Whig historians english civil war

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whig historians english civil war

The Whig Interpretation of History by Herbert Butterfield

It is not as easy to understand the past as many who have written it would have us believe. The historians who look at it from the Protestant, progressive, 19th Century gentleman viewpoint are defined by Professor Butterfield as the Whig historians. The Whig historian studies the past with reference to the present. He looks for agency in history. And, in his search for origins and causes, he can easily select those facts that give support to his thesis and thus eliminate other facts equally important to the total picture.
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Whigs vs. Tories - World History (Block E)

The term English Civil War or Wars refers to the series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians often called the Roundheads and Royalists or the cavaliers from until
Herbert Butterfield

Teacher’s Notes

Conrad Russell, the fifth Earl Russell, historian of 16th- and 17th-century Britain, was the younger son of the mathematician, philosopher, political activist and Nobel prize winner Bertrand Russell. Between and he toyed with the possibility of giving up his academic career for parliamentary politics, contesting South Paddington as a Labour candidate in and being urged to stand for election at Mitcham and Beddington in Conrad was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in , the year in which he published his provocative, indeed avant garde , textbook The Crisis of Parliaments Hence it was not surprising that the early Stuart monarchy increasingly came to see Parliament in general and the House of Commons in particular, as an obstructive and increasingly irrelevant institution. This brought him into regular contact with Joel Hurstfield, who had succeeded Sir John Neale as the senior convenor. Then in Conrad moved to Yale to succeed Jack Hexter, who had made the Yale Center for Parliamentary History a world leader in research, holding a wealth of microfilm, transcripts of manuscripts, and an unrivalled collection of unpublished parliamentary diaries.

Studying at Cambridge. This important strand in British historiography derives its name from one of the two main political parties in parliament in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries; the other party were known as Tories. Whigs tended to stress the importance of parliament, as a counterbalance to the Crown and of the Church of England; Tories were much more deeply attached to the power and authority of Crown and Church. The Whig view of history grew out of the unprecedented strength and prosperity of mid-nineteenth century Britain, which led the world in scientific and technological development and ruled an empire which stretched from Canada to South Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean. It is little wonder that the Victorians saw themselves as the heirs to the Romans, but with one important difference: instead of an autocratic emperor, the British had a limited, parliamentary monarchy which, they believed, placed Britain on a higher moral plane; as a result the Victorians tended to revere institutions such as parliament, the Church of England, the legal system, the universities and the monarchy, as components of a perfectly balanced constitution, a model for other countries to follow. When the Victorians asked themselves how they had come to live in such an apparently perfect society, they looked for an explanation to the history of England. In the Whig view, English history was the story of a struggle for the recovery of political and religious liberty which, they held, had been lost at the time of the Norman Conquest.

The Whig interpretation of history

Whig history or Whig historiography 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. In general, Whig historians emphasize the rise of constitutional government , personal freedoms and scientific progress. The term is often applied generally and pejoratively to histories that present the past as the inexorable march of progress towards enlightenment. The term is also used extensively in the history of science to mean historiography that focuses on the successful chain of theories and experiments that led to present-day science, while ignoring failed theories and dead ends. Whig history is a form of liberalism , putting its faith in the power of human reason to reshape society for the better, regardless of past history and tradition.


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