|Died||20 July 1979 78) (aged|
|Alma mater||Peterhouse, Cambridge|
|The Whig Interpretation of History (1931)|
Origins of Modern Science (1949)
|History of science|
Sir Herbert Butterfield FBA (7 October 1900 – 20 July 1979) was Regius Professor of History and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. As a British historian and philosopher of history, he is remembered chiefly for a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History (1931) and for his Origins of Modern Science (1949). Butterfield turned increasingly to historiography and man's developing view of the past. Butterfield was a devout Christian and reflected at length on Christian influences in historical perspectives.
Fellowship of the British Academy (FBA) is an award granted by the British Academy to leading academics for their distinction in the humanities and social sciences. There are three kinds of fellowship:
Professor is an academic rank at universities and other post-secondary education and research institutions in most countries. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences, a teacher of the highest rank.
History is the past as it is described in written documents, and the study thereof. Events occurring before written records are considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the memory, discovery, collection, organization, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. Scholars who write about history are called historians.
Butterfield thought that individual personalities were more important than great systems of government or economics in historical study. His Christian beliefs in personal sin, salvation and providence were a great influence in his writings, a fact he freely admitted. At the same time, Butterfield's early works emphasized the limits of a historian's moral conclusions, "If history can do anything it is to remind us that all our judgments are merely relative to time and circumstance".
Butterfield was born in Oxenhope in Yorkshire and was raised a devout Methodist, which he remained for life. Despite his humble origins, receiving his education at the Trade and Grammar School in Keighley, in 1919 he won a scholarship to study at Peterhouse, Cambridge, graduating with a BA in 1922, followed by an MA four years later. Butterfield was a fellow at Cambridge from 1928–79 and in the 1950s, he was a fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He was Master of Peterhouse (1955–1968), Vice-Chancellor of the University (1959–1961) and Regius Professor of Modern History (1963–1968). Butterfield served as editor of the Cambridge Historical Journal from 1938 to 1955 and was knighted in 1968.He married Edith Joyce Crawshaw in 1929 and had three children.
Oxenhope is a village and civil parish near Keighley in the metropolitan borough of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. The population was 2,476 at the time of the 2001 census which had increased to 2,626 at the 2011 Census. Historically part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Oxenhope railway station is the terminus for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.
Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.
Oakbank School is a mixed secondary school and sixth form located in Keighley, West Yorkshire, England. It is situated near Ingrow Lane on Oakworth Road (B6143) in the west of Keighley. It became a Sports College in 1997, and gained Technology College accreditation in 2004.
Butterfield's main interests were historiography, the history of science, 18th century constitutional history, Christianity and history as well as the theory of international politics.He delivered the Gifford Lectures at the University of Glasgow in 1965. 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. At the height of the Cold War, he warned that conflicts between self-righteous value systems could be catastrophic:
Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians have studied that topic using particular sources, techniques, and theoretical approaches. Scholars discuss historiography by topic—such as the historiography of the United Kingdom, that of WWII, the British Empire, early Islam, and China—and different approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, with the development of academic history, there developed a body of historiographic literature. The extent to which historians are influenced by their own groups and loyalties—such as to their nation state—remains a debated question.
The history of science is the study of the development of science and scientific knowledge, including both the natural and social sciences. Science is a body of empirical, theoretical, and practical knowledge about the natural world, produced by scientists who emphasize the observation, explanation, and prediction of real-world phenomena. Historiography of science, in contrast, studies the methods employed by historians of science.
Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Butterfield's book, The Whig Interpretation of History (1931), became a classic for history students and is still widely read.Butterfield had in mind especially the historians of his own country but his criticism of the retrospective creation of a line of progress toward the glorious present can be and has subsequently been applied generally. The "Whig interpretation of history" is now a general label applied to various historical interpretations.
Whig history is an approach to historiography that presents the past as an inevitable progression towards ever greater liberty and enlightenment, culminating in modern forms of liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy.
Butterfield found the Whig interpretation of history objectionable, because it warps the past to see it in terms of the issues of the present and attempts to squeeze the contending forces of the past into a form that reminds us of ourselves. Butterfield argued that the historian must seek the ability to see events as they were perceived by those who lived through them. Butterfield wrote that "Whiggishness" is too handy a "rule of thumb... by which the historian can select and reject, and can make his points of emphasis".
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. History is not the study of origins; rather it is the analysis of all the mediations by which the past was turned into our present".In 1944, Butterfield wrote in The Englishman and His History that,
We are all of us exultant and unrepentant whigs. 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. They are opening the door for seven devils which, precisely because they are newcomers, are bound to be worse than the first. We, on the other hand, will not dream of wishing 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... we must congratulate ourselves that our 17th-century forefathers... did not resurrect and fasten upon us the authentic middle ages... in England we made peace with our middle ages by misconstruing them; and, therefore, we may say that “wrong” history was one of our assets. 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... in every Englishman there is hidden something of a whig that seems to tug at the heart-strings.
