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NUMBER 56 (2009)

3 27 29 53 81 105 129 145

Rolf Torstendahl Historical professionalism. A changing product of communities within the discipline Georg G. Iggers A comment on Rolf Torstendahl


Stefano Meschini Bernardino Corio e le fonti della Storia di Milano (1503) Neil Hargraves Resentment and history in the Scottish Enlightenment

Philipp Mller Doing historical research in the early nineteenth century. Leopold Ranke, the archive policy, and the relazioni of the Venetian Republic David M. Leeson Barthes and the act of uttering in historical discourse BOOK REVIEWS by Georg G. Iggers, Paul J. Kosmin, Davide Bond ABSTRACTS NOTE ON CONTRIBUTORS


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 3-26


Very often historians of historiography refer to the nineteenth century as a period when the professional historian came into existence or when a process of professionalization changed the historical discipline. Most often the development referred to is regarded as a unified series of occurrences. Yet different authors make different criteria decisive for the classification of the professionalism that they want to illustrate. Thus, Pim den Boer and Christophe Charle make full-time employment (or salaried employment) the criterion of the professional historian; Gabriele Lingelbach lets the professionalization of historians depend on education and its content; Georg Iggers refers (1997) to the ideas (regarding history as a science) and methods of historians as the fundamental preconditions for their professionalization, but later (2008) his use of the term is sparse; many others have claimed that historians became professionals through the advancement of methods in the nineteenth century, sometimes using a combination of criteria1. Because of the different criteria these authors also indicate a different time-span for the process. Boer sets the period to the whole of the nineteenth century or rather 1818-1914 for France; Lingelbach sets it to 1870-1914 for France and the USA; others tend to indicate a period around the middle of the nineteenth century. This article wants to oppose not only one or the other of the criteria mentioned: full time employment, education, utilization of certain methods. Primarily it is directed against the idea of one process of professionalization that made history scientific (and a corresponding process of dismantling the scientific image). The idea of a professionalization process in diverse occupations was very popular


P. den Boer, History as a Profession: the Study of History in France, 1818-1914 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton U.P., 1998); C. Charle, tre historien en France: une nouvelle profession?, F. Bdarida ed., LHistoire et le mtier dhistorien en France 1945-1995 (Paris: Maison des Sciences de lHomme, 1995), 21-44; G. Lingelbach, Klio macht Karriere. Die Institutionalisierung der Geschichtswissenschaft in Frankreich und den USA in der zweiten Hlfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003); G. Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century. From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Middletown: Wesleyan U.P., 1997), esp. Introduction; G. Iggers & Q.E. Wang, A Global History of Modern Historiography (Harlow: Pearson, 2008); esp. 121-125, where the term is avoided, cfr. 74 using the term for Ranke and his successors. For a survey of the problem, see also R. Torstendahl, (article) History, Professionalization of, The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (London etc., 2001), 6864-6869.


among sociologists in the 1960s, based on traits that were thought to characterize professionalism2. Since then the concept has lost its attraction among sociologists and they usually avoid it. It seems that there is good reason to do the same in history of historiography, not just to follow the pattern from sociology but mainly for the reason that it is based on the idea that certain traits should be found that constitute the process. Historical professionalism has tended to be viewed from a German perspective, partly justified through the role of German historians in establishing professionalism. It cannot be denied that historiography has a close connection with state and society but the emphasis on these matters should not block our view for the philosophical impulses on the discipline and its internal formation through continuous sharp debates about its epistemology. Again, German interpretations have had the upper hand, obscuring the eye for French and Anglo-Saxon and other reasoning on such matters. Diversity thus has been considerable, although professionally conscious historians constantly have tended to unify the discipline. Not only may the idea of one process be opposed. There is also a complex relation between the criteria that are used. Some of them focus on what history ought to deal with in the form of actors and subject matters. Others focus on what is required of a historian, such as methods. The two categories of criteria will be called here optimum norms and minimum demands3, respectively. In the history of historiography the emphasis has been strongly on one or the other of these categories but they have also been mixed in different ways. It cannot be taken for granted that the categories are of a fixed content. Instead, what is desirable in one period may be a requirement in another and vice versa. Here professionalism is regarded as a term denoting the bases for evaluations of historical research. The object is the notion of good and bad history or fruitful and less fruitful history in the past, i.e. what is the minimum and the optimum. As we discern several shifts in the basic value system, professionalism has changed not once but several times. These changes are what this article will deal with. II. COMMUNITIES

A community is to be distinguished from a mere network by a shared valuebasis. The members of a community take the same standpoints to certain matters, where values are involved. For scientists and scholars the main concern is with the rules governing the advancement of their learned occupations.
See e.g. H. Wilensky, The Professionalization of Everyone?, American Journal of Sociology, 70, 2, (1964): 137-58; for an overview of the literature on professionalism, see J. Evetts, Introduction: Trust and Professionalism: Challenges and Occupational Changes, Current Sociology, 54, 4, (2006): 515-531, esp. 519 on traits. 3 I have used these terms and the notions involved in previous articles, most of them in Swedish. In English, see above all R. Torstendahl, History-writing as professional production of knowledge, Storia della storiografia, 48, (2005): 73-88, esp. 75-80.


There is reason to regard all academic professionalism as more or less linked to communities. While most professions have lost their feeling of community and the active communication between members of the collective, the academic professions have not. As university teachers professors of history may feel close to professors of other disciplines but as researchers they form an expert group together with their colleagues of their discipline. This group, quite as researchers in any discipline, employs the communication among members of the collective as a chief mechanism of fostering and maintaining professional consciousness4. The devices for such communication vary over time but presently the internet web, journals, seminars, conferences and congresses are chief tools for the creation of their communities and the execution of the critical substance of their interaction. Oral and written criticism or praise are the chief manifestations of the interaction, and such criticism and praise is based on value systems that the individual scholar has picked up from his/her environment. Few scholars would be able to give a good account of the value system that he/she is using. Yet it would be evident to colleagues rather immediately, if and when a scholar deviated from the system. Deviations do occur. On some occasions, mostly under dictatorial political regimes, academic professionals have been forced to give up their autonomy in regard to fundamental values such as accepted methodology and criteria for fruitful research5. In the normal academic life changes of value systems occur when a scholar is successful in persuading colleagues that some changes in the value system are justified. This becomes revolutionary if the initial group find others who share their view and are willing to help to disseminate the idea. The whole scholarly community may change its value basis if such opinions spread around. This is what this article will deal with within the discipline of history. It is not self-evident when historical communities began to be formed. A community is understood here to be a network of interconnected persons who share fundamental values in regard to scholarship and who exchange views in one form or another on the works of other historians. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there is no evidence of national or international communities of historians. If there were any such communities at all, they must have been purely local. The eighteenth century is much more interesting from this point of view. There were obviously close links between scholars in some places, and Germany was the breeding-place of historical networks. The most famous of them was the Gttingen school in the latter half of the century. Herbert Butterfield pointed out the fruitful interconnections within the Gttingen circle of scholars, not all of them historians
I intend to develop the role of communities for professionalism in another connection. K. Schnwlder, Historiker und Politik. Geschichtswissenschaft im Nazionalsozialismus (Frankfurt/Main: Campus, 1992); Iu. N. Afanasiev, Fenomen sovietskoi istoriografii, in Iu. N. Afanasiev ed., Sovietskaia istoriografiia (Moskva: RGGU, 1996), 7-41. (Several essays in the latter volume illustrate the political pressure on historians to give up their professional norms). 6 H. Butterfield, The rise of the German historical school, in Man on his Past (Cambridge: CUP, 1955-1969), 32-61.
4 5


but all historically-minded researchers, where August Ludwig Schlzer stands out as one of the leaders and the leading historian6. Peter Hanns Reill, Jrn Rsen and Horst Walter Blanke have shown that many of the eighteenth-century universities in Germany and they were plenty had circles of interacting scholars in the humanities7. This is certainly a sign of some sort of incipient communities at the local level, though not of national importance. As they were in different disciplines they did not create a rule system for professional historians. Historians were among the scholars who were most active in forming connections and debating a foundation of historical thought in Germany. The French Enlightenment was different from the German one in several respects and especially notable from the perspective of the present investigation is that the French debate was not carried on mainly in the universities but outside of them. It was in the first hand a discussion among philosophes, who often held historians in low esteem. Thus there was no ground for an international community between the two countries who were at the forefront in forming European Enlightenment. One of the prerequisites for community-forming was still missing among historians in the eighteenth century, a journal of some sort that was read in different circles and could provide the basis for a nation-wide discussion and give opportunities for foreign scholars to get informed and maybe take part in the discussion. It is not contended here that communities did not exist until the nineteenth century but it seems quite clear that the communities among historians before this century were local and embryonic. III. RANKEAN PROFESSIONALISM

When historians of historiography have tried to characterise Leopold von Rankes importance and his influence on historiography, they have chosen quite differently. Some are stressing his importance for using strict historical methods; others are underlining his deep understanding of history as a cornerstone of all understanding of the social world, past and present; still others are emphasizing his unequalled performance as a teacher taking on disciples not only from Germany but from many countries and inspiring them with his teaching8.
7 P. H. Reill, The German Enlightenment and the Rise of Historicism (Berkeley, LA: University of California Press, 1975); H. W. Blanke & J. Rsen eds., Von der Aufklrung zum Historismus (Paderborn etc.: Schningh, 1984), esp. Blanke, Aufklrungshistorie with discussion, 167-200; H. W. Blanke, Historiographiegeschichte als Historik (Stuttgart-Bad Cannstadt: Fromann-Holzboog, 1991), 111-204. 8 It is impossible to enumerate all books and articles that develop viewpoints on Rankes importance for historiography. In addition to major handbooks the following works are notable: G. Iggers & J. M. Powell eds., Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline (Syracuse: Syracuse U.P., 1990), G. Iggers, The German Conception of History: the National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan U.P., 1983) (revised ed.), F. Jaeger & J. Rsen, Geschichte des Historismus (Mnchen: Beck, 1992), W. J. Mommsen ed., Leopold von Ranke und die moderne Geschichtswissenschaft (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1988), F. Meinecke, Die Entstehung des


Ranke certainly did show some interest in historical method. His early book on Guicciardini and a couple of later essays on Frankish annals and other such matters9 make clear that he took an interest in the origins of myths and persistent conceptualization of the past. However, it would be quite misleading to call this a fundamental interest of his. In his comprehensive histories of England or of the popes or of German history during the Reformation or of Prussia discussions of method are rare and very short. It is obvious that he has wanted to give a historical narrative in these books and that he has seen discussions of method as out of place in a narrative. The second characteristic of Rankes historiography that has been brought forward, his deepness in thought, is indeed striking. Compared to many of those who preceded him as well-known historians he represented another type. He liked to reflect on history and to make history a source of understanding of the present. This did not mean, however, that he drew rash conclusions from the past to the present and the future. Rather he tried to form a system of analysis of supraindividual entities states in the first hand and their modes of behaviour in contrast to human individuals. Already in the work that first made Ranke known to German public, his Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Vlker from 1824, he operated with an idea of a basic European state system. This notion took a much wider perspective than earlier nation-based historical writing. This thinking is only occasionally at hand in his main works his Weltgeschichte is an exception and mostly developed in essays, such as Die grossen Mchte, where he first outlined the priority of foreign policy in state politics or, as he says, I will keep intentionally to the great events, the development of external relations between the different states; the consequences for the internal conditions, which external policy in many different ways influences and has repercussions on, will in this manner for great parts be included (transl. by RT)10. Another of his often cited wide-ranging contributions to historical thinking is his ber die Epochen der neueren Geschichte, a series of lectures for the Bavarian king Maximilian, which was not printed in Rankes own life-time11. This is a remarkable text where Ranke permits himself to reflect on history while presenting a rough outline of historical events. History itself is pushed into the background in favour of theories of history and theories of society. In sum, it is quite clear that Ranke was a remarkable exception among historians of his own time and earlier historiography because of his efforts to understand more about history than the mere narrative of events.
Historismus. Bd 2, Die deutsche Bewegung (Mnchen: Oldenburg, 1936). Many recent books on Historismus deal only with the post-Rankean period from the 1880s to World War II or to the present. 9 His enquiry of Guicciardinis Florentine history, called Zur Kritik neuerer Geschichtsschreiber (1824), is an annex to his History of the Latin and Germanic Peoples, and his essays from different periods are found in vols. 24 and 51/52 of his Smtliche Werke. 10 In Rankes Meisterwerke, 10 (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1915), 423-482, quote 426-427. 11 Posthumously published by A. Dove in 1888 as a supplement to Rankes Weltgeschichte. A new and critical edition was published in L. von Ranke, Aus Werk und Nachlass, vol. 2 (Mnchen: Oldenbourg, 1971).


Finally the third characteristic that has been attached to Ranke is his teaching. No doubt his performance as a teacher is well worth observing. Already Conrad Varrentrapp took note of Rankes many disciples and he published letters from quite a number of them12. A much later study by Gunter Berg tries to make an overview both of the content of the teaching in seminars and lectures and to analyze the scope of Rankes influence through the numbers of his listeners13. According to his calculations around 1100 people listened to Rankes in all 85 lectures. However, Berg has also a list (compiled from actually preserved original lists) of persons who participated in Rankes bungen, that is his seminars and similar group meetings. Berg has complemented these with (some) others who are known to have listened to Rankes lectures. He has listed 501 names in all. Most impressive is the wide span of people from other countries than Germany who have sat at the masters feet. Yet Berg states that the loss of foreigners in the listing must have been extensive. Among the listed non-Germans were people from all Europe and some came even from greater distance to listen to Ranke. Of course some of these attended only some seminars but others were there for several years. Ranke was also an outstanding historical author for his time. He was enormously productive, if you count by printed pages. The bulk of his writing was based on original research, partly combined with secondary works of a previous time. Almost everything he wrote was first-class history, measured with the norms of his own time. In his view every social phenomenon and especially states were full of history and the embedded history in state institutions and state systems were there for the researcher to uncover, but he must abide by the divine relation of each epoch. This meant in Rankes understanding that nothing may be seen only a stepping-stone to later occurrences. This type of thinking, an important part of his Historismus14, made his authorship original. In spite of all this he might have been forgotten except by a few historians of learning if it had not been for his disciples. In Germany almost all of the next generation of historians were his disciples or wanted to appear to be so. His teaching, combined with his qualities as a historian, had created for him a special standing. This standing was also mirrored in many other countries in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe. In France and in England his impact seems to have been weaker in the third quarter of the nineteenth century than in the rest of Europe. His reputation was solid in Northern America and he had admirers in all parts of the world15.
C. Varrentrapp, Briefe an Ranke, Historische Zeitschrift, vols. 105 (1910), 107 (1911). G. Berg, Leopold von Ranke als akademischer Lehrer (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprechet, 1968). 14 Cf. R. Torstendahl, A Return of Historismus? Neo-institutionalism and the historical turn of the social sciences (forthcoming in Russian as , . . , in , vol. 29, 2009) with a discussion of viewpoints on Historismus in relation to Ranke. 15 About Rankes influence, see G. Iggers, The Crisis of the Rankean Paradigm in the Nineteenth Century, in G. Iggers & J. M. Powell 1990, 170-179.
12 13


What did bring about this success? No doubt the formation of a community which shared his thinking and norms was a necessary condition. His lecturing, his seminars, and his authorship formed the basic lever for the creation of this community. The people within this community worked together with the appeal of his Historismus to create the effect. Ranke talked to hundreds of historians of the younger generation, convincing them of what had happened and how it had happened, and made them consider how the deeper cohesion of states and times worked in the long run. Many came to share his opinions, at least in part. And, most important of all, many came to share the normative standpoint that this was what historians ought to devote their time to. Many of his listeners and disciples became professors and they taught Rankeanism, as they understood it, to their own students. It is quite clear that the followers of Ranke could not accept as history an account that did not follow certain principles of method. Old sources were preferred to more recent ones and a certain closeness to events was given precedence to hearsay or tradition. Rankes own use of the Venetian archives has been interpreted as a preference for diplomatic materials. There are however few statements by him or his close associates about the character of methods as requirements, i.e. minimum demands. This depends, certainly, on the standing of Rankes Historismus in the common understanding of how historical works should be written. It was necessary not only to write a faultless account but also to look at the historical development from the notions of state and politics that Ranke had formulated. These concepts expressed a formula for a fruitful and desirable perspective on history. In this manner Rankes professionalism turned the optimum norms into requirements and made methodology only a subsidiary asset. Thus Rankeanism outright or in a modified version became a condition for a professional historian. Without this condition it was not possible to adhere to the community of historians, and this community was so important that very few historians wanted to stand outside of it. This community had international branches and a strong Central, East and North European and North American foothold, but still it had clear geographical boundaries. IV. PROFESSIONALISM AS METHODS AND METHODOLOGY

In spite of its rapid success real Rankeanism had petered out already before Rankes own death. In Germany new stars among historians had won reputation, such as Johann Gustav Droysen as theoretician, or Heinrich von Sybel and Heinrich von Treitschke as narrators. None of these had by far the same international standing as Ranke. At the same time Rankes way of writing history in multivolume national histories was no longer what the scholarly world needed. In the last quarter of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth century the scholarly demand increasingly focused on detailed studies. This is what historical dissertations came to be about. The prevailing notion in history of historiography,


standardized through the works of Georg Iggers, that Rankean professionalism was the one that won the ground after 1870 in Western Europe is therefore misleading. Something new had become the prevailing value-basis in the historical national communities and internationally in Europe and the USA, even if they often referred to Ranke as a model16. One might think that French historians as Fustel de Coulanges or Gabriel Monod or a British one as Lord Acton might have taken the position that Ranke had left. But, in fact, none of them had any sharply defined profile that differed from Rankes. Nor had they disciples in large numbers who could establish their reputation abroad. Instead the new fashion of historical studies that spread around Europe was founded in source studies. Both in Germany and France large-scale projects of editing medieval sources were active from the 1820s and 30s. The model was rapidly transferred to most European countries. Medieval documents, chronicles, annals were located, restored and interpreted, which required refined instruments of editing. Impressive tool-boxes were created for editors17. These instruments were useful also for the historian. As the obsession with old archival material and its reproduction in new and critical editions spread around Europe, the critical standard for publication and evaluation of the content became international. One important means of making them international was the publishing of manuals for historical studies, which became a real trend. They were partly intended for the students of history at the universities and partly became reference manuals for the historical world, the international community of historians. In 1868 Johann Gustav Droysen first published his Grundzge der Historik, which was a rather dry distillate of his teaching on historical method and some historical theory18. It was not an international hit, in spite of its small format and clear prescriptions. Much greater was the success of Ernst Bernheims Lehrbuch der historischen Methode, which came in its first edition in 1889 and was repeatedly republished up to World War I. Another internationally influential manual was published in France. There CharlesVictor Langlois and Charles Seignobos produced a rival textbook called Introduction aux tudes historiques (1898), which was republished once, in 1899. There are differences, also in polemical form, between these very influential manuals19.
Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century, esp. 23-30. The same basic idea is expressed by Iggers in several other books and articles, but this is the place where I find it most clearly argued. 17 On these projects, see H. Bresslau, Geschichte der Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Neues Archiv, 42 (Hannover, 1921); X. Charmes, Le comit des travaux historiques et scientifiques. Histoire et documents, 1-2 (Paris, 1886). 18 In late twentieth century there was an intensive backing of Droysens reputation by making most of his Historik. See e.g. J. Rsen, Begriffene Geschichte: Genesis und Begrndung der Geschichtstheorie J. G. Droysens (Paderborn: Schningh, 1969). For a reversal see W. Nippel, Johann Gustav Droysen. Ein Leben zwischen Wissenschaft und Politik (Mnchen: C.H. Beck, 2008). Cfr. R. Torstendahl, Fact, truth and text: The quest for a firm basis for historical knowledge around 1900, History and Theory, 42, (2003): 305-331. 19 Bernheim had the opportunity to reply to Langlois and Seignobos in the later editions of his Lehrbuch. See Torstendahl, Fact, truth and text.



The most apparent difference was their attitude to the historians task. Bernheim (and Droysen though his text is very meagre) saw this task as a clarification of history itself. Here one may trace a link to Rankes statement of himself as historian: er will bloss zeigen wie es eigentlich gewesen. By clarifying the historical past itself historians were to indicate what probably or less probably had taken place, according to Bernheim. Langlois & Seignobos were of another opinion. They saw the historians work as a text, where he/she had to strive to make every sentence a true one. Thus probability of the past stood against solidity of a textual account20. Slightly different opinions in minor matters were developed in manuals for historical studies that were written in different native languages all around Europe to popularise historical methodology. Some of them became very widespread and dominated historical education in their and neighbouring countries. This was the case with the Dane Kristian Erslevs booklet Historisk Teknik (1911)21. Thus, in the last part of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth a specialized discussion on the methodology of history was taking form. Even if the discussion was specialized it was intended that all historians ought to be aware of the main issues, especially the issues where a broad consensus was growing up. In fact, most of the rules, i.e. the normative regulations for the treatment of sources by advanced scholars in history, were the same. What differed between the methodologists were the arguments with which they wanted to vindicate the rules and their normative basis22. The instrument that was used for making all historians aware of the normative system of the methodology was the historical seminar. Seminars became usual only in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, though some German professors had followed Rankes example from the 1860s, e.g. Johann Gustav Droysen. As a device for the dissemination of historical method it was very efficient to sit around a table (the seminar table was an obligatory accessory) and discuss which inferences should be drawn about the origin, tendentious inclinations and content of a historical text, old or new. The teacher thus had the opportunity to pass on both personal views and a standardized version of what the historian ought to take into regard. The microcosms of historical communities had all fundamentals in common thanks to the wide-spread manuals. A wider consensus grew up and an international community was formed. A new historical literature grew up inspired by the new interest in methods and methodology. Historical dissertations have already been mentioned, and some historians won their celebrity by using source analysis in a radical manner. Such methods might change traditional views on history, especially the rather distant past. In Germany this process had started comparatively early and the gradual revaluation of the past did not create real ruptures. In other countries where a
Torstendahl, Fact, truth and text. Erslev had published an earlier version under another title in 1892. A book in Norwegian by G. Storm, Indledning i Historie (Oslo, 1895), was far less successful. 22 See Torstendahl, Fact, truth and text.
20 21



critical scrutiny had a shorter and weaker tradition its results could be more shocking. The cultural adaptation to critical evaluations of the past depended also to an important degree on the conclusions that historians drew from their critical scrutiny. Some found that the results of their analysis indicated that the material in question was not sufficient to evidence what earlier had been thought but all the same concluded that they had to consider the probabilities of the one or the other solution. Others made a clean sweep with the historical narratives that were based on materials that did not answer to the demands of criticism. A Swede, Lauritz Weibull, based his fame on his willingness to discard all old Norse history that was based on tales and fiction as he said in a famous book from 1911, where he stated that only the rough contours of what happened in Scandinavia around the year 1000 could be evidenced through less distorted poetry contemporary with events23. Weibull was radical in his application of source criticism, but first of all he was drawing radical conclusions from a criticism that many other researchers might accept. In fact he followed rather closely the norms for conclusions that had been proposed by Langlois and Seignobos in their manual24. This was rather rare. Most other researchers preferred following the cautious norms for conclusions that had been proposed by Bernheim in his manual. Thus they had a possibility to consider the pros and cons and to let their conclusion be whatever seemed to them a bit more probable than the alternatives. I am not arguing that most historians around 1900 looked into the manuals to get guidance regarding which norms should be followed. Both then and later manuals have served, it seems, mostly as references for the advanced scholars, where they could find support for their own ideas. They also used the manuals as textbooks in their teaching. In most countries there was no real struggle for or against source criticism. This is quite understandable from what has been said above. Source criticism in itself was a refinement that historians of quite different schools of thought might accept. Among those who accepted the critical attitude to sources were however great differences. In Sweden there were historians who accepted source criticism but not Weibulls conclusions. In Denmark there was a great tradition of criticism first advanced with radical conclusions by Caspar Paludan-Mller and later developed into a system of methodology by Kristian Erslev, who was more cautious as regards conclusions. Both in Denmark and Norway there were researchers who had used similar critical methods as Weibull to the old saga material earlier but had reached other conclusions25.
When tales and fiction are swept away, it has become clear that only occasional events and the coarsest lines of the history of this period [late 10th and early 11th century] are scientifically observable, he says in the preface to his Kritiska underskningar i Nordens historia omkring r 1000, published (in Swedish) in 1911. 24 See R. Torstendahl, Kllkritik och vetenskapssyn i svensk historisk forskning 1820-1920, Studia hist. Upsaliensia, 15 (Uppsala, 1964), ch. 12; B. Odn, Lauritz Weibull och forskarsamhllet, Bibliotheca hist. Lundensis, 39 (Lund, 1971). 25 The researchers alluded to are Edvin Jessen, Gustav Storm and Yngvar Nielsen.



The example from Scandinavian historiography is not intended to claim for these countries any special qualities in regard to historical professionalism. It seems probable that one could find similar controversies and developments in many other countries in Europe or other parts of the world. Scandinavia had, however, one advantage. Old political grudges had been shelved and historiography was therefore less occupied with justifying national prejudices and more open for scholarly squabbles about sources and what they showed than was the case in many other countries in Europe where history was in a rather strict service of national politics. An international meeting-place for historians was created with the foundation of the International Congresses of Historical Sciences, which in 1923 led to the creation of a permanent body, the Comit international des sciences historiques (CISH). However, the Congresses lead their history back to 1900 with a precursor in 1898, even if the name came later26. In view of the national dissensions within Europe it is striking that this movement of international cooperation could get sufficient support mainly from European historians to get a takeoff in the beginning of the century. This fact must be interpreted as a sign of a need among historians to find a forum for their discussions and an organization to refer to as a symbol of the community that had come into existence among historians. As Karl-Dietrich Erdmann shows in his history of CISH questions about methods and methodology were paramount topics in the first international congresses. Erdmann and his translators and editors of the English edition give the fourth chapter the heading Debates on methodology: Rome 1903 and the fifth Victorious professionalism: Berlin 1908. However, this may give a somewhat misleading impression to the present-day reader. The issues were rather specific, and covered things ranging from the archaeology of Rome to the codification of law and to the composition and origin of the New Testament in the Bible (the international congresses were still an exclusively European affair). Special sessions were devoted to such themes in Rome. In Berlin five years later economic matters and the Lamprecht-inspired methods came into the limelight when Lamprecht himself was permitted to lecture. However, the Berlin congress abolished the special group for methodology. The organizers instead gave the instruction that lectures in all sections should primarily deal with substantive information or questions of method and scholarly activity27. As Erdmann has observed the congresses in the first decade of the twentieth century became more scholarly and more directly occupied with what was regarded as scholarly progress. Real debates were introduced and spokesmen for different opinions on theory and method came forward with strongly voiced
K. D. Erdmann, Toward a Global Community of Historians. The International Historical Congresses and the International Committee of Historical Sciences, 1898-2000 (New York & Oxford: Berghahn, 2005), 6-22, 101-122. The book first appeared in German as kumene der Historiker (1987). The English edition has been supplied with a chapter covering the period 1985-2000 by Wolfgang J. Mommsen, and is edited by Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Jrgen Kocka. 27 Erdmann, Toward a Global Community of Historians, 22-65, quotation from 44.



judgements. The criticism to the news regarding methods and methodology that Erdmann has noted in his book came from French participants. Most explicitly Franois Simiand opposed the scattering of the discussions about methods in sections on diverse topics and the lack of sessions on real methodology28. This is noteworthy. Simiand was a historical sociologist who avidly advocated Durkheims ideas against historians and (historical) economists. In 1898 he published a critical review of the Introduction by Langlois and Seignobos and in 1903 he had a long two-part article in Revue de synthse historique, where he presented a radically critical view of three books on historical method, one of them Ch. Seignobos La Mthode historique applique aux sciences sociales, from 190129. Simiands interest in the debates shows the breadth of the discussion. He severely criticized Seignobos for not realising the subjectivity of the historians selection of information, and the limits of historical knowledge in comparison with social science. He also advocated systematic comparison of differentiated social phenomena separately in a vehement denunciation of the intertwining wholes (he uses the German word Zusammenhang in his French text) that he meant that historical methodologists recommended as starting points for historians30. Obviously an ultimate aim of the international organization was to stabilize the normative system around methods and methodology, but this could only be achieved through consistent openness to all relevant arguments. The philosophical basis for methodology was by no means uniform, even though methods were generally regarded as uncontested. This was important as the bulk of discussions on national arenas, when they were not about themes with a political relevance, were on methods from various points of view. The different national communities needed and got a point of reference in the international community. It should be noted, however, that the unanimity was limited to questions on methods and methodology. Whenever theoretical questions were approached, either in social theory (Marxism and other materialist thinking) or in epistemology (Dilthey and Neo-Kantians), and they were frequently taken up, radically different views were voiced. In this manner a much more international community of historians was created than the one that had gathered around Ranke and his ideas in the middle of the nineteenth century. Methods and methodology was the core idea. The vital condition was that it got a foothold in the national communities for it should not be overlooked that history was still a nationally based discipline. The national
Erdmann, Toward a Global Community of Historians, 49. F. Simiand, (Review of) Introduction aux tudes historiques, F. Simiand, Mthode historique et science sociale, parts 1-2, both available at website < des_sciences_sociales/index.html>. The two other books reviewed by Simiand were: P. Lacombe, De lhistoire considre comme science (Paris: Hachette, 1894), and ? Hauser, Enseignement des sciences sociales. (I have not been able to identify this book in any library catalogue, including the one of Bibliothque National de France). I want to thank Professor Ph. Steiner, Sorbonne, who drew my attention to Simiands activity as a proponent of Durkheims ideas. 30 Simiand, Mthode historique, 1-2.
28 29



communities might have their own agenda and these were most often based on interpretations of the national past in a way that was reflecting contemporary politics. For the international communication between historians it was then utterly important that there reigned a sort of consensus around the importance of methods and methodology for the professional historian. Thus the second appearance of historical professionalism, which gradually replaced Rankeanism in the 1870s and 1880s, was in the shape of methods and methodology. The Rankean professionalism of the 1830-70s was determined in the first hand by norms for the selection of themes and subject matters. The professionalism that became dominant from around 1880 concentrated on methods and methodology and made a correct application of agreed methods a sign of the professional historian and his/her professionalism. It is striking that the objectivity question (as it was termed in Novicks famous book31) was not a central one in the European debates on history. Occasionally both impartiality and a true representation of the historical reality were touched upon, but such opinions created no observable divisions in the academic community of historians. Rankeans could find ground for evaluations in the value-loaded concept of state in Rankes production (but some might favour impartiality). Those who adhered to method-related professionalism often saw method as one thing and evaluative standpoints as another (but some tried to include rules for object-relatedness and/or impartiality in the normative system). This means that no professionals were immune to lack of objectivity, which is in itself a very complicated matter. Thus, before 1900 there were no other alternatives to professionalism than Rankeanism and the later methods-centred one. Only around these two varieties of professionalism were international communities successfully created that professed the norms and elaborated the values of these notions of professionalism. In hindsight Rankean professionalism has been taken as part of a process (professionalization) that was continued through methodology in the latter part of the nineteenth century. To make this a unified process it became necessary to stress the methodological part of Rankes (and Niebuhrs and Mommsens) teaching. I am not saying that this part did not exist. But it was not a central part in the professionalism that was spread through the Rankean community over Europe and North America. Only in the eighties and onwards methods and methodology got a standing that made it central in historical professionalism. The minimum demands thus came into the forefront of historical professionalism. Most historians also recognized optimum norms that were often those that Ranke had developed but were given only a secondary place in relation to the minimum demands. This may also serve as an explanation to the rising role of national themes in historiography in the late part of the nineteenth century. When optimum norms what history should deal with was regarded as less important for their professionalism, the field lay open. State interests, as Iggers rightly stresses, worked in favour of

P. Novick, That Noble Dream: The Objectivity Question and the American Historical Profession (Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 1988).



national and conservative historiography. My interpretation is, however, that this was a side-effect of the reign of methodology, not a main trait of historical professionalism of this period32. V. WIDENING PROFESSIONALISM: ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY

In the first quarter of the twentieth century the national agenda was often challenged by groups of historians who would prefer social and economic affairs to have prominence in the writings of historians. Of course, this did not necessarily imply that methods and methodology could not continue to be the backbone of the normative system within the community. Methods designed within the nineteenthcentury editing projects were, however, intended for other purposes than problems within social and economic history and were not immediately relevant or important for the solution of such problems. Seen in this light there is a close affinity between Karl Lamprechts struggles against the German historical community around the turn of the century and Marc Blochs fight for his integrity during the first Annales period. Both stood in opposition to the dominating normative system of their national communities. Lamprecht, however, lost his battle in the long run (Finland came to be the only country with a vital Lamprechtian tradition in research33) but Marc Bloch won his. It is important, however, that Bloch was not an international trendsetter for new historical norms in the form of a new methodology or a new standard for conclusions from sources. He fought his battle for the importance of other subject-matters than those that had previously dominated the discussion, and in this field he was not alone. Economic historians and economists with a historical mind such as, Gustav Schmoller, Max Weber, Alfred Marshall, R. H. Tawney, and Eli F. Heckscher had a similar agenda. They were nationally very celebrated both as economists and historians but they had few disciples active in history. Similarly their solid international reputation did not avert that their influence on the trends in the historical community was limited34. There was a specific section for economic and social history at the International Congress of History in Oslo in 1928. There Eli Heckscher read a paper on Economic Theory and Economic History, where he pleaded for extensive use of theory in order to understand what really
32 Cf. Iggers: What is striking is how professionalization, with the development of the scientific ethos and scientific practices that accompanied it, led everywhere to an increasing ideologization of historical writing: Iggers, Historiography in the Twentieth Century, 28. 33 P. Tommila, Studies in the History of Society in Finland Before World War II, Scandinavian Journal of History, 6, 1, (1981): 143-160. 34 On Marshall and Tawney, see D.C. Coleman, History and the Economic Past. An Account of the Rise and Decline of Economic History in Britain (Oxford: Clarendon, 1987), 63-77; on Heckscher, see Y. Hasselberg, Industrisamhllets frkunnare: Eli Heckscher, Arthur Montgomery, Bertil Bothius och svensk ekonomisk historia 1920-1950 (Hedemora: Gidlunds, 2007); on Schmoller, see E. GrimmerSolem, The Rise of Historical Economics and Social Reform in Germany, 1864-1894 (Oxford: Oxford U.P., 2003), esp. 246-279; on Weber, see J. Kocka ed., Max Weber, der Historiker (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986).



constitutes economic history. According to his short abstract this meant, that theoretical treatment is as necessary in regard to economic history as it is to present-day economics. Heckschers abstract was the most theoretically-oriented among the abstracts that are printed in the publication from the congress. The only one with a comparable aim is V. P. Volgins (Moscow) paper on socialism and egalitarianism. In the same section Marc Bloch presented a paper on Le problme des systmes agraires. The short summaries in the documentation from the congress do not permit any far-reaching conclusions. It is important enough that Heckscher and Bloch alongside with the Hansa historian Fritz Rrig, the Soviet specialist on France Evgenii Tarle and several others were allowed to present views that went beyond the politically determined field of problems. However, Heckscher seems not to be content with what the community allowed, for in his paper he asked for more economic history dealing with the economic problem proper instead of what he judged as institutional, legal or social history35. The three labels mentioned by him seem to fit exactly for what the others in the section on economic and social history were dealing with. In fact there was a difference between the economic historians who were inspired by economic theory and the social historians of the type represented best by Marc Bloch. The former category soon created an outlet for their own profile in organizations for the promotion of economic history as such, e.g. the British Economic History Society, founded in 1926 and the American Economic History Association, founded in 1940. Yet, there was no definitive break with the discipline of history (there were few chairs in economic history) and The International Economic History Association was created only in 1960. Economic historians also started journals for economic history. First of them was Viertelsjahrschrift fr Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, established in 1903. In the nineteen-twenties were founded The Economic History Review (1927) in Britain, The Journal of Economic and Business History (1928) in the USA, and the Annales dhistoire conomique et sociale (1929) in France. It is no accident that social history is not mentioned in the titles of the British and American journals. While the economic historians gradually accepted that historians had their professionalism anchored in the minimum demands, they chose to quit or to be half-hearted members of the historical community and to create their own platform. In retrospect Blochs social history was a conscious struggle against the methodological paradigm of professionalism but within the frame of the discipline of history. His obvious aim was to widen the field of history and to change the optimum norms to achieve this. However, Blochs victory was only to be celebrated posthumously, after the war where he lost his life. At that time new ideas on the task of history had become heard, especially in France. As a social historian in the 1920s and 1930s Bloch was in good company. Many other influential economic and social historians quite as Bloch found little guidance from

VIe Congrs International des Sciences Historiques: Rsums des communications prsentes au congrs, Oslo 1928, Section X, 257-296.



methodological professionalism in their research and, in fact, social and economic history itself developed in diverse directions, more or less independently of the mother discipline of history. VI. THE ADVENT OF A HISTORICAL SOCIAL SCIENCE

Among historians in general methodological professionalism dominated the academic community of historians up to 1950. This does not mean that all discussions among historians in the first half of the twentieth century were related to texts and their critical use. Erdmann states that since the beginning of the twentieth century the traditional historicist historiography with characteristic elements textual criticism, hermeneutics, intellectual history, politics, events, individuals, narrative had been challenged by ethnology, sociology, economics, psychology, and quantificational approaches36. It will seem that this is an overstatement of oppositional directions within the community of historians. Economic and social historians had been taking their own paths from the 1920s, and there were other directions, such as Arnold J. Toynbees civilizational (macrohistorical) approach that had became famous, beside the group around the Annales, which was restructured just after the war. Still after the war many historical journals continued publishing in the traditional fields of historical research. The Annales (getting its new name Annales ESC in 1946) formed an exception which was followed by other exceptions, such as Past and Present (from 1952). Apart from the statement on challenges from the social sciences Erdmann is certainly right in his declaration that the Paris Congress in 1950 represented an important step in the development of the theoretical self-awareness of historical scholarship. It is, however, harder to pinpoint the novelty than to get a general impression of newness from the programme. Its division of the subject-matter was really innovative. There were seven main sections with substantial reports, 1) Anthropology and demography; 2) History of ideas and sentiments; 3) Economic history; 4) Social history; 5) History of civilizations; 6) History of institutions; 7) History of political facts. The six first of these headings might have been fetched from the content of Annales, and the seventh was a last-minute addition urged by Sir Charles Webster. One should not be deceived by the headings of the sections. The structuring of each section was very traditional, dividing time in four periods, antiquity, middle ages, temps modernes, and poque contemporaine. One or the other of these periods was skipped in the reports and discussion in some cases. The reports were very wide and gave overviews of recent literature. Occasionally they even took up some Asian and African countries but then in view of colonial experiences. The debates were sometimes hard and critical. For instance, Eric J. Hobsbawm, is reported to have said that Colin Clarks report on modern economic history est un

Erdmann, Toward a Global Community of Historians, 206.



example de ce quil ne faut pas faire en histoire conomique. In passing he mentioned Clarks concepts and statistical method as worthy of criticism but concentrated on Clarks analysis in terms of one single criterion, growth or, as Clark himself puts it, economic progress as shown by industrial development37. Still more interesting is the introduction made by Hobsbawm, this time chairing the session, to the discussion on the Polish historian Marian Malowists report on contemporary social history.

In his long introduction he continued with saying that class relations and class struggle ought to be central in social history and he concluded with reminding his audience that they were historians specialising in social history but had to write history, not social history, for history cannot be subdivided in real life38. Nothing similar had been heard earlier in the context of the historical congresses. Hobsbawm did not say that that historians ought to make American sociologists their models, but he came rather close to it. And he praised other social scientists as well for taking up important problems, which historians had overlooked. This is certainly almost saying that he wanted to transform history into a historical social science, which is what Erdmann says of another group of historians at the Paris congress. The group of historians that Erdmann mentions were connected with the Annales. From the Annales group he mentions Aymard, Boutruche, Fourasti, Francastel, Friedmann, Lefebvre, Renouard, Varagnac, and Wolff, but he includes also Cipolla, Dhont, Postan, de Roover, and Sapori as belonging in a broader sense to the Annales circle. Their common denominator was the conviction of a paradigm shift from historicism to historical social science39. If this is to be true the last sentence has to be taken in a very broad sense. All of them were inclined to favour a reorientation of the emphasis of history, that is new optimum norms, but most of them did not orient themselves towards social sciences especially. Thus, Erdmanns characterization of the Paris congress as dominated by a group of historians who wanted to make history into a historical social science is
37 IXe Congrs International des Sciences Historiques Paris 1950, vol. II, Actes, 116. Clark in Rapports, 242-258, esp. 244. 38 IXe Congrs International, 144-147. 39 Erdmann, Toward a Global Community of Historians, 206-207.

I propose to agree on two points made by Professor Malowist in his own report: a) Like him, I propose to define Social History as the history of social groups and their mutual relations. b) Like him also, I believe that the most important task is not to give an account of work done because there isnt as yet very much but of problems whose solution is urgent. Let me correct myself. A lot of work has been done but hardly at all by historians: the American enquiries into the social structure of towns (Black Metropolis, Prairie City, Yankee City, etc., and of course the remarkable Middletown studies) are by sociologists; studies like Professor Pierre Georges Banlieu, by human geographers; the interesting studies of British towns, Middlesborough, London by architects and town-planners; the surveys of British industrial areas between the wars, largely by economists. Demographers have contributed but hardly at all the historians.



hardly a fair characterization of the Paris congress and the people active there. It is also misleading as an interpretation of the ideas dominating in the historical community of the time. No transformation of history into a historical social science was advocated at the congress. One can find no evidence in the reports or the minutes from the congress that supports such a view. Rather, Hobsbawm a radical but not one of those mentioned by Erdmann made clear in the quoted passage that he did want historians remain historians but with a new outlook. One can find the same ambition to guide historians interests into a new direction in the contributions to other of the fundamental themes of the congress. Very clear examples are the reports by Pierre Francastel and Georges Friedmann on the modern and contemporary periods of the History of Civilizations theme. Francastel argued that history of civilization was a new branch of history that needed its own methods and Friedmann argued that the only fruitful method to study the relations between the technical development and modern civilization is to adopt an ethnological point of view. Technology is part of the civilization and is not an autonomous factor that threatens eternal values. Friedmann also states that he will not take a general view (in historical manner) of influences but wants to break the questions down into a psycho-physiological level where influences can be traced in new, technically created, conditions of life40. When social sciences were mentioned in a positive sense at the Paris congress, it happened in contexts like the mentioned ones. Hobsbawm was the participant who came closest to recommending a social science history. Already before the Paris congress something had happened that came to be of much greater importance for the historical community than any of the declarations at the congress. The event was the publication in 1949 of Fernand Braudels La Mditerrane et le monde mditerranen lpoque de Philippe II, defended three years earlier as a dissertation for the doctorate. With this book Braudel rapidly got an enormous influence in the French academic community by posts of importance as director of the Annales, director of the cole des hautes tudes en sciences sociales, director of the Maison des sciences de lhomme and member of the Collge de France. The success was also an international one. Abroad the fame of Braudel relied solely on his authorship, which contained not only the outstanding work of 1949 but also several essays and minor works and, later, one other great work that paralleled La Mditerrane, his Civilisation matrielle, conomie et capitalisme. XV-XVIIIme sicle (1979). It is probably true that no single historian after Ranke has managed to shake the prevailing notions of the historical community as greatly as has Braudel. However, it should be noted that it is hard to find traces of this influence in the (rather compressed) reports and minutes from the international congress in Paris of 1950. His name was mentioned in a footnote in each of Malowists and Francastels reports. Braudel himself was not an author of any report, he is not listed among participants, and his name is not mentioned in
40 IXe Congrs International des Sciences Historiques 1950, vol. 1: Rapports, 341-366 (Francastel), esp. 341-343; 367-381 (Friedmann), esp. 367-368.



the debates where one could expect it to be so41. Yet, his fame was already solid. What was then new with his way of conceiving history? It is easy to pinpoint some terms as la longue dure, les conjonctures and lhistoire vnementielle but it is not quite as easy to grasp what is new in the normative approach to history in Braudels work. According to the historians of historiography who have most intensively studied this question the central point in Braudels idea of history is that it is concerned with social wholes, which have to be considered in their entirety. This total aspect is then a histoire globalisante, which has to preserve its unity and not get lost in a multiplicity of details. The leading perspective should be global, according to Aguirre Rojas, and this means that there are no historical events or circumstances that are purely economic, political, religious, geographic, cultural or family-related. They should primarily be seen in their social environment. Historians must try to place both the spectacular events that are known by everybody and the seemingly trivial ones in everyday life in their connections with the social totality. The social totality, past, present and future, constitutes this real unity, which forms the foundation for and legitimates the equally unitary and global vision of the globalising history that Braudel is fighting for. But it constitutes, as a by-product, a frame of reference for the very mode to approach to the different problems that the historian and the social scientist will meet42. It is noteworthy that in this interpretation Braudel advocates exactly the connection between all sorts of social development in history, which the sociologist-historian Simiand, half a century earlier, severely criticized (see p. 12 above). Pierre Daix, in his rather prosaic biography, writes with passion and poetry on the openness with which Braudel treated space and geography as well as the economic implications of the infrastructure that La Mediterrane provided43. Had the historical community just met an opposition, arguing these things in abstract terms, against its preoccupation with methods and methodology as professional criteria, it would hardly have yielded. But there was the enormous book and its admiring and positive acceptance by many historians not only in France but all over Europe and Latin America and in other parts of the world as well, even if Burke reminds us, that all reviewers were not positive and might have some reason for their criticism44. But generally, the reception showed that a lot of readers were overwhelmed. Braudels success did not alone bring about a change, although he became a central person in the historical community where his presence was strongly felt. For example Jo Tollebeek has recently showed how central Braudel was for
This contention is not based on a systematic analysis line by line of the minutes but on a rather normal reading of the most vital debates. The footnote mentions are in Rapports, 308, 356. Both reports and minutes (Actes) are without index. 42 C.A. Aguirre Rojas, Fernand Braudel et les sciences humaines (Paris: Harmattan, 2004), 45 (transl. by RT). 43 P. Daix, Braudel (Paris: Flammarion, 1995), esp. 229-232. 44 P. Burke, The French Historical Revolution. The Annales School, 1929-89 (Cambridge: Polity, 1990), 38-42.



Belgian and Dutch historians at the International Historical Congress in Rome in 1955, in spite of the fact that he was not there45. Braudels influence was strong on the younger members of the historical community towards a change in the normative system of the discipline. His shadow was there in spite of his absence, and his name was frequently mentioned in the discussion. Erdmann has noted also that the American historian Thomas C. Cochran, who like Braudel was not present at the 1955 congress, had written a paper called History and the Social Sciences. Erdmann seems to classify it mainly as a specimen of what Henri Berr had called syncretism rather than synthesis. However, in his argument Cochran is formulating an appeal for historians to use sociological and economic approaches to history. He mentions several examples and contends: Theoretical constructs or models have value in giving meaning and organization to otherwise diffuse data. Cochrans conclusion is also worth quoting:

In the discussion David S. Landes had got the task to substitute the absent Cochran. Landes tried to tone down the sharpness of the paper. In his version Cochran had only recommended historians to borrow certain methods from other disciplines on the basis of common sense47. This is certainly what Henri Berr had thought of when he characterized American New History as syncretism. In the discussion that followed very few interventions are taken to the minutes. Criticism dealt with the empirical scope of Cochrans proposal rather than with the theoretical message, and none of the speakers really took up the question of the possibility to use sociological and economic theory in the writing of history48. Even if the international congresses were held only every fifth year and had been suspended during the war, they did serve as a meeting-place for historians and a forum for the articulation of news in the discipline. And here were news. Around
45 J. Tollebeek, A Diversity of Experiences: Belgian and Dutch Historians in Rome, La Storiografia tra passato e futuro. Il X Congresso Internazionale di Scienze Storiche (Roma 1955) cinquantanni dopo (Rome: Unione Internazionale degli Istituti di Archeologia, Storia e Storia dellArte in Roma, 2008), 243-269, esp. 261f. Braudel was the co-author of a paper with six authors called Commerce et industrie en Europe du XVI au XVII sicle, in the Relazioni, vol. 4 of the Rome Congress (1955), 227-303. 46 Cochrans paper in the documents from the Rome Congress, Relazioni, vol. 1 (Firenze: Sansoni, 1955), 481-504, quot. 503-504. 47 Rome Congress, Atti, 176-177. 48 Rome Congress, Atti, 177-181. It must be noted that speakers who did not provide the secretary with a manuscript of their interventions had little chance to have them recorded in the minutes.

History as one of the social science disciplines is still history with its intuitive insights and methodological limitations. From inadequate data historians must still piece together qualitative aspects of situations [.]. To ask that historians regard parts of their discipline as primarily analytic and synthetic rather than merely descriptive is a call to add to the scope of historical research, to cast off the implied limitations of Professor Burrs statement that the study of social causation as such is not history, to go beyond the admonition that the historians main object should be describing events as they actually happened, to seek a broader intellectual approach that includes an interest in social theory; and to recognize that since history is a selection of factors from an infinite universe, an explicit basis for selection reduces misinterpretation46.



the first years of the 1950s something happened in the conception of the historical discipline. The historical community took notice of this news, and the discussions at the Paris and Rome congresses of 1950 and 1955 show that many of the leading historians from different countries were aware of a turn. It was rare to oppose to the news, and the news was gradually presented as a turn towards use of social science theory and what social science researchers had found with the help of such theories. A new change in the value-system of the historical community had its advocates. Their intention was obviously to strengthen the optimum norms in historical professionalism, but the exact means to do this were still vague or obscure. This situation was not to remain. There were other new directions in historiography that were coming up in the 1960s and 70s. One was the general Americanization of social science in Europe, which led to a strong influence of American sociology not only on sociologists in Europe but also within the discipline of history. In Scandinavia (esp. Sweden and Norway) this influence was strong and meant creation of a social history based on quantitative data processed through computers49. Generally, quantitative history also grew in importance and most often had a focus on social history50. One specific direction was a sociologyinspired, sometimes quantitative social history, which was launched by a group of still young and not quite established historians around the journal Geschichte und Gesellschaft, which started in 1975 when the group had already been formed. As some of the leading members of the group were attached to the University of Bielefeld, it has been known as the Bielefeld school. Its main aim was to further a new direction of historical studies inspired by the social sciences and the catchword became historical social science (historische Sozialwissenschaft) and it was anti-Marxist51. Another direction was the New Left with a historical materialism that wanted to be inspired by Marxism but rejected the Marxism of the Soviet Union52. A third new direction was history based on dependence and underdevelopment and took a new perspective of the world, created by Andr Gunder Frank in connection with the World Systems theory that Immanuel Wallerstein had developed from Braudels works53. A fourth direction was the
See R. Torstendahl, Thirty-Five Years of Theories in History. Social Science Theories and Philosophy of History in the Scandinavian Debate, Scandinavian Journal of History, vol. 25: 1-26. 50 Popular early introductions were D.K. Rowney and J.Q. Graham eds., Quantitative History: Selected Readings in the Quantitative Analysis of Historical Data, The Dorsey series in American history (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1969) and W.O. Aydelotte et al. eds., Dimensions of Quantitative Research in History (London: Oxford U.P. 1972) (from the series Quantitative studies in history). 51 Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Jrgen Kocka, Reinhard Kosellek, Heinrich August Winkler, and HansJrgen Puhle were core members of the group, all with connections to Bielefeld. In a wider sense their direction of research included also several others, e.g. Wolfgang J. Mommsen and Hartmut Kaelble. 52 Originally the New Left was a label for a British anti-nuclear group which got a voice in the New Left Review from 1960. With the growing interest in Marxism (unorthodox and orthodox) in the late 1960s and 70s the group expanded. Historians, such as E. P. Thompson and Perry Anderson, formed a small part of its authors. See R. Blackburn, A Brief History of New Left Review, available at the website <>. 53 Especially see A.G. Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America (New York:



general revival and revitalization of Marxist views and theories in the West that took place in the period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. These different new directions of historiography unanimously discarded the previously existing priorities of the professional historical community. According to them methods should be subordinated to the important choice of perspectives and problems. But at the same time none of these directions wanted to establish a specialized sub-branch of history but rather aimed at reforming history as a discipline. So far we agree completely with Georg Iggers in his characterization of what he calls the middle phase of social science history. However, he creates the impression that this was a transformation of the discipline of the same kind as the one that Ranke achieved or the one when methods and methodology became fundamentals for professionalism. That is not true for two reasons. First, the new directions that had some aims in common were not unanimous in what they wanted to replace the earlier optimum norms with. The Annales circle, inspired by Braudels work, directed attention to geographical factors, demography and long-term changes; Eric Hobsbawm favoured a Marxist view with a class perspective but in close relation to the Annales and was a direction of his own; the Bielefeld group stressed state-society relations in a social science perspective; the New Left, like the historians of the Marxist revival generally, focused on class perspectives and their effects on society; and the underdevelopment historians emphasized the effects of European and North American policies on former colonies and the rest of the world generally. Thus, when they reversed the importance between the optimum norms and the minimum demands, their ideas of the new optimum was widely different and sometimes led them into being each others outspoken enemies. One may even doubt that they saw each other as fellows in the same struggle against a common foe. The second reason why the interest in social science history that we may observe in the different directions was not a change of the discipline of history of the same kind as the earlier transformations is that the earlier conceptions of the fundamental value of methodological minimum demands and the importance of a narrative-hermeneutic political history as the optimum norm were still very valid in vast parts of the historical community. This does not mean that the news had difficulties in penetrating the community. Instead it is obvious from the heated discussion in Germany in the 1980s on what history should deal with and how historians should treat the past (the Historikerstreit) that important parts if not a majority of the established historians were well aware of the challenge against the old norms and refused to accept news54. Even if other countries had no such
Monthly Review P., 1967); J.D. Cockroft & A.G. Frank & D.L. Johnson, Dependence and Underdevelopment: Latin Americas Political Economy (Garden City, N.Y.: Anchor, 1972). 54 J. Peter, Der Historikerstreit und die Suche nach einer nationalen Identitt der achtziger Jahre (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1995); I. Geiss, Die Habermas-Kontroverse: ein deutscher Streit (Berlin: Siedler, 1988); J. Habermas, The new conservatism: cultural criticism and the historians debate (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1989); H.-U. Wehler, Entsorgung der deutschen Vergangenheit?: ein polemischer Essay zum Historikerstreit (Mnchen: Beck, 1988).



very open dissensions within their historical communities, there is no doubt that social science history was not at all generally accepted. Many historians wanted to stay in the normative system that had dominated earlier. Thus historical professionalism had attained a new point. It was impossible to arrive at unanimity even when some time had passed and the news were no longer quite new. Thus there is no middle phase dominated by social science history, as Iggers says, but different sorts of professionalism that went in different directions. VII. FROM ONE TO SEVERAL COMMUNITIES

If the period 1950-1980 can be regarded with some truth as a time with double standards in history this was still more the case after 1980. Already earlier new approaches to history had become common and greeted with joy by many historians, who found the statistical groundwork of much social history laborious, tedious and menial. Social anthropology had already offered another angle to historians, but now the very mentalities of people or groups of people were pushed into the centre of interest. This new direction of historical studies was borne in the Annales circle and was rapidly accepted and practised over most of Europe and the United States. When postmodernism was transferred from the literary to the historical field, a still more complicated situation arose. The question was raised if history as a discipline or learned profession could ever be so liberated from the entanglements of language that it could be said to show anything beyond the historians mind. Linguistic theory of French and Russian origins was applied to history and its sources and, finally, the USA contributed with Hayden Whites theory of history as rhetoric strongly supported by many others, among them Hans Kellner and Frank Ankersmit55. For some time in the 1990s it seemed that the postmodern perspective was winning ground to a degree that might challenge the historical professionalisms in their totality. If Whites and Ankersmits theories would gain the upper hand, history would in fact be subsumed under the same label as literary fiction. Iggers, in his book from 1997, concludes in a meditative mood about the possible end of historical scholarship and of enlightenment. It did not end in disaster. The members of the historical discipline are still pursuing research and writing their books. Language continues to be their medium, but postmodernism has become relegated to one of many directions of thought that

H. White, Metahistory. The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1973); H. White, Tropics of Discourse. Essays in Cultural Criticism (Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1978); H. White, The Content of the Form. Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation (Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins U.P., 1987); H. Kellner, Language and historical representation: getting the story crooked (Madison, Wis.: U. of Wisconsin P., 1989); F. Ankersmit, History and Tropology. The Rise and Fall of Metaphor (Berkeley & Los Angeles & London: U. of California P., 1994).



have passed their zenith. It is viewed by many young researchers as one option of many, in spite of its potential challenge to the whole structure. The community of historians that had started to be built in Rankes life-time by himself and his disciples had reached its peak in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. Then competition had started, first from specialities, such as economic history, and later from reformers of the discipline itself. The community definitely split with the success of the different sorts of social history that wanted to be social science. In the last two decades of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first other new directions of thought have become really influential in historical writing, yet without reaching a general acclaim. The community is not any longer only divided into two parts but is split into several, each with its own agenda. The professionalism of historians has no longer a clear foothold in one general community. Formally the discipline is still there, but the differences between its practitioners and their different communities are great. If you can be professional according to several different models partly conflicting as they are it is difficult to profess that your professionalism gives to you a specific standing and is making you into a certified historian. Uppsala University


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 27-28


I find Rolf Torstandahls essay is an excellent interpretative survey and analysis of major trends in professional historical writing from Ranke to the twenty-first century beyond post-modernism. Nevertheless I have some criticisms and I would recommend that one or more reactions to the article be published. The primary purpose of the article, Torstendahl writes, is directed against the idea of one process of professionalization that made history scientific and against definitions of historical professionalism in terms of such criteria as employment at universities or research institutions, educational prerequisites, and the utilization of certain methods. In their place Torstendahl offers an idea of historical professionalism. However, none of the authors he has in mind, Gabriele Lingelbach1, Pim Den Boer2, and myself3 as adherents to a notion of progressive professionalization saw professionalization in such terms; on the contrary Lingelbachs thesis is that professionalization in France and the United States each went different ways and that both differed from the German model. Den Boer deals with the specific character of the professionalization of historical studies in France. I have similarly argued for the limitations of the German model of professionalization. He nevertheless recognizes an element which all professional history has in common, adherence to a basic method which they share, namely source criticism (Quellenkritik) as a sine qua non of scholarship. In my opinion he in this connection overestimates the role of Ranke in international and even in German historical scholarship. He stresses correctly that Rankes histories were narratives, as were almost all the great and the lesser historical works of the nineteenth century, and that Ranke dealt little with questions of methodology and
1 Gabriele Lingelbach, Klio macht Karriere: Die institutionalisierung der Geschichtswissenschaft in Frankreich und in den USA in der zweiten Hlfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2003). 2 Pim Den Boer, History as a Profession:The Study of History in France 1818-1914 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998). 3 E.g. Georg G. Iggers, Ist es in der Tat in Deutschland frher zur Verwissenschaftlichung der Geschichte gekommen als in anderen europischen Lndern? in Wolfgang Kttler, Jrn Rsen and Ernst Schulin, eds., Geschichtsdiskurs, Band 2: Anfnge modernen historischen Denkens (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag. 1994), 73-86. 4 See Georg G. Iggers and Konrad Von Moltke, eds., Leopold von Ranke: the Theory and Practice of History (Indianapolis: Bobbs Merrill, 1973); a revised edition will appear in 2011 with Routledge.



theory in his narrative histories. But Ranke treated methodology and theory separately4 and they served as the basic assumptions of his well annotated narratives. For many nineteenth-century German historians, e.g. Sybel, Droysen, and Treitschke, Ranke belonged to an earlier, outdated, pre-nation-oriented generation, although they accepted his methodological assumptions. As Torstendahl notes, Rankeanism had petered out already before Rankes own death. Yet he argues that before 1900 there were no other alternatives to professionalism than Rankeanism, not recognizing, as I have tried to show, that professional historical studies, e.g. in France, were little affected by Ranke. Thus Torstendahls statement that the prevailing notion in history of historiography, standardized through the works of Georg Iggers, that Rankean professionalism was the one that won the ground after 1870 in Western Europe is therefore misleading rests on a misreading of my work and is itself misleading. I have few objections to Torstendahls discussion of twentieth-century historiography, except that they do not relate directly to historical professionalism. To be sure, the major historians of the twentieth century were professionals, although in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there were, of course, historians who were not. The strength of the second part of Torstendahls essay is that he points at the diversity of historical studies and touches on all the important Western historians of the twentieth century. The period starting around 1900, which witnessed the reaction against Rankean politically oriented history and its replacement by the preoccupation with social history, for Torstendahl marked a historiographical turning point. Torstendahl then follows the varieties of social science history, the postmodernist reaction against them, and finally in the incipient twenty first century the move against postmodernism. He rightly points out that there have always been historians who have clung to older, traditional ways of writing history, and who never accepted the social science models. He argues that in contrast to the older Rankean historiography for which method and methodology were marginal something I cannot buy they were central to historiography in the twentieth century with which I also do not agree. From my perspective he works with too narrow a conception of method. Different historiographical approaches, let us say Marxist or culturalist, require their own methodologies. Torstendahl correctly points out the role which communities play in the professionalization of historical studies. In this connection he stresses the role which the international historical congresses have played since 1898 in furthering transnational communication. On the other hand, he says little about the globalization of historical studies across civilizational and disciplinary borders in the post-colonial world since the end of World War II. These things having been said, I still think this is an excellent article, better for the twentieth than for the nineteenth century. SUNY, Buffalo


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 29-52


Sono noti gli sforzi intrapresi da Francesco Sforza per mandare alle carte e fare celebrare le proprie gesta di condottiero unitamente a quelle del padre Muzio Attendolo, onde conferire maggiore solidit al suo nuovo ruolo di duca di Milano, che aveva invero ottenuto nel 1450 pi in virt della sua abilit di capitano di ventura che non per i deboli legami di parentela con la dinastia viscontea. Da questa necessit nacquero cos le prime opere umanistico-encomiastiche di un Antonio Minuti, di un Lodrisio Crivelli, di un Giovanni Simonetta, che cos bene sono state studiate come veicolo di celebrazione e di propaganda dagli studi di Gary Ianziti1. Quasi un ventennio dopo la morte di Francesco Sforza, anche il figlio Ludovico, dopo il consolidamento del suo potere a seguito della decapitazione di Cicco Simonetta e dellestromissione della reggente Bona di Savoia, si diede da fare per avere unopera storica ufficiale che, attraverso la glorificazione della stirpe viscontea e le gesta dei predecessori, assicurasse, per cos dire, una legittimazione a lui e alla giovane dinastia che egli rappresentava. Per adempiere a questo compito era stato chiamato dal Moro fin dal 1483 lumanista Giorgio Merula, il quale, beneficiando per un decennio di larghe commendatizie ducali che gli aprirono i principali archivi pubblici e privati dello stato milanese, pose mano alle Antiquitates Vicecomitum, unopera storico-encomiastica in latino che, ripercorrendo le vicende dei Visconti attraverso i secoli, doveva nello stesso tempo celebrare la dinastia al potere. Il Merula, nonostante il favore ducale, fu piuttosto lento nellelaborazione del suo lavoro, e quando mor, il 18 marzo 1494, la sua opera storica era lungi dallessere terminata, non giungendo se non ai primi anni del Trecento, con la morte di Azzone Visconti2. Lo Sforza allora, sembrandogli opportuno che lopera
Si fa qui soprattutto riferimento a G. Ianziti, Humanistic Historiography under the Sforzas. Politics and Propaganda in Fifteenth-century Milan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 87-102 (per Antonio Minuti), 103-126 (per Lodrisio Crivelli), 127-230 (per Giovanni Simonetta); ma tutta lopera da tenere in considerazione per luso della propaganda da parte della cancelleria ducale di Francesco Sforza. 2 Per Giorgio Merula si veda soprattutto il vecchio ma ricchissimo studio di F. Gabotto-A Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, Rivista di storia, arte e archeologia per le province di Alessandria e Asti, 3, (1894): 7-69, 153-173, 229-350; si vedano anche, per una prima valutazione dellopera, E. Cochrane, Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance (Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1981), 114-117 e la voce Merula Giorgius, Repertorium fontium historiae Medi Aevi, (RFHM), 7 (Romae: Istituto storico italiano per il Medioevo, 1997), 574-575. Le Antiquitates Vicecomitum vennero pubblicate postume per la prima volta a Milano dal Minuziano nel 1500 e in seguito varie volte nel corso del 500 e 600, tranne gli ultimi quattro libri relativi alle vicende tra la morte di Matteo e quella di Azzone Visconti che, ignoti fino allora, vennero stampati dal Muratori nei Rerum Italicarum Scriptores (RIS), 25 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1744), 73-148.



fino allora compiuta fosse continuata, fece mettere da parte le carte e le cronache usate dallumanista alessandrino, e gli assegn in capo a due anni un successore nella persona di Tristano Calco, gi noto negli ambienti ducali per aver riordinato in quegli anni la biblioteca e larchivio ducale del castello di Pavia e per aver composto alcuni poemetti a lode dei celebri matrimoni che avevano allietato in quel tempo la famiglia sforzesca. Il Calco naturalmente, oltre a beneficiare del materiale lasciatogli in eredit dal Merula, godette parimenti di alcuni salvacondotti per entrare in archivi e biblioteche del dominio3. Anche lopera del Calco dunque, come quella del suo predecessore, nasceva sotto gli auspici del duca mecenate, e doveva essere negli intenti altrettanto celebrativa della dinastia al potere. Diverso sembra il caso della Storia di Milano di Bernardino Corio, il quale, com noto, negli stessi anni, fu il primo storico milanese a scrivere una storia della propria citt in volgare, che comincia con le origini e arriva fino ai suoi tempi. Il Corio, nato nel 1459 in seno ad unantica famiglia milanese e pressoch coetaneo del Calco, era il figlio di un importante ambasciatore dellet di Francesco Sforza, ed aveva ricoperto uffici prima in seno alla corte come cameriere ducale, poi nei rami dellamministrazione periferica del dominio in qualit di podest4. Secondo quanto affermato dallo stesso autore, che ama ricordare talvolta i propri casi allinterno della narrazione degli eventi, linizio della stesura dellopera gli fu suggerito dal forzato periodo di inattivit causato dallo scoppio di una pestilenza nel 14855. Dunque, stando alla testimonianza dellautore, lispirazione a comporre lopera storica sarebbe del tutto personale e indipendente rispetto alle volont del duca. Ma certo, proprio in concomitanza allincirca con lincarico conferito al Calco, anche la sua opera, gi iniziata, venne posta, per cos dire, sotto la protezione di Ludovico Sforza: l1 ottobre 1497 infatti una commendatizia del duca, redatta proPer Tristano Calco, gi cancelliere ducale e poi, dal 1490 al 1496, prefetto della biblioteca e dellarchivio pavese, si vedano: A. Belloni, Tristano Calco e gli scritti inediti di Giorgio Merula, Italia Medievale ed umanistica, 15, (1972): 283-328; F. Petrucci, Calco Tristano, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI), 16, (Roma: Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 1973), 537-541; A. Belloni, LHistoria Patria di Tristano Calco fra gli Sforza e i francesi: fonti e strati redazionali, Italia Medievale e umanistica, 23, (1980): 179-233. Le tre operette composte fra il 1489 e il 1493 per i matrimoni di Giovan Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Ludovico Sforza e Bianca Maria Sforza sono le Nuptiae Mediolanensium ducum, le Nuptiae Mediolanensium et Estensium principum e le Nuptiae Augustae. LHistoria Patria del Calco, frutto del lavoro di revisione e riscrittura dellopera del Merula e di nuove ricerche, rimase poi inedita fino al 1627, quando furono pubblicati i primi 20 libri, che giungono fino al 1313, mentre altri due libri, che comprendono i fatti dal 1313 al 1322, vennero ritrovati nella casa di Lucio Cotta ed editi, unitamente alle tre composizioni sulle nozze di casa Sforza, nel 1644, sempre per i tipi del Malatesta. 4 Per la biografia del Corio ci sia concesso di rinviare a S. Meschini, Uno storico umanista alla corte sforzesca. Biografia di Bernardino Corio (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1995); ma si veda anche larticolo di L. Besozzi, Bernardino Corio podest dei Borromeo ad Omegna (luglio-dicembre 1496), Novarien, 25, (1995): 267-272. 5 B. Corio, Storia di Milano, ed. A. Morisi Guerra, I (Torino: Utet, 1978), 41, II, 1460. La Storia di Milano o Patria Historia usc nella magnifica edizione del Minuziano il 15 luglio 1503 vivente lautore, e in seguito conobbe due altre stampe nel corso del Cinquecento, una nel Seicento, e, prima dellultima a cura della Morisi Guerra, unaltra nellOttocento. LEditio princeps del 1503 comprendeva anche le Vitae Caesarum, biografie degli imperatori da Cesare ad Enrico VI.



prio da Tristano Calco, gli apriva gli archivi della Valtellina e del comasco mentre nel corso dellanno successivo, ben due salvacondotti consentivano a lui unitamente al Calco laccesso alla biblioteca del castello di Pavia e gli permettevano, sempre con il collega, di recarsi a Casale per esplorare libri e documenti6. Nel maggio 1499 inoltre lopera del Corio era gi in avanzato stato di composizione perch il duca, per facilitargli la ricopiatura, gli metteva a disposizione un copista e a ricompensa delle fatiche impiegate nel lavoro storico lo nominava giudice delle strade di Milano7. Anche lopera storica del Corio perci, a partire certamente dal 1497, ricevette per cos dire lavallo del Moro, pronto a favorire con ogni mezzo chiunque intraprendesse un lavoro di celebrazione della dinastia viscontea e sforzesca. facile poi ipotizzare che non solo i due colleghi, Calco e Corio, i quali, come visto, fecero delle perlustrazioni in comune, consultassero e si scambiassero il materiale documentario rinvenuto nel corso delle loro ricerche, ma che inoltre il Corio avesse in qualche modo accesso ad alcune delle cronache e documenti gi utilizzati dal Merula e che erano in possesso del Calco. Le tre opere del Merula, del Calco e del Corio, pur con tutte le diversit che derivano loro da una differente impostazione, conservano a mio parere un retroterra documentario e cronachistico in gran parte comune perch il duca di Milano era cos interessato ad avere unopera storica che legittimasse la propria posizione, che era lo stesso governo ducale in quegli anni a fare cercare per tutto il dominio le fonti storiche necessarie. Una breve esemplificazione tenter di mostrare come lopera storica del Corio, sebbene scritta in volgare e posta verosimilmente dal governo ducale su un piano inferiore rispetto alle analoghe imprese del Merula e poi del Calco, sia in realt abbastanza legata a livello di fonti a queste due opere e molto sia debitrice, in termini di documentazione, agli sforzi compiuti dal governo ducale per favorire lallestimento della celebrazione dinastica. Nel maggio-giugno 1488 il Merula si recava in esplorazione nel Monferrato e nellastigiano e prendeva visione del Memoriale de gestis civium astensium, cronaca, scritta da Guglielmo Ventura, che riferisce principalmente, non senza accenni a fatti italiani e europei di ordine pi generale, le vicende di Asti e del Piemonte fra il 1260 e il 1325: e lumanista, che si serv poi largamente di quel testo nelle Antiquitates Vicecomitum, ne elogiava pubblicamente lautore in una lettera che indirizzava in quel mese al segretario ducale Jacopo Antiquario8; sem6 Meschini, Uno storico umanista, 111-112, 114, 116: unaltra missiva sempre del 1498 gli permetteva di spostarsi nelle citt del ducato per entrare in biblioteche ed archivi. 7 Meschini, Uno storico umanista, 118-119; S. Meschini, Bernardino Corio storico del Medioevo e del Rinascimento milanese, Le cronache medievali di Milano, ed. Paolo Chiesa (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2001), 103 nota 15, 113-114; L. Besozzi-A Martegani, Francesco Bianchi sfortunato copista dellHistoria del Corio, Libri e documenti, 21, (1995/1): 48-49. 8 La lettera del Merula allAntiquario, ove si fa il resoconto del viaggio in Piemonte e ove contenuta la positiva valutazione dellopera venturiana, pubblicata in G. B. Vermiglioli, Memorie di Jacopo Antiquario e degli studi di letteratura esercitati in Perugia nel secolo XV con unappendice di monumenti (Perugia: Baduel, 1813), 387-391 ed parzialmente ripubblicata, per la parte relativa, da GabottoBadini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 162 nota 1 per gli accenni al Ventura (160-162 per la missione esplorativa del Merula nel Monferrato e nellastigiano). Per il cronista astigiano del primo trecen-



pre nella stessa occasione aveva modo di conoscere a Valenza da un giureconsulto il Chronicon imaginis mundi del frate domenicano Jacopo dAcqui, opera, solo in parte contenente accenni al Monferrato, ritenuta per da lui favolosa e piena di errori9; orbene, in base a riscontri interni, si pu affermare con sicurezza, che, nonostante solo la seconda opera risulti citata nel testo, di entrambe le cronache si serv pure Bernardino Corio nella Patria Historia. Il Corio infatti ricorda Jacobo Aquinense ne li suoi annali, una sola volta, per le vicende del VI secolo, a proposito delledificazione dei monasteri di S. Colombano di Bobbio, di S. Pietro in Acqui Terme, e di S. Gallo, i cui 400 monaci, secondo la tradizione, furono tutti santi, eccetto uno10; ma lautore si serv dellopera del frate domenicano per altre notizie, soprattutto nella trattazione dellepoca longobarda. Ricalcate sulle orme di Jacopo sembrano infatti le antiche leggende del popolo longobardo che lo storico non desume qui, come sembrerebbe pi logico, da Paolo Diacono, il quale in parte aveto Guglielmo Ventura, per la sua opera storica, per i problemi di allestimento di una moderna edizione critica, anche a causa della mancanza dellautografo, si vedano: G. Gorrini, Il comune astigiano e la sua storiografia (Firenze: Ademollo, 1884), 174 ss.; F. Gabotto, Asti e la politica sabauda in Italia al tempo di Guglielmo Ventura secondo nuovi documenti (Pinerolo: Chiantore-Mascarelli, 1903), 267 ss.; A. Goria, Studi sul cronista astigiano Guglielmo Ventura (Roma: Tipografia del Senato, 1937); Cochrane, Historians and Historiography, 94; il Memoriale fu edito una prima volta, con laggiunta di numerosi brani interpolati, dal Muratori in Rerum Italicarum Scriptores (RIS), 11 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1727), 153-268 ed una seconda volta, sempre in modo insoddisfacente per la scarsit e poco valore dei manoscritti utilizzati, dal Combetti, negli Historiae Patriae Monumenta, scriptores (HPM, SS), 3 (Augustae Taurinorum: Bocca, 1848), 701-816. Per luso che il Merula fece del Ventura nelle Antiquitates Vicecomitum cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 261, 267, 272-276, 282, 284, 289-293, 295, 297, 315. 9 Per i giudizi del Merula sullopera di Jacopo dAcqui, tenuta in molta considerazione dai marchesi di Monferrato, cfr. Vermiglioli, Memorie di Jacopo Antiquario, 387 ss., e Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 161-162 nota: lumanista criticava in specie le leggende accoltevi intorno ad Aleramo, a Carlo Magno, alle rovine di Antile e alle spedizioni degli imperatori Federico I e Federico II. Per il Chronicon Imaginis Mundi, vasta cronaca universale dal respiro chiaramente medievale, che, trattando principalmente di avvenimenti piemontesi e lombardi, va dalla creazione del mondo alla fine del 200, e il suo autore, il frate domenicano Jacopo dAcqui, vissuto fra la seconda met del XIII e gli anni 30 del XIV secolo, si vedano: A. DAncona, La leggenda di Maometto in Occidente, Giornale storico della letteratura italiana, 13, (1889): 199-281; F. Gabotto, Les lgendes carolingiennes dans le Chronicon Ymaginis Mundi de frate Jacopo dAcqui, Revue des langues romaines, 37, (1894): 251267, 355-373; D. Bianchi, Jacopo dAcqui, Nuovi studi medievali, 1, (1923-1924): 138-143; G. Gasca Queirazza, La leggenda aleramica nella Cronica Imaginis Mundi di Jacopo dAcqui, Rivista di storia arte e archeologia per le province di Alessandria e Asti, 76, (1968): 39-50; T. Kaeppeli, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevii, 2 (Romae: Istituto storico domenicano, 1975), 298; la voce Jacobus Aquensis in Repertorium fontium historiae Maedii Aevi (RFHM), 6 (Romae: Istituto storico italiano per il Medioevo, 1990), 107-108, cui si rinvia per ulteriore bibliografia; anche C. Fiorina, Gli Annales in historiam finariensis belli di Gian Maria Filelfo, Aevum, 71, (1997): 578, 581-590. Buona parte del Chronicon Imaginis Mundi edita da G. Avogadro in HPM, SS, 3 (Augustae Taurinorum: Bocca 1848), 1357-1626; altre parti inedite furono stampate da F. Massimelli, Pagine inedite della Chronica Imaginis Mundi di Jacopo dAcqui (Asti: Brignolo, 1913), 7-54. Il Merula, coerentemente con le proprie idee, non sembra avere utilizzato lopera del frate domenicano nelle Antiquitates Vicecomitum: Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 229, 315. 10 Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 86. Il ricordo dei tre monasteri si trova in effetti nella stessa successione nel Chronicon Imaginis Mundi in HPM, SS., 3, 1449-1450.



va avuto un atteggiamento critico rispetto alla tradizione del suo popolo: prese da frate Jacopo, pi che dal Diacono o da altre fonti, sono cos le origini scandinave dei longobardi; le vicende dei fratelli Yvor e Gyor e di re Algemondo; la leggenda dei sette bambini abbandonati e di Lamisio; quella dellorigine del nome dei Longobardi; la successione dei re longobardi prima del passaggio in Italia (anche la numerazione dei sovrani longobardi coincide); il ricordo inesatto dellaprile 588 come data della spedizione di Alboino in Italia; lepisodio del cavallo di Alboino che si ferma improvvisamente allentrata in Pavia e il giuramento del re revocato per intervento di una donna cristiana; lintero episodio, che trova corrispondenza anche nei nomi (che nel Diacono sono diversi), delluccisione di Alboino e della morte di Rosmunda: a proposito di questultimo fatto, sono riportati identici i versi che sarebbero stati posti sul sepolcro della principessa; il nome delle citt che eleggono i duchi dopo la morte di Alboino11. Per le vicende longobarde successive ad Autari il testo del Chronicon diviene invece progressivamente meno preciso e il Corio sembra seguire con maggiore fedelt il Diacono, che era del resto la stessa fonte di Jacopo dAcqui12. Il debito della Patria Historia nei confronti del Chronicon sembra, ad una prima scorsa, finire qui, e dalle numerose leggende carolinge e maomettane narrate nellopera di Frate Jacopo il Corio non sembra desumere pi nulla. Prese invece dal Chronicon sono invece certamente le notizie che si rinvengono nelle Vitae Caesarum relativamente ad esempio al preteso privilegio del 22 marzo 967 concesso dallImperatore Ottone I ad Aleramo, al mitico scudiero di Carlo Magno Giovanni Del Tempo, che sarebbe vissuto per 361 anni, alluccisione di Tommaso di Canterbury13. Per quanto riguarda lopera del Ventura, essa non invece mai citata nella Patria Historia. Gi il Goria14 rilevava per come il Corio si fosse servito del Memoriale, anche se sosteneva che lo usasse assai poco, e solo relativamente alla guerra fra Asti e Savoia del 1255 e ai fatti monferrini del 1290-1292, per i quali ultimi faceva poi notare come il Corio citasse come testimonianza per errore lAzario, che non poteva essere stato presente a quelle vicende. Invero, in base ad un esame del testo venturiano, si pu affermare che il Corio conobbe abbastanza bene il Ventura e che se ne serv in maggior misura rispetto a quanto creduto dal Goria, anche se occorre dire che la disposizione generale della cronaca astigiana, che non procede generalmente secondo un criterio cronologico, bens logico e per concatenazione analogica degli eventi, nonch le frequenti ripetizioni che vi si ricontrano, furono certo di ostacolo al suo utilizzo, specialmente ove si pensi che il Corio invece ha labitudine di presentare i fatti in ordine rigorosamente cronologico anche
Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 79-84 e J. DAcqui, Chronicon imaginis mundi in HPM, 3, 1439-1448. Cfr. per taluni particolari simili come in Corio, Storia di Milano, 89 e in J. DAcqui, Chronicon Imaginis Mundi, 1453, per la specificazione, ad esempio, dellofficio fatto cantare da Gregorio Magno nel giorno della festivit dei santi Gervasio e Protasio, nel quale, tramite la regina Teodolinda, era avvenuta la pace tra il pontefice e il re Agilulfo. 13 Cfr. B. Corio, Historia Patria (Mediolani, Apud Alexandrum Minutianum, 1503), cc. ff i v., ii r e J. DAcqui, Chronicon Imaginis mundi, 1538, 1552. 14 Goria, Studi sul cronista artigiano, 45.
11 12



allinterno dei singoli anni in cui quelli si verificarono. Derivano comunque abbastanza scopertamente dal Ventura, bench talvolta riassunti e abbreviati nel contenuto, i passi relativi alle vicende del marchese Guglielmo di Monferrato, alla battaglia di Vignale, e alla cattura del marchese (1290); allo sviluppo delle fazioni a Genova a partire dal 1270 (sotto lanno 1317 nel Corio); allarrivo ad Asti del procuratore di Carlo II dAngi Egidio e alle vicende del senescalco Rinaldo di Leto, di Filippo principe dAcaia, del marchese di Monferrato e alla presa del conte Filippo di Langosco (1307); alla venuta di re Roberto dAngi a Cuneo e poi ad Asti (1310); alla morte di Filippo IV di Francia e alla successione di Luigi X e sue vicende (1315)15. Nel maggio 1490 il duca Ludovico Sforza prendeva visione di un libro, evidentemente manoscritto, che gli era summamente piaciuto, ove si faceva menzione della dote di Valentina Visconti (la celebre figlia del duca Giovan Galeazzo, che andando sposa nel 1389 al duca Luigi dOrlans, fu poi, per lestinzione della linea legittima dei Visconti, allorigine della pretesa dinastica sul ducato di Milano da parte della branca laterale della famiglia regnante sul trono di Francia) e ordinava che fosse esaminato dal Merula, pensando che il contenuto potesse rientrare nel suo lavoro16. Lo storico alessandrino, che non pot, come detto, proseguire la narrazione oltre il 1339, non sfrutt mai quel libretto, ma quasi certamente di esso si serv Bernardino Corio, il quale, riferendo appunto nel 1389 del viaggio di Valentina in Francia, ne fornisce anche con precisione il prezioso corredo, comprendente una nutritissima e lunga gamma di gioielli, pietre preziose, abiti, raffinati paramenti da camera e da cappella17; in quel libretto si trovava probabilmente anche copia
Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 538-540, 582-584, 594-596, 637, 645-647, e G. Ventura, Memoriale de gestis civium astensium in RIS, 11 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1727), 168-169, 180-183, 194-195, 211-213, 224-226. Da rimarcare poi che, secondo Goria, Studi sul cronista artigiano, 7, 25, 31, 42-45, 46-47, 55, 62, 67, 88, il Merula, il Calco e il Corio fecero uso di un codice non interpolato dellopera venturiana: per lautore anzi il codice che fu adoperato dal Merula e dal Calco era lo stesso, mentre egli non sa fornire maggiori indicazioni su quello visto dal Corio; il Memoriale fu poi tenuto presente anche dagli storici monferrini del tempo, come Galeotto Del Carretto e Benvenuto di San Giorgio. In ogni caso Merula e Calco utilizzarono certo con maggior dovizia la cronaca astigiana rispetto al Corio (per il ricordo del Ventura da parte del Calco, che probabilmente utilizz il cronista anche attraverso la rielaborazione fatta dal Merula, cfr. ad esempio T. Calco, Historia Patria (Mediolani: Malatesta, 1627), prefazione, 6). 16 Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 165: la lettera che il duca scriveva a questo proposito al primo segretario Bartolomeo Calco il 4 maggio pubblicata in nota. 17 La descrizione del lungo corredo di Valentina Visconti si trova in Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 903908 (anno 1389). In realt per questo inventario, come lo chiama il Corio stesso, ricalca lanalogo documento che venne steso a Parigi il 15 dicembre 1389 per volont del duca dOrlans come ricevuta e prova giustificativa della consegna della dote, che si trova ora pubblicato nella compilazione nota come Annales Mediolanenses ab anno 1230 usque ad annum 1402: si legge ancora in RIS, 16 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1730), 806-813. Quindi o Ludovico Sforza, accennando, nella lettera che indirizzava al Calco, al libro sulla dote di Valentina Visconti, faceva riferimento a questa compilazione e al documento in essa contenuto (posto naturalmente che in quel tempo il documento vi fosse gi stato inserito) oppure bisogna ammettere che i due documenti, quello visto dal duca e quello ricopiato negli Annales Mediolanenses e poi tradotto e sunteggiato dal Corio, non fossero gli stessi. Gli Annales Mediolanenses, che il Muratori pubblic in base ad un codice del XV secolo esistente presso larchivio capitolare di No15



di uno dei testamenti (verosimilmente lultimo) del primo duca di Milano, che parimenti puntualmente riassunto dal Corio nella sua opera sotto lanno 140218. Nel dicembre 1496 il duca Ludovico richiedeva al castellano di Pavia, nella lettera in cui gli annunciava la restituzione del testamento dellarcivescovo di Milano Giovanni Visconti, alcuni documenti riferentisi alla divisione dello stato operata dapprima, nel 1354, fra i fratelli Matteo II, Galeazzo II e Bernab Visconti, figli di Stefano, e due anni dopo, a causa della morte del primo, fra i soli Galeazzo e Bernab19: il Corio, rispettivamente agli anni 1354 e 1356 della sua opera, menzionando esattamente le citt toccate in sorte ad ognuno dei fratelli nelle due circostanze, sembra in questo caso essere dipendente, pi che da una fonte narrativa, da un documento simile20. Non pare invece che il Corio abbia utilizzato il documento, relavara, meglio conosciuto come codice Valison, sono in realt una compilazione posta insieme negli ultimi anni del 400, forse dal vescovo di Tortona, poi di Piacenza, Fabrizio Marliani, sulla base della Galvagnana di Galvano Fiamma (fino al 1338), dellopera di Pietro Azario (fino al 1364), del Chronicon Placentinum del Mussi, di unanonima cronaca parmense, dellopera perduta del parmigiano Giovanni Balducchino: cfr. L. A Ferrai, Gli Annales Mediolanenses e i cronisti lombardi del secolo XIV, Archivio storico lombardo, 17, (1890): 277-297; L. A. Ferrai, Le cronache di Galvano Fiamma e le fonti della Galvagnana, Bullettino dellIstituto storico italiano, 10, (1891): 99, 102; I. Raulich, La cronica Valison e il suo autore, Rivista storica italiana, 8, (1891): 1-11; M. T. Liuzzo, Il manoscritto del Valison di Fabrizio Marliani vescovo di Piacenza. Raccolta di cronache di Milano, Novara, Piacenza e Parma (1496), Novarien, 22, (1992): 197-244. Il Corio ebbe molto a servirsi di questa compilazione, praticamente a lui coeva. 18 Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 165 nota; F. Gabotto, Giasone Del Maino e gli scandali universitari nel quattrocento (Torino: La Letteratura, 1888), 208-209, 292: il noto giureconsulto Giasone Del Maino, sulla base del testamento, o forse di una sua copia, di Giovan Galeazzo Visconti, contenente il fedecommesso a favore di Valentina Visconti, aveva proferito nel 1498 un celebre consulto per stabilire la fondatezza o meno delle pretese del duca dOrlans sul ducato di Milano. Per i tre testamenti di Giovan Galeazzo Visconti (dei quali solo due noti nelle disposizioni, di cui lultimo, quello del 1401, grazie al riassunto lasciatone dal Corio), e per i codicilli, si vedano: Documenti diplomatici tratti dagli archivi viscontei, ed. L. Osio, 1, parte I (Milano: Bernardoni, 1864), 318338; G. Romano, Di una nuova ipotesi sulla morte e sulla sepoltura di Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Archivio storico italiano, serie V, tomo XX, (1897): 250-253; D. M. Bueno De Mesquita, Giangaleazzo Visconti Duke of Milan (1351-1402). A Study in the Political Career of an Italian Despot (Cambridge: At the University, 1941), 258, 298, 316; F. Cognasso, Il ducato visconteo da Gian Galeazzo a Filippo Maria, Storia di Milano, 6 (Milano: Treccani degli Alfieri, 1955), 69-72. Il Corio, oltre ad accennare al testamento del 1388 e a quello del 1397, riassume largamente quello del 1401 e riferisce pi sbrigativamente del codicillo del 25 agosto 1402: Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 899, II, 968-970. 19 La lettera del duca al castellano di Pavia, unitamente ad unaltra di qualche giorno precedente con la quale lo Sforza richiedeva il testamento dellarcivescovo Giovanni Visconti, stata pubblicata da Edoardo Fumagalli nella sua recensione al libro di E. Pellegrin, Bibliothques retrouves: manuscrits, bibliothques et bibliophiles du Moyen age et de la Renaissance (Paris: Editions du centre national de la recherche scientifique, 1988), Studi petrarcheschi, n. s. 8, (1991): 289: tutti i documenti, che dovevano essere consegnati al primo segretario Bartolomeo Calco, erano conservati nella libreria del castello di Pavia. 20 Cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 789 (divisione delle citt dello stato nel 1354), 792 (divisione delle citt dello stato nel 1356): soprattutto per la prima divisione, anche in base alle parole usate (... e nel medesmo giorno - 11 ottobre - in uno sabato per Boschino Mantigacio, nobile milanese, fu facta una translatione de tutte le citt e terre lasate per il condam arcivescovo tra Mattheo, Bernab e Galeazo...) sembra di poter dire che il Corio ebbe dinanzi un documento originale. In ogni caso della divisione del



tivo a Jacopo Bussolari, il famoso frate agostiniano che govern con pugno di ferro Pavia fra il 1356 e il 1359, che Tristano Calco faceva richiedere a nome del duca agli agostiniani di Pavia nel dicembre 149821. Non sono poi da sottovalutare, restando in tema di interventi o sollecitazioni usate dal governo, e sebbene non sia facile individuare gli autori e di conseguenza valutarne lutilizzo, altre asportazioni di cronache, che furono effettuate ad esempio a Piacenza nel 1491 (in questo caso i due scritti relativi furono sicuramente fatti pervenire al Merula), e a Tortona e a Pavia rispettivamente nel novembre 1496 e nellaprile 149922. Difficile parimenti identificare con precisione, a meno di ammettere che fosse la nota opera di Paolo Diacono, quella cronaca sui Longobardi che il commissario transpadano, su ordine del 22 maggio 1488 del primo segretario ducale Bartolomeo Calco, era invitato a prelevare dal cittadino di Alessandria Giovan Antonio Lanzavecchia perch essa potesse essere esaminata dal Merula23; in ogni caso questi, nellaprile 1493, asdominio, sia di quello del 1354 che del 1356, e con la specificazione delle citt toccate in sorte nelle due circostanze ai fratelli, riferisce anche Pietro Azario, che comunque il Corio non conobbe direttamente, ma attraverso il riassunto che ne era stato fatto nella compilazione degli Annales Mediolanenses: cfr. P. Azario, Liber gestorum in Lombardia, ed. F. Cognasso, RIS (2 edizione), XVI/4 (Bologna: Zanichelli, 1925-1939) 66, 72 e, per la conoscenza che il Corio ebbe dellAzario, XXVIII dellintroduzione: il Corio comunque alla prima lista dellAzario aggiunge anche altre citt. Nulla invece dice il Corio a proposito del testamento dellarcivescovo Giovanni Visconti. 21 E. Fumagalli, Studi Petrarcheschi, 8, (1991): 289-290: il documento relativo al Bussolari doveva essere consegnato a Bartolomeo Calco e doveva servire verosimilmente a Tristano Calco. La vicenda di Jacopo Bussolari, personaggio al quale non sembra andare la simpatia dello scrittore, sembra basarsi nel Corio esclusivamente su fonti narrative: cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 793, 797-798, 801. 22 Al Merula erano pervenute nel febbraio 1491 alcune voci circa lesistenza presso il monastero di Santa Savina di Piacenza di una cronaca assai ampia ove erano narrati gli avvenimenti a partire dallarcivescovo Ottone Visconti e fino al duca Giovan Galeazzo Visconti: per intervento a suo favore del governo ducale, che ingiungeva immediatamente allabate del monastero stesso la consegna dellopera al primo segretario Bartolomeo Calco, tale opera, che il Gabotto suppone debba trattarsi della cronaca piacentina del Mussi, fu certo spedita a Milano e vista dallumanista; nel luglio 1491 poi il governo ducale ordinava al vescovo di Piacenza, che era allora, si badi bene, Fabrizio Marliani, il supposto compilatore degli Annales Mediolanenses, di consegnare allo stesso primo segretario unaltra cronaca, che si diceva essere del giureconsulto piacentino Luigi Benedetto Fontana, perch potesse essere utilizzata dal Merula nel proprio lavoro: Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 166-167. Ormai dopo la morte del Merula invece, il 3 novembre 1496, Tristano Calco, bench si mascherasse dietro un ordine ducale e con una reticente perifrasi, faceva richiedere al referendario di Tortona una cronaca, gi vista ma non utilizzata dal Merula, relativa a Federico Barbarossa, che era posseduta dal giurista Raffaele da Busseto, ingiungendo parimenti la consegna di quello scritto al segretario Bartolomeo; il 15 aprile 1499 era invece il governo ducale a domandare alla vedova e ai figli del pavese Giovan Agostino Torti, con la solita promessa di pronta restituzione e senza specificare a chi fosse destinata, una cronaca assai grande: cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 172-173, e, per la seconda lettera, che non propriamente, come invece dice Petrucci, Calco Tristano, 537 ss., una commendatizia a favore del Calco, anche C. Magenta, I Visconti e gli Sforza nel castello di Pavia, I (Napoli-Milano: Hoepli, 1883), 582 nota. Forse la cronaca di propriet di Raffaele da Busseto relativa a Federico Barbarossa va identificata, considerando il luogo dove si conservava, con il De ruina civitatis Terdone, uno scritto, relativo agli anni 1154-1155, utilizzato in effetti dal Calco: cfr. Belloni, Lhistoria Patria di Tristano Calco, 184; Bernardino Corio invece non si serv di tale cronaca. 23 Per questa lettera del 22 maggio 1488 cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 160 nota: la cronaca in questione vi veniva definita Cronica Longobardorum. Non credo daltra parte



portava poi dalla libreria del castello di Pavia, insieme ad altre cronache, pure la famosa Historia Langobardorum di Paolo Diacono, della quale ebbe a fare comunque un uso moderato nella propria opera24: caso opposto a quello del Corio, il quale invece si serv abbondantemente dello scrittore di Cividale. Si gi detto come per la prima parte della storia dei Longobardi, quella relativa alle mitiche origini scandinave, allorigine del nome dallepisodio leggendario di Godan e Frea, alle imprese dei re prima della discesa in Italia, alle vicende di Alboino e di Rosmunda, agli eventi fino ad Autari, il Corio segua non tanto il Diacono quanto Jacopo dAcqui. a partire dalle vicende di Autari (in corrispondenza con la met circa del terzo libro dello storico longobardo) che il Corio segue pi da vicino, per lampiezza delle informazioni fornite, lo storico di Cividale; comunque, fino alle vicende di Grimoaldo, il Corio riprende dal Diacono in genere, anche se in dettaglio, solo le vicende principali dei vari re, tralasciando le notizie, che pure si trovano nella fonte, relative agli eventi dellimpero dOriente e, normalmente, del Papato e degli altri regni barbarici; invece, il libro quinto del Diacono, che inizia con laffermarsi di Grimoaldo e finisce con la vittoria di Cuniberto su Alachis, seguito in genere minutamente dal Corio, che riporta anche gli eventi relativi ai ducati di Spoleto e di Benevento, tralasciando solo la materia saracena e bizantina; il Corio invece riprende a sunteggiare brevemente, spesso brevissimamente, nel sesto e ultimo libro dellopera dello storico longobardo, eliminando dalla narrache possa trattarsi dellOrigo gentis Langobardorum, perch tale anonimo scritto del VII secolo, pervenuto inoltre in poche copie, e tutte contenenti pure leditto di Rotari, nella tradizione manoscritta, e conosciuto dallo stesso Diacono, non altro che una brevissima storia leggendaria sullorigine del popolo longobardo, con pochissime notizie, anche se fondate, sui re longobardi in Italia fino a Grimoaldo; n il Merula, n il Calco, n il Corio (nonostante le asserzioni della Morisi Guerra nellintroduzione e in nota alla Patria Historia), poterono veramente servirsi di un tale scritto: cfr. ledizione dellanonima operetta dellOrigo gentis langobardorum in Monumenta Germaniae Historica (MGH), Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum (Hannoverae: Hahn, 1878) ed. G. Waitz, 2-6, e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 23, 80 nota. il Corio piuttosto fece uso, come ho gi detto, per la prima parte, quella pi leggendaria, della storia longobarda, dove accoglie molti elementi del mito, di Jacopo dAcqui. 24 Per la commendatizia, diretta al castellano di Pavia, che permetteva al Merula lentrata nella libreria del castello di Pavia e lasportazione temporanea, a Milano, in prestito, oltre che dellopera di Paolo Diacono, anche di quella del Fiamma (probabilmente il Manipulus florum), della Historia Gothorum di Giordane, e della Cronica quae dicitur Malabayla, si veda Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 168-169 e nota. LHistoria Langobardorum di Paolo Diacono, il Manipulus Florum di Galvano Fiamma, lHistoria Gothorum di Giordane e il codex astensis sono registrati come presenti nella biblioteca pavese anche nei due inventari della stessa recentemente pubblicati da M. G. Ottolenghi, La biblioteca dei Visconti e degli Sforza: gli inventari del 1488 e del 1490, Studi Petrarcheschi, n. s. 8, (1991): 109 (D 578 ed E 839), 111 (D 590 ed E 777; D 591 ed E 846), 122 (D 695), 147 (D 908 ed E 440): le lettere D ed E indicano i due inventari rispettivamente del 1488 e del 1490 e il numero che segue invece la posizione occupata dai libri secondo gli inventari stessi. Per luso che fece il Merula dellopera di Paolo Diacono, cfr. G. Merula, Antiquitatis Vicecomitum Libri X (Mediolani: Malatesta, 1629), 9-15: lumanista, coerentemente allimpianto dellopera, dedicata alla celebrazione dei Visconti, non concede infatti molto spazio alle vicende longobarde e riassume in poche pagine gli eventi salienti narrati dallo storico di Cividale. Il Corio non fece quasi sicuramente uso dellopera di Giordane. Per le altre ricerche effettuate dal Merula ai fini della composizione delle Antiquitates Vicecomitum, cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 160, 163-164.



zione, oltre le vicende bizantine, papali e saracene, anche in genere quelle dei ducati longobardi di Spoleto e di Benevento25. Lopera del Diacono comunque, dato lelevatissimo numero di esemplari conservato, era abbondantemente conosciuta e nota e probabilmente se ne potevano ritrovare manoscritti direttamente in Milano anche ai tempi del Corio. Il Corio comunque descrive, sulle orme del Diacono, assai pi minutamente la vicenda longobarda rispetto al Merula e al Calco: anche questultimo infatti, che pur ebbe certamente presente lo storico dei Longobardi, comunque pi conciso nel trattare della loro storia; critica anzi lo stesso Diacono, e tutti gli storici umanisti, Merula compreso, che lavevano seguito, a proposito dellorigine scandinava di quel popolo e dellorigine del loro nome dalla lunga barba26. Insomma verosimilmente il Corio, quando a partire dal 1497 ricevette le prime commendatizie ducali e pot accedere agli archivi pubblici e privati, pot anche, in compagnia del Calco, usufruire di almeno parte del materiale libresco e documentario accantonato dal Merula, e godere di ogni appoggio del governo nellavere a disposizione i documenti e le cronache rintracciati dalla cancelleria. Se poi si esaminano anche sommariamente alcune parti delle tre opere del Merula, del Calco e del Corio non si potr fare a meno di rilevare alcune analogie di contenuto e relativamente alluso delle fonti che difficile giudicare occasionali: comune ai tre storici, anche se con una marcata abbondanza nel Calco, ad esempio lo stesso sistema di abbellire linizio delle rispettive opere con dotte citazioni classiche prese da Tito Livio, Strabone, Tolomeo, Plutarco, Plinio, Cassio Dione, Claudiano, Ausonio27; il Calco e il Corio, sempre restando alle prime pagine, prendono senzaltro
25 Cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 86-118 e Pauli, Historia Langobardorum in MGH, Scriptores rerum Langobardicarum et Italicarum (Hannoverae: Hahn, 1878), eds. L. C. Bethmann-G. Waitz, 47-187, in specie a partire da 108; lo scrittore longobardo anche citato dal Corio come fonte (cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 93-94). 26 Cfr. Calco, Historia Patria, 75-96 (76 per il rifiuto dellorigine dei Longobardi descritta dal Diacono). Il Merula e il Calco poi, rispetto al Corio, sorvolano rapidamente su molti episodi romanzeschi, come ad esempio su quello celebre di Alboino e di Rosmunda. Per lHistoria Langobardorum si rimanda almeno a P. S. Leicht, Paolo Diacono e gli altri scrittori delle vicende dItalia nellet carolingia, Atti del II congresso internazionale di studi sullAlto Medioevo (Spoleto: Presso la sede del Centro studi, 1953), 51-74; D. Bianchi, Da Gregorio di Tours a Paolo Diacono, Aevum, 34, (1961): 150-166; E. Sestan, La storiografia dellItalia longobarda: Paolo Diacono, La storiografia altomedievale, I (Spoleto: Presso la sede del Centro studi, 1970), 357-386; O. Capitani, La storiografia altomedievale, La cultura in Italia fra tardo antico e alto Medioevo, I (Roma: Herder, 1981), 123-147. 27 Il Merula ad esempio accoglie, sulle orme di Tito Livio, la fondazione di Milano ad opera di Belloveso; nega che essa debba ascriversi allepoca in cui Brenno discese in Italia contro Roma; definisce la posizione geografica della citt e della Lombardia secondo Strabone e Tolomeo; cita Plinio il vecchio; riferisce la leggenda della porca lanuta appoggiandosi anche ai versi, che riporta, di Claudiano; rifiuta la versione di coloro che vogliono che la citt derivi da No; cita Plutarco e Floro; accenna brevemente alle guerre puniche e al console Marcello; afferma milanese lImperatore Didio Giuliano sulla scorta di Erodiano e Dione; parla di Cecilio Stazio e della sua possibile nascita a Milano; si sofferma brevemente sullinsegnamento di S. Agostino a Milano e sulla presenza a Milano di Virgilio e del retore novarese Albuzio; parla dei vecchi edifici e delle antiche chiese come S. Maria al Circolo e S. Paolo in Compido; riporta infine, per il IV secolo, lepigramma famoso di Ausonio dedicato a Milano: Merula, Antiquitatis Vicecomitum, 1-5. Il Calco, che gi nella prefazione dellopera aveva criticato il Merula per avere fatto



da una fonte comune la notizia, mancante invece nel Merula, relativa alla supposta derivazione della citt da Medio e da Olano28, e inoltre alcuni componimenti e verun uso assai parco di citazioni di classici per let antica, molto pi preciso relativamente alle vicende della Milano antica: dopo essersi rifatto a Trogo Pompeo, a Plinio e a Tito Livio per la fondazione della citt, si sofferma, sempre in base alle testimonianze dei classici, sullorigine dei Galli; tenta di precisare, rifacendosi a Livio, a Eusebio, a Solino, ad Ammiano Marcellino, lanno nel quale venne fondata la citt, stabilendo che questo dovesse porsi 600 anni prima della nascita di Cristo, cio a 2.100 anni di distanza dalla sua epoca; circa lorigine del nome di Milano riferisce, in base alle testimonianze di Claudiano, del quale riporta i noti versi, e di Sidonio Apollinare, la tradizione secondo la quale essa lo deriv dalla porca lanuta; si riferisce a Strabone e a Tolomeo per precisare la delimitazione geografica dellInsubria; respinge, sullautorit di Livio e Polibio, la congettura di coloro che vogliono Milano fondata da Brenno; molto pi dettagliato rispetto al Merula, che non esita a criticare per vari errori, sulle vicende della conquista romana, della seconda guerra punica e sulla fondazione di altre citt nellItalia settentrionale; si diffonde su alcune antiche iscrizioni romane da lui vedute in varie citt lombarde e sui primi martiri della chiesa milanese; afferma anchegli limperatore Didio Giuliano milanese sulla base di Cassio Dione; segue molto pi analiticamente, rispetto al Merula, la vicenda di S. Ambrogio e di S. Agostino e riporta anchegli i versi di Ausonio dedicati a Milano ma apportandovi, grazie ad un codice dellautore rinvenuto nella biblioteca viscontea, alcune emendazioni testuali; riferisce alcuni versi del panegirico di Claudiano dedicati allarrivo di Onorio a Milano: Calco, Historia Patria, 2-46 e 4 della prefazione. Il Corio si affida a Tito Livio, del quale sunteggia il testo, per la fondazione di Milano ad opera di Belloveso, ma, a proposito degli Insubri, cita anche la testimonianza di Plinio il vecchio; si rif a S. Gerolamo, Solino, Livio ed Eusebio per la datazione della fondazione della citt, che pone nel 595 a. C., a 2.095 anni di distanza dalla sua epoca; rifiuta anchegli la tradizione della fondazione della citt ad opera di Brenno e cita Strabone e Plutarco per il ricordo di Milano al loro tempo; si sofferma anchegli a descrivere la collocazione geografica dellInsubria sulla base degli antichi, citando Tolomeo e Plinio; riferisce la leggenda della porca lanuta che avrebbe dato origine alla citt, rifacendosi a Dazio, del quale riporta alcuni versi, e a Claudiano, del quale pone nel testo gli stessi versi citati da Merula e Calco; riferisce in dettaglio, pur non commentandola e non dando un giudizio, la leggenda, desunta probabilmente dal Fiamma, che voleva la citt fondata da Subres, considerato un discendente di No, e che riferiva pure la fondazione del castello della Martesana e larrivo, in epoca pi tarda, di Belloveso; sulla scorta del Fiamma, e forse della cronaca di Daniele, sono riportate le notizie della conquista romana ad opera del console Marcello e della sua vittoria su Viridomaro; riferisce, ritengo sempre avendo il Fiamma come fonte, dei primi tempi della presenza romana, parlando degli antichi edifici fattivi edificare, e ricorda i versi che sarebbero stati posti sulla porta Romana, ove Milano era considerata come seconda Roma; accenna anchegli alla presenza a Milano di Virgilio, del retore Albuzio novarese, di S. Agostino; parla della collocazione delle sette porte antiche della citt; riferisce brevemente dei primi martiri cristiani e delle chiese edificate sulle loro tombe; afferma anchegli limperatore Didio Giuliano milanese, appoggiandosi ad Erodiano e a Dione Cassio; riporta infine anchegli il solito epigramma di Ausonio a lode di Milano: Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 55-66. In complesso si pu dire che il Calco, il quale, com noto, prese poi a rifare lopera meruliana, accresca di molto le testimonianze arrecate dal Merula e si dilunghi con grande interesse sulla storia antica della citt, traendo tutte le notizie dagli amati classici; si deve rilevare tuttavia nelle tre opere un certo numero di citazioni comuni, anche se il Corio, rispetto ai due umanisti, riporta anche altre versioni e notizie desunte dal Fiamma. 28 Si confrontino Calco, Historia Patria, 4 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 57: in verit comunque, mentre il Calco rigetta completamente come falsa questa notizia, che era stata recentemente trasmessa da Roma, e che era stata spacciata sotto il nome dei frammenti delle Origines di Marco Porcio Catone, il Corio riferisce soltanto il fatto dandolo come possibile, attribuendolo generalmente ad alcuni, e senza darne un suo giudizio. Il frammento di Marco Porcio Catone delle Origines in questione era stato pubblicato nel 1498 a Roma nelle Antichit di Beroso Caldeo, falsificazione di testi antichi scritta dal domenicano Annio da Viterbo: cfr. R. Weiss, Traccia per una biografia di Annio da Viterbo, Italia medievale e umanistica, 5, (1962): 425. Anche il giudizio dei due storici sullimmagine della porca lanuta



si, pur differenti, citati dai due scrittori, appartenenti al poeta Draconzio, della cui opera si arrogano entrambi il rinvenimento, provengono sicuramente dallo stesso codice di quellautore portato alla luce casualmente nel 1493 a Bobbio per effetto delle esplorazioni fatte condurre dal Merula29. Per quanto riguarda pi da vicino le fonti cronachistiche utilizzate, si deve segnalare ad esempio luso in tutti i tre autori, oltre che del gi citato Guglielmo Ventura, del Chronicon Modoetiense di Bonincontro Morigia, opera che riferisce minutamente delle vicende lombarde e pi specialmente monzesi dal 1300 al 1349. Questo scrittore citato espressamente dal Corio come fonte, ed da lui menzionato come homo diligente in scrivere le cose achadeano in quegli giorni30; Lutilizzo del Morigia da parte del Corio in realt risulta massiccio a partire dal secondo libro dellopera (divisa in quattro libri), che comincia ad essere particolareggiata con la calata di Arrigo VII in Italia. Presi dal Morigia sono ad esempio, fra i molti, i seguenti episodi narrati dal Corio: vicenda delleretica Guglielma; breve discorso di Guido Torriani ai suoi sostenitori per opporsi ad Arrigo VII; lettera di Arrigo VII ai canonici di S. Giovanni Battista di Monza; lettere del vicario imperiale alla comunit di Monza; opera di Matteo Visconti per il tesoro della cattedrale di Monza; lettere di Galeazzo Visconti ai monzesi; vicende del 1323 e battaglia di Trecella; battaglia di Vaprio e miracolo delle taccole ed episodio di Enrico di Fiandra che si affida a S. Giovanni Battista; assedio e resa di Monza e apparizione di S. Giovanni Battista a Galeazzo Visconti; battaglia di Altopasso fra Castruccio Castracani e i fiorentini; lettera di Ludovico il Bavaro a Galeazzo e Marco Visconti; arrivo di Ludovico il Bavaro a Milano, morte di Stefano Visconti,
scolpita al loro tempo nellarco del palazzo comunale, di cui il Merula non fa parola, profondamente diverso: il Calco la dice rudi seculo incisa, anche se giudica che sia indegno che sia difficilmente visibile perch coperta dal tetto di una locanda, mentre il Corio afferma che essa in pietra vetustissima... exsculpta e sembra meravigliato per la sua antichit: cfr. Calco, Historia patria, 4; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 58. 29 Il Corio nella Patria Historia riporta i due componimenti del poeta Draconzio intitolati de mensibus e de origine rosarum, affermando di avere trovato egli stesso lopera di quel poeta scritta in caratte Langbard, che sarebbe poi stata tradotta in lettere latine da Giovan Cristoforo Daverio: Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 95. Il Calco invece, nella sua opera, nellarco di una digressione sulle immagini dei serpenti, riporta due brevi versi dello stesso Draconzio, la cui opera, egli dice, quamvis alius sibi gloriam arroget, nos tamen ex bobiensi penetrali retulimus, et ex barbaricis characteribus in consuetis transcribendum formas dedimus: Calco, Patria Historia, libro III, 55. Evidente, in questo passo, il riferimento al Corio. Ma lopera di Draconzio in realt era stata portata alla luce casualmente a Bobbio, con altri scritti della tarda antichit, dal copista del Merula Giorgio Galbiati, spedito nel 1493 negli Appennini dal suo padrone al fine di verificarvi lesistenza di cronache o antichi documenti; gli scritti rinvenuti, dopo la morte del Merula, pervennero nelle mani del Calco, e in seguito, tranne alcuni, che furono pubblicati, si dispersero: Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 64-65, 168, 170; M. Ferrari, Le scoperte a Bobbio nel 1493: vicende di codici e fortuna di testi, Italia Medievale e umanistica, 13, (1970): 139-152; M. Ferrari, Spigolature bobbiesi, Italia medievale e umanistica, 16, (1973): 17, 33-37; G. Morelli, Le liste degli autori scoperti a Bobbio nel 1493, Rivista di filologia e istruzione classica, 117, (1989): 5-33. quindi praticamente certo, come suggerisce del resto anche Mirella Ferrari, che il codice di Draconzio utilizzato dal Calco e dal Corio per le loro citazioni fosse il medesimo rinvenuto dal Galbiati a Bobbio. 30 Cfr. ad esempio Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 682, 694, 716 .



e imprigionamento dei fratelli Visconti; vicende dei Vistarini a Lodi; lettera di Giovanni e Azzone Visconti ai 24 capitani di Milano e lettera del Bavaro ai monzesi; assedio del Bavaro a Monza e a Milano; morte di Marco Visconti e vicenda di Bice; matrimonio di Azzone Visconti e sue costruzioni a Milano; vicende dei Rusca a Como e presa della citt ad opera dei Visconti; battaglia di Parabiago; morte di Azzone Visconti; vicenda di Francesco e Margherita Pusterla; vicenda della duchessa di Carinzia; dal Morigia poi presa tutta la vicenda relativa al trafugamento e alla restituzione del tesoro di Monza31. Il Merula invece utilizz il Morigia a grandi linee per gli stessi episodi ma con una marcata superiorit per i fatti che intercorrono dalla morte di Matteo Visconti a quella di Azzone Visconti32; Tristano Calco conobbe e si avvalse del Morigia, filtrato anche tramite la redazione del Merula33. Il Corio curiosamente, a proposito del secondo matrimonio, nellanno 1300, di Beatrice dEste con Galeazzo I Visconti, riporta, pur in un contesto argomentativo diverso, gli stessi celebri versi danteschi cui alludeva, per lo stesso episodio, il Merula, il quale, con lautorit del poeta fiorentino e del sepolcro milanese della principessa, affermava vedova e non fanciulla la sposa estense: e non deve stupire pi di tanto che pure il Calco, nella narrazione di quel matrimonio, si riferisca, pur avendo come scopo principale quello di riprendere il Merula, del quale aveva preso a rifare il lavoro, implicitamente a quei versi34.
31 Cfr. B. Morigia, Chronicon Modoetiense ab origine Modoetiae usque ad annum MCCCXLIX, in RIS, 12 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1728) 1091-1092, 1098-1099, 1106-1107, 1114, 1121-1123, 1130-1182 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 563-564, 594, 604-605, 615-616, 663, 682-688, 690-694, 695704, 707-710, 713-718, 723, 730-731, 735-740, 742, 744-746, 748-750, 755, 757-758, 759. 32 Cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 288, 297-306, 308-309, 311-315. 33 Cfr. Calco, Historia Patria, 6 della prefazione, e, ad esempio, T. Calco, Residua (Mediolani: Malatesta, 1644), libro XXI, 31. Per il Chronicon Modoetiense di Bonincontro Morigia, il quale, a partire dalla spedizione di Arrigo VII, riferisce in genere fatti dei quali fu testimone e che era molto informato delle gesta dei Visconti, dei quali la sua famiglia era, come ghibellina, sostenitrice, si vedano: L. A. Muratori, Praefatio, in RIS, 12 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1728), 1055-1056; A. Viscardi-M. Vitale, La cultura milanese nel secolo XIV, Storia di Milano, 5 (Milano: Treccani degli Alfieri, 1955), 589 ss.; A. Paredi, Dallet barbarica al comune, Storia di Monza e della Brianza, eds. A. Bosisio-G. Vismara, I (Milano: Il Polifilo 1973), 85-86, 123, 135, 146; G. Barni, Dallet comunale allet sforzesca, Storia di Monza, I, 189-190, 208, 261-265, 272-273, 287, 289, 293, 295; A. Belloni-M. Ferrari, La biblioteca capitolare di Monza (Padova: Antenore, 1974), LXIV, XCII, 40; per gli ultimi aggiornamenti bibliografici anche la voce Morigia Bonincontrus, in RFHM, VII (Romae, Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medioevo, 1997), 626. 34 Il Merula, parlando del secondo matrimonio di Beatrice dEste con Galeazzo Visconti, contratto nellanno 1300, appare incerto sul nome della principessa, che alcuni dicevano si chiamasse Agnese, e sul suo stato precedente, visto che, secondo lui, era definita da alcuni vergine, da altri vedova; lumanista per, appoggiandosi ai celebri versi danteschi di Purgatorio VIII 73-75, comunque non riportati, e sul sepolcro della principessa, che esisteva ancora nella chiesa di S. Francesco e sul quale erano poste le insegne dei Gallura e dei Visconti, stabilisce certamente vedova Beatrice; prima di descrivere le feste fatte in occasione dello sposalizio, trova il tempo di criticare velatamente Dante (lallusione a Purgatorio VIII 79-81) per avere considerato inferiori i Visconti ai Gallura, e cerca di indagarne il motivo: Merula, Antiquitatis Vicecomitum, 150-152 e cfr. Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 263 e nota, 264. Il Calco, nel ricordare il matrimonio di Galeazzo Visconti con



La Patria Historia del Corio, fatto questo pi ovvio ma mai segnalato con precisione, largamente debitrice nei confronti delle varie opere del frate domenicano Galvano Fiamma. Bernardino Corio conobbe sicuramente, fra le opere del Fiamma, il Manipulus florum e il Chronicon Maius, e probabilmente anche la Chronica extravagans e la Politia novella, anche se non cita mai il frate domenicano fra le sue fonti. Risultano quasi certamente di derivazione dal Fiamma i seguenti passi: leggenda della fondazione di Milano ad opera di Subres e origine del nome di Martesana35; Milano detta seconda Roma e versi riportati sullarco di Porta Romana36; vari edifici costruiti a Milano in epoca romana37; vicende dei Longobardi dopo Liutprando e battaglia di Mortara, prima detta Silva Bella38; pestilenza di vermi allepoca di Arnolfo39; serpente di bronzo portato a Milano da Costantinopoli dallarcivescovo Arnolfo40; il Carroccio escogitato da Ariberto dIntimiano41; assedio di Milano da parte dellImperatore Corrado e duello del duca Baverio con Eriprando Visconti42; vicende di Ariberto dIntimiano e di Lanzone da Corte43;
Beatrice dEste, critica il vano argomentare del Merula sul nome e sullo stato della principessa, che era evidentemente vedova, e nota lerrore compiuto dal suo predecessore, il quale aveva considerato come una famiglia pisana il termine Gallura; ricorda, ma senza citarli, i versi danteschi relativi al doppio matrimonio e annota la critica mossa dallo storico alessandrino al poeta fiorentino: Calco, Historia Patria, libro XVIII, 405-406. Il Corio apre lepisodio con la narrazione delle origini toscane della famiglia di Nino di Gallura, del quale ricorda lavo e alcuni possessi in Sardegna; la morte di Nino segna il ritorno della moglie, la principessa Beatrice dEste, a Ferrara, la quale, per volont di Matteo Visconti, viene scelta come sposa per il figlio Galeazzo; ed a questo punto che il Corio cita il giudizio di Dante su questo matrimonio, e riporta i versi di Purgatorio VIII 79-81, chiudendo poi con unannotazione che suona implicitamente a correzione del poeta: La sepultura di questa pare di presente con larma di Gallura e la vipera nel templo dedicato al seraphico Francesco in Milano, a mano sinistra entrando, ne la magior capella a nostro tempo constructa dal magnanimo et illustre capitanio, signore Roberto da Sanseverino...: Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 561-562. Anche il Corio si sofferma poi sulle cerimonie e sulla pubblica corte che si fecero a Milano per quelle nozze. Per ricapitolare, il Calco, nella narrazione di questepisodio, ebbe davanti certamente il testo del Merula, che non esita per a riprendere; il Corio invece sembra narrare in maniera autonoma la vicenda ed anche possibile che la citazione dantesca sia indipendente dal testo meruliano, visto anche il diverso argomentare e il tono differente; ma pure possibile che egli avesse ben presente quanto detto dal Merula, con il riferimento ai versi danteschi: in ogni caso, rispetto al Merula, e anche al Calco, il narrato del Corio in questo caso assai pi spontaneo e sicuro nelle affermazioni, e anche meno involuto, e non conserva, come nel Merula, una vena di pedanteria. 35 G. Fiamma, Manipulus florum, in RIS, 11 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1727), 541-543 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 58-61. 36 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 552 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 63. 37 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 555 ss. e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 62-63. 38 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 600 ss; G. Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, ed. A. Ceruti, Miscellanea di Storia Italiana, 7, (1869): 549 ss.; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 122-123. 39 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 609 ss; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 593; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 128. 40 Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 600-601 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 130. 41 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 619-620; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 605-606; G. Fiamma, Chronica extravagans, ed. A. Ceruti, Miscellanea di storia italiana, 7, (1869): 495; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 131. 42 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 618-619; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 611-612; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 131-132. 43 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 621-623; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 615 ss; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 133-134.



duello fra Ottone Visconti e il saraceno in Terrasanta e origine dellinsegna della vipera44; vicende di Federico Barbarossa dopo il 1168, battaglia di Legnano, versi di Sicardo, e leggenda di Alberto da Giussano e della compagnia della morte45; le porte e le pusterle di Milano e loro distanze46; pace di Costanza e trattato di Reggio47; i tre domini di Milano48; nascita della Credenza di S. Ambrogio e specificazione delle famiglie nobili milanesi49; scomunica di Federico II da parte di Innocenzo IV50; crudelt di Ezzelino da Romano, sua morte e nascita di Guido Della Torre51; prodigi al momento della nascita di Matteo Visconti52. Galvano Fiamma, e in particolar modo il Manipulus florum, fu utilizzato in maniera veramente notevole anche dal Merula, che riport anchegli, ad esempio, le leggende intorno a Eriprando e a Ottone Visconti, e che anzi ne aggiunse anche altre, come quella di Galvano Visconti, non accolta invece dal Corio53. Sono noti i rimproveri che il Calco, nella prefazione della propria opera, mosse al Merula per avere accettato le favole narrate dal Fiamma, da lui rigettate in blocco; e in effetti, anche allinterno della narrazione, egli non esita a riprendere il Merula ogni volta che scopre che questi, nel riportare un racconto favoloso, si avvalso del domenicano54; ma certo anchegli dovette servirsi del Fiamma quando gli parve evidente che alla base del racconto vi fossero documenti o testimoni attendibili; il Calco del resto riferisce in parte della leggenda della nascita di Matteo Visconti55. Fra le fonti narrative che non furono utilizzate dal Merula (ricordiamo infatti che lumanista alessandrino, pi che una storia di Milano, era stato incaricato dal Moro di comporre una storia dei Visconti, appunto le Antiquitates Vicecomitum, e che quindi nella propria opera egli accenna solo superficialmente a molti eventi
Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 617-618; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 135. Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 650-651; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 718-719; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 243-245. 46 Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 723-725; Fiamma, Chronica extravagans, 472-474; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 240-241. 47 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 652-655; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 726-727: Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 247, 249. 48 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 657-658 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 285. 49 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 660 ss; Fiamma, Chronicon Maius, 743-744; Corio, Storia di Milano, 292-293. 50 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 680-681 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 386. 51 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 689-690 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 429-432. 52 Fiamma, Manipulus florum, 710-711 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 402-403. 53 Cfr. per questo Gabotto-Badini Confalonieri, Vita di Giorgio Merula, 234-315. 54 Cfr. Calco, Patria Historia, 6 della prefazione, 52, 127, 147-148, 213-214. 55 Calco, Patria Historia, libro XVI, 353-354. Per la figura di Galvano Fiamma e per le sue opere storiche dedicate a Milano, si rinvia a: L. A. Ferrai, Le cronache di Galvano Fiamma e le fonti della Galvagnana, 93-128; L. Grazioli, Di alcune fonti storiche citate ed usate da fra Galvano Fiamma, Rivista di scienze storiche, 4, I, (1907): 3-22, 118-154, 261-269, 355-369, 450-463, 4, II, 42-48; T. Kaeppeli, Scriptores ordinis praedicatorum, II, 6-10; Flamma Galvaneus, RFHM, IV (Romae: Istituto storico italiano, 1976), 463-465; P. Tomea, Tradizione apostolica e coscienza cittadina a Milano nel Medioevo. La leggenda di S. Barnaba (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 1993), 112-127, 129-135, 161-162; mentre, per ogni pi approfondito riferimento bibliografico si rimanda alla ricca voce di P. Tomea, Fiamma Galvano, Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani (DBI), 48 (Roma: Istituto della enciclopedia italiana, 1997), 331-338.
44 45



che, pur essendo pertinenti alla storia milanese, in specie a quella pi antica, non lo erano per ai fini della celebrazione della dinastia) e che invece lo furono dal Calco e dal Corio, si possono invece segnalare alcune cronache: innanzi tutto la cronaca dellanonimo comasco, che riferisce gli eventi della guerra comasco-milanese fra 1118 e 1127, usata pi dal Corio che dal Calco56; poi la cronaca lodigiana di Ottone e Acerbo Morena, continuata da un anonimo, che tratta, da un punto di vista imperiale, le lotte fra Federico I Barbarossa e i comuni lombardi degli anni 1153116857: il Corio, che cita onorevolmente la propria fonte (li suoi grandissimi facti recitaremo secondo lo exemplo de dui nobili Lodegiani, luno chiamato Otho e laltro Acerbo, suo figliolo, cognominato Murena, li quali per quatordeci continui anni come nuncii imperiali seguitarono la corte de Federico e dicono essere intervenuti a quelle cose di presente serano recitate58) e che ricorda spesso anche i casi dei due autori quali si desumono dalle loro opere, ebbe a fare un uso massiccio soprattutto di Ottone Morena, che appare quasi unica fonte dello storico per il periodo da lui trattato, vale a dire per gli anni 1153-116059; invece Acerbo Morena (la
Per mostrare quanto di questopera si servirono sia il Corio che il Calco, baster riportare ci che dice al proposito Giuseppe Maria Stampa nella prefazione di essa nelledizione muratoriana: Quod et Calchus et Corius hoc poema perlegerint, ipsa eorum historia testis est, quamvis alter, ut paucis multa complecterentur, plura silentio praeterierit; alter autem, ne quid omitteret, saepe malus interpres a veritate aberrarit: Anonimi Novocomensis Cumanus sive poema de bello et excidio urbis Comensis ab anno MCXVIII usque ad MCXXVII, RIS, 5 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1724), 405-406, e cfr. anche la prefazione del Muratori a pagina 403 (lopera stampata invece alle colonne 413-458). Il Corio, in effetti, come segnala lo Stampa, servendosi di questo testo assai pi del Calco, commise per alcuni errori di traduzione, in specie per quanto concerne il nome dei luoghi; in realt per, anche a detta degli editori, il poema, scritto in esametri ma in una lingua rozza, risultava non di facilissima lettura. Per linserzione, tratta dallanonimo, delle vicende belliche fra milanesi e comaschi fra 1118 e 1127, cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 144-166 e Calco, Historia Patria, 5 della prefazione (per il ricordo dellopera), e libro VII, 152-157: il Calco fa precedere la narrazione del conflitto da una bella descrizione della regione comasca e della Valtellina. Per lopera dellanonimo comasco, testimone contemporaneo della sventura della propria patria, si rinvia a: P. Zerbi, La chiesa ambrosiana di fronte alla Chiesa romana, Studi medievali, s. III, 4, (1963): 192-194; A. A. Settia, I milanesi in guerra. Organizzazione militare e tecniche di combattimento, Milano e il suo territorio in et comunale (XI-XIII secolo) (Spoleto: Presso la sede del centro studi, 1989), 265-289; complessivamente, oltre alle prefazioni del Muratori e dello Stampa, anche alla voce Liber cumanus de bello Mediolanensium adversus Comenses, RFHM, 7 (Romae: Istituto storico italiano, 1997), 250-251, cui si rimanda per ogni altro riferimento bibliografico. Dellopera stata curata nel 1985 una traduzione italiana a cura di Enrico Besta. 57 Che il Corio si sia servito largamente dellopera dei Morena e del loro continuatore era gi stato notato, prima che dallultima curatrice della Patria Historia, Anna Morisi Guerra (cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, 23-24 dellintroduzione), da Ferdinand Gterbock nella ricca introduzione alledizione dei cronisti lodigiani: anzi, in quellintroduzione e nelle note al testo, egli cerc di identificare il codice del quale ebbe a servirsi lo storico milanese: cfr. O. Morena et Continuatorum, Historia Frederici I, MGH, Scriptores rerum Germanicarum, nova series in usum scholarum, 7 (Berolini: Gruyter, 1930), XXXI, XXXVI, XXXVIII-XXXIX, ove il Corio ricordato sempre in compagnia del Calco, perch assai probabile, secondo lautore, che il manoscritto utilizzato dai due milanesi, nonostante un diverso uso, fosse lo stesso; lintroduzione stata poi tradotta in italiano da Alessandro Caretta in Archivio storico lodigiano, 96, (1975): 55-91 (76, 79, 83, 86 per Corio e Calco). 58 Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 167. 59 Cfr. Morena Et Continuatorum, Historia Frederici I, 1-29 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 167-207.



cui narrazione comprende gli anni 1161-1164) e lanonimo (che copre gli anni 1164-1168) costituiscono sempre la linea portante del racconto del Corio, che per integrato sempre di pi da notizie provenienti da altre parti60. Anche la perduta cronaca di Antonio Retenate, la cui narrazione, analitica e minuta per i fatti interni milanesi e anche lombardi del tempo, copriva almeno il periodo 1266-1302, fu usata in modo ampio sia dal Corio che dal Calco. Il Corio, sotto lanno 1302 della sua opera, ricorda infatti come, alla fine del mese di novembre, era stato eletto notaio del podest di Milano Antonio da Racenate, scriptore de le cose poche avante scripte per mi, Bernardino Corio, auctore de lopera presente...61. Il Calco, nella prefazione della sua storia, affermava di essersi avvalso, fra gli scritti non usati dal Merula, di Antonium Recenatem notarium mediolanensem, qui quadraginta annorum res suae memoriae complexus est, e, nel corpo della narrazione degli eventi, si rifaceva ancora a questo autore per un episodio, del 1266, relativo alla vendetta dei Torriani contro i fuorusciti viscontei e allintercessione di un figlio di Napo Torriani a favore di uno dei condannati, Bono da Tabiago, che laveva precedentemente curato da una malattia62. Il Corio comunque cita verosimilmente allusiva60 Cfr. Morena Et Continuatorum, Historia Frederici I, 130-218 e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 207-239. Per quanto riguarda luso che dei Morena e del loro continuatore fece il Calco, cfr. Calco, Historia Patria, 5 della prefazione, e soprattutto Belloni, LHistoria Patria di Tristano Calco, 181, 187-188, 203, 222-230. Per le figure dei lodigiani Ottone e Acerbo Morena, entrambi giudici imperiali, che ricoprirono uffici in Lodi, e partigiani di Federico Barbarossa, e per le loro opere e per la continuazione dellanonimo, che forse va identificato nel segretario di Acerbo, si rimanda a: F. Guterbock, Introduzione a Morena Et Continuatorum, Historia Frederici I, IX-XLV; F. Guterbock, Ottone e Acerbo Morena, Archivio storico Italiano, serie VII, 13, (1930): 61-99; A. Caretta, Nellottavo centenario di Ottone e Acerbo Morena, Archivio storico lodigiano, 96, (1975): 3-91 (che offre la traduzione in italiano, oltre che della citata introduzione, anche di altri due saggi dello storico tedesco); G. M. Cantarella, I ritratti di Acerbo Morena, Milano e il suo territorio in et comunale, 990-1010; per gli ultimi aggiornamenti bibliografici si veda Morena Otto et Acerbus, RFHM, 7 (Romae: Istituto storico italiano, 1997), 625-626. Una traduzione italiana dellopera compare nel volume Il Barbarossa in Lombardia. Comuni ed imperatore nelle cronache contemporanee, eds. F. Cardini, G. Andenna e P. Ariatta (Novara: Europia, 1987), 35-157. 61 Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 575. 62 Calco, Historia Patria, 7 della prefazione, e libro XVI, 341 (lo stesso episodio raccontato da Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 445). G. Giulini, Memorie spettanti alla storia al governo ed alla descrizione della citt e campagna di Milano ne secoli bassi, IV, (Milano: Colombo, 1855 [1773]), 569-570, ricordando queste tre citazioni, stimava che la perduta opera del Retenate dovesse coprire allincirca gli anni 1266-1302 e sosteneva che la narrazione del Corio e del Calco, per quegli anni, proprio perch si avvale di questo scritto, risulta pi attendibile e verosimile rispetto a quella di Stefanardo da Vimercate e di Galvano Fiamma, che invece non lo conobbero (cfr. anche le osservazioni, sulla simiglianza per questi anni del racconto di Corio e Calco, dello stesso Giulini, Memorie, IV, 580, 608, 699-700, 705, 817-818). Le annotazioni del Giulini sono state sostanzialmente confermate da G. Biscaro, Note biografiche di due antichi cronisti milanesi. II: Antonio da Retenate, Archivio storico lombardo, 34, (1907): 393-398: questi, sulla base di una nuova documentazione proveniente dalle pergamente di conventi e monasteri milanesi, ricostruisce lattivit professionale del notaio milanese, e afferma che dovette nascere verso il 1240 e morire intorno al 1320; per quanto riguarda la sua opera storica, sostiene che essa doveva essere una specie di cronaca puntuale degli avvenimenti giornalieri relativi a Milano e alla Lombardia del tempo, con un taglio, nonostante le umili origini dellautore, non troppo favorevole ai Torriani, e che essa probabilmente cominciava con il 1258, finendo invece, come gi voleva il Giulini, nel 1302.



Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 579. In ogni caso, come faceva gi rilevare G. Giulini, Memorie, IV, 818, quello che si pu dedurre della cronaca del Retenate lo si ricava oggi solo dalle vicende di quegli anni narrate dal Corio e dal Calco, in misura superiore nel primo rispetto al secondo. Del Retenate, sulla base delle citazioni del Calco, aveva gi tracciato una breve scheda Ph. Argelati, Biblioteca scriptorum Mediolanensium, I/2 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1745), 1197. 64 Per i due autori del Chronicon Regiense e per il problema della sua compilazione, si rimanda a: F. E. Comani, Il terzo autore del Chronicon Regiense, Studi storici, 12, (1903): 3-39, 141-169; G. Bertoni, Un nuovo codice del Chronicon Regiense dei Gazata, Archivio muratoriano, I, (1913): 226227; A. Cerlini, Fra Salimbene e le cronache attribuite ad Alberto Milioli. II. I codici e la ricostruzione del Chronicon Regiense, Bullettino dellIstituto storico Italiano, 48, (1932): 67-104, 106-130; A. Cerlini, Le gesta Lombardiae di Sagacio Levalossi e Pietro Della Gazata, Bullettino dellIstituto storico italiano, 55, (1941): 1-206; Gazata Pietro, RFHM, IV (Romae: Istituto storico italiano 1976), 654; O. Rombaldi, Della Gazata Pietro in DBI, 37 (Roma: Istituto della enciclopedia italiana, 1989), 5-8; P. Rossi, Levalossi Sagacino, Della Gazata Pietro, Repertorio della cronachistica emiliano-romagnola (secoli IX-XV) (Roma: Istituto storico italiano per il Medioevo, 1992), 234-238, al quale ultimo si rinvia per ulteriore bibliografia.

mente unaltra volta il Retenate, sotto lanno 1305, quando ricorda un tentativo di congiura antitorriana, cui interveniva anche il notaro de Turriani, il quale in un secondo tempo trad i compagni rivelando tutto ai signori di Milano63. Nei casi di queste ultime tre cronache (anonimo comasco, Morena, Retenate), pur essendo in genere diverso il metodo di utilizzo dei testi, quasi certo che i codici di tali opere di cui si servirono Corio e Calco fossero i medesimi. Anche almeno unaltra nuova fonte, rispetto al Merula, il Chronicon regiense del monaco del tardo 300 Pietro Gazata, il quale, sulla scorta di un precedente scritto compiuto dallavo Sagacino Levalossi, narr le principali vicende italiane e in particolar modo emiliane e reggiane fra il 1272 e il 1388, fu utilizzata parimenti dal Calco e, in misura molto maggiore, dal Corio. Vicenda intricata quella di questa cronaca. Essa cos come si conosce, appare divisa nettamente in tre parti: una prima parte, che va dall800 al 1303, appare rielaborata da Pietro Gazata sulla base di alcune fonti miscellanee e annali di Reggio che erano in possesso dellavo Sagacino Levalossi; la seconda parte, che copre gli anni 1303-1353, fu dovuta al notaio e avo del Gazata Sagacino Levalossi, il quale, vissuto a Reggio fra il 1272 e il 1357, annot giornalmente, e forse in volgare, i fatti accaduti non solo a Reggio ma anche in Italia per quegli anni; la terza parte infine, che relativa agli anni 1353-1388, dovuta alla penna di Pietro Gazata. Ma questi non si limit soltanto a continuare lopera dellavo, ma interpol anche la seconda parte, che inoltre perse nel 1371 in occasione del sacco di Reggio e che poi recuper mutila, con notizie personali e aggiuntive, forse inoltre traducendola in latino; in ogni caso lultima parte, la terza, presenta delle notevoli lacune fra 1355 e 1372 e fra 1378 e 1382, dovute al forzato esilio da Reggio di Pietro per la distruzione del monastero di S. Prospero ad opera di Feltrino Gonzaga. Il Muratori, pubblicando lopera nel 1731 (e la sua rimane ancora oggi lunica edizione), avvertiva che il manoscritto utilizzato era mutilo allinizio (partiva in effetti dal 1272), a met, per le segnalate lacune, e alla fine; in seguito, in base ad altri codici, fu rinvenuta la parte pi antica dellopera, relativa agli anni 800-1272, e vari studiosi formularono lipotesi che la cronaca fosse proseguita da Pietro fino al 139564. Il Corio, che cita alcune volte nella sua opera



Sagacio e Pietro Gazata, che dice suo nipote e continuatore65, probabilmente si avvalse di un apografo perduto dellopera, che non doveva essere molto diverso dal manoscritto utilizzato dal Muratori: infatti lo storico milanese, in un punto del suo lavoro66, pone come inizio del Chronicon il 1277, e perci non conobbe quasi sicuramente la prima parte della sua fonte; inoltre si pu affermare che egli utilizz quasi solamente la parte dovuta a Sagacio Levalossi, poich, anche se, sullesempio del testo che aveva sotto gli occhi, ricorda linizio della narrazione di Pietro67, di questultima, avendo notato la grossa lacuna fra il 1355 e il 1371, non ne fece che un modesto uso, non riprendendola probabilmente pi per gli ultimi anni del 300. Il fatto poi che nello stesso ultimo passo citato lo storico ricordi Sagacio come vecchio di 91 anni (mentre il corrispondente brano del Muratori, sotto lanno 1353, lo dice invero di anni 81) sembra indicare che il codice usato dal Corio sia lo stesso visto dal Calco: infatti anche questi, nella prefazione della sua opera, menziona Sagacio Levalossi come nonagenario68. Il Corio ebbe a fare un notevole uso, forse anche per la precisione cronologica con la quale vengono annotati i singoli eventi, del Chronicon regiense; si segnalano qui alcuni passi fra i pi evidenti ad un primo raffronto, tenendo anche presente che quasi tutti i fatti relativi a Reggio Emilia, Parma, Bologna e alla Romagna derivano al Corio per la prima met del trecento da questa fonte: creazione di Ugolino Rossi di Parma primo capitano del popolo di Reggio Emilia; conquista ad opera di Obizzo dEste di Modena e di Reggio; fatti di Giberto da Correggio e discordie per lelezione papale del 1314; morte di Giberto da Correggio; vicende dei perugini contro Spoleto; occupazione di Borgo San Donnino da parte di Azzone Visconti e vicende di Passerino Bonacolsi a Modena; incoronazione di Filippo di Valois a re di Francia, uccisione di Passerino Bonacolsi, corte di Cangrande Della Scala; battaglia fra Filippo di Francia e i fiamminghi; presa di Treviso da parte di Cangrande Della Scala e sua morte; entrata di Giovanni di Boemia a Reggio e a Modena; vicende di Giovanni di Boemia; inondazione del fiume Arno; dedizione di Parma e Reggio ai Della Scala e poi ai Gonzaga; vicende varie della guerra veneto-scaligera del 1336-1337 e morte di Pietro Rossi; creazione di Simone Boccanegra a doge di Genova e corte gonzaghesca a Mantova; vendita di Parma da parte di Azzo da Correggio al marchese Obizzo dEste; sconfitta francese contro gli inglesi e morte di Giovanni di Boemia; inizio dellascesa di Cola di Rienzo e successione di Napoli; pestilenza del 1348; ribellione di Faenza; morte di Obizzo dEste; presa di Verona ad opera di Fregnano Della Scala e sua uccisione al ritorno di Cangrande II; versi-epitaffio in onore dellarcivescovo Giovanni Visconti69. Il
Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 719, 767, 780. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 767. 67 Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 780. 68 Calco, Patria Historia, prefazione, 6. 69 P. Gazata, Chronicon regiense ab anno MCCLXXII usque ad MCCCLXXXVIII, RIS, 18 (Mediolani: In Aedibus Palatini, 1731), 9, 12-13, 26-27, 32, 35, 36, 39-40, 41-42, 45, 47-49, 51-53, 55-56, 59, 63, 6566, 69, 71, 73-74, 76, e Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 505, 536, 629-630, 671, 697, 704-705, 711-712, 714, 718-719, 726, 728-730, 733, 735-736, 739, 741-742, 747-748, 756, 762-766, 771, 778, 783-786, 788.
65 66



Calco conobbe invece senza dubbio il Gazata, come si deduce dalla precisa menzione che ne fa nella prefazione; per ne fece un uso minore nella sua opera, anche perch lumanista termina il proprio lavoro con il 1322, mentre gli annali di Reggio iniziano ad essere pi particolareggiati con linizio del 30070. Anche per quanto riguarda la documentazione inserita o comunque annotata nelle due opere del Calco e del Corio, talvolta si fa fatica a credere che gli esemplari consultati dai due storici, e da entrambi citati, fossero differenti. Troppi, e in particolar modo relativamente alla narrazione degli eventi del XIII secolo, sono infatti i parallelismi che si riscontrano nei due testi per poter veramente credere che le fonti narrative e la documentazione utilizzate siano indipendenti: ci naturalmente a prescindere dal diverso tono conferito nella narrazione dalla diversa personalit dei due autori: molto pi antiquaria e critica verso le testimonianze che provengono dal passato, quella del Calco, pi corriva e meno sorvegliata nei riguardi della tradizione, ma anche forse pi artisticamente letteraria, in diversi episodi, quella del Corio. Ad un primo superficiale raffronto, si possono rilevare alcuni punti che sono comuni ai due storici, e che soprattutto rimandano ad una documentazione analoga: ricordo della fondazione, posta dal Calco nel 1118, dal Corio nel 1119, del cenobio di S. Giacomo di Pontida ad opera di S. Bernardo, con accenno allesenzione ricevuta71; privilegio della cittadinanza milanese e di immunit concesso nellagosto 1160 dai milanesi agli abitanti di Erba ed Orsenigo a ricompensa del loro intervento contro il Barbarossa nella battaglia di Carcano72; fondazione del cenobio di Bernate per volont, secondo il Calco, di Lucio III, secondo il Corio, di Urbano III, e giurispatronato ad opera della famiglia Crivelli73; apertura nel 1232, ad opera del podest Pietro Vento, della porta detta Algisia, cui venne poi messo il nome di Porta Beatrice da Ludovico Sforza74; nuovo palazzo pubblico fatto erigere dal podest Oldrado da Tresseno nel 1233, ricordo dellimmagine del podest scolpita a cavallo, inizio della costruzione della chiesa di S. Francesco75; origine delle fazioni guelfe e ghibelline76; arrivo dei carmelitani a Milano nel 126877. Il Calco inoltre
Cfr. Calco, Historia Patria, 6 della prefazione, e libro XIX, 420 e Calco, Residua, libro XXI, 17 ss. Calco, Historia Patria, libro VI, 139; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 140. 72 Calco, Historia Patria, libro X, 204-205; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 204, 206, 499. Cfr. per tale fatto G. Biscaro, La battaglia di Carcano e i privilegi concessi dal comune di Milano agli abitanti di Erba e di Orsenigo nellagosto 1160, Archivio Storico Lombardo, 36, (1909): 305-308, 310-313 e Gli atti del comune di Milano fino allanno MCCXVI, ed. C. Manaresi (Milano: Capriolo e Massimino, 1919), 68-69. 73 Calco, Historia Patria, libro XII, 253; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 247. 74 Calco, Historia Patria, libro XIII, 282; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 241, 363. 75 Calco, Historia Patria, libro XIII, 282; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 363. 76 Calco, Historia Patria, libro XIV, 296, sotto lanno 1242; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 383, sotto lanno 1243. 77 Calco, Historia Patria, libro XIV, 303; Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 463. Inoltre Giulini, Memorie, IV, 164-165, afferma che il Calco e il Corio pubblicano una stessa lettera scritta nel gennaio 1209 da Ottone IV ai milanesi per esortarli ad accogliere il patriarca di Aquiileia, suo legato per lItalia: in realt per non si tratta della stessa missiva in quanto a testo, anche se certo non solo il significato della carta il medesimo, ma essa coincide in quanto al tempo: il Calco infatti dice che la lettera in questione ven70 71



conosceva una buona parte degli statuti cittadini, come si deduce dalle citazioni che ne fa, che il Corio pubblica nella sua opera per il XIII secolo78. Questi che si indicano sono naturalmente pochi, e di necessit, incompleti elementi di raffronto e solo una estesa e capillare ricerca fra i tre testi e le fonti utilizzate permetterebbe di avere un panorama pi chiaro al riguardo e confermare o rigettare tali supposizioni. Il Calco del resto, che rivide e reimpost la propria opera durante gli anni della dominazione francese (infatti, egli, secondo il Moro, avrebbe dovuto solo continuare e portare a compimento le fatiche del Merula, quindi compiere non una storia di Milano ma una storia dei Visconti) ebbe a servirsi, oltre a quelle utilizzate dal Merula e a quelle che ebbe in comune con il Corio, di ulteriori fonti, e la sua storia , al contrario di quella del collega, tanto pi apprezzabile per let tardo antica, alto medievale e per let del Barbarossa quanto laltra lo invece per lepoca successiva e in special modo per il trecento e per il quattrocento79. Per a mio avviso innegabile che il Corio, pur componendo unopera in lingua volgare, avviata verosimilmente per sua iniziativa e indipendentemente dal governo ducale, nel momento in cui ebbe a godere del favore del Moro e a beneficiare dellapertura degli archivi e delle biblioteche del dominio, si venne a trovare, proprio perch in definitiva identico era il progetto ducale per tutte le tre opere, quasi
ne scritta ad Augusta nel gennaio e che fu recapitata nel marzo successivo dal patriarca di Aquileia, quando questi si rec a Milano (Calco, Historia Patria, libro XIII, 268); il Corio, dopo avere fatto menzione nellanno precedente dellambasciata dei milanesi allImperatore, riferisce il testo della lettera che venne consegnata ai milanesi dal patriarca di Aquileia nel marzo 1209, pur non dicendo nulla in quanto al tempo in cui fu scritta (Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 303-305). 78 Per altre analogie fra i due storici, relative al XIII secolo, e per qualche differenza intorno ad alcuni fatti marginali, cfr. G. Giulini, Memorie, IV, 166, 209, 318, 459, 474, 522-523, 533, 544, 552, 555, 562, 567, 579-580, 583, 700-701, 703, 729. 79 Fu in epoca francese, durante la quale egli ebbe lagio di ricoprire lincarico di segretario regio, che il Calco ampli le ricerche per let antica e scrisse la parte, comprendente ben cinque libri, e considerata il suo fiore allocchiello, dedicata ai tempi del Barbarossa; ma anche il resto dellopera, bench sfruttasse una documentazione accumulata in gran parte allepoca del Moro, fu rielaborata probabilmente negli anni di Luigi XII: credo che anche la decisione di rifare da capo il lavoro del Merula e di demolire le leggende viscontee contenute nella sua opera, non sia indipendente dalle mutate contingenze storiche: cfr. per tutto ci Belloni, LHistoria Patria di Tristano Calco, 179-219. Fra le fonti narrative che il Calco cita nella prefazione dellHistoria (Calco, Historia Patria, 4-7), il Corio non us certamente Arnolfo, Sire Raul, la maggior parte di quelle attinenti allepoca del Barbarossa (salvo i Morena e, forse, Giacomo Doria), il processo fatto ai cospiratori della congiura contro Pietro da Verona, probabilmente Rolandino da Padova, il Bruni, il Platina; qualche dubbio ho personalmente, bench non abbia fatto dei riscontri, riguardo a Ricobaldo da Ferrara e a quelli che il Calco chiama come annali genovesi e parmensi. noto che del Calco, a partire dallagosto 1508, quando risulta ancora segretario regio, non si ha pi alcuna notizia, e che comunemente la sua scomparsa si pone appunto fra questa data e lottobre 1516: cfr. Belloni, Tristano Calco e gli scritti inediti, 298. Si segnala qui che un interessante documento notarile da me rinvenuto permette di affermare con sicurezza che lo storico era gi defunto nel gennaio 1515: in quel mese infatti la vedova Susanna Calcaterra, nominata tutrice dellunico figlio Giovan Francesco, stipulava una serie di atti patrimoniali; in uno di questi compare addirittura linventario, ricchissimo, della casa milanese del Calco: fra i molti oggetti elencati, vale la pena di ricordare i libri IIII ne lo studio, volumi tra picholi e grandi numero 60, purtroppo, senza una pi illuminante annotazione; dal documento si ricava inoltre che il Calco era deceduto, forse tempo prima, senza fare alcun testamento: Archivio di Stato di Milano (ASMi), Notarile, filza 6435, Pietro Martire Pusterla, 11 gennaio 1515.



Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 22 dellintroduzione. Il Corio cita per la prima volta nella sua Historia Giovannni Balducchino a proposito della sua testimonianza circa la calata in Italia delle truppe ungheresi nel 1360; in seguito lo ricorda parecchie altre volte, sempre come testimone di vista, fino al 1385: cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, I, 803, 807, 809, 813, 834, 836, 840, 871, 882. I. Aff, Memorie degli scrittori e letterati parmigiani, II (Parma: ducale tipografia, 1789), 94-96, del Balducchino fornisce le notizie ricavabili in base alle citazioni del Corio, solo aggiungendo che, in base ad un documento del 1393, egli era in quellanno vicario del podest di Piacenza: questa notizia comunque si completa bene con quanto detto dal Corio, il quale aveva pi volte ricordato il Balducchino come funzionario visconteo. Secondo L. A. Ferrai, Gli Annales Mediolanenses e i cronisti lombardi del secolo XIV, 293-297, la perduta cronaca del Balducchino fu sunteggiata e in parte inserita anche nellultima parte della gi citata compilazione degli Annales Mediolanenses; il Ferrai sostiene inoltre che si trattava di uno scrittore informato e vivace narratore degli eventi contemporanei, vivo ancora nel 1402, quando era giudice dei malefici in Milano, e che il Corio, come appare chiaramente da diverse citazioni, conobbe direttamente, non attraverso gli Annales, la cronaca del Balducchino. In effetti lutilizzo del Balducchino nellopera coriana appare anche evidente per gli anni che vanno dal 1360 al 1385 dalle frequenti allusioni a fatti parmigiani. 82 Il Corio cita la testimonianza di Antonio Vimercati, che in quegli giorni per causidico praticava al concilio de iusticia, a proposito dei torbidi accaduti in Milano immediatamente dopo luccisione del duca Giovanni Maria Visconti: cfr. Corio, Storia di Milano, II, 1028. Ph. Argelati, Bibliotheca scriptorum, I/2, 1660, ricordando la testimonianza del Corio, sostiene che Antonio, avvocato, era figlio del senatore ducale Taddeo e che scrisse due opere storiche perdute, rispettivamente sulluccisione del duca Giovanni Maria Visconti, e sui fatti del suo tempo. Se il personaggio in questione si identifica, come probabile, con quel Giovan Antonio Vimercati che richiedeva da Pier Candido Decembrio, durante la signoria di Filippo Maria Visconti, la Laudatio urbis Mediolanensis, egli intrattenne anche una corrispondenza epistolare con lumanista lombardo, del quale il figlio Ottavio era amicissimo: cfr. M. Borsa, Pier Candido Decembrio e lumanesimo in Lombardia, Archivio storico lombardo, 20, (1893): 17-18, 34, 49; V. Zaccaria, Lepistolario di Pier Candido Decembrio, Rinascimento, 3, (1952): 103-104, 117. Per altre fonti storiche usate dal Corio cfr. Meschini, Bernardino Corio storico, 142 nota, 155 nota, 156, 167 nota.
80 81

sullo stesso piano in cui era stato il Merula e in cui si trovava il Calco, tanto da potere esaminare le carte del primo e suddividersi la documentazione, che man mano si rendeva disponibile anche per la sollecitazione del governo, con il secondo. Il problema delle fonti, che, come indica Anna Morisi Guerra, uno dei maggiori interrogativi del Corio80, penso dunque che vada in parte analizzato in questa direzione, e ci tanto maggiormente se si considera che, a partire dalle vicende del XIII secolo e poi fino al termine dellopera, lo storico fa uso, di volta in volta inserendola, traducendola o riassumendola, di una vasta documentazione quasi sempre di prima mano e di matrice a volte statutaria a volte diplomatico-cancelleresca, che ben difficilmente egli avrebbe potuto esaminare senza godere dellapertura degli archivi pubblici. Il testo del Corio poi appare importante di riflesso per la ricostituzione ideale di quelle cronache perdute che vengono ricordate dallo storico come sue fonti: si pu qui fare lesempio, oltre che della gi citata opera di Antonio Retenate, anche della cronaca del parmense Giovanni Balducchino, ripetutamente citata dal Corio nella narrazione delle vicende fra il 1360 e il 138581 e di quella di Antonio Vimercati, autore di due scritti perduti sulle vicende milanesi dellinizio del XV secolo82. Curiosamente lopera del Corio, che, rispetto alle altre due, quella del Merula e quella del Calco, che erano state poste sotto legida ducale, era certamente la meno pretenziosa, fu lunica che, nonostante il mutare delle contingenze politiche, venne



condotta fino ai suoi tempi e che riusc a vedere la luce vivente lautore: la magnifica edizione del 1503 del Minuziano, che probabilmente port al dissesto finanziario lo scrittore, era dedicata al cardinale Ascanio Sforza, fratello del Moro, allora in prigionia in Francia, e conservava, nonostante il tono severo e le rampogne che lautore muoveva ai suoi duchi responsabili, a suo giudizio, delle calamit dItalia di fine secolo, una disposizione danimo sinceramente favorevole alla dinastia, pur nellora della sconfitta83. Ho gi indicato in altri studi quelle che sono le caratteritistiche principali del Corio come scrittore di storia: fedelt alla tradizione municipale milanese, concezione alta ed eroica dellagire umano, meticolosit nel ricopiare iscrizioni e documenti, la tendenza ad affidarsi ciecamente alle fonti di cui si serviva, lemergere, nel corso della narrazione dei vari eventi descritti, di un sentimento di italianit e di un senso di avversione verso le genti straniere, un forte legame con le dinastie viscontea e sforzesca84. Certamente lopera coriana, sponsorizzata almeno in parte da Ludovico Sforza, se pubblicata allapice delle fortune sforzesche, si sarebbe conclusa con una marcata celebrazione dellet ludoviciana, cos ricca di fastigi letterari e artistici85. Ma, edita quando ormai da tre anni il duca mecenate era prigioniero e il nuovo dominio francese gravava sul ducato di Milano, per quanto conservi, forse dimenticate nel lavoro di revisione imposto dagli eventi, non piccole tracce della celebrazione encomiastica a favore degli Sforza86, doveva mutare subitamente la primitiva concezione ottimistica della storia. Ecco che, certamente assegnabili dopo il crollo sforzesco di fine secolo e rimodellate proprio in virt dei tragici eventi del 1499-1500, appaiono le pagine che descrivono la calata di Carlo VIII in Italia e il primo introdursi delle armi francesi in Italia. Ed certamente per effetto della caduta sforzesca che venne rivista e reimpostata almeno lultima parte dellopera e che si acu il tono antistraniero del racconto cos bene colto dalla critica storiografica, che nota come il Corio sia il primo storico italiano, insieme al fiorentino Bernardo Rucellai, a comprendere limportanza dei fatti del 1494-1495 ai fini delle calamit dItalia e dei successivi eventi della penisola87. E certo la
Cfr. per la stampa dellopera, i debiti, lenigmatica fine dellautore, Meschini, Uno storico umanista, 138-147, 151-227. 84 Meschini, Bernardino Corio storico del Medioevo, 131-136, e 138-173 per lanalisi delle varie parti dellopera. Si vedano anche E. Cochrane, Historians and Historiograpy, 117-118 e G. Soldi Rondinini, Spunti per uninterpretazione della Storia di Milano di Bernardino Corio, in G. Soldi Rondinini, Saggi di storia e storiografia visconteo-sforzesche (Bologna: Cappelli, 1984), 205-220. 85 certamente da ricordare al proposito il suggestivo e noto quadro della corte sforzesca nel momento del suo massimo fulgore inserito proprio allinizio dellultima parte dellopera: B. Corio, Storia di Milano, II, 1479-1481. 86 Per alcuni dei passi che ci sembrano rivelatori si rinvia a Meschini, Bernardino Corio storico del Medioevo, 120-121 (per Ludovico Sforza come dedicatario originale dellopera), 153-155 (per gli elogi di tipo encomiastico a Francesco Sforza). 87 E. Fueter, Storia della storiografia moderna, I, traduzione italiana a cura di A. Spinelli (Napoli: Ricciardi, 1943), 55-56; F. Gilbert, Machiavelli e Guicciardini. Pensiero politico e storiografia a Firenze nel Cinquecento, traduzione italiana di F. Salvatorelli (Torino: Einaudi, 1970), 220-222, 226; Cochrane, Historians and Historiography, 118.



Storia di Milano, progettata nel quadro della celebrazione visconteo-sforzesca in atto alla fine del XV secolo, se giunge a raccontare i fatti che posero fine alla dinastia per la quale il Corio scriveva, termina tuttavia con lammissione di una sconfitta, che intacca anche la serena visione che lautore aveva della storia, e che certamente contribuisce a rendere tragiche e intimamente vissute le pagine finali dellopera88. Universit Cattolica Milano


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 53-80


The Scottish Enlightenment is usually associated with the idea of sociability, its very conviviality a crucial component of its project to modernize Scottish society. The Scottish literati hoped to provide a model for social relations that would root out the coarseness and bellicosity that, they believed, had too often characterized Scotlands past. Yet the Scottish Enlightenments emphasis on a philosophy of sociability was not without a pained awareness of the limitations of that sociability1. This was most obvious in the attempt to write narrative history. Indeed, for many the Scottish past was a storehouse of memorialized conflict, and had a power to perpetuate a sense of grievance and tribal hatred that seemed to threaten to undo the entire project of the Scottish Enlightenment. In choosing to write his enormously popular History of Scotland (1759) largely in a language of resentment, William Robertson was openly confronting one of the key problems of the Scottish Enlightenment: the extent to which the mere recital of Scottish history fostered factional resentment in contemporary society, and therefore served to undermine the culture of politesse and magnanimity that the literati had striven to create. The use by Robertson, and to a lesser extent David Hume in his History of England (1754-1762), of resentment as a signifier of character and motive can too easily be dismissed as a linguistic tic or a barren convention. Robertsons prose in particular has sometimes been criticized as too abstract and formulaic2. With the exception of Gibbon, the language that composed much of eighteenth-century historical narrative has received little sustained attention, too often overlooked or assumed to be lacking in interest. Yet a study of the actual workings of resentment as a passion in these narratives can help to disclose a more complex and nuanced picture of the relation between passions, motives and historical action. This paper will argue that it constituted a deliberate and sustained attempt to link historical narrative with the emerging study of resentment as a passion in the work of social theorists such as Lord Kames and Adam Smith, and thereby to enrich it. More importantly, in addressing the question of resentment historians were seeking to make sense of one of the most disturbing forces in human history, and one that in


1 I. Hont, The language of sociability and commerce: Samuel Pufendorf and the theoretical foundations of the 4-stages Theory, in Pagden, A., ed., The Languages of Political Theory in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 253-276. 2 To a modern critic such as James McKelvey he is simply pompous and overblown: William Robertson and Lord Bute, Studies in Scottish Literature, 6, (1968-1969): 238-247.



the eighteenth-century might still pose a serious threat to the order and progress that the Scottish Enlightenment championed. Narrative history was problematic to an eighteenth-century audience for a number of reasons. Its affective quality its ability to excite passion was obviously intended to be used for good effect: to stimulate virtue, or patriotism, or in the more modish formula of eighteenth-century historiography, sympathy and compassion. It was a profoundly moral function of the historian to arouse strong feeling in the reader. Yet this could lead the historian into falsification or excessive rhetoricisation. Mark Phillips has shown the extent to which the appeal of eighteenth-century historical narratives lay in what the novelist Elizabeth Hamilton termed the instructive portrait of the human passions that they provided. In this way, history was analogous not only to classical rhetoric but also to the emerging forms of the novel and of biography, especially in its interest in the delineation of character3. J. Paul Hunter has noted that in the case of biography, the development towards more complex and interior representations of character was inexorable, chronicling movements of the mind, offering deep explanations of behaviour. History underwent a similar progress. Chantal Grell has made the point, echoing indeed Adam Smith in his Lectures on Belles-Lettres, that it was the novelistic or quasi-biographical models of historical composition, such as Tacitus and Sallust, that appealed most to an eighteenth-century audience4. The language of character employed by the historian was often strikingly similar to that used by the novelist, and likewise grounded in a precise study of the passions: thus, the critic Henry Steuart wrote of Sallust that his work constituted
an attempt to penetrate the human heart, and to explore, in its recesses, the true springs, that actuate the conduct of men. By a study of character, he perceived that habits and propensities might be traced to their source; that secret motives, and busy passions, might often be seen at work, and the whole human mind, as it were laid open and anatomized, by the acute observer5.

3 M. Phillips, Society and Sentiment: Genres of Historical Writing in Britain, 1740-1820 (Princeton University Press, 2000), esp. 103-128. 4 J. P. Hunter, Before Novels: The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth Century English Fiction (New York, 1990), 346. C. Grell, Le Dix-huitime sicle et lantiquite en France 1680-1789, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 330 (1995): 992-999. 5 H. Steuart, Works of Sallust (London, 1806), 1:274. 6 F. Shuffelton, Endangered History: Character and Narrative in early American Historical Writing, Eighteenth Century Theory and Interpretation, 34, 3, (1993): 221-242. On the subject of character and historical narrative, see N. Hargraves, Revelation of Character in Eighteenth Century Historiography and William Robertsons History of the Reign of Charles V, Eighteenth Century Life, 27, 2, (2003): 23-48.

Historical characterisation was increasingly not merely self-enclosed portraiture, but was instead communicated through a language of unseen inner motivations, as Frank Shuffelton has described it, which contrasted with the language of the external world, but served also to illuminate it6. The eighteenthcentury historian faced the problem of how to participate legitimately in the new modes of characterisation, without forfeiting the essential identity of the historian



with truth. Certainly, there was a concern, reiterated throughout the critical writings of the period, that history was becoming corrupted by the techniques of fiction, and that this new history of motives gave too much scope for the penetrative talents of the historian to invent an unsubstantiated internalised narrative of motives7. Historians representations of character and motive frequently led to the assumption of starkly partisan positions, a tendency felt to be deeply damaging to British political culture. Gibbon, with the bitter dispute concerning Humes History of England very much in mind, expressed his own objections to the writing of modern British history entirely in terms of the problems presented by the representation of character8. One answer to this problem was the cultivation of a fastidious impartiality. Yet this too could be problematic. In his essay On the Populousness of Ancient Nations Hume expressed the view that the historian himself should naturally both feel and express resentment, as well as prompt it:
APPIANS history of their civil wars contains the most frightful picture of massacres, proscriptions, and forfeitures, that ever was presented to the world. What pleases most, in that historian, is, that he seems to feel a proper resentment of these barbarous proceedings; and talks not with that provoking coolness and indifference, which custom had produced in many of the GREEK historians9.

Humes nice irony, a provoking coolness and indifference, is intended to show that the neutral style of absolute impartiality and moral abdication did not produce the desired effect of quietening the reader, or removing his prejudices. Robertson made a similar point in upbraiding Knox and Buchanan for lacking the indignation natural to a historian in recording the crimes of the past, although this could be partly excused by contextualizing them as part of a society of unrefined manners, lacking modern sensibility and humanity10. Thus, while resentment was in some senses an unrefined, primitive passion, properly belonging to a disordered past, conversely a restrained and proper resentment towards the injustices of the past could also be the signifier of modernity, and a crucial duty for the historian. Every critic was aware that the power of affect could be used negatively, to distort and manipulate. Then it could be accused of rousing party feeling, of fuelling the resentments and discords of the Scottish past. This was what made Scottish narrative history so particularly combustible; it was a tradition which, according to David Allan, remained, at bottom, a vehicle for factional bickering and the fiercest polemic11. This was especially true in accounts of the
On the sceptical critique of historical narrative in the eighteenth-century, see N. Hargraves, The Language of Character and the Nature of Events in the Historical Narratives of William Robertson, Ph.D. Dissertation (University of Edinburgh, 1999), 74-98. 8 E. Gibbon, Miscellaneous Works with Memoirs of his Life and Writings (London, 1837), 69. 9 D. Hume, Essays Moral, Political and Literary, ed. E. F. Miller (Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, 1987), 414. 10 Robertson, Scotland, 1:314-315. 11 D. Allan, Virtue, Learning and the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh, 1993), 165.



Reformation period that Robertson tackled12, although it remained a constant in all Scottish history. The playwright John Home had Lady Randolph, his female protagonist in Douglas, lament the way in which implacable resentment had stamped itself irremovably on her features. Walter Scott, in the preface to Old Mortality, picked up this same phrase in another passage from Douglas as part of Peter Pattiesons plea for mutual understanding between the descendants of the Covenanters and Episcopalians: O rake not up the ashes of our fathers! Implacable resentment was their crime, And grievous has the expiation been13.

The enlightened narrative histories of William Robertson and David Hume attempted not so much to mediate between conflicting partial accounts as to supervene, to raise the level of historical writing far beyond this grubby political squabbling and provide Scotland (and Britain) with authoritative and polite syntheses of their pasts. Since the writing of history could so easily accused of perpetuating resentment, this enlightened history had to be equipped to quieten or eliminate the destructive resentments aroused by Scottish history. Nonetheless, the cult of impartiality that the enlightened historians cultivated could be seen merely as another form of partiality, one more refined but no less pernicious for that14. A good example of this concern is William Tytlers response to both historians, published in 1759, An Inquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence against Mary Queen of Scots and an Examination of the Histories of Dr Robertson and Mr Hume, with respect to that evidence15. His motive in writing this tract was explicitly to provide an apology or vindication of Mary Stuart. He aimed to rescue from infamy an illustrious, injured character against the attacks on her fostered by these pleasant, eloquent, and plausible histories16. His view of Robertson and Hume was respectful: he acquiesced in the prevailing opinion that they had raised Scottish historiography to a higher literary plane. Yet his ultimate verdict on them both is damning. Tytlers response to Robertson in particular is worth following for the assumptions it reveals about the nature and purpose of
The key text was still that of a highly biased participant in the drama, John Knox. M. FearnleySander, Philosophical History and the Scottish Reformation: William Robertson and the Knoxian Tradition, Historical Journal, 33, 2, (1990): 323-338. 13 J. Home, Douglas; A Tragedy (London, 1757), 3. W. Scott, The Tale of Old Mortality (Edinburgh and New York: Edinburgh and Columbia University Presses, 1993), 14. 14 J. Smitten, Impartiality in Robertsons History of America, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 19, (1985): 56-77. 15 Tytler was an Edinburgh lawyer destined to be the sire of a dynasty of Scottish historians, such as Alexander Fraser Tytler, professor at the University of Edinburgh, and Patrick Fraser Tytler. 16 W. Tytler, An Inquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence against Mary Queen of Scots and an Examination of the Histories of Dr Robertson and Mr Hume, with respect to that evidence (2 volumes, fourth edition; Edinburgh: W. Creech, 1790), 1:27-28.



historical narrative; and for its explicit references to the operation of resentment in historical writing (and reading). Tytlers focus on Mary Stuart established the field of battle, that of character controversy. He aligned himself with those pro-Marian historians and antiquaries who preferred to cast the history of Mary in a mixed language of martyrology and sentiment17. Robertson himself occasionally employed the language of sentiment to depict more vividly and affectingly Marys plight, but this did not in his judgement inoculate her from the criminal motives that he believed actuated her18. Tytler is constantly exasperated by what he regards as a perverse even-handedness in Robertsons handling of Mary, which in any case (he believes) amounts to a full-blown condemnation. His complaint against Robertson is essentially twofold: that the treatment of Mary in Scotland is partial, despite Robertsons strenuous attempts to mediate between conflicting positions; and that, as a result of this misplaced effort of mediation, the resulting picture of Mary is inconsistent and indeed monstrous, unnatural, a phenomenon scarce to be accounted for19. Focusing on the mismatch between Robertsons narrative and his explicit characterisations, Tytler imputes Robertsons failure of perspective to his ingenuity, his delight in establishing systems, and to his method of inferring or conjecturing motive from actions, thereby elevating the history of motives above that of facts. To Tytler, this sophisticated narrative of motives, and the intricate chain of argument that it produced, was not mere conjecture but outright deception20. Nonetheless, Robertson had a saving fault: the bias of his narrative method was overturned by his sketches of character. Indeed Tytlers argument is essentially grounded in questions of character: Robertsons system is contrary to human nature & utterly inconsistent with the character which he himself had drawn of the Queen Mary21. Merciful heaven! can such a character have ever existed? Yet such, according to Dr Robertson, is the gentle, tender-hearted, & affectionate Queen Mary! now the inhumane, deliberate, & remorseless murderess of her husband22. Tytler also and crucially sets up a polarity between the imperatives of resentment and those of pity. He implicates Robertsons narrative in a resentment against Mary, inherited from her first opponents, and altogether typical of Whiggishly inclined historians23. Indeed, Tytler implies, the entire historiography
Thus, in his 1790 edition he endorsed Gilbert Stuarts anti-Robertsonian History of Mary Queen of Scots (1782), for finally placing the character of that unfortunate princess upon a solid basis: Tytler, 1:14. 18 On Robertson and sentiment in connection with Mary, see K. OBrien, Narratives of Enlightenment: Cosmopolitan History from Voltaire to Gibbon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 114-122. 19 Tytler, 2:301. 20 Tytler, 2:52. 21 Tytler, 2:81. 22 Tytler, 2:81. 23 On Scottish Whig history, see C. Kidd, Subverting Scotlands Past: Scottish Whig Historians and



of Scotland has been marred by this intrusion of resentment, which Robertsons apparent equability cannot disguise. This, essentially, is the failure of these elegant histories: they are not free of the errors they condemn in their predecessors, and thus they merely perpetuate what they claim to expel. Furthermore, one of the principal sources of error in Robertsons Scotland is the way in which it not only arouses resentment against Mary through careful use of language, but also imputes it to her, invoking it as one of her principal motives. By weaving resentment into his language of motivation, Robertson has cast upon Mary one of the great destructive forces of Scottish history. Tytler absolutely rejects this. For him, Mary is in fact free of resentment to a remarkable, even heroic degree. Indeed, reading Robertsons narrative attentively, Tytler shows how Marys entirely justified resentment against her opponents dissolves into tears; her sensibility triumphs over her impulses to revenge; and her susceptibility to feeling results in open expressions of grief and sorrow rather than betraying symptoms of anger, aversion, resentment or hatred, the natural feelings towards which she is provoked24. This compelling vision of the dissipation of resentment into pity by an historical actor sways even the partisan historian himself; the reason for the inconsistency of Robertsons account lies in his inability to sustain his resentment against Mary. Just as her resentment for the most atrocious offences committed against her soon melted away, and left not a trace behind, so we are compelled to do likewise by contemplating the facts and circumstances of her story25. Tytler and Robertson shared the desideratum of a history purged of resentment. For the former, this would occur through the metaphor of a dissolution through tears, sentiment, sensibility, adopting Mary as the model for a heroic rejection of the privilege of revenge. For the latter, it would work through a more complex and nuanced reinterpretation of the events of Scottish history, through the medium of a polite and pure style, and a more detached and analytical rhetorical stance, neutralising resentment by distancing the reader from the events depicted, rather than by placing them within the events, and by exposing what Robertson termed the groundless murmurs of antiquated prejudices26. Interestingly, however, others connected Robertson with the Tytlerian stance, as Horace Walpole noted: some have thought that, tho he could not disculpate her, he has diverted indignation away from her by his art in raising up pity for her and resentment against her persecutress27. As Walpole implied, however, this diversion of resentment was not in fact its dissipation, but merely a perpetuation of the game of
the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity 1689-c.1830 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993); The ideological significance of Robertsons History of Scotland, in S.J. Brown, ed., William Robertson and the expansion of empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 122-144. 24 Tytler, 2:67-68. 25 Tytler, 2:53. 26 W. Robertson, The History of Scotland during the Reigns of Queen Mary and of King James VI till his Accession to the Crown of England (London: A. Millar, 1759), 1:87. 27 To Sir David Dalrymple. 3 February 1760. H. Walpole, The Letters of Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, ed. J. Wright (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1842), 3:40.



partisanship (and this despite Walpoles earlier praise for Robertsons impartiality). The imperatives of pity and resentment dominated the way in which many people, already well-versed in the events, responded to any new intervention into the historical record. II. RESENTMENT, PHILOSOPHY AND PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY

The word resentment, from the French ressentiment, originally signified nothing more than strong feeling, either for good or ill. Thus unqualified it was the essence of passion, and could attach itself to all other passions. Gradually, it was refined into a deep sense of injury, and closely associated therefore with the idea of justice. It possessed a positive force as a just resentment against injury, or a manly resentment at slights against a persons dignity and consequence. However, the resentful man, one with a marked tendency towards resentment, was held by Samuel Johnson to be malignant, easily provoked to anger and long retaining it. Thus, resentment, even more than most passions, required qualification and specific contextualisation28. By the eighteenth-century, it had gained an association heavily in contrast to its original meaning of deep feeling, that of pettiness, triviality, evanescence, often being associated with trifling amours and acquiring thereby a cast of womanly impotence, although, as in the case of Delarivier Manleys The Wifes Resentment, female resentment could still be a powerful, if lurid and disorderly passion29. As a means of grasping psychologically the nature of apparently irreconcilable opposition, the notion of resentment has provided a remarkably enduring and flexible explanatory model. Yet it remains deeply ambiguous: either a fundamentally illegitimate and misguided reaction against social change (as in the case of racist resentments), or a perfectly rational response to injustice, loss of status, and the structural contempt of elites. Eric Gans has explored the role that he sees resentment has played in the formation of culture, viewing indeed culture as in a sense a strategy by emerging elites to sublimate (or otherwise contain, neutralise or cow) the resentment created by the progressive differentiation produced by ever more complex social forms. For Gans, resentment is the inevitable product of social and political change, and is so powerful in its effects (or threatened effects) that it is fundamentally constitutive of western literature and cultural forms30. To an eighteenth-century historian such as Hume or Robertson, this class or social dimension of resentment was less apparent: rather, resentment was something that could only really be held to exist between
S. Johnson, A Dictionary of the English Language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations (6th edition; London, 1785), volume 2: Resentment. 29 W. L. Chernaik, Sexual Freedom in Restoration Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 155. 30 E. Gans, Signs of Paradox: Irony, Resentment and other Mimetic Structures (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 67-68.



comparative equals whose claims pressed against each other in a shared political world. Hume had indeed adumbrated this position in his earlier philosophical work31. Thus, for Robertson, resentment exists within a narrow framework of interaction and observation, which encompasses such elements as the crown, nobility, clergy and the nation itself (the idea of a national resentment). The resentments of the people are occasionally invoked, but not as those of the poor against the wealthy, who are held to exist, as Don Herzog has observed, as too distant to be capable of this level of interaction with their superiors32. It was as if they were almost another species altogether: no one would attribute the passion of resentment, however basic it might otherwise be held to be, to a dog or a cow. Only after the French Revolution did elites become concerned to the point of hysteria at the lower orders feeling effectual resentment towards them. Even then, these resentments were fractured and individual, and certainly did not function as that of a collective agent demanding justice. Hume and Robertson are interested as historians in the flux and reflux of individual resentments between actors in his narrative, princes, nobles, bishops, politicians; but that is not to say that they do not detect structural resentments buried deep into the political system, which to an extent predetermine the pattern of resentment in the narrative history. Indeed, this is in part the purpose of Robertsons account of the Scottish feudal polity in Book I of Scotland, and of Humes discursive essays on constitution and government. Resentment figures only intermittently in the early classic works of the Scottish Enlightenment. Francis Hutcheson, in his account of the passions and affections, mentions it only in passing, in a discussion of the way in which resentment forms one of the sources of salutary shame33. In An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue Hutcheson, ever the moderate, is at pains to assure us that the resentment we feel towards others naturally ebbs in us once we see that it has had its admonishing, corrective effect. To persist with resentment beyond this limit is a perversion and an error34. Yet he also posits sudden resentment as one of those petty but corrosive principles that can give us unjustly negative views of our fellow men, thus weakening our natural benevolence and providing an inlet to viciousness35. Similarly, Humes philosophical work includes resentment only in various obiter dicta. When it does surface, as on occasion in the Enquiries, Humes view of it is notably benign, despite describing it as one of the darker passions (alongside enmity)36. It is in fact one of the social passions, a moral force, a
A. C. Baier, Hume on Resentment, Hume Studies, 6, 2, (1980): 133-149. D. Herzog, Poisoning the Minds of the Lower Orders (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 330. 33 F. Hutcheson, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense, ed. A. Garrett (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002), 22. 34 F. Hutcheson, An Inquiry into the Original of Our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, ed. W. Leidhold (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2004), 79. 35 Hutcheson, Inquiry, 90. 36 D. Hume, Enquiries concerning Human Understanding and concerning the Principles of Morals, ed. P. H. Niddich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975), 302.
31 32



necessary antidote to coldness and narrowness of heart. Indeed, Hume classifies it alongside justice, love of life and attachment to offspring as a simple original instinct in the human breast, which nature has implanted for like salutary purposes37. It is usually invoked as a generous, noble instinct of sympathy with anothers suffering or misery; we feel resentment on the behalf of the wronged. Moreover, in a striking thought-experiment on the nature of inequality, Hume makes it clear that resentment is what enables justice:

Fear of resentment is what compels justice. This is a crucial insight, and a pointer to the more extensive uses that Lord Kames and Adam Smith were to make of resentment. There is an interesting disjunction here in the uses of the term resentment; in formal philosophy it was a relatively neglected passion, yet in daily discourse, resentment was constantly invoked as an animating factor, an explanatory tool, part of the ever-present common currency of human relations. Resentment was a dominant fact of social life, but one rarely acknowledged or analysed39. In the late 1750s, at the same time that David Hume and William Robertson were completing their narrative histories of England and Scotland, there appeared two works by two closely linked writers working in different genres, both of which testify to the increasing interest of the Scottish Enlightenment in creating what might be called a natural history of resentment: Lord Kames Historical LawTracts (1758) and Adam Smiths Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759). Both strove to use the idea of resentment to make sense of history, law and social relations. The first was an attempt to transform Scots law into an object of rational study performed by men of taste, by applying philosophical and historical perspectives to what had previously been regarded as a crabbed and illiberal discipline40. In the first tract, Kames used resentment as a means of tracing the principles and evolution of criminal law, punishment and jurisdiction. In this he was very probably influenced by Adam Smiths unpublished but hugely influential Lectures on Jurisprudence, which also gave resentment a crucial explanatory place in the development of justice. Indeed, Smith had invoked resentment as the psychological
37 38

Were there a species of creatures intermingled with men, which, though rational, were possessed of such inferior strength, both of body and mind, that they were incapable of all resistance, and could never, upon the highest provocation, make us feel the effects of their resentment; the necessary consequence, I think, is that we should be bound by the laws of humanity to give gentle usage to these creatures, but should not, properly speaking, lie under any restraint of justice with regard to them, nor could they possess any right or property, exclusive of such arbitrary lords38.

Hume, Enquiries, 201. Hume, Enquiries, 190. See A. C. Baier, Hume on Resentment, Hume Studies, 6, 2, (1980): 133-149. 39 M. S. Pritchard has recently argued that Hume does not dwell on the significance of resentment precisely because it poses major problems for his theory of justice, a weakness exploited by Thomas Reid in his more extensive account of resentment: Justice And Resentment In Hume, Reid, And Smith, Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 6, (2008): 59-70. 40 H. Home, Lord Kames, Historical Law-Tracts (2nd edition; Edinburgh, 1761), vi.



foundation of criminal law: Now in all cases the measure of the punishment to be inflicted [] is the concurrence of the impartial spectator with the resentment of the injured41. Smiths own wider interest in the workings of resentment as a passion was demonstrated fully in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, where it figured as both an inescapable cog in the elaborate mechanism of sympathy, propriety and judgement that Smith sought to describe, and more dubiously as a residual threat to the sociability that regulated Smiths moral world. Kames and William Robertson had both attended and been deeply influenced by Smiths lectures. Moreover, Robertson had apparently read and composed a review of the Historical Law-Tracts for the Critical Review shortly after the publication of The History of Scotland, a review which especially foregrounded Kames treatment of resentment42. Certainly, if Robertson wrote the review, it shows that he and Kames converged on the subject of the importance of resentment to the progress of law and society, whatever the reciprocal influences might have been, and whatever their mutual debt to Smith. As the reviewer commented, Kames method was to ground the formation of legal systems and laws in the examination of human nature and those passions which render them necessary, so that institutions which had formerly appeared to be inexplicable, accidental, or capricious are seen to be the natural effects of powerful causes43. The first step, therefore, was to arrive at an accurate delineation of the passions, in order to establish their qualities, variations and mutual influences. Thus, in seeking to understand the nature of the origin of criminal law, Kames recurred to first principles, the foundation of resentment in human nature, before examining more fully its operation, coregularities and irregularities44. For Kames, a cursory view of this remarkable passion is not sufficient. It will be seen [] that the criminal law in all nations is entirely founded upon it; and for that reason it ought to be examined with the utmost accuracy45. The first point to emerge unequivocally from such discussions of resentment is its sheer power. As Robertson maintains in The History of Scotland, Resentment is, for obvious and wise reasons, one of the strongest passions in the human mind46. Kames wrote, and the Critical Review eagerly echoed, that No passion is more keen or fierce than Resentment; which, at the same time, when confined within due bounds, is authorised by conscience47. The latter point is also
A. Smith, Lectures On Jurisprudence, eds. R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael and P. G. Stein (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982), 117. Echoed in Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, eds. D. D. Raphael and A. L. Macfie (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984), 343. On Smith on resentment, see S. J. Pack and E. Schliesser, Smiths Humean Criticism of Smiths Account of Justice, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 44, 1, (2006): 47-63. 42 W. Robertson, Miscellaneous Works and Commentaries, ed. J. Smitten (London: Routledge, 1997), 95-114. 43 Robertson, Miscellaneous Works, 95-114. 44 Robertson, Miscellaneous Works, 95-114. 45 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 5. 46 Robertson, Scotland, 1:311-312. 47 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 4.



important: resentment possesses a two-fold nature, both disruptive and yet capable of being directed towards, and made to serve, order and justice. Resentment can be seen as a Providential passion (and Kames, much more readily than Robertson, invokes Providence as a direct explanation of its peculiar operation and nature), because of its extraordinary and unintended effects. That one of the most destructive, turbulent and uncontrollable passions should be so tamed as to become the foundation of order and justice is proof of both deep irony and deep wisdom in the construction of the universe. Indeed, in this way the operation of resentment becomes one of the clearest illustrations of the doctrine of unintended consequences48. Smith described it as both natural and beneficial: Resentment seems to have been given us by nature for defence, and for defence only. It is the safeguard of justice and the security of innocence49. Most importantly, like all of the passions, but perhaps most evidently and consequentially, it is possessed of a history. Resentment amongst savages is qualitatively different from that felt by people in a civilized State50. It also shapes that history: it makes a great figure in the history of mankind51. Adam Ferguson showed how resentment was the natural principle of the savage, a social glue and a supremely communicative, energizing force, closely linked to friendship and productive of unity within a small, tightly-knit society52. By learning to control and refine their resentments, through the medium of the impartial spectator (as Smith would have it), resentment became transformed into almost a completely different motive. Before this benign progression from blind impulse to an essentially just order can be created, however, the dangers inherent in the passion of resentment first have to be mastered and neutralised. This is difficult, since resentment is especially prone to excess and irregularities: The man who is injured, having a strong sense of the wrong done him, never dreams that his resentment can be pushed too far; he feels that natural partiality which magnifies every injury done to a man himself, and which therefore leads to excess in revenge53. For Kames, there are different species of resentment: principally, the rational and useful passion which answers to our basic desire for justice, and which, to be effectual, must remain moderate; and the savage and irrational passion which while responding to transgressions itself transgresses, and which can become absurd if unchecked54. Unlike other active passions, such as love,
On unintended consequences, see D. Francesconi, William Robertson on Historical Causation and Unintended Consequences, Cromohs, 4 (1999): 1-18; Ch. Berry, Social Theory of the Scottish Enlightenment (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 39-47. 49 Smith, Theory, 123. 50 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 13. 51 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 20. 52 A. Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (6th edition; London, 1793), 291: The simple passions, friendship, resentment, and love, are the movements of his own mind, and he has no occasion to copy. Simple and vehement in his conceptions and feelings, he knows no diversity of thought, or of style, to mislead or to exercise his judgement. 53 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 24. 54 Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 8-9.



gratitude, friendship (all social passions, of course), the excess of resentment does not simply extend its operations, but in reality changes it into something quite other, almost a different passion entirely. There seems, on occasion, to be little in common between a proper resentment and its improper corollary other than an accident of nomenclature. The dissocial nature of improper or excessive resentment distorts observation, preventing objects from being correctly perceived. While the key question to which Kames and Smith both addressed themselves was how resentment could be brought under restraint, it was clear that in the early stages of mankinds development it was simply allowed free rein. For Kames, it was too fierce a passion to be subdued till man be first humanized and softened in a long course of discipline55; the passion of resentment, fortified by universal practice, is too violent to be subdued by the force of any government56. Its peculiarly commodious nature enabled it to dominate all social and political arrangements: resentment, allowed scope among Barbarians, was apt to take flame by the slightest spark57. Where government is weak, or virtually non-existent, the objective of fledgeling judicial authorities was not the restraint of resentment but the correct identification of its object, so that the injured could then gratify his resentment to the full58. If no object were found, it would demand- and find- one, however irrational or unsuitable: most egregiously, animals and inanimate objects. Resentment is also regarded by Kames as, in a sense, a form of property, possessed by the individual against whom wrong is committed: what he termed the privilege of resentment59. Private punishment thus resembles a debt, the exaction of which is, in terms of justice, a natural right60. This property is antecedent to, and forms the psychological basis for, all other forms of property. It also has a peculiar inverse relationship to the history of property: as other forms of property are acquired and multiply, the property of private resentment must be surrendered. This process, of the restraint of resentment, its passage into public hands, is extremely slow: the history of unrestrained resentment extends until very recent times, as all Scots were aware. Assassination, the crime in fashion of the sixteenth century, is invoked as an example of how resentment continued to possess individuals even after the establishment of more regular government. Nonetheless, Kames seems sanguine that resentment has, by the eighteenth century, been tamed and no longer poses a significant threat to the social order: Resentment was no longer allowed to rage, but was brought under some discipline. This discipline, however burdensome to an individual during a fit of passion, was agreeable to all in their ordinary state of mind61.
55 56 57 58 59 60 61

Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 42. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 35. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 31. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 24. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 8. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 18. Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 37.



This is the key to modern resentment, that it is always brought into an ordinary state of mind, and it is the workings of resentment in this modern, domestic condition that Adam Smith investigates in the Theory of Moral Sentiments. Smith retains a sense of the horror to be attached to unqualified, bare resentment: though, in the degrees in which we too often see it, the most odious, perhaps, of all the passions, [resentment] is not disapproved of when properly humbled and entirely brought down to the level of the sympathetic indignation of the spectator62. However, as Smith shows, resentment can be an extremely variable passion, requiring complex qualification and contextualisation. Resentment can be raised in different degrees, depending upon perspective and especially the connection of he who feels resentment with the person injured63. It is emphatically not an absolute. The distinction between just and unjust resentment depends not simply on cause, but on effect: excessive resentment, however justly grounded, cannot be approved of by an impartial observer. Smith paints an extremely pessimistic picture of the potential effects of unchecked resentment. Mutual resentment can dissolve the bonds of society:
Society, however, cannot subsist among those who are at all times ready to hurt and injure one another. The moment that injury begins, the moment that mutual resentment and animosity take place, all the bands of it are broke asunder, and the different members of which it consisted are, as it were, dissipated and scattered abroad by the violence and opposition of their discordant affections64.

This Hobbesian state cannot last: even a society of robbers and murderers would have to restrain themselves. Smith shows in acute psychological detail the internalization of a socially sanctioned just resentment, an inherently social passion that we, as individuals, are keen to communicate to others. It is in the nature of the sufferer of resentment to reach out to others, to have them understand the causes of this disagreeable passion that we are exhibiting before our fellow men. Thus, with an emphasis slightly different from that of Kames, Smith argues that resentment searches out not only its own gratification but also the sympathy of others: this is crucial if our resentment is not to repel others, and be branded unjust or ill-grounded. The apparently unsocial passion of resentment is thereby socialised. This process effectively irons out the excesses of resentment, providing that essential balance that seems lacking in its nature. Indeed, we resent the man possessed by excessive resentment: this too violent resentment, instead of carrying us along with it, becomes itself the object of our resentment and indignation. Revenge, therefore, the excess of resentment, appears to be the most detestable of all the passions65. Only resentment sympathised with is at all justified, or effectual. The positive power of this mediated, socially sanctioned resentment is every bit as remarkable as that of its primitive analogue: it can erase prejudices; it eclipses estimates of character; it is a powerful social adhesive:
62 63 64 65

Smith, Theory, 361. Smith, Theory, 21. Smith, Theory, 129. Smith, Theory, 362.


We enter into the resentment even of an odious person, when he is injured by those to whom he has given no provocation. Our disapprobation of his ordinary character and conduct does not in this case altogether prevent our fellow-feeling with his natural indignation66.

For Smith, it is not merely time and distance that lessens resentment (or any feeling), but society and conversation. However, here too there is the contagion of example to deal with. This is perhaps the reason that, of all resentments, national resentment being entirely tribal in origin, and reinforced by all society is the most intractable. Kames and Smith both view the history of society through the medium of resentment. They are perhaps unusual amongst eighteenth-century thinkers in placing so much stress on this difficult, contradictory passion. Adam Ferguson and John Millar both treated it more perfunctorily, but nonetheless with interesting insights. Ferguson linked it closely with the savage state of society. He saw a dichotomy between love and compassion and resentment and rage, as well as their peculiar kinship as powerful motives and as essentially irrational impulses apt to be urged by the most irresistible vehemence and characterized by a willing sacrifice of interest69. Like friendship, resentment is the natural principle of the savage: The simple passions, friendship, resentment, and love, are the movements of his own mind, and he has no occasion to copy. Simple and vehement in his conceptions and feelings, he knows no diversity of thought, or of style, to mislead
66 67 68 69

Rather than see our own behaviour under so disagreeable an aspect, we too often, foolishly and weakly, endeavour to exasperate anew those unjust passions which had formerly misled us; we endeavour by artifice to awaken our old hatreds, and irritate afresh our almost forgotten resentments: we even exert ourselves for this miserable purpose, and thus persevere in injustice, merely because we once were unjust, and because we are ashamed and afraid to see that we were so68.

Smiths highest conception of resentment is that of a judge who appears to resent the greatest injuries, more from a sense that they deserve, and are the proper objects of resentment, than from feeling himself the furies of that disagreeable passion: an impersonal, distant and muted sense more than a furious, clamouring passion67. This intellectualised notion of resentment is far removed from the original meaning of resentment as pure feeling; it is more apprehended than felt. It is perhaps in this sense that Hume meant to depict the proper resentment of the historian; not possessed by disorderly feeling, but filled with an abstracted sense of it. Smith however is far from complacent about the possibility of inappropriate resentment entrenching itself and frustrating all the beneficial effects that can flow from a proper resentment. Indeed, he seems at times to underline the selfreinforcing nature of incorrect resentment, the way in which it entwines with the mysterious veil of self-delusion:

Smith, Theory, 132. Smith, Theory, 194. Smith, Theory, 182. Ferguson, Essay, 59-60.



or to exercise his judgement70. In a sense, in savage society, resentment is the natural product of friendship, a token of the feeling that friendship arouses. More novel is Fergusons discussion of the sense in which resentment has two temporal aspects. It can be an immediate and unmediated instinct, a fugitive motive that must be satisfied instantly. Or, in a more sinister fashion, it can take on a quality of smouldering subterranean endurance. Thus, Ferguson wrote that the friend of the deceased knows how to disguise, though not to suppress, his resentment; and even after many years have elapsed, is sure to repay the injury that was done to his kindred or his house71. There is an interesting point here about the relationship between resentment and disguise. Resentment, in Fergusons reading, is something supremely authentic, even if it has to be driven underground and take on a mask. The mask of civility is inauthentic, but not the resentment itself, which survives all the falsehood it is forced to generate in order to protect and eventually fulfill itself. Ferguson is peculiar only in his insistence that the savage is actuated as much by love as by resentment; yet even here he underlines the crucial role of resentment as a social cohesive and a supremely communicative, energizing force in savage society. John Millar showed how the operation of resentment could work to circumscribe potentially harmful actions. While Millar invokes infanticide, the most barbarous of all actions, as the natural result of the savages intemperate and overbearing resentment, easily kindled and raised to an excessive pitch72; he also illustrates the use of resentment as a moderating force. Here the idea of propriety is crucial: men became extremely cautious, lest by any insinuation or impropriety of behaviour, they should hurt the character of another, and be exposed to the just resentment of those by whom she was protected73. This is important, as it shows that the states ability to rein in the effect of resentment relied on an internalized fear of the effects of the resentment of others. Resentment enables the respect due to anothers character to be upheld, through the mechanism of mutuality: that is, the belief that by eroding respect for anothers character, you are threatening the respect that others would have for you. Millar thus shows how issues of resentment were bound up even in the earliest societies with questions of character. William Robertson, in his lengthy theoretical preamble to the History of Charles V known as A View of the Progress of Society in Europe (1769), makes a similar point to that of Ferguson concerning the relationship between resentment and social cohesion:
The insults of an enemy kindle resentment; the success of a rival tribe awakens emulation; these passions communicate from breast to breast, and all the members of the community, with united ardour, rush into the field in order to gratify their revenge, or to acquire distinction74. Ferguson, Essay, 291. Ferguson, Essay, 144-145. 72 J. Millar, The Origin of the Distinction of Ranks, or an Inquiry into the circumstances which give rise to influence and authority in the different members of society (4th edition; Edinburgh, 1806), 111. 73 Millar, Origin, 79. 74 W. Robertson, The History of the Reign of Charles V (London, 1769), 1:84.
70 71



In the dark ages, however, private resentment undermines public order, subverting it from within: Private wars were carried on with all the destructive rage which is to be dreaded from violent resentment, when armed with force and authorized by law75. Resentment is one of the constitutive social forces of early society, but in more extensive modern societies it is a fractious force. How to deal with resentment is therefore the first task of the modern state (or proxy for the state); indeed, it is the key to the process of state formation itself. If an authority cannot master the impulses of resentment of its subjects, then it is rightly speaking no authority, but rather a shell. The nature of the expression of resentment becomes therefore the sign of a successful, or a failed state; and the curbing of resentment a sign of progress. At first the states task is modest: it interposes itself between individuals, for the purpose of buying time, to allow the violence and rage of resentment to subside76. Gradually the state acquires more force with which to subdue the private resentments of its subjects. In Robertsons account of the development of the European state, the French King Louis XI plays a crucial, pivotal role. He represents the triumph of policy, interest, and public order over the traditional, individual rights of the noble order. In more abstract terms, he represents the victory of public over private resentment. The nobility are unable to act in concert or sustainably against the king, except during one short sally of resentment at the beginning of his reign77. Resentment here is easily dissipated; its capacity to stimulate social action is weak, since it is naturally divided and distracted. By the modern era, therefore, the sallies of individual resentment are too sporadic to enable them to compete against a modern monarch, armed with policy and interest. Resentment does not disappear, of course, but it is controlled and regulated by an authority that deprives the individual of his property of resentment. The nobility may be left initially with an impotent, self-torturing resentment at this act itself that leaves the monarch untouched, while their resentments (individual and corporate) are branded illegitimate. Eventually, prudence and a sense of self-preservation will dictate the stifling of this vestigial, passive, unfulfilled resentment78. Thus, we arrive at a reversal of Fergusons paradigm of the savage society: instead of the sacrifice of interest to resentment, modernity has given incentives to sacrifice resentment for interest or policy. Yet this is not the entire story. The power of resentment remains, ineradicable if distracted. In the modern era, resentments can no longer build, but they can still dissolve. The burden of Robertsons argument is that in modern society resentment can no longer play the cohering role, because there is little intercourse between the distant members of the community. A passion like resentment cannot create the basis of a united strength79. The implication, worked out in the History of
75 76 77 78 79

Robertson, Charles V, 1:277. Robertson, Charles V, 1:298-299. Robertson, Charles V, 1:99-100. Robertson, Charles V, 1:101-103. Robertson, Charles V, 1:184.



Scotland, is that it can only work to fracture and fissure the community. Resentment in the modern world is still a powerful force, occasionally overwhelming all others, but it is one primarily at the service of factionalism and disunity. Robertson, elsewhere in the View, outlined the near apocalyptic consequences of a predominating resentment: perpetual private wars, which were carried on with all the violence that usually accompanies resentment, when unrestrained by superior authority. Rapine, outrage, exactions, became universal. Commerce was interrupted; industry suspended; and every part of Germany resembled a country which an enemy had plundered and left desolate80. Resentment is a force inimical to authority or unity; it is disorder incarnate. It may be, in Fergusons terms, a simple passion, but it in a more complex society its communication can only be divisive, since a single cohering resentment cannot be shared by the entire community. Without the role of the state to manage resentment, to convert it to a proper, salutary end, its consequences are potentially disastrous. That in a sense is the burden of narrative history, to dramatise this effect. III. RESENTMENT AND HISTORICAL NARRATIVE: HUME AND ROBERTSON

Moral philosophy and philosophical history could show how mutual resentments locked into a stasis, and how true or just resentment became the property of the state. The depiction of uncontrolled resentment, and its disastrous effects, was left to the field of narrative history. The flexibility of resentment as a motive, and its capacity for modulation when combined with other motives, certainly enhances its uses for narrative purposes. In Humes History of England, resentment features as a powerful motivating force, an explanatory tool, and perhaps also an imprisoning category. Contrary to his own maxim, Hume preserves a distance from the feeling of resentment precisely by invoking it regularly as a spring of action: by naming it, and to an extent exposing it, with the forensic (and potentially ironic) attention of the philosophical historian, he forestalls any complicity in the passions he presents. There is no room for sympathy in such a distanced account of resentment. For Hume, resentment in the political world is a dangerous element, which needs to be restrained: he shows how easily it can transform itself from a form of piety a just resentment into a barbarous and unrelenting force, and a deeply imprudent one. Thus, Philip II of Spain is transported by resentment and ambition beyond his usual cautious maxims81. Too great a show of resentment can lead to the proliferation of resentments in others, and it is the task of the prudent politician to temper his resentments. James VI suppresses what might be seen as a just resentment at his mothers execution, partly out of prudential considerations, but partly also because of James peaceful,
80 81

Robertson, Charles V, 1:179. Hume, England, 4:180.



unambitious temper82. In his account of the wars of the Roses, Hume shows how resentment could be deployed as a political tool to goad an enemy into imprudence. Clarences enemies attempt to provoke resentment in him: if he did not rise to the provocation, he would be humiliated as a coward; if he gave way to it and expressed resentment, his passion would betray him into measures, which might give them advantages against him83. Resentment is thus a crucial point of weakness in the armour of any politician, and one that must be handled carefully. In the medieval volumes of his History, Hume shows resentment in delicate interplay with authority. Kings threaten resentment in order to assert their authority over their subjects; they feel resentment if denied the obedience that is due to them. Thus resentment and the fear of it is a crucial part of the kings attempt to secure his authority. Given however the limited nature of medieval kingship, kings are also vulnerable to the resentments of their subjects, particularly the nobles and the clergy, and to a great extent they are hemmed in by this consideration84. Kings are forced to preside over an unruly aristocracy, always divided by faction, and [] inflamed with [] resentments85. The tension between public resentment and private resentment is particularly marked in the medieval period, characterised as it is in Humes account by the intimate histories of aristocratic cliques, necessarily intertwined with the ongoing history of particular resentments. Medieval society allows the easy gratification of resentments, and actively promotes their transmission and inheritance from generation to generation. William the Conqueror is propelled into his conquest by the interaction of ambition with personal resentment, and his later history continues to be governed by an implacable resentment towards his sons, which overcomes any familial tenderness86. Resentment motivates unnatural actions disloyalty towards a father, the murder of a brother and it incites the mob or common people to fury and outrages without bounds. Richard Is strong propensity to resentment opens up the prospect of a perpetual scene of violence and bloodshed87, and he is caught in a constant flux and reflux of resentment and ambition with the French King Philip Augustus. Resentment makes a mockery of the concept of mutuality, and in the relations between kings it destroys the basis of confidence. For instance, of the interaction between Edward III and the French king, Hume writes: Thus resentment gradually filled the breasts of both monarchs, and made them incapable of hearkening to any terms of accommodation88. Resentment has the power to deepen conflict, infecting all relationships and reducing them to chaotic conflict.
Hume, England, 4:166. Hume, England, 2:408-409. 84 Hume, England, 1:189: for instance, Hume writes of William the Conquerors situation after the conquest: as the great body of the clergy were still natives, the king had much reason to dread the effects of their resentment. 85 Hume, England, 2:286. 86 Hume, England, 1:199-200. 87 Hume, England, 1:353. 88 Hume, England, 2:169.
82 83



Resentment moreover breeds factionalism within the kingdom. The origin of the wars of the Roses is located the strong attachments forged by aristocratic houses, in combination with the vindictive spirit which was considered a point of honour. All of this rendered the great families implacable in their resentments and made civil war virtually unavoidable89. Hume thus uses resentment as a means of explaining and dramatising the dysfunctions of the medieval polity, so dependent upon the personal character of the prince, and hence a government of will, not laws90. He also invokes the language of resentment to undermine conventional, or pious, attributions of motivation, which in a Scottish context take on a revisionist aspect. For instance, he shifts the motives for the Scots to resist the English in their struggle for independence from patriotism, or love or zeal for the kingdom, towards a resentment towards Edward I and the English pathologised as an inflammation. Nonetheless, one sign of an effective king in Humes treatment is how effectually he can convert his resentment into action. The absence or impairment of resentment is profoundly disabling for a medieval monarch. Henry III is too feeble for his resentments (hasty and violent though they are) to be dreaded; they lack constancy91. Edward II lacks sufficient resentment: he is less constant in his enmities than his friendships. Thus, while his initial resentment at Gavastons murder is commensurate with his affection for his favourite, it is much less enduring92. Edward is therefore trapped into granting to the murderers an inappropriate forgiveness, and into sacrificing his proper and just resentment. This can only be interpreted as irredeemable weakness. Indeed, Hume frequently adopts a dual view of resentment: it can be enduring, deep and powerful; on the other hand, it can also be represented as weak, fleeting, evanescent, and certainly less effectual than a secure attachment to interest. As Hume argues, it is in the nature of passion to decay, while the sense of interest maintains a permanent influence and authority93. Yet Humes actual narrative shows time and again how a passion such as resentment, unstable as it may be, can frequently act against the dictates of interest, subverting or frustrating a proper regard to policy. On occasion though they can work in tandem. Policy and resentment combine together as a motivating force in Humes interpretation of Bruces murder of Comyn, and of the two motives resentment appears the more justifiable, the more easily entered into and sympathised with. Hume places Bruces act in the context of the history of manners; while it would be condemned in the eighteenth-century, it was praiseworthy by the standards of the middle ages, the product of manly vigour and just policy94. The justice here is contained in the provocation Bruce suffers, and therefore in his resentment. National resentment can also act as a means of
89 90 91 92 93 94

Hume, England, 2:372. Hume, England, 2:148. Hume, England, 2:12. Hume, England, 2:134. Hume, England, 2:411. Hume, England, 2:109.



cementing the unity of the nation: political leaders thus seek to persuade the people to share their resentments, to take part in them. Therefore, resentment can be partially exculpatory, and even constructive. In Humes classic account of the English civil wars, resentment plays an occasional but significant role. Hume treats this period differently from that of his volume on Elizabeth (written later), where resentment is typically sacrificed to public interest95. James I is depicted in markedly less prudential terms than as James VI in Humes Elizabeth volume. He is in some ways more clearly a creature of resentment, to the extent that it becomes a spur to his attempted exertion of authority over the puritans: If he had submitted to the indignity of courting their favour, he treasured up, on that account, the stronger resentment against them, and was determined to make them feel, in their turn, the weight of his authority96. It is his resentment that leads him, in Humes nuanced account, to challenge the constitution in such violent terms, and to open the way to the conflict that follows, by exposing the inconsistent fabric, whose jarring and discordant parts must soon destroy each other97. James constitutional arguments are thus merely a rationalization of an overweaning and pre-existing resentment, the real underlying spring of his actions. Resentment is thus the catalyst to action. Resentments destructive role is depicted even more fully in the account of Buckingham, whose doom is sealed by his careless arousal of resentment, culminating in his assassination by Fenton: private resentment was boiling in his sullen, unsociable mind (here resentment is aided by religious fanaticism)98. The confrontation between Charles I and parliament displays the confining, strangulating role of resentment in preventing either side from breaking out of the downward spiral of internecine conflict. Resentment acts to inflame the situation, and to polarize the antagonists99. Straffords change of sides exposes him to implacable hatred and resentment, which stokes the fires of conflict100. While Charles refuses to sacrifice Laud to the resentment of his enemies, his actions nonetheless irritate and spread that resentment. Interestingly, Charles is more often the object of resentment than himself a resenter, and Hume shows how Charles cannot avoid arousing it even by acts of magnanimity and honour, such as the refusal to abandon Laud or to sign the warrant to execute Strafford, that truly impartial observers should applaud, not resent101. Resentment is thus associated with peremptory intolerance and extremism, implacability, and unreasonableness: the city of London is triggered into action against the king, inflamed with resentment. On Strafford Hume writes, with a marked absence of provoking
Hume, England, 4:218. Hume, England, 5:11. 97 Hume, England, 5:59. 98 Hume, England, 5:203. 99 Hume, England, 5:216. 100 Hume, England, 5:222. 101 Hume, England, 5:213: he was resolved not to disarm and dishonour himself, by abandoning them to the resentment of his enemies.
95 96



coolness, that the sentence, by which he fell, was an enormity greater than the worst of those, which his implacable enemies prosecuted with so much cruel industry. The people, in their rage, had totally mistaken the proper object of their resentment102. Resentment is peculiarly prone to error, and mistakes both its proper function and its appropriate targets. Hume as historian is in an interesting position here, attempting to make the reader appreciate the injustice perpetrated towards Strafford (a revisionist task, overturning the verities of conventional Whig history) while also warning the reader of the dangers of resentment. He condemns, while leavening the condemnation with a sense of the limitations of resentment. In his historical-magisterial role, he permits resentment towards the people who committed this enormity, but at the same time invites contemplation on the origins of this error. Charles fault above all, like Buckingham, is to be careless of the consequences of arousing resentment, doing little to appease this terrible passion. In general, Charles himself is depicted as remarkably resistant to resentment himself, to an extraordinary degree of restraint, but this does not save him from becoming implicated, eventually, in the mutually destructive cycle of resentment. Hume chooses to represent one of the key turning-points in the drift towards civil war as a provocation that even Charles cannot ignore: he is subjected to a method of address not only unsuitable towards so great a prince, but which no private gentleman could bear without resentment103. The negative burden of resentment is largely thrown on the opponents of Charles (the Scots, for instance, are violent in their resentment towards the King)104, while Charles if animated by resentment is shown to be partially justified. This does not save him. While resentment plays a crucial role in some of the key points of Humes History of England, it is not however an insistent feature of Humes historical work, in the way it is for Robertson in The History of Scotland. Robertson focuses from the beginning on the notion of resentment and its structural role within the Scottish political and social system. Thus, he prefaces Scotland with a short dissertation on the nature and causes of political assassination, which Robertson sees as a striking feature of sixteenthcentury political life, and the most vivid symptom of its dysfunctional nature and lack of refinement. It is an age of easily-gratified revenge, both because of the prevalence of the cult of honour, and also because of the feebleness of the Scottish monarchy. This crucially connects resentment with the burden of Robertsons principal theme in Scotland, the failure of the Scottish polity to adapt to modern conditions. Part of this is its inability to convert resentment and revenge into public rather than private affairs, regulated by authority. Therefore, private resentment is not constrained in any enforceable way; indeed, public law at first strengthens rather than restrains private resentment. Robertson embeds his discussion of resentment in a social and political context. Ironically, he asserts that his explicit
102 103 104

Hume, England, 5:327. Hume, England, 5:364. Hume, England, 5:286.



aim is to move his narrative away from the obsession with private passions that had distorted previous histories of Scotland. Robertson tries to pick his way through the model of narrative history as merely the fluctuation of passion: This conduct of our monarchs, if we rest satisfied with the accounts of their historians, must be considered as flowing entirely from their resentment against particular noblemen; and all their attempts to humble them must be viewed as the sallies of private passion, not as the consequences of any general plan of policy105. To write a history merely of resentment is meaningless, as well as distorting. In a sense what he is trying to do is to show that Scottish monarchs perceived their interest as lying precisely in attempting to raise the monarchy of Scotland beyond their vulnerability to such destructive passions. Yet because the story is essentially one of their failure, the resulting work is largely a rehearsal of precisely these resentments, with the added perspective of Robertsons institutional analysis of the dysfunctional Scottish monarchy and its over-mighty nobility. Robertson believes that by approaching resentment in this highly conscious manner, he is in fact inoculating us from our immersion in just these passions: this is part of what makes it a philosophical history, in that, like Hume, Robertson is seeking to encourage a reflection on the role of resentment in political life. Thus, throughout the subsequent narrative, resentment is the master-passion of the age, typical of the primitive, disordered nature of the Scottish polity. Resentment stands at the centre of all of Robertsons narrative themes, associated with disappointed ambition, thwarted passions, the aristocratic ethic of honour, party rage, the weakness of the state and the essentially tribal nature of Scottish politics106. In explaining the ubiquity of resentment, Robertson refers to the violent spirit of the age; it is an age accustomed to license & anarchy107; the maxims of that age justified the most desperate course which he could take to obtain vengeance108. The background to political action is the existence of men inflamed with resentment & impatient for revenge109. Resentment is also a hungry, colonising passion, swallowing up and transfiguring other lesser passions and principles such as religious zeal, patriotism, liberty and even romantic love. It is striking that in his account of the reformation in Scotland, religious motives are often downgraded in favour not only of interest, but also of private revenge and resentment. Resentment is frequently the handmaiden of religion: men are animated with zeal & inflamed with resentment110. The precise nature of this conjunction is often unclear, except of course that they each act to strengthen and intensify the motive. Resentment also explains the disordered shape of the narrative and the wild uncontrollability of character: it is not a stable motive, but
Robertson, Scotland, 1:38. He describes it as an honourable resentment. 107 Robertson, Scotland, 1:245. 108 Robertson, Scotland, 1:435. 109 Robertson, Scotland, 1:242. Robertson also conjoins the inflammation with resentment at 1:158 and 1:284. 110 Robertson, Scotland, 1:198.
105 106



subject to what Robertson terms (in connection with Henry VIII of England) a fantastic inconsistence. At times, Robertson seems to invoke resentment as a motive when no rational interest can be discerned: the spirit which some of them discovered during the subsequent revolutions, leaves little room to doubt, that ambition or resentment were the real motives of their conduct111. The symbiotic relationship between resentment and ambition is also striking: often they co-exist, but resentment also operates when ambition is blocked, frustrated, or disappointed. Resentment then can be a displacement activity for effectual ambition itself. Robertsons brief portrait of James V sets the scene here. James possesses a remarkable mixture of qualities. He combines love (for the people), and zeal for the punishment of private oppressors, with sagacity and penetration. Thus he is a model for the ambitions of the Scottish monarchy, rooted as Robertson claims in a shrewd assessment of the interests of the state. Yet James is uncultivated, an essentially passionate man for all his positive political qualities. Above all he is a man of violent passions and implacable resentment. James strongly resents the nobility for their stranglehold on power which should, legitimately, be his112. The nobles however resent any attempt on his part to curb their traditional authority113. Thus Scotland faces a deadlock, assured by the operation of mutual resentments. Robertson shows James intense and embittered awareness of this crucial fact. Previous monarchs had been trapped by their fear of arousing the resentment of the nobles. James nonetheless tries to satisfy and appease his own resentment by taking on the nobility. He is simply, temperamentally, incapable of accepting the situation that he has inherited; but also incapable of dealing with the results of the situation that he creates through his immoderate desire of power: Incapable of bearing these repeated insults, he found himself unable to revenge them. In ceasing to concern himself with arousing the resentment of his subjects, he abandons both prudence and propriety. James collapse into pathological despair, those diseases of the mind that are the known effects of disappointment, anger and resentment, establishes a pattern of great importance: the sinking of all ambitions and qualities into an all-absorbing and highly destructive resentment. Disappointed ambition time and again collapses into sullen or furious resentment114. In the case of James V, resentment has no outlet, its target being the entire noble order, in fact the entire Scottish political system. This is as far from a petty resentment as we can get, yet it is not elevated either. It is simply destructive, raging, impotent, furious. Resentment can also be an energising force, supplying a motive for action where defects of character would otherwise prevent or frustrate it. Thus, Huntly is characterised as feeble, slothful, inactive, a decayed relic of a declining order; but capable of the most furious spasms of activity prompted almost solely by
111 112 113 114

Robertson, Scotland, 1:362. Robertson, Scotland, 1:55-56. Robertson, Scotland, 1:59. Robertson, Scotland, 1:62-63.



resentment. This indeed is what makes him dangerous to the political order115. It is this susceptibility to resentment that is at the core of Robertsons recharacterisation of the Scottish nobility, an essential part of his revisionist, pro-monarchist stance. The nobles are self-interested, dangerous and turbulent, and primarily responsible for the enervating distractions of Scottish government in the sixteenth-century, and it is the strength of their collective resentment that prevents the state from accumulating authority. At the same time their particular resentments ensure constant struggle and turmoil between competing factions. By contrast, the dispassionate, almost Stoic figure of Regent Moray symbol of the state is not himself a resentful figure (rather he is a quintessential homme politique), but he cannot insulate himself from the effects of resentment; like Charles I, he is a figure guaranteed to stir up resentment in others, and this is very directly the cause of his death116. The central narrative of Mary Stuart needs therefore to be located in this context. Although partly written in a sentimental register, Mary is also very much a player in the drama of resentment that Robertson has already established. The relationship between Mary and Elizabeth is an anti-friendship, bound together by complex ties of fear and resentment. Mary fears Elizabeths resentment; Elizabeth later is haunted by the spectre of Marys resentment. Fear of the effects of this mutual resentment is the reason for the pattern of their relations, for the dissimulation that dominates their actions towards each other, and for the absence of forgiveness or mercy between them. Robertson carefully explains the origins of this. He switches back and forth between imputing the passions of ordinary mankind to these women, while continually emphasizing the impossibility of any amity or concord between princes. Thus, indignation, mutual distrust and, eventually, resentment, are inevitable117. Marys love for Darnley dramatically turns into resentment; indeed the two co-existed from the first, as she is led to enter into her disastrously imprudent match, blinded by resentment as well as by love118. This resentment was in turn triggered by Elizabeths attempt to block the marriage, itself the fruit of Elizabeths resentment towards Mary119. As the marriage turns sour, so frustrated, disappointed love like ambition seems to lead inevitably to a corrosive resentment120. Resentment battens onto other passions, ready to absorb them when they sour or fail. Indeed, in this as in other cases resentment acts as a kind of dumping-ground for all other passions, their unfulfilled dead-end. Marys inexorable resentment effectively chokes off her prudence121; this is Marys essential tragedy, since Robertson is at pains to emphasise her early reign as an enlightened example of politic moderation.
115 116 117 118 119 120 121

Robertson, Scotland, 1:245-246. Robertson, Scotland, 1:435-436. Robertson, Scotland, 1:219-224. Robertson, Scotland, 1:273. Robertson, Scotland, 1:267. Robertson, Scotland, 1:338. Robertson, Scotland, 1:289-290.



Darnley too is a resentful figure; his ambition is irrational and ineffective, and interacts dangerously with resentment at his failures: Such various and complicated passions raged in the Kings bosom, with the utmost fury122. It is the cause of Rizios bizarre murder. Robertson blurs the languages of sentiment and resentment by making Marys tears the signifier of sentimental sorrow also an index of resentment; they are tears as much of bitter resentment, prompted by both failed ambition and failed love, as of any nobler motive: She burst into tears of indignation and utmost bitterness123. Indeed Robertson seems to associate Marys tears with bitterness: She uttered the most bitter complaints, she melted into tears124; Mary [...] was bathed in tears, and while she gave away the sceptre which she had swayed so long, she felt a pang of grief and indignation [...]125. Mary is clearly a sensible creature. Indeed, Hume had associated resentment (a seemingly primitive, savage passion) with the more refined, modern notion of sensibility: There is a certain Delicacy of Passion, to which some People are subject, that makes them extremely sensible to all the Accidents of Life. And when a Person, that has this Sensibility of Temper, meets with any Misfortune, his Sorrow or Resentment takes entire Possession of him126. This insight helps to reconcile Marys resentment with her known delicacy and refinement, and also aids our understanding of her susceptibility to it. In an interesting twist, however, at the height of Marys crisis Robertson adduces as proof of her guilt her very absence of any signs of resentment at the injuries that had been openly inflicted upon her. This could not, Robertson says, be the stoical or virtuous suppression of resentment: Such moderation seems hardly to be compatible with the strong resentment which calumniated innocence naturally feels; or with that eagerness to vindicate itself which it always discovers127. This has a number of implications. Firstly, it seems to indicate that just resentment is incapable of being suppressed; it is an irresistible principle of inflexible justice, unsusceptible to moderating influence, and hence always implacable. Secondly, the expression of resentment therefore becomes almost a duty of the innocent to perform. Finally, the historians role is that of an interpreter of these signs of resentment, using them as an entry-point into the interior of the historical actor. Through this, seemingly impenetrable questions of guilt and motive can be broached. This strong vindication of resentment sits awkwardly with Robertsons general condemnation of it, and might seem to supporters of Mary to be convenient sophistry. Indeed, Tytlers criticism of Robertsons pretend systems of uncovering motives seems to have some validity here. Yet it certainly adds to a complex picture of the operation of resentment. Robertson is also interested in
122 123 124 125 126 127

Robertson, Scotland, 1:305-306. Robertson, Scotland, 1:273. Robertson, Scotland, 1:367. Robertson, Scotland, 1:375. Hume, Essays, 3-4. Robertson, Scotland, 1:416.



explaining why there is a mismatch between the eighteenth-century response to Marys plight essentially sympathetic if not exculpatory and the decidedly hostile responses of the people of Scotland in the sixteenth-century: A woman, young, beautiful, and in distress, is naturally the object of compassion. Yet her sufferings did not mitigate their resentment or procure that sympathy which is seldom denied to unfortunate princes. This, Robertson explains, is due to their insensibility (a quality often associated with savages) and perhaps, he implies at one point, to their rigorous sense of justice128. When Mary is finally executed, the English nation is condemned harshly for being blinded with resentment, for giving the appearance of justice to what was the offspring of jealousy and fear; here even the mask of justice is stripped away from the operation of resentment129. Thus, the historian judges between proper and improper expressions of resentment. This close monitoring of resentment enables Robertson at once to criticise Mary for her susceptibility to resentment, and for her absence of it, and the peoples of Scotland and England for their excessive indulgence of it. This highly modulated approach has the effect of complicating the readers responses, and especially of creating a suspicion of resentment that prevents the reader from participating in it, at least straightforwardly. Tytler saw this as merely a cover for the condemnation of Mary; Walpole as a complex means of vindicating her. Yet Robertson was attempting to sidestep altogether the need to take sides. James VI possesses his own curious relationship to the paradigm of resentment, one strikingly different from that of either James V or Mary. Where his grandfather and his mother had imprudently and disastrously indulged resentment, and been devoured by it, James VI steps aside and forces himself to stifle his resentment, strikingly in the case of his mothers judicial murder130. This suppression of resentment against England is even more remarkable given the history of mutual antipathy, kindled by long emulation, and inflamed by reciprocal injuries131, that Robertson has sketched between the English and the Scots. Indeed James assumes the paradoxical figure of sovereign justice unable to command the forces of public resentment, and forced to become instead spectator of the boiling resentments that distract his realm. This should make James a almost a tragic character for the Enlightenment: a man of moderation, a force for reconciliation and mediation, who stoically conquers his own personal resentments in the service of his kingdom, and who is nonetheless paid back by his less enlightened subjects with derision or contempt132. Robertson himself is ambivalent about this: in a carefully judged phrase he claims that James is extremely ready to sacrifice the strongest resentment to the slightest acknowledgement133. The power of the Crown must be sustained, however, and while James keeps himself safe from private resentments,
128 129 130 131 132 133

Robertson, Scotland, 1:367-368. Robertson, Scotland, 2:136. Robertson, Scotland, 2:155. Robertson, Scotland, 1:103. Robertson, Scotland, 2:193. Robertson, Scotland, 2:190.



he must not be ready to sacrifice the public resentment upon which his authority must be based. The narrative of Scotland is a kind of wild carnival of resentment, which diverges significantly from the more purely philosophical treatments of Kames and Smith, in that the passion of resentment is in no real sense seen to be transformed into the public and proper resentment of the painless development. Narrative history could, for this reason, appear to be unenlightening, if not depressing. Its purpose then for a historian like Robertson was to show how unchecked resentment could work to frustrate the development of society, and so to illustrate its dangers. It is part of Robertsons strategy to distance his readers from the resentments that fill the narrative. Thus, in a note appended to a later edition of the History of Scotland, Robertson (a good unionist) writes that the violence of national hatred can hardly be conceived by posterity, and strongly implies that the fierce resentment of Scots towards the English that he depicts so vividly is very much of the past134. This was perhaps wishful thinking. The attempt to banish fierce resentment to a disordered past was at the centre of Robertsons project. Despite his best attempts, however, some unreconciled souls sought to assimilate Robertson to the world of his own historical descriptors, describing him as a Reverend Party-man, and ascribing to him the one passion which he had sought to master: To his resentment he fixes no bounds; yet he has not magnanimity enough to be an open enemy135. This partisan image of Robertson as a covert resenter, if widely adopted, threatened to undo all the work of his historical writings, and reflected a sense that the taming and redirection of resentment, the great achievement of modern Scottish life, was simply a sham, permitting those with the flexible capacity to conceal and disguise their resentment to rise to the fore and predominate. In the language of the time, this would be a refinement of resentment, rather than an elimination of it. The language of motive and historical character tended of course to spill into the present, thus disrupting the attempt to corral off the past from the present, which was one of Robertsons aims in the History of Scotland. In an interesting image, Benjamin Rush (who had observed Robertson in his pomp as Moderator of the Church of Scotland while a medical student in Edinburgh in the 1760s) likened Robertson to Archbishop Laud, a comparison probably prompted by a reading of Humes history136. This immersion of Robertson into the dark world of his own histories threatened to make him a character to be resented by a people jealous of their spiritual liberty. Thus, history could turn against the polite historians, and be used to invoke resentment against them.
134 W. Robertson, The History of Scotland during the Reigns of Queen Mary and of King James VI till his accession to the crown of England. With the authors last emendations and additions (Fifteenth edition; London: T. Cadell and W. Davies, 1797), 1:106-107. 135 Sceptical observations upon a late character of Dr Robertson, London Magazine, 41, (1772): 281-283. 136 B. Rush, Account of William Robertson, Edinburgh University Library MS, M.28.



Resentment serves as a bridge between philosophical and narrative conceptions of history. In the former, resentment provides a classic case study of the sublimation of the passions into a providential and spontaneous order, although one not without its unresolved tensions. In the latter, it represents a more ambiguous and threatening principle of action. In part, the motive of resentment allowed eighteenth-century historians to reflect upon what was most disruptive and disturbing about their relationship to the past, and by confronting it directly they sought to prevent it from distorting the principal reaction of eighteenth-century readers to vexed historical questions. They could not deny its importance and so attempted to understand it better. Recognising the seriousness with which historians such as Hume and Robertson took the passions that largely constituted their histories enables us to appreciate and understand the subtlety of the lessons taught by eighteenth-century historical narrative, one of the most vital and popular of its literary forms. Newbattle Abbey College Midlothian, Scotland



Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 81-103


By the way, you should know that the opening of the archive will not happen at least not the way I hoped for; possibly always in a very restricted way2. In autumn 1827, Leopold Ranke revealed to his friend and colleague Heinrich Ritter (1791-1869), extraordinary professor of philosophy in Berlin (1824-1833), that the outcome of his request to use material kept in the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv in Vienna was likely to be negative. The historian had hoped to become this way, if not a Columbus at least a kind of Cook of some beautiful, unknown island of universal history3. This article examines the specific conditions of historical research, the means and strategies deployed by Leopold Ranke in order to overcome the administrative obstacles and the consequences this all had for his historical research whilst on study tour in Central Europe from 1827 until 1831. I contend that at a very early stage of the research process the historians professional work unfolded in a social field in which the historian took the position of a (foreign) subject dependent on the archive policy of the sovereign and state governments respectively. Leopold Ranke had to ask for permission to work with
This article presents observations of my study about Archive policy in the Nineteenth Century. Fortunately, I presented first interpretations of Rankes letters at the Research Centre Archiv, Wissen, Macht at the University Bielefeld, at the Postgraduate School Media of History History of Media at the Universities Weimar, Erfurt and Jena, and at the Interdisciplinary Workshop Cultures of Letter Writing organised by Regina Schulte at the University Bochum. I had further opportunity to present different versions of my essay at the conference Historians at Work organised by Henning Trper, Niklas Olsen, and Bo Strth at the European University Institute (EUI), at the conference Histories. Unsettling and Unsettled organised by Alf Ldtke and Sebastian Jobs at the Arbeitstelle fr Historische Anthropologie at the University Erfurt, and at the Research Colloquium of Alf Ldtke. I would like to thank both coordinators and participants of these academic venues for their critical remarks and helpful comments as they helped me to further my analysis and understanding of the material. Moreover, I owe especially thanks to Gerhard Frmetz, Rebekka Habermas, Alf Ldtke, Alexander Mejstrik, and Esther Schomacher; their advice and criticism originating from different fields of expertise provided a very rich resource of intellectual support. I would like to thank also the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Deutsche Akademische Austauschdienst (DAAD), the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES at UCL), and the University College London (UCL) for their financial support of my research project. 2 Let. Ritter, 28.10.1827, in: L. v. Ranke, Zur eigenen Lebensgeschichte, Smtliche Werke, ed. A. Dove, 53-54 (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1890), 171-248, 173ff., 176. 3 Let. Karl Varnhagen van Ense, 9.12.1828, L. v. Ranke, Das Briefwerk, ed. W. P. Fuchs (Hamburg: Hoffmann und Campe, 1949), 115-234, 126ff., 126.



materials kept in archives and, therefore, he made requests. Furthermore, the researcher resorted to diverse means and appropriated the conditions he faced in order to promote his own matter. The administrative obstacles of the archive policy ensued by the state government in the early nineteenth century, the historians strategies to achieve access to the archive and the impact of these conditions on Rankes research and his scholarly position are at the centre of this article. A general assumption of the history of sciences and academia in the German lands during the nineteenth century is the so called professionalization. It is argued that in the early twenties a compulsory research imperative4 had been installed. However, recent studies in the history of academic institutions provide compelling cases, showing that the notion of a reform process that transformed swiftly sciences in the early nineteenth century is misleading. Traditional patterns informed institutional practices such as appointments and examinations and persisted throughout the nineteenth century. The most illustrious example is the appointment of Justus Liebig (1803-1873) who was appointed professor at the Universitt Gieen not because of his scientific achievements but because of traditional criteria such as his regional origin5. Another example is the notorious Humboldt reform. The myth of the Humboldt reforms generally asserts the instigation of radical change at the Friedrich Wilhelms Universitt which subsequently reached down to other German universities in the early nineteenth century. Recent studies, however, show that for example the Universitt Tbingen implemented certain changes earlier6. What is more, the Humboldt reform is revealed as an invented tradition7 which was established by academic scholars in the early twentieth century to provide a unifying identikit as German universities underwent an enormous institutional shift8. In other words, by emphasising actors and their practices in structured social fields, it becomes clear that the nineteenth century witnessed a slow transformation process rather than another alleged scientific revolution9; the humanities in particular were slow in adapting to change in comparison to the natural sciences10. As a consequence, the question is to be raised how and under which circumstances research was performed, how
S. Turner, The Prussian universities and the research imperative 1806 to 1848 (Princeton, Ph. D. dissertation, 1973). 5 P. Moraw, Humboldt in Gieen. Zur Professorenberufung an einer deutschen Universitt des 19. Jahrhunderts, Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 10 (1984): 47-91. 6 S. Paletschek, Die permanente Erfindung einer Tradition. Die Universitt Tbingen im Kaiserreich und in der Weimarer Republik (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2001). 7 E. Hobsbawm, Mass-Producing Traditions. Europe 1870-1914, The Invention of Tradition, eds. E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 263-307, 303. 8 S. Paletschek, Die Erfindung der Humboldtschen Universitt. Die Konstruktion der deutschen Universittsidee in der ersten Hlfte des 20. Jahrhunderts, Historische Anthropologie, 10, (2002): 183205. 9 S. Shapin, Scientific Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996). 10 M. Baumgarten, Professoren und Universitten im 19. Jahrhundert. Zur Sozialgeschichte deutscher Geistes- und Naturwissenschaftler (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1997); Paletschek, Erfindung einer Tradition.



researchers dealt with the conditions they faced and how this influenced their research practice11. I. OUTLINE

To answer these questions, I focus on a particular case: Leopold Rankes historical research whilst on study tour in Central Europe in the late twenties and early thirties in the nineteenth century. By providing a thick description of Rankes performance in the anteroom of the archive, I examine the particular conditions and constraints faced by the historian while on research mission and highlight his own role in lobbying his case and its significance for his scholarly position and work. Firstly, I analyse Leopold Rankes difficulties when seeking access to the central archive of the Habsburg Monarch, the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv in Vienna. Following Rankes traces12, I locate the diverse conditions, assets, e. g. professional reputation, and various sources of support such as the Prussian Legation, reference letters, and societies which finally enabled him to dissipate the worries brought forward by the Austrian state administration. Secondly, I examine the impact of governmental archive policy on Rankes research. Decisions made by the Austrian state administration and Rankes engagement affected his relationship to leading state officials, his research agenda and went also with practical difficulties as well as scholarly consequences while doing archival research. In a third and final step of my analysis, I highlight Rankes overall objective of his research mission, the collection of relazioni. My contention is that Ranke, collecting this particular type of material, enabled him to gather historical data
In this regard my approach is related to recent historiographical studies with an emphasis on research practices in the historical discipline: Writing History. Theory and Practice, eds. S. Berger, H. Feldner and K. Passmore (London: Hodder Arnold, 2003); Europe and Its National Histories, eds. S. Berger and A. Mycock, Storia della Storiografia, 50, (2006); Narrating the Nation: The Representation of National Narratives in Different Genres, eds. S. Berger, L. Eriksons and A. Mycock (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2008); Daniela Saxer, Die Schrfung des Quellenblicks. Die geschichtswissenschaftliche Forschungspraxis in Wien und Zrich (18401914) (Universitt Zrich, Ph. D. dissertation, 2005); The Production of Historical Writing, eds. H. Trper and Niklas Olsen, Storia della Storiografia, 53, (2008); H. Trper, Topography of a Method: Francois Louis Ganshof and the Writing of History (EUI Florence, Ph. D. dissertation, 2008). Furthermore, my investigation is largely informed by concepts, reflections and principles of micro history and the history of the everyday and owes much to a range of inspiring loci classici of the history of sciences: B. Latour and S. Woolgar, Laboratory life. The construction of scientific facts (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1979); Elments dhistoire des sciences, ed. M. Serres (Paris: Bordas, 1989); M. Biagioli, Galileo, Courtier. The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), B. Latour, The Pasteurization of France (Cambridge, Mass.; London: Harvard University Press, 1993); S. Shapin, A Social History of Truth. Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century (Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, 1994); L. Schiebinger, The Mind has no Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Sciences (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997); J. Fabian, Out of our Minds. Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa (Berkeley; London: University of California Press, 2000).



about the modern period without interfering with basic concerns and principles brought forward by state officials as well as archivists. II. IN THE ANTEROOM OF THE ARCHIVE

Leopold Ranke (1795-1886) had left Berlin in September 1827. The primary and major goal of his research mission was Vienna where he sought to find relazioni of Venetian ambassadors of the seventeenth century. However, Rankes first attempt in approaching his object of desire failed. Moreover, his stay in Vienna was prolonged and, subsequently, several sojourns followed. What was meant to last only a couple of weeks until the beginning of the new semester in October 1827 lasted until February 1831, four years which Ranke spent not only in Vienna but also in newly acquired areas of the Habsburg Monarchys southern Empire (Venice in 1815) and various cities and towns in northern and southern Italy. For Ranke, the relazioni, reports of Venetian ambassadors about the ongoing affairs at European courts, were a promising source, for this material allowed him to trace major state affairs and their developments13. The collection of these manuscripts by Mario Foscarini (1696-1763), Doge of the Venetian Republic (1762-1763), was kept in the Viennese Hofbibliothek; even more relazioni were to be found in the central archive of the Habsburg Monarchy, the former k.k. Geheime Hausarchiv14. While access to the first had been established, the use of the latter had not been granted. A writ of the state governments office submitted a formal refusal of his request15. The main concerns mentioned were: Far too modern history. Rules. Alien to the archive16.
The analysis is based on related archive material I found in the sterreichische Staatsarchiv and the numerous letters written by Ranke during his research mission. Given the intricate history of the edition of Rankes letters, this article took all of these letters into account which are available and have been published so far: Ranke, Lebensgeschichte; Ranke, Briefwerk; Ranke, Neue Briefe. Most instructive about the editions of Rankes letters U. Muhlack, Leopold Ranke, seine Geschichtsschreibung und seine Briefe. Zur Einfhrung in die neue Ausgabe der Ranke-Korrespondenz, Gesamtausgabe des Briefwechsels von Leopold Ranke, 1 (1813-1825), eds. U. Muhlack and O. Ramonat (Mnchen: Oldenbourg, 2007), 3-49; O. Ramonat, Editionsbericht, Gesamtausgabe des Briefwechsels von Leopold Ranke, 51-66. 13 G. Benzoni, Rankes Favourite Source. The Venetian Relazioni. Impressions with Allusions to Later Historiography, Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline, eds. G. Iggers and J. M. Powell (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1990), 4557, 50. 14 L. Bittner, V. Inventare des Wiener Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchivs. 4. Gesamtinventar des Wiener Haus-, Hof-, und Staatsarchivs (Wien: 1936); M. Hochedlinger, Das k.k. Geheime Hausarchiv, Quellenkunde der Habsburgermonarchie (16.-18. Jahrhundert). Ein exemplarisches Handbuch, eds. J. Pauser, M. Scheutz and T. Winkelbauer (Wien: Oldenbourg, 2004), 33-44, 39, 46. 15 Letter to H. Ranke, Vienna End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 176ff., 178. 16 Let. Karl Varnhagen van Ense, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 126; cf. AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2ff. A note on margins on the relevant draft of Knechtls expert opinion refers to a no longer existing report No. 23, 13 October 1827, and points out that Action did not follow and that Ranke worked in the archive, despite Knechtls negative evaluation of Rankes request, see AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion,



For the state government, the historians interest in arcane knowledge was a serious concern. Archives were primarily not meant to be used by historians. Although the scholarly use of material kept in archives was not an entirely new phenomenon, it had been a rare practise in the preceding centuries. When Queen Maria Theresa (1717-1780) founded the Geheime Hausarchiv in 1749, the private use of the archive was not considered17. Consequently, the archive was not, as the archivist Joseph Knechtl (1771-1838) argued in his expert opinion about Rankes request, a mere literary institute which was accessible to be used by the general public18. The chief purpose19 of the Geheime Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, however, resulted from its relationship to its superior authority, the state government. The archive was an integral part of the arcane sphere of the state and thus its information was kept deliberately apart from the public to prevent any harm for the Habsburg monarchy and the members of its dynasty; secondly, the archive was supposed to furnish the state government with information deemed useful for efficient rule. To use archive material for scholarly purposes, there was no right which could be claimed, but only the option to beg for the good will of the sovereign. As a consequence, the private use of archival material for scientific reasons was at the discretion of the state administration. In accordance with common administrative practice, Prince von Metternich (1773-1859), Secretary of State (1809-1848), commissioned the archive directorate to examine the questions if, and under which circumstances a allowance of Rankes request could be granted20. For the archivist Joseph Knechtl, the soul of the archive21, as Metternich put it, one of the main worries was the historians interest in files of the modern period22: the matter of the petition was not a distanced period of time, but a representation of the Italian states of the 16th and 17th century23. In the aftermath of Napoleons European imperial policy the danger of intruding archive users loomed large. Territories as well as archives were in great disorder24. New states
9.10.1827, 2ff., 4. However, the points raised by the archivist exactly coincide with the main concerns about which Ranke learned by the Prussian attach Baron von Maltzahn in Vienna as described in his letter to Karl Varnhagen van Ense, see Karl Varnhagen van Ense, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 126. It is also well known that Ranke was finally allowed to work in the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, but the point of time, 12 October 1827, is misleading, for Ranke mentions his waiting for a response by the Austrian state administration in a letter to Heinrich Ritter, see Let. Ritter, 28.10.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 173ff., 176. Not before the end of November Ranke wrote to his brother Heinrich about the final approval of his second request, see Letter to H. Ranke, Vienna End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 176ff., 178. 17 Bittner, Hausarchiv, 164. 18 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2. 19 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2. 20 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Clemens von Metternich, Writ, 7.10.1827, 1. 21 Bittner, Hausarchiv, 71. 22 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 4; cf. Let. Varnhagen, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 126. 23 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2. 24 U. Tucci, Ranke and the Venetian Document Market, Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline, 99-107, 100.



had been founded, existing ones had been aggrandised, and many other states were incorporated in spite of traditional legitimate claims; archives had been appropriated, and as a consequence, collections had been dismantled and material had been lost. Diverse parts of the Venetian archive, Rankes object of desire, were to be found in Vienna, in Paris and also in Venice, and nobody really knew to which extent these volumes might contain scandalous revealing25. In the words of the archivist Knechtl, the political and archival situation put states and their administration in a more or less embarrassing predicament26. Whilst the past was a welcomed resource to be exploited as it allowed governments to tinge their political compromises with a professional history of their states, sensitive data also had to be protected from intruders; revelations of scandalous information could harm the reputation and integrity of the monarch and his family. The legitimacy of the sovereigns rule, albeit newly created or at least changed, was to be displayed; any information undermining the legitimacy of his territorial and financial claims was to be quelled. If one sees the administrative decision against this social and political background in the post-napoleon era, the concerns of the Austrian state administration seem rather comprehensible. For the Austrian state government, Leopold Rankes focus on recent developments of the states in modern Europe touched on arcane knowledge which was deemed of both high value and sensitive quality. Hence the negative reply of the historians interest in too modern history. However, in the end Ranke was able to clean out the administrations objections as entry to the arcane of the Austrian Empire was finally granted. A major condition of Rankes success was the transformation of the petitioners status. In Vienna, Leopold Ranke was a (Prussian) subject in a foreign country, an alien scholar: a fact Austrian state officials and archivists seriously considered27. But Ranke himself was fully aware of his inferior position. In a letter to his younger brother Heinrich (1798-1876), Ranke mentions an episode whilst travelling from Dresden to Vienna:
Allow me to confess you something, which I have not entrusted to anybody so far. When one drives from Bohemia to Saxony, there is a small circle of trees, on the border itself, and a street which has been extended has been strewn with yellow gravel. In Berlin and Dresden I was told so much about the different Austrian habit and character, so I was completely filled with it: I travel to a new country, good reception is not for sure. Enough, with this feeling I rose to say my prayer in that double circle of trees despite the noisiness of my neighbours: I shall be fine! I did well beyond my expectations28.

However, it took a while until Leopold Ranke received good reception in Vienna. The historian had to transform from a foreign scholar29, to a well known

AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 4. AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2. 27 Cf. AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 2. 28 Let. H. Ranke, End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 176ff., 177. 29 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 4; Let. Varnhagen, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 126.
25 26



and unquestionable petitioner. In other words, the petitioner required a legitimized personal identity if his request was to be approved by the relevant officials; Ranke had to establish a public face in order to promote his petition; the successful transition was a result of the efficient use of a range of assets, strategies and sources of support. To begin with, a first characteristic of his study tour was that Leopold Ranke appeared in person in relevant places. In order to make a request the historian appeared in the anteroom of the archive, meaning he became physically visible. Leopold Ranke did not initiate the request to use the Austrian archive in Berlin, but after he had arrived in Vienna. This also applies to the subsequent sojourns in Venice and Florence. Whenever Ranke arrived in a city in which he wished to increase his insight into the past, he was in a position to induce his request. However, Ranke did not appear on a blank space; his mission had been prepared, so a set of means established a personal identity which was to be examined before his arrival in Vienna in autumn 1827. An important institution preparing the petitioners reception was the Prussian Legation in Vienna. Overall, the legations of the Prussian state were an important institutional basis abroad which allowed researchers to communicate not only with their government and their superiors but also with their colleagues and friends in the remote home country, meaning the legation received and submitted a range of deliveries such as letters, catalogues etc.30. Furthermore, the attachs also supported Rankes cause. In Vienna Baron von Maltzahn (1793-1843)31, in Venice Baron von Martens, and in Rome Baron von Bunsen (1791-1860) lobbied for the historians case; they used their established contacts and their familiarity with the local environment to learn about the conditions of access to collections, museums, libraries, and archives; they recommended their clients and if necessary provided arguments to make this or that institution accessible to researchers32. Time and again they were also granted success. A further source of influence which provided Ranke with the required public face was his professional reputation as a prominent historical scholar which preceded his arrival in Vienna in September 1827. My last book is the reason of my joy, he told his brother Heinrich33: Everybody, so to speak, knows about my efforts and acknowledges them. I enjoy support in manifold ways34. Before Ranke had left Berlin in 1827, a first volume of his investigation about the Frsten und Vlker von Sdeuropa had been published. More importantly, Ranke had made a substantial impact on the scene of scholars and intellectuals
Let. Bartholomus Kopitar, 13.1.1830, Neue Briefe. coll. B. Hoeft, ed. H. Herzfeld (Hamburg, 1949) 95-146, 132ff., 133; Let. Ferdinand Ranke, 24.3.1830, Ibid., 120ff., 120, footnote 1 [editors comment]. 31 AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Clemens von Metternich, Writ, 7.10.1827, 1. 32 Let. K. Varnhagen v. E., 9.12.1828, 126ff., 126; Let. Karl Freiherr von und zum Altenstein, 11.4.1829, Ranke, Neue Briefe 122ff., 122f.; Let. K. Altenstein, 1.10.1829, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 127ff. 33 Letter to H. Ranke, End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 176ff., 176. 34 Letter to H. Ranke, End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 176ff., 176.



three years earlier as he had published his own historical study, the Geschichte der romanischen und germanischen Vlker von 1494-1535. It was this publication which established Rankes reputation as a new and critical historian, for he not only harshly criticised former leading historians of Italian history, but also provided a new critical historical account based on Italian relazioni kept in the Hofbibliothek in Berlin35. His criticism paralleled by his own examination earned him not only praise among various scholars and intellectuals in Berlin, but also the attention of leading state officials; [e]verything had been prepared in detail36. Contacts of his younger brother Ferdinand (1802-1876) paved the way to officials of the Prussian Ministry of Cultural Affairs. Supplied with a copy of his book they were intrigued by Rankes rigorous critique and investigation and, consequently, deemed him a restorer of history37 in the era of restoration subsequent to the Vienna Congress in 1815. As a result, Johannes Schulze (17861869), Court Advisor at the Prussian Ministry of Cultural Affairs, and Heinrich von Kamptz (1769-1849), Director of the Prussian Ministry of Justice, achieved Rankes appointment as extraordinary professor at the Friedrich Wilhelm Universitt in Berlin in 1825. Besides Rankes well earned property, i. e. my reputation38, and the effort of the Prussian legation in Vienna, it was finally the support of his own government which allowed the historian to use his other assets to good effect. It was a formal reference letter of the Prussian Ministry of Cultural Affairs which secured privileged access to Friedrich Gentz (1764-1832), Court Advisor of the Austrian state government. The reference letter by Rankes superior, Heinrich von Kamptz, assured the state government of the historians true intentions and objectives and thus Rankes matter enjoyed the immediate participation39 of Prince von Metternich, and of Court Advisor Gentz. The latter arranged a meeting of the historian with the first and subsequently the matter had been instantaneously decided40. Reference letters were essential in approaching various milieus in order to promote historical research. On his way to Vienna, Leopold Ranke met Ludwig Tieck (1753-1843) in Dresden and participated in the social occasions of the playwrights private home, where one enjoys good society and where one reads in a great manner41. Equipped with a recommendation by Ludwig Tieck, the historian was welcomed to the private home of Tiecks friend, the Baron Joseph
35 A. Dove, Leopold von Ranke, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, 27, (1888): 242-269, 252; S. Baur, Versuch ber die Historik des jungen Ranke (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1998), 74ff. 36 U. Muhlack, Leopold Ranke (1795-1886), Klassiker der Geschichtswissenschaft, 1, ed. R. Lutz (Mnchen: Beck, 2006), 38-63, 40; E. Schulin, Traditionskritik und Rekonstruktionsversuch. Studien zur Entwicklung von Geschichtswissenschaft und historischem Denken (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1979), 44-64. 37 Dove, Ranke, 251. 38 Letter Ritter, 30.4.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 199ff., 200. 39 Let. H. Ranke, End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 176ff., 178. 40 Let. Varnhagen, 9.12.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 126. 41 Let. Bettina v. Arnim, 21.10.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 117f., 118.



Holders of reference letters utilised the symbolic nimbus of well known scholars and playwrights; assuring personal acquaintance with the messenger, they opened the doors of both Houses of Knowledge44 and Open Houses45 of privates persons. Thus they allowed to create social bonds between very different milieus and, finally, mobilised available personal and private resources. When travelling abroad, it was better to have two or three reference letters in ones pocket instead of one. While travelling down the Apennine peninsula Ranke asked Karl Varnhagen van Ense (1785-1858) for a good word46 from one of the Humboldt brothers. Several months later, the historian met Countess Isabella Albrizzi (17631836), playwright and proprietress of an important Salon in Venice47. The occasional utterance of the Salonires personal acquaintance with Alexander von Humboldt, again prompted Ranke to emphasize in a letter to Varnhagen the significance of any recommendation of any important man for his project whilst travelling through Northern Italy48. In Verona, for example, a good recommendation by [Friedrich Carl von] Savigny (1779-1861), promoted his matter; as a consequence, he was able to find there an important manuscript kept in a private library49. In Vienna, the reference letter of Heinrich von Kamptz opened the door to Friedrich von Gentz and this, finally, allowed Ranke to use his other assets such as reputation and social contacts to good effect in order to achieve the approval of his petition. Subsequently, a second request, albeit different in nature, was made. This time Rankes request has not been induced through the ordinary course of
Let. Bettina v. Arnim, 21.10.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 117f., footnote 1. Let. Bettina v. Arnim, 21.10.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 117f., 119. 44 J. Mittelstra, Huser des Wissens. Wissenschaftstheoretische Studien (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1998). 45 R. v. Bruch, Gelehrtes und geselliges Berlin. Urban-elitre Zirkel als kommunikative Schnittpunkte fr Akademienmitglieder und Universittsprofessoren, Die Kniglich Preuische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin im Kaiserreich, ed. J. Kocka (Berlin: Akademie, 1999), 85100, 88; I. Lelke, Die Berliner Akademie der Wissenschaften und die arbeitende Geselligkeit, Frauen in Akademie und Wissenschaft. Arbeitsorte und Forschungspraktiken 17002000, ed. T. Wobbe (Berlin: Akademie, 2002), 6588, 74. 46 Let. Varnhagen, 10.3.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 145ff., 146. 47 U. Weckel, A Lost Paradise of a Female Culture? Some Critical Questions Regarding the Scholarship on late-Eighteenth and early Nineteenth-Century German Salons, German History, 18, (2000): 310336; I. Lelke, Berliner Geselligkeit und die Brder Grimm, Zeitschrift fr Germanistik N.F., 11, (2000): 562577, 566ff. 48 Let. Varnhagen, 18.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 170ff., 171. 49 Let. H. Ranke, 20./21.11.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 209ff., 210.
42 43

Hormayr welcomed me like an old friend. He is lively interested in the history of Austria and Bavaria as well as in play and art, and also in the King of Bavaria: I have seen him nearly every day and we eat in the same restaurant; for me, his company is very dear43.

von Hormayr (1782-1848), the former director of the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (1808-1813)42.



business50, but enjoyed the support of superior ranking Austrian state officials. While his first formal request earned him nothing but denial, his second attempt at accessing the arcane proved efficient and ushered in a most informal inquiry of material:
The following day I gave Gentz a note lacking head as well as signature, containing only some rough information what I was looking for. This was passed on to the archive, and he made me access at least a good part of the Venetian archive [in the Viennese Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv]51.

In the subsequent years, Friedrich Gentz proved an impresario of the historians matters. When Ranke sought to see more original manuscripts kept in the Venetian archive located at its original site in Venice, it was Friedrich Gentz who took Rankes matter in his hands, mediated the researchers interests, and provided him with recommendations by Metternich52. Most interestingly, the Austrian Court Advisor made sure that Rankes petition met the formal requirements of a petition by having the request drafted by Metternichs Private Secretary, Joseph Anton Edler von Pilat (1782-1865) as Gentz protge reveals in a letter to his patron: I attach the letter to His Grace [Prince von Metternich] which as you, my dear patron, advised me is written by Mister von Pilat. Supported by your approval it will not fail to produce its effect53. Subsequently, the opening of the archive in Venice was a matter of time and, additionally, Ranke was granted the permission to see further manuscripts54. Shortly after his arrival in Vienna, Ranke had informed his dear friend Bettina von Arnim (1785-1859) that he was compelled to look first of all for libraries, archives, and the men who are able to pave me the way to these institutions; in Friedrich Gentz the historian had finely found the man who did pave him the way to these sites of historical research55. In conclusion, Leopold Ranke performed in a variously constrained field. Research in the arcane sphere of the state was a governmental affair; to use archival material the petitioner had to ask for the sovereigns favour executed by his leading state officials. In this field, in the anteroom of the arcane, Ranke took an inferior position as a foreign subject and it was this position from which he had to overcome a range of obstacles to achieve good reception. Staying in relevant places, valuable resources such as good contacts, scholarly reputation, diplomatic plea, and recommendations by scholars and officials were essential in promoting ones own research matter. Ranke was very well aware of these conditions and did not conceal the impediments of his archival research. Although this tacit
Let. Kamptz, 16.1.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 99f., 99. Let. Varnhagen, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 127. 52 Let. Altenstein, 11.4.1829, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 122ff., 123; Let. Gentz, 26.9.1830, 220ff., 220f. 53 Let. Gentz, 17.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 169f., 170. 54 Let. Gentz, 17.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 169f., 169; Let. F. Ranke, 16.12.1830, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 138ff., 138. 55 Let. Arnim, 21.10.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 117ff., 119.
50 51



knowledge56 about the archive policy of state governments did not surface in the final product, the historical narrative, Ranke shared his experiences in his letters, and his personal accounts included also the historians own engagement in the archive policy as Ranke was actively involved in appropriating these political and administrative circumstances57. III. ARCHIVE POLICY: CONSEQUENCES FOR HISTORICAL RESEARCH

The archive policy was not without consequences for the historians performance. Whether it was Rankes research agenda, his relationship to the Austrian state government, his scholarly position, or scientific notion of truth about the past, the severe administrative supervision of the threshold to the arcane impacted on the researchers position and action. To begin with, making a request and its approval was a time consuming procedure. Consequently, Leopold Ranke reorganised his research and took evasive actions in order to make the most out of his journey. First, the historian changed the site of research; for example, in Vienna Leopold Ranke resorted to using the Hofbibliothek as he waited for the administrations decision about his case. For Ranke, every House of Knowledge deemed promising to find more relazioni was to be approached whilst waiting for a response. Whether the museum and the library in Prague, the private library of the Marchese Gianfilippo in Verona, the municipal archive in Vicenza, the libraries of the former cardinals in Rome, or the document market in Venice, Ranke went wherever he could find his favoured manuscripts, although archives remained his primary goal58. In Venice, however, the whole affair became more complicated and reveals how far the governments archive policy impacted on the researchers agenda. After Rankes arrival in Venice in autumn 1828, he presented his petition to use the archive. In his letter to Friedrich Gentz the historian did not conceal his
M. Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (New York: 1996). Additionally, Leopold Ranke did not shy away to make his personal accounts public when he prepared their publication in his oeuvre which was then finally edited two years after the historians death by his pupil Alfred Dove in 1890: Let. Ritter 4.10.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 116; Let. Ritter 28.10.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 121; Let. Ritter, 9.12.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 129; Let. H. Ranke End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 125. Further letters providing more precise insight into Rankes in Vienna were published by Theodor Wiedemann only five years after the edition of Rankes oeuvre: T. Wiedemann, Briefe Leopold v. Rankes an Varnhagen v. Ense und Rahel aus der Zeit seines Aufenthaltes in Italien, Biographische Bltter, 1, (1895): 435ff. [Let. K. Varnhagen v. E., 9.12.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff.], T. Wiedemann, Leopold von Ranke und Bettina von Arnim, Deutsche Revue, 20, (1895): 56ff. [Let. Arnim, 21.10.1827, Ranke, Briefwerk, 117ff.; Let. Arnim, 6.2.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 139f.]. 58 Let. Ritter, 4.10.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 171ff., 171; Let. H. Ranke, Venice 20./ 21.11.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 209ff., 210; Let. Ritter, 1.8.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 221ff., 221; Let. H. Ranke, 15.11.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 226ff., 227; more generally see Let. Ritter, 22.3.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 190ff., 192; Tucci, Document Market.
56 57



Ranke began with his work in the Biblioteca Marciana which was rich and accessible60 and became, therefore, the historians main working place. A couple of weeks later, however, his positive evaluation of the library gave way to frustration: Most of my day is dedicated to the library. The investigations progress slowly, but hourly. I find more mass, but not as much blood and spirit as in Vienna. The best, I hope, shall happen61. However, Ranke had to wait for the best for quite a while. Approving Rankes request took its time and so he embarked on a research mission in the neighbouring cities of the Veneto to exploit their archives and libraries instead. But after his return in December 1828 a conclusion regarding his matter had not been reached yet, so he decided to travel to Rome. It was not before the 1st of August 1829 that Ranke was able to write to his friend Heinrich Ritter from Rome about the approval of his request to use the archive in Venice62. Leopold Ranke was compelled to constantly adjust his own research strategy to governmental politics. The archive policy prompted his research in other institutions such as libraries and museums as well as the reorganisation of his research trip63. Suffice to say, the three and a half year lasting journey was not his original plan. Although he toyed early on with the idea of travelling further into Italy64, the prolonging of his research mission resulted in part from the administrative decision-making process; it was the archive policy which made Ranke to continue with his journey and, finally, to travel further down the peninsula of the Apennines. Whenever Ranke was granted permission the historians relationship to the government did not remain unaffected. Certainly, I am this time slightly bribed65, Ranke admitted in autumn 1827 after Friedrich von Gentz and Clemens von Metternich had approved his petition on the spot. Receiving the favour of his patron, the Court Advisor Gentz, as well as the goodwill of His Grace Prince von
Let. Gentz, 17.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 169f., 169f.; cf. Let. Perthes, 12.10.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 108f., 109. 60 Let. Gentz, 17.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 169f., 169f.; cf. Let. Perthes, 12.10.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 108f., 109. 61 Let. H. Ranke, 20./21.11.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 209ff., 211. 62 Let. Ritter, 1.8.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 221ff., 221. 63 In regard to the influence of political culture on researchers performances and findings see locus classicus Biagioli, Galileo. 64 Let. Arnim 6.2.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 139f., 139. 65 Let. K. Varnhagen, 9.12.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 126ff., 127.

Finally my treasures came to the fore. But of everything that is in here they are what is least taken care of: they are not in the right order, are not complete, and are not even bound. The [Venetian Republic] had once begun to bind them, and hereof there still exist a couple of volumes of the years 1561-1569; the remainder are in single cahiers bound together with string and are carelessly piled up side by side59.

disappointment about the poor conditions for safe keeping of his favoured material in the Venetian archive after having spotted a pile of final relazioni in a corner.



Metternich, the protge took a very loyal attitude towards the government and their leading members. Being well aware of his obligations66 to the Austrian government the researcher sought to confirm his patrons trust decision in order to prevent any fall from grace. While excerpting relazioni in Venice the historian assured Gentz about the innocuous political nature of his findings:

Moreover, Ranke considered some of the relazioni he had found worth publishing: I even believe that one could advantageously publish for example the Venetian relazioni of Leopolds I reign, which are in Vienna and of which I found here and there one and the other68. Overall, he assured his patron that the government will not suffer from any scandalous revelations, since the nature of these monuments now coalesces with my own devotion69 against a country which had fostered his research project to such an extent. Favour and goodwill required (the manifestation of) loyalty, if the petitioner did not seek to risk loosing his sources of support. Despite the support the historian received from state officials, passing the threshold to the arcane sphere of the Austrian Empire, Leopold Ranke did not imply the researchers emancipation from any constraints. The position of the historian and his site of research changed, but constraints and limits remained, although they took on a different form. When searching for material in libraries and archives the historian finally had to cooperate with the lower ranks of the bureaucracy. Good contacts, reference letters or scholarly reputation did not prove immediately effectual in every circumstance. Indeed, the lack of good will of librarians or archivists could become a serious impediment, if not detriment to the historians research as Ranke experienced during his sojourn in Florence.

Even if I was fraught with the hate of a French of the most extreme left against Austria, then I would have serious problems to extract something from the material which could harm Your reputation. In fact, such things are not to be found67.

Instead, Ranke had to engage on the spot in order to tackle the most extreme difficulties71: I began to arrange parlay on my own, and since I did not search for local issues and matters concerning the Medici, I overcame the difficulties in the end72. Despite the initial confrontation Ranke was able to settle the conflict and
66 67 68 69 70 71 72

In the archive [of the Medici] I was compelled to fight against the jealousy and ignorance of lower ranks. After keeping me waiting a long time one allowed me finally some rags and tatters; neither diplomatic plea nor recommendation was of help here70.

Let. Perthes, 12.8.1830, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 137f., 137. Let. F. v. Gentz, 26.9.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 220f., 221. Let. F. v. Gentz, 26.9.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 220f., 221. Let. F. v. Gentz, 26.9.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 220f., 221. Let. Bartholomus Kopitar, 6.8.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 217. Let. Varnhagen, 9.8.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 217ff., 217. Let. Kopitar, 6.8.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 217.



left the archive with satisfaction as he had managed to appropriate a large amount of the history of Charles V during the period of the German Wars73. However, Leopold Ranke was generally very pleased with his work in both the library and the archive. In Mantua as well as in Vicenza Ranke met good assiduous men. Goodness and kindness were the words chosen to describe the librarians Vaclav Hanka (1791-1861, Librarian at the Museum of Prague) and Pietro Bettio (Director of the Biblioteca Marciana, 1819-1846)74, and he thanked the archivist Joseph Knechtl for his liberality. Even the librarians of the Vaticana received a positive characterisation since they were very kind and provided Ranke with all ease which I can rightly expect75. However, in the library, the smooth cooperation did not result in a free, independent choice and unlimited inquiry of material. On the contrary, for the user, there was little space for manoeuvring. In the Vaticana as well as in the Biblioteca Albani and in the Biblioteca Barberini Ranke browsed through the catalogues while being monitored by the librarians. Supported and accompanied by the librarians the cooperation turned the search of material into a smooth process of supervising the researchers interest and, ultimately, the selection of manuscripts made available. In the Vaticana the librarian Angelo Mai (1782-1854, 1819-1833), for example, felt that it would run counter to politics to give me too many of the sources which I had requested76. In archives the access to the material was confined anyway, even if permission for the use of archive material had been granted. In Rome the historian did not acquire the benefit of any permission to access the archive of the Vatican77. In Vienna Ranke saw only a small part as access was granted only to few parts of the Venetian archive deposited in the Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv78. In Venice the slightly limited permission79 of the Austrian state government excluded all relazioni referring to the dynastic family or to events since 173980. Additionally, using archive material, Ranke was obliged to provide a detailed report on his work. Requested by Joseph Knechtl to report about his readings, Ranke reminded the archivist of the infeasibility to give a complete answer, since it would be impossible to name all codices which I have seen, compared, excerpted in such a long time period of research, but he subsequently provided him with a listing of his interest81.
I have used most of the Codices Hist[oriae] Prof[anea] which is related to the south European history of
73 74

Let. August Graf von Platen, 17.7.1830, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 236ff., 237. Let. Varnhagen, Dec. 1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 177ff., 178; Let. H. Ranke, Venice 20/21.11.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 175f.; Let.Gentz, 17.10.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 169f. 75 Let. Altenstein, 11.4.1829, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 122ff., 123. 76 Let. Kopitar, 20.7.1829, Ranke, Briefwerk, 192f., 192f. 77 Dove, Ranke, 253. 78 Let. H. Ranke, End of Nov. 1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 176ff., 178. 79 Let. Altenstein, 9.3.1830, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 134f., 135. 80 Let. Altenstein, 21.12.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 225f., 225. 81 Let. Knechtl, 22.9.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 107f., 107.


the modern period, a significant number of the manuscripts of [the collections of] Foscarini, Rangoni, Eugen and Hohendorff, a lot of what is recorded in Schwanders Repertorium, I browsed particularly through the Cahiers of Foscarini82.

Besides the surveillance of the historians work in the archive, the site chosen to do historical research had its own gravity. Rankes project of a history of the European states and their developments in modern time was crucially connected to one essential site of governmental rule and its administrative resource of power: the archive. In a letter to Heinrich Ritter a short description of the work site indicates the spatial as well as functional proximity of archive and governmental affairs:

It [the archive] is a complete chancellery: one finds pens, pen-knife, paper-scissors etc. prepared, and has ones own enclosed working space. Usually, it gets slightly dark soon, and I enjoy the moment, when the principal calls a light [a Liecht], and, subsequently, the servant brings two of them for everyone working there83.

This particular work site, the chancellery, was an integral part of the state governments office; thus it was characterised by means of administrative rule84. It was this site of research, amongst others, where the historian sought to find original manuscripts, traces of the past. One can not ignore that a particular characteristic, i. e. the threshold separating the public and the arcane, impacted on the notion of the traces, meaning that the historical truth and professional objectivity borrowed largely from the particular status of arcane material85. The restricted access, the burden of the bureaucratic procedure, the necessary lobbying in the anteroom of the archive and finally, the spatial closeness to the administrative body, the chancellery, as well as its close functional ties with governmental rule bestowed both the material and its scholarly appropriation with symbolic significance. Both the circle of true historical science86 and the arcane considered trustworthy to find the pasts truth were inextricably interlinked; the arcane, its material as well as symbolic significance, and the professional notion of historical truth coalesced. Furthermore, the choice of site affected the historians position. The general belief that the pasts truth was to be found in the archive made the historian dependent on the governments archive policy. By attempting at a history of modern states Ranke became increasingly involved in the archive policy and made himself dependent on the goodwill of leading members of the state government. Although one cannot but acknowledge the historians vulnerability, one should not
82 83

Let. Knechtl, 22.9.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 107f., 107f. Let. Ritter, 9.12.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 180ff., 182. 84 C. Vismann, Akten. Medientechnik und Recht (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer-Taschenbuch, 2000), 146. 85 Regarding the spatial analysis of knowledge production see S. Shapin, The House of Experiment in Seventeen-Century England, Isis, 79, (1988): 373404, 395; The Place of Knowledge. The Spatial Setting and its Relation to the Production of Knowledge, eds. A. Ophir, S. Shapin and S. Schaffer, Science in Context, 4, (1991). 86 Let. Altenstein, 2.10.1827, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 98f., 98.



exaggerate this point, for state governments also