Historiography of the United Kingdom

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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.


Depiction of the Venerable Bede from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493

Gildas, a fifth century monk, was the first major historian of England. His De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae (Latin for "The Ruin and conquests Conquest of Britain") records the downfall of the Britons at the hands of Saxon invaders, emphasizing God's anger and providential punishment of an entire nation, in an echo of Old Testament themes. His work has often been used by later historians, starting with Bede.[1]

Venerable Bede (673 – 735), an English monk was the most influential historian of the Anglo-Saxon era In his day and in modern England. He borrowed from killed us and others in writing The Ecclesiastical History of the English People (Latin: "Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum"). He saw English history as a unity, based around the Christian church. N.J. Higham argues he designed his work to promote his reform agenda to Ceolwulf, the Northumbrian king. Bede painted a highly optimistic picture of the current situation in the Church.[2]

Numerous chroniclers prepared detailed accounts of recent history.[3] King Alfred the Great commission the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 893, and similar chronicles were prepared throughout the Middle Ages.[4] The most famous production is by a transplanted Frenchman, Jean Froissart (1333-1410). His Froissart's Chronicles, written in French, remains an important source for the first half of the Hundred Years' War.[5]


Sir Walter Raleigh (1554 – 1618), Educated at Oxford, was a soldier, courtier, and humanist during the late Renaissance in England. Convicted of intrigues against the king, he was imprisoned in the Tower and wrote his incomplete "History of the World." Using a wide array of sources in six languages, Raleigh was fully abreast of the latest continental scholarship. He wrote not about England, but of the ancient world with a heavy emphasis on geography. Despite his intention of providing current advice to the King of England, King James I complained that it was "too sawcie in censuring Princes."[6] Raleigh was freed, but was later beheaded for offenses not related to his historiography.[7]

Puritanism and the Civil War

the rise of Puritanism and the great Civil War are central themes of 17th century English history.[8]

Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon (1609-1674), the conservative top aide of the King, wrote the most influential contemporary history of the Civil War, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (1702).[9] When he wrote about the distant past, Clarendon used a modern level of skepticism about historical sources, motivations and authority. In his history of the Civil War, however, he relapses to a premodern view that attributes critical events to the intervention of Providence.[10][11][12][13][14]

The foremost modern historian of the Puritan movement and Civil War is Samuel Rawson Gardiner (1820-1902). His series is History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War, 1603–1642 (10 vols. 1883-4); History of the Great Civil War, 1642–1649 (5 vols. 1893); and History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649–1660 (4 vol. 1903). Despite their age, they remain the standard source used by every scholar. Gardiner's treatment is exhaustive and philosophical, taking in political and constitutional history, the changes in religion, thought and sentiment, their causes and their tendencies. He had a thorough command of all of the printed and manuscript sources. Gardiner did not form a school, although his work was completed in two volumes by Charles Harding Firth as The Last Years of the Protectorate (1909).[15][16]

18th century

William Robertson

William Robertson, a Scottish historian, and the Historiographer Royal published the History of Scotland 1542 - 1603, in 1759 and his most famous work, The history of the reign of Charles V in 1769. His scholarship was painstaking for the time and he was able to access a large number of documentary sources that had previously been unstudied. He was also one of the first historians who understood the importance of general and universally applicable ideas in the shaping of historical events.[17]

David Hume

Scottish philosopher and historian David Hume in 1754 he published the History of England, a 6-volume work which extended "From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688". Hume adopted a similar scope to Voltaire in his history; as well as the history of Kings, Parliaments, and armies, he examined the history of culture, including literature and science, as well. His short biographies of leading scientists explored the process of scientific change and he developed new ways of seeing scientists in the context of their times by looking at how they interacted with society and each other – he paid special attention to Francis Bacon, Robert Boyle, Isaac Newton and William Harvey.[18]

He also argued that the quest for liberty was the highest standard for judging the past, and concluded that after considerable fluctuation, England at the time of his writing had achieved "the most entire system of liberty, that was ever known amongst mankind."[19]

Edward Gibbon

Edward Gibbon and his famous masterpiece The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire (6 vol. 1776-1781) set a literary standard that was never surpassed by historians, and set a standard of scholarly research that was widely emulated. In the 20th century, a number of scholars have been inspired by Gibbon.[20] Piers Brendon notes that Gibbon's work, "became the essential guide for Britons anxious to plot their own imperial trajectory. They found the key to understanding the British Empire in the ruins of Rome."[21]

19th century

Whig history

The term Whig history, coined by Herbert Butterfield in his short book The Whig Interpretation of History in 1931, means the approach to historiography which 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 emphasized the rise of constitutional government, personal freedoms and scientific progress. The term has been also applied widely in historical disciplines outside of British history (the history of science, for example) to criticize any teleological (or goal-directed), hero-based, and transhistorical narrative.[22]

Paul Rapin de Thoyras's history of England, published in 1723, became "the classic Whig history" for the first half of the 18th century,.[23] It was later supplanted by the immensely popular The History of England by David Hume. Whig historians emphasized the achievements of the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This included James Mackintosh's History of the Revolution in England in 1688, William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and Henry Hallam's Constitutional History of England.[24]

A majort restatenment was made in the early 20th century by G. M. Trevelyan. David Cannadine says:

in 1926 he produced his one-volume History of England. This work set out what he saw as the essential elements in the nation’s evolution and identity: parliamentary government, the rule of law, religious toleration, freedom from Continental interference and involvement, and a global horizon of maritime supremacy and imperial expansion.[25]

The Whig consensus was steadily undermined during the post-World War I re-evaluation of European history, and Butterfield's critique exemplified this trend. Intellectuals no longer believed the world was automatically getting better and better. Subsequent generations of academic historians have similarly rejected Whig history because of its presentist and teleological assumption that history is driving toward some sort of goal.[26] Other criticized 'Whig' assumptions included viewing the British system as the apex of human political development, assuming that political figures in the past held current political beliefs (anachronism), considering British history as a march of progress with inevitable outcomes and presenting political figures of the past as heroes, who advanced the cause of this political progress, or villains, who sought to hinder its inevitable triumph. J. Hart says "a Whig interpretation requires human heroes and villains in the story."[27]


Macaulay was the most influential exponent of Whig history, which said history shows a steady upward improvement toward the present

The most famous exponent of 'Whiggery' was Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800 – 1859).[28] He published the first volumes of his The History of England from the Accession of James II in 1848. It proved an immediate success and replaced Hume's history to become the new orthodoxy.[29] His writings are famous for their ringing prose and for their confident, sometimes dogmatic, emphasis on a progressive model of British history, according to which the country threw off superstition, autocracy and confusion to create a balanced constitution and a forward-looking culture combined with freedom of belief and expression. This model of human progress has been called the Whig interpretation of history.[30] His 'Whiggish convictions' are spelled out in his first chapter:

I shall relate how the new settlement was...successfully defended against foreign and domestic enemies; how...the authority of law and the security of property were found to be compatible with a liberty of discussion and of individual action never before known; how, from the auspicious union of order and freedom, sprang a prosperity of which the annals of human affairs had furnished no example; how our country, from a state of ignominious vassalage, rapidly rose to the place of umpire among European powers; how her opulence and her martial glory grew together;...how a gigantic commerce gave birth to a maritime power, compared with which every other maritime power, ancient or modern, sinks into insignificance...the history of our country during the last hundred and sixty years is eminently the history of physical, of moral, and of intellectual improvement.

Macaulay's legacy continues to be controversial; Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote that "most professional historians have long since given up reading Macaulay, as they have given up writing the kind of history he wrote and thinking about history as he did."[31] However, J. R. Western wrote that: "Despite its age and blemishes, Macaulay's History of England has still to be superseded by a full-scale modern history of the period".[32]

County and local history

Before the impact of high-powered academic scholarship in the 1960s, local history flourished across Britain, producing many nostalgic local studies. Local historians in 1870-1914 emphasized progress, growth, and civic pride.[33] Local history became fashionable in the 18th and 19th centuries; it was widely regarded as an antiquarian pursuit, suitable for country gentry and parsons. The Victoria History of the Counties of England project began in 1899 with the aim of creating an encyclopedic history of each of the historic counties of England.

Local history was a strength at Leicester University from 1930. Under W. G. Hoskins it actively promoted the Victoria county histories. He pushed for greater attention to the community of farmers, labourers and their farms in addition to the traditional strength in manorial and church history.[34] The Victoria project is now coordinated by the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London.

H. P. R. Finberg was the first Professor of English Local History; he was appointed by Leicester in 1964.[35] Local history continues to be neglected as an academic subject within universities. Academic local historians are often found within a more general department of history or in continuing education.[36]

The British Association for Local History encourages and assists in the study of local history as an academic discipline and as a leisure activity by both individuals and groups. Most historic counties in England have record societies and archaeological and historical societies which coordinate the work of historians and other researchers concerned with that area.

Archives and documents

20th century

Prominent historians

Thorold Rogers (1823-1890) was the Tooke Professor of Statistics and Economic Science at King's College London, from 1859 until his death. He served in Parliament as a Liberal, and deployed historical and statistical methods to analyse some of the key economic and social questions of the day on behalf of free trade and social justice. He is best known for compiling the monumental A History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1793 (7 vol. 1866–1902), which is still useful to scholars.[37][38] William Ashley (1860-1927) introduced British scholars to the historical school of economic history as developed in Germany.

G. M. Trevelyan (1876-1962), Was widely read by both the general public and scholars. The son of a leading historian, he combined thorough research and primary sources with a lively writing style, a strong patriotic outlook and a Whig view of continuous progress. He reached his widest audiences with History of England (1926). The book affirmed Trevelyan as the foremost historical commentator on England.[25]

Lewis Namier (1888-1960) had a powerful influence on research methodology among British historians.[39] Born in Poland, his Jewish family was descended from distinguished Talmudic scholars and came to England in 1907. He built his career at Manchester. His best-known works were The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (1929), England in the Age of the American Revolution (1930) and the "History of Parliament" series (begun 1940) he edited with John Brooke.[40] He had a microscopic view of history as made by many individuals with few or any overarching themes; it was called "Namierism" and his approach faded after his death. His books typically are starting points for vast enterprises which were never followed up. Thus England in the Age of the American Revolution ends in December 1762.[41]

Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979) is best known for his philosophical approach to historiographical issues.[42][43]


Professionalization involved developing a career track for historians, creating a national historical Association, and sponsorship of scholarly journals. The Royal Historical Society was founded in 1868. The English Historical Review began publication in 1886.[44] Oxford and Cambridge were the most prestigious British universities, but they avoided setting up PhD programs and concentrated their attention on teaching undergraduates through tutors based in the colleges. The endowed chairs, based in the University as a whole, had much less influence on the teaching of history.

Professionalization on the German model focused on the research PhD prepared by graduate students under a master professor, was pioneered by Manchester University. J. B. Bury (1861-1927) at Cambridge, Charles Harding Firth (1857-1936) at Oxford, and especially Thomas Frederick Tout (1855-1929) at Manchester led the way.[45]

At Manchester, Tout introduced original research into the undergraduate programme, culminating in the production of a Final Year thesis based on primary sources. This horrified Oxbridge, where college tutors had little research capacity of their own and saw the undergraduate as an embryonic future gentleman, liberal connoisseur, widely read, and mainstay of country and empire in politics, commerce, army, land or church, not an apprentice to dusty, centuries-old archives, wherein no more than 1 in 100 could find even an innocuous career. In taking this view they had a fair case, given the various likelihoods and opportunities for their charges. Tout's ally C. H. Firth fought a bitter campaign to persuade Oxford to follow Manchester and introduce scientific study of sources into the History programme, but failed; there was failure too, at Cambridge. Other universities, however, followed Tout, and Oxbridge, but very slowly, had to face up to the fact, and fundamental changes to the selection of college fellows across all disciplines ensued.[46]

Marxist historiography

Marxist historiography developed as a school of historiography influenced by the chief tenets of Marxism, including the centrality of social class and economic constraints in determining historical outcomes. Friedrich Engels wrote The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844; it inspired the socialist impetus in British politics including the Fabian Society, but did not influence historians.

R. H. Tawney was a powerful influence. His The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century (1912)[47] and Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (1926), reflected his ethical concerns and preoccupations in economic history. He was profoundly interested in the issue of the enclosure of land in the English countryside in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and in Max Weber's thesis on the connection between the appearance of Protestantism and the rise of capitalism.

The "gentry" in Britain comprised the rich landowners who were not members of the aristocracy. The "Storm over the gentry" was a major historiographical debate among scholars that took place in the 1940s and 1950s regarding the role of the gentry in causing the English Civil War of the 17th century.[48] Economic historian R.H. Tawney had suggested in 1941 that there was a major economic crisis for the nobility in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that the rapidly rising gentry class was demanding a share of power. When the aristocracy resisted, Tawney argued, the gentry launched the civil war.[49] After heated debate historians generally concluded that the role of the gentry was not especially important.[50]

A circle of historians inside the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) formed in 1946 and became a highly influential cluster of British Marxist historians, who contributed to history from below and class structure in early capitalist society. While some members of the group (most notably Christopher Hill and E. P. Thompson) left the CPGB after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the common points of British Marxist historiography continued in their works. They placed a great emphasis on the subjective determination of history.

Christopher Hill (1912-2003) specialized in 17th-century English history.[51] His books include Puritanism and Revolution (1958), Intellectual Origins of the English Revolution (1965 and revised in 1996), The Century of Revolution (1961), AntiChrist in 17th-century England (1971), The World Turned Upside Down (1972) and many others.

E. P. Thompson pioneered the study of history from below in his work, The Making of the English Working Class, published in 1963. It focused on the forgotten history of the first working-class political left in the world in the late-18th and early-19th centuries. In his preface to this book, Thompson set out his approach to writing history from below:

I am seeking to rescue the poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, the "obsolete" hand-loom weaver, the "Utopian" artisan, and even the deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, from the enormous condescension of posterity. Their crafts and traditions may have been dying. Their hostility to the new industrialism may have been backward-looking. Their communitarian ideals may have been fantasies. Their insurrectionary conspiracies may have been foolhardy. But they lived through these times of acute social disturbance, and we did not. Their aspirations were valid in terms of their own experience; and, if they were casualties of history, they remain, condemned in their own lives, as casualties.

Thompson's work was also significant because of the way he defined "class." He argued that class was not a structure, but a relationship that changed over time. He opened the gates for a generation of labor historians, such as David Montgomery and Herbert Gutman, who made similar studies of the American working classes.

Other important Marxist historians included Eric Hobsbawm, C. L. R. James, Raphael Samuel, A. L. Morton and Brian Pearce.

Although Marxist historiography made important contributions to the history of the working class, oppressed nationalities, and the methodology of history from below, its chief problematic aspect was its argument on the nature of history as determined or dialectical; this can also be stated as the relative importance of subjective and objective factors in creating outcomes. It increasingly fell out of favour in the 1960s and '70s.[52] Geoffrey Elton was important in undermining the case for a Marxist historiography, which he argued was presenting seriously flawed interpretations of the past. In particular, Elton was opposed to the idea that the English Civil War was caused by socioeconomic changes in the 16th and 17th centuries, arguing instead that it was due largely to the incompetence of the Stuart kings.[53]

In dealing with the era of the Second World War, Addison notes that in Britain by the 1990s, labour history was, "in sharp decline," because:

there was no longer much interest in history of the white, male working-class. Instead the 'cultural turn' encouraged historians to explore wartime constructions of gender, race, citizenship and national identity.[54]

Since 1945

First World War

The First World War continues To be a theme of major interest to scholars, but the content is changed over time the first studies focused on the military history of the war itself.[55] With the opening of the diplomatic archives in the 1920s and 1930s, attention turned heavily toward comparative diplomatic history of Britain, alongside France, Germany, Austria and Russia. In recent decades, attention is turned away from the generals and toward the common soldiers, away from the Western front in toward the complex involvement in other regions, including the roles of the British Empire. A great deal of attention is devoted to structure of the Army, and debates regarding the mistakes made by the high command typified by the popular slogan Lions led by donkeys. Social history has brought in the home front, especially roles of women And propaganda. Cultural studies have pointed to the memories and meanings of the war after 1918.[56]

Prominent historians

Arnold Toynbee and world history

Arnold J. Toynbee (1889 – 1975) had two careers, one focused on chronicling and analyzing 20th century diplomatic history.[57] However he became world famous for his sweeping interpretation of world history, with a strong religious bent, in his 12-volume A Study of History (1934–1961). With his prodigious output of papers, articles, speeches and presentations, and numerous books translated into many languages, Toynbee was a widely read and discussed scholar in the 1940s and 1950s. Professional historians never paid much heed to the second Toynbee.[58]

Keith Feiling the conservative

Keith Feiling (1884–1977) was Chichele Professor of Modern History at the Oxford, 1946–1950. He was noted for his conservative interpretation of the past, showing an empire-oriented ideology in defence of hierarchical authority, paternalism, deference, the monarchy, Church, family, nation, status, and place. A Tory Democrat, he felt that conservatives possessed more character than other people, as he tried to demonstrate in his books on the history of the Conservative Party. He acknowledged the necessity of reform—as long as it was gradual, top-down, and grounded not in abstract theory but in an appreciation of English history. Thus he celebrated the reforms of the 1830s.[59] A.J.P. Taylor in 1950 praised Feiling's historiography, calling it "Toryism" in contrast to the more common "Whig history", or liberal historiography, written to show the inevitable progress of mankind. Taylor explains, "Toryism rests on doubt in human nature; it distrusts improvement, clings to traditional institutions, prefers the past to the future. It is a sentiment rather than a principle."[60]

Isaiah Berlin (1909 – 1997) Was a highly respected historian of ideas and of philosophy.[61]

A. J. P. Taylor

A. J. P. Taylor (1906 – 1990) Is best known for his highly controversial reinterpretation of the coming of the Origins of the Second World War (1961). He ranged widely over the 19th- and 20th-centuries. Of major importance are his rich treatises surveying European diplomatic history, The struggle for mastery in Europe, 1848-1918 (Oxford University Press, 1955), and 20th century Britain, English History 1914-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1965).[62][63] As a commentator in print and on the air he became well known to millions through his television lectures. His combination of academic rigour and popular appeal led the historian Richard Overy to describe him as "the Macaulay of our age".[64]

Despite Taylor's increasing ambivalence toward appeasement from the late 1950s, which became explicitly evident in his 1961 book Origins of the Second World War, Winston Churchill remained another of his heroes. In English History 1914-1945 (1965) Taylor famously concluded his biographical footnote of Churchill with the phrase "the savior of his country."[65] Another person Taylor admired was the historian E. H. Carr, who was his favourite historian and a good friend.

Hugh Trevor-Roper The essayist

Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914–2003) was a leading essayist and commentator. He thrived on polemics and debates, covering a wide range of historical topics, but particularly England in the 16th and 17th centuries and Nazi Germany. His essays established Trevor-Roper's reputation as a scholar who could succinctly define historiographical controversies. In the view of John Kenyon, "some of [Trevor-Roper's] short essays have affected the way we think about the past more than other men's books".[66] On the other hand, his biographer, claims that "the mark of a great historian is that he writes great books, on the subject which he has made his own. By this exacting standard Hugh failed." [67]

Urban history

In the 1960s, the academic historiography of the Victorian towns and cities began to flourish in Britain.[68] Much of the attention focused at first on the Victorian city, with topics ranging from demography, public health, the working-class, and local culture. [69] In recent decades topics regarding class, capitalism, and social structure have given way to studies of the cultural history of urban life, as well as groups such as women, prostitutes, migrants from rural areas, and immigrants from the Continent and from the British Empire.[70] The urban environment itself became a major topic, as studies of the material fabric of the city, and the structure of urban space, became more prominent.[71]

Historians have always made London the focus. For example, recent studies of early modern London cover a wide range of topics , including literary and cultural activities, the character of religious life in post-Reformation London; the importance of place and space to the experience of the city; and the question of civic and business morality in an urban environment without ther oversight typical of villages.[72]

Academics have increasingly studied small towns and cities since the medieval period, as well as the urbanization that attended the industrial revolution. The historiography on the politics of 18th-century urban England shows the critical role played by towns in politics (where they comprised four-fifths of the seats in the House of Commons), as well as the political dominance of London. The studies also show how townspeople promoted social change at the same time as securing long-term political stability.[73]

In the second half of the 19th century, provincial centers such as Birmingham, Glascow, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester doubled in size, become regional capitals. They were all conurbations that included smaller cities and suburbs in their catchement area. They available scholarly materials are now quite comprehensive. In 2000 Peter Clark of the Urban History Center of the University of Leicester was the general editor (and Cambridge University Press the publisher) of a massive history of British cities and towns, running 2800 pages in 75 chapters by 90 scholars. The chapters deal not with biographies of individual cities, but with economic, social or political themes that cities had in common. The complete text is online.[74][75]


The theme of deindustrialization has begun to attract the attention of historians. First wave the scholarship came from activists, who are deeply involved in community activism at the time the factories and mines were shutting down the 1970s and 1980s. The cultural turn focused attention on the meaning of deindustrialization in the 2000s. A third wave of scholars look at the socio-cultural aspects of how working-class culture changed in the post-industrial age. Historians broadened their scope from the economic causes of decline and resistance to job loss, to its social and cultural long-term effects.[76]

New themes

Women's history

Women's history started to emerge in the 1970s, against the passive resistance of many established men who had long dismissed it frivolous, trivial, and "outside the boundaries of history." That sentiment persisted for decades in Oxbridge, but has largely faded in the red bricks and newer universities.[77]

History of Parliament

In 1951 scholars receive national funding for collaborative "History of Parliament" An editorial board comprising leading scholars, most notably Sir John Neale and Sir Lewis Namier. Years of energetic research, with numerous assistance, demonstrated a commitment to the new technique of "prosopography" or quantitative collective biography. However Neale and Namier had sharply different interpretations of the project. Neale looked For definitive quantitative answers to specific technical questions, of the sort suggested by his traditional whiggish view of constitutional development. Namier, on the other hand, took a sociological approach to use the lives of MPs as a entry point to re-create the world of the governing classes. The problem with the mirrors approach is that it would never end, For new results would keep generating new questions. The editorial board Was unable to synthesize the two approaches. Namier's team moved faster through the documents, so much of the work followed his model. section made more progress, his view of the History triumphed over Neale's. The Conservative Government entered the debate, led by Harold Macmillan and civil servants who Wanted to finished product, rather than a never-ending project. Namier's ambition was curtailed and, after his death in 1960, his own section was completed by his assistant, John Brooke, in a more restricted format.[78]

History of the state

the history of the state has been conceptualized first as a history of the ruling monarchs, and under Namier the study of individual personalities. Recently there's been a deeper exploration of the growth of state power. Historians have looked at the long 18th century, from about 1660 to 1837 from four fresh perspectives.[79] The first, developed by Oliver MacDonagh, presented an expansive and centralized administrative state while deemphasizing the influence of Benthamite utilitarianism.[80] The second approach, as developed by Edward Higgs, conceptualizes the state as an information-gathering entity, paying special attention to local registrars and the census. He brings in such topics as spies, surveillance of Catholics, the 1605 Gunpowder Plot led by Guy Fawkes to overthrow the government, and the Poor Laws, and demonstrates similarities to the surveillance society of the 21st century. [81] John Brewer introduced the third approach with his depiction of the unexpectedly powerful, centralized 'fiscal-military' state during the eighteenth century. [82] [83] finally there have been numerous recent studies that explore the state as an abstract entity capable of commanding the loyalties of those people over whom it rules.

Digital history

Digital history is opening new avenues for research into original sources that were very hard to handle before. One model is the Eighteenth Century Devon project, completed in 2007. It was a collaboration of professional historians, local volunteers, and professional archives that created and online collection of transcripts of 18th-century documents, such as allegiance rolls, Episcopal visitation returns, and freeholder lists.[84] Digital archives and digital periodicals are allowing much broader opportunity for research and primary sources happy undergraduate level.[85] Use of powerful search engines on large textual databases allows much more expanded research on such sources as newspaper files.[86]

See also


  1. Molly Miller, "Bede's use of Gildas." English Historical Review (1975): 241-261 in JSTOR.
  2. N.J. Higham, "Bede's Agenda in Book IV of the ‘Ecclesiastical History of the English People’: A Tricky Matter of Advising the King," Journal of Ecclesiastical History (2013) 64#3 pp 476-493
  3. Charles F. Briggs, "History, Story, and Community: Representing the Past," in ed. Sarah Foot and Chase F. Robinson, eds., The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 2: 400-1400 (2012) 2: 391.
  4. Michael Swanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1998).
  5. John Jolliffe, Froissart's Chronicles (Faber & Faber, 2012
  6. Nicholas Popper, Walter Ralegh's "History of the World" and the Historical Culture of the Late Renaissance (2012) p 18.
  7. J. Racin, Sir Walter Raleigh as Historian (1974).
  8. * R.C. Richardson, The Debate on the English Revolution Revisited (London, 1988),
  9. R.C. MacGillivray (1974). Restoration Historians and the English Civil War. Springer.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Michael G. Finlayson, "Clarendon, Providence, and the Historical Revolution," Albion (1990) 22#4 pp 607-632 in JSTOR
  11. Charles H. Firth, "Clarendon's 'History of the Rebellion,"' Parts 1, II, III, English Historical Review vol 19, nos. 73-75 (1904) in JSTOR
  12. Martine Watson Brownley, Clarendon & the Rhetoric of Historical Form (1985)
  13. Hugh Trevor-Roper, "Clarendon's 'History of the Rebellion'" History Today (1979) 29#2 pp 73-79
  14. B. H. G.Wormald, Clarendon: Politics, History and Religion 1640–1660 (1951)
  15. F. York Powell, "Samuel Rawson Gardiner." English Historical Review 17#66 (1902): 276-279. in JSTOR
  16. J. S. A. Adamson, "Eminent Victorians: S.R. Gardiner and the Liberal as Hero." Historical Journal (1990) 33#3: 641-657.
  17. David J. Womersley, "The historical writings of William Robertson." Journal of the History of Ideas (1986): 497-506. in JSTOR
  18. S. K. Wertz, "Hume and the Historiography of Science," Journal of the History of Ideas (1993) 54#3 pp. 411–436 in JSTOR
  19. Hume vol 6. p 531 cited in John Philipps Kenyon (1984). The history men: the historical profession in England since the Renaissance. p. 42.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Robin Winks, Historiography (1999) pp 3-5, 614. Paul Kennedy has much to say about Britain in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987).
  21. Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 (2008) p. xv
  22. Ernst Mayr, "When Is Historiography Whiggish?" Journal of the History of Ideas, (1990) 51#2 pp 301–309 in JSTOR
  23. Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'Introduction', Lord Macaulay's History of England (Penguin Classics, 1979), p. 10.
  24. The Nature of History (second edition 1980), p. 47.
  25. 25.0 25.1 David Cannadine, GM Trevelyan: a historian in tune with his time, and ours (July 21, 2012)
  26. Victor Feske, From Belloc to Churchill: Private Scholars, Public Culture, and the Crisis of British Liberalism, 1900-1939 (1996), p. 2.
  27. J. Hart, "Nineteenth-Century Social Reform: A Tory Interpretation of History", Past & Present (1965) 31#1 pp:39–61.
  28. John Leonard Clive, Thomas Babington Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian (1973)
  29. Hugh Trevor-Roper, 'Introduction', Lord Macaulay's History of England (Penguin Classics, 1979), pp. 25–6.
  30. John Clive, Macaulay--the shaping of the historian (1975)
  31. Gertrude Himmelfarb, ‘Who Now Reads Macaulay?’, Marriage and Morals Among The Victorians. And other Essays (London: Faber and Faber, 1986), p. 163.
  32. J. R. Western, Monarchy and Revolution. The English State in the 1680s (London: Blandford Press, 1972), p. 403.
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  41. John Brooke, "Namier and Namierism." History and Theory 3#3 (1964): 331-347.
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  45. Peter R.H. Slee, Learning and a Liberal Education: The Study of Modern History in the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Manchester, 1800-1914 (Manchester University Press, 1986)
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Further reading

  • Bentley, Michael. Modernizing England's Past: English Historiography in the Age of Modernism, 1870-1970 (2006) excerpt
  • Boyd, Kelly, ed. Encyclopedia of historians and historical writing (2 vol. Taylor & Francis, 1999), 1562pp
  • Furber, Elizabeth Chapin, ed. Changing Views on British History (1966)
  • *Gransden, Antonia. Historical Writing in England, volume 1. (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974.)
  • Loades, David, ed. Reader's Guide to British History (2 vol 2003), 1610pp, comprehensive coverage of major topics and historians
  • Schlatter, Richard, ed. Recent Views on British History: Essays on Historical Writing Since 1966 (1984)
  • Thompson, James Westfall. A History of Historical Writing. vol 1: From the earliest Times to the End of the 17th Century (1942) online edition; A History of Historical Writing. vol 2: The 18th and 19th Centuries (1942) online edition
  • Woolf, Daniel R., ed., A Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing (2 vol. Taylor & Francis, 1998).