Butterfield's 1949 book Christianity and History, asks if history provides answers to the meaning of life, answering in the negative:
According to Brian Vickers FBA , in the 1949 book The Origins of Modern Science Butterfield makes simplistic generalisations which "seem unworthy of a serious historian". Vickers considers the book a late example of the earliest stage of modern analysis of the history of Renaissance magic in relation to the development of science, when magic was largely dismissed as being "entertaining but irrelevant".
In 1922, Butterfield was awarded the University Member's Prize for English Essay, writing on the subject of English novelist Charles Dickens and the way in which the author straddled the fields of history and literature.
In 1923, Butterfield won the Le Bas Prize for his first publication, The Historical Novel ; the work was published in 1924.
Also in 1924, Butterfield won the Prince Consort Prize for a work on the problem of peace in Europe between 1806 and 1808. At the same time, he was given the Seeley Medal.
In historiography, the term historical revisionism identifies the re-interpretation of the historical record. It usually means challenging the orthodox views held by professional scholars about a historical event, introducing contrary evidence, or reinterpreting the motivations and decisions of the people involved. The revision of the historical record can reflect new discoveries of fact, evidence, and interpretation, which then provokes a revised history. In dramatic cases, revisionism involves a reversal of older moral judgments.
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past, and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is concerned with events preceding written history, the individual is a historian of prehistory. Some historians are recognized by publications or training and experience. "Historian" became a professional occupation in the late nineteenth century as research universities were emerging in Germany and elsewhere.
Hermeneutics is the theory and methodology of interpretation, especially the interpretation of biblical texts, wisdom literature, and philosophical texts.
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."
Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay, FRS FRSE PC was a British historian and Whig politician. He wrote extensively as an essayist, on contemporary and historical sociopolitical subjects, and as a reviewer. His The History of England was a seminal and paradigmatic example of Whig historiography, and its literary style has remained an object of praise since its publication, including subsequent to the widespread condemnation of its historical contentions which became popular in the 20th century.
John Fiske was an American philosopher and historian.
John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, 13th Marquess of Groppoli,, was an English Catholic historian, politician, and writer. He was the only son of Sir Ferdinand Dalberg-Acton, 7th Baronet, and a grandson of the Neapolitan admiral and prime minister Sir John Acton, 6th Baronet. Between 1837 and 1869 he was known as Sir John Dalberg-Acton, 8th Baronet.
George Macaulay Trevelyan, was a British historian and academic. He was a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1898 to 1903. He then spent more than twenty years as a full-time author. He returned to the University of Cambridge and was Regius Professor of History from 1927 to 1943. He served as Master of Trinity College from 1940 to 1951. In retirement, he was Chancellor of Durham University.
The Thinker's Library was a series of 140 small hardcover books published between 1929 and 1951 for the Rationalist Press Association by Watts & Co., London, a company founded by Charles Albert Watts. They consisted of a selection of essays, literature, and extracts from greater works by various classical and contemporary humanists and rationalists, continuing in the tradition of the Renaissance. Many of the titles were cheap reprints of classic books, aimed at a mass audience.
Maurice John Cowling was a British historian and a Fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Harold William Vazeille Temperley, was a British historian, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge from 1931, and Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Whiggism is a political philosophy that grew out of the Parliamentarian faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651). The Whigs' key policy positions were the supremacy of Parliament, tolerance of Protestant dissenters and opposition to a "Papist" on the throne, especially James II or one of his descendants.
Sir Frederick Maurice Powicke was an English medieval historian. He was a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, a professor at Belfast and Manchester, and from 1928 until his retirement Regius Professor at Oxford. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1946.
John Greville Agard Pocock is a historian of political thought from New Zealand. He is especially known for his studies of republicanism in the early modern period, his work on the history of English common law, his treatment of Edward Gibbon and other Enlightenment historians, and, in historical method, for his contributions to the history of political discourse.
The conflict thesis is a historiographical approach in the history of science which maintains that there is an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science and that the relationship between religion and science inevitably leads to hostility. Examples to support this thesis have commonly been drawn from the relations between science and religion in Western Europe. The thesis retains support among some scientists and in the public while historians of science reject the thesis.
John Wyon Burrow was an English historian of intellectual history. His published works include assessments of the Whig interpretation of history and of historiography generally. According to The Independent: "John Burrow was one of the leading intellectual historians of his generation. His pioneering work marked the beginning of a more sophisticated approach to the history of the social sciences, one that did not treat the past as being of interest only in so far as it anticipated the present."
Most sources of knowledge available to early Christians were connected to pagan world-views. There were various opinions on how Christianity should regard pagan learning, which included its ideas about nature. For instance, among early Christian teachers, Tertullian held a generally negative opinion of Greek philosophy, while Origen regarded it much more favorably and required his students to read nearly every work available to them.
The historiography of the United Kingdom includes the historical and archival research and writing on the history of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. For studies of the overseas empire see historiography of the British Empire.
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Paul Cairn Vellacott
| Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge |
John Charles Burkill
Edgar Adrian, 1st Baron Adrian
| Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge |