What was Whig history?

Carlsbad 1819

The “Whig interpretation of history” is all too often framed as the view that history follows a progressive arc from backwardness and superstition to liberty and equality, and hence with a set end goal that allows one to differentiate between a “right” and “wrong” side of history. Although this is doubtlessly a common viewpoint, it does a disservice to actually understanding the 19th-century Whig historiographic tradition that Herbert Butterfield was reacting to in his famous 1931 essay (which he later repudiated, funnily enough) on The Whig Interpretation of History. Whig history was patriotic, nationalist, upheld a vision of parliamentary sovereignty and the common law tradition, and extolled the virtues of a primitive Anglo-Saxon liberty that either the Norman yoke crushed and then had to be revived (Macaulay’s view), or that it was a character trait so strong not even the Normans could extinguish (E.A. Freeman’s view, also of Bishop…

View original post 9,276 more words

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.