Period guides

  • Addison, Paul and Harriet Jones, eds. A Companion to Contemporary Britain: 1939–2000 (2005) excerpt and text search
  • Cannon, John. The Oxford Companion to British History (2nd ed. 2002) 1142pp
  • Dickinson, H.T., ed. A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Britain (Blackwell, 2006); 584pp; essays by 38 experts; excerpt and text search
  • Jones, Harriet, and Mark Clapson, eds. The Routledge Companion to Britain in the Twentieth Century (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Williams, Chris, ed. A Companion to Nineteenth-Century Britain (Blackwell, 2006); 33 essays by experts; 624pp excerpt and text search
  • Wrigley, Chris, ed. A Companion to Early Twentieth-Century Britain (Blackwell Companions to British History) (2009) excerpt and text search


  • Bently, M. "Shape and pattern in British historical writing, 1815–1945, in S. MacIntyre, J. Maiguashca and A. Pok, eds, The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 4: 1800–1945 (Oxford University Press, 2012), p. 206+.
  • Feldman, David, and Jon Lawrence, eds. Structures and Transformations in Modern British History (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
  • Hitsman, J. Mackay. " Canadian and British Military Historiography." In A Guide to the Sources of British Military History (2015).
  • Mort, Frank. "Intellectual Pluralism and the Future of British History." History Workshop Journal Vol. 72. No. 1. (2011).
  • Palmer, William. "Aspects of Revision in History in Great Britain and the United States, 1920-1975," Historical Reflections (2010) 36#1 pp 17–32.


  • Gooch, G. P. History and historians in the nineteenth century (1913) online
  • Hale, John Rigby, ed. The evolution of British historiography: from Bacon to Namier (Macmillan, 1967).
  • Kenyon, John Philipps. The history men: the historical profession in England since the Renaissance (U of Pittsburgh Press, 1984).
  • Smith, Bonnie G. "The Contribution of Women to Modern Historiography in Great Britain, France, and the United States, 1750-1940," American Historical Review (1984) 89#3 pp 709–32. in JSTOR
  • Soffer, Reba N. History, Historians, and Conservatism in Britain and America: From the Great War to Thatcher and Reagan (2009).


  • Fisher, Matthew. Scribal Authorship and the Writing of History in Medieval England (Ohio State University Press, 2012)
  • Gransden, Antonia. Historical Writing in England: c. 500 to c. 1307 (Psychology Press, 1996) .
  • Taylor, John. English historical literature in the fourteenth century ( Oxford University Press, 1987).
  • Urbanski, Charity. Writing History for the King: Henry II and the Politics of Vernacular Historiography (Cornell University Press, 2013)


  • Trimble, William Raleigh. "Early Tudor Historiography, 1485-1548." Journal of the History of Ideas 11#1 (1950): 30-41.
  • Woolf, Daniel R. The idea of history in early Stuart England: erudition, ideology, and the 'light of truth' from the accession of James I to the Civil War (U of Toronto Press, 1990.)
  • Devereaux, Simon. "The Historiography of the English State during ‘the Long Eighteenth Century’: Part I–Decentralized Perspectives." History Compass 7.3 (2009): 742-764.
    • Devereaux, Simon. "The Historiography of the English State During ‘The Long Eighteenth Century’Part Two–Fiscal‐Military and Nationalist Perspectives." History Compass 8.8 (2010): 843-865.

Since 1800

  • Brundage, Anthony, and Richard A. Cosgrove. The great tradition: constitutional history and national identity in Britain and the United States, 1870-1960 (Stanford University Press, 2007).
  • Maitzen, Rohan Amanda. Gender, Genre, and Victorian Historical Writing (Taylor & Francis, 1998).
  • Maitzen, Rohan. "" This feminine preserve": Historical biographies by Victorian women." Victorian Studies (1995): 371-393. in JSTOR


  • Devine, T. M. and J. Wormald, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Modern Scottish History (Oxford University Press, 2012),
  • Kidd, C. Subverting Scotland's Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity 1689–1830 (Cambridge University Press, 2003)


  • Wiener, Martin J. "The Idea of "Colonial Legacy" and the Historiography of Empire." Journal of The Historical Society 13#1 (2013): 1-32.
  • Winks, Robin, ed. Historiography (1999) vol. 5 in William Roger Louis, eds. The Oxford History of the British Empire online
  • Winks, Robin W. The Historiography of the British Empire-Commonwealth: Trends, Interpretations and Resources (1966); this book is by a different set of authors from the previous 1999 entry online

Scholarly journals