Quotes About History
Historians on History
We have gathered together a selection of quotes about history where the views of
several famous historians on history are set out in an interesting way.
The historians featured include Edward Gibbon, Leopold von Ranke and Fernand Braudel :-
"In its Greek origins, historia
meant inquiry, and from Thucydides onwards, the past has been studied to
understand its connections with the present."
"History . . . is indeed little more than
the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind."
"The study of history is the best medicine
for a sick mind; for in history you have a record of the infinite variety
of human experience plainly set out for all to see; and in that record you
can find yourself and your country both examples and warnings; fine things
to take as models, base things rotten through and through, to avoid."
"What experience and history teach is
this - that people and governments never have learned anything from history,
or acted on principles deduced from it."
G. W. F. Hegel
"Everything must be recaptured and
relocated in the general framework of history, so that despite the
difficulties, the fundamental paradoxes and contradictions, we may respect
the unity of history which is also the unity of life."
"The function off the historian is neither
to love the past nor to emancipate himself from the past, but to master
and understand it as the key to the understanding of the present."
"You have reckoned that history ought to
judge the past and to instruct the contemporary world as to the future.
The present attempt does not yield to that high office. It will merely
tell how it really was."
Leopold von Ranke
"Since history has no properly scientific
value, its only purpose is educative. And if historians neglect to educate
the public, if they fail to interest it intelligently in the past, then
all their historical learning is valueless except in so far as it educates
G. M. Trevelyan.
"To each eye, perhaps, the outlines of a
great civilization present a different picture. In the wide ocean upon
which we venture, the possible ways and directions are many; and the same
studies which have served for my work might easily, in other hands, not
only receive a wholly different treatment and application, but lead to
essentially different conclusions."
"Imagination plays too important a role in the writing of history, and what is imagination but
the projection of the author's personality."
"Every work of history constructs contexts and designs, forms in which past reality can be
comprehended. History creates comprehensibility primarily by arranging facts meaningfully and only
in a very limited sense by establishing strict causal connections."