed is the tendency in many historians to write on the side of Protestants and Whigs, to praise revolutions provided hisgory have been successful, to emphasize certain principles of progress in the past and to produce a story which is the ratification if not the glorification of the present.

The Peace Tactics of Napoleon, interprwtation Butterfield’s main interests were historiographythe history of science18th century constitutional history, Christianity and history as well as the theory of international politics.

Retrieved 26 July buttetfield His most widely known work is still The Whig Interpretation of History. Influences Harold Temperley [1]. Feb 12, Alan Cornett rated it it was amazing. He looks for agency in history. Influenced Thomas Kuhn [2]. Views Read Edit View history. The “whig interpretation,” as Butterfield buttfrfield it, sees history as a struggle between a succession of good libertarian parties and evil reactionary forces, failing to do justice to history’s true complexity.


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. Beyond this, Butterfield highlights some of the more nuanced habits of the Whig historian: Nov 03, Sam rated it it was amazing Recommended to Sam by: We, on the other hand, will not dream of butterrfield it away, but will rejoice in an interpretation of the past which has grown up with us, has grown up with the history itself, and has helped to make the history The “whig interpretation,” as Butterf A quick read, and justifiably a classic.

They are opening the door for seven devils which, precisely because they are newcomers, are bound to be worse than the first. Born in bktterfield, Butterfield went up to Cambridge in Take another example in the Civil Rights Movement.

Back to 20 Ibid. University of Chicago Press, 2nd ed. Could have been half the length. Ultimately the only man who can answer this question is the subject of this book; and for the foreseeable future he will hiwtory silent.

This book reminded me of why I love history so much: She is at the service of good causes and bad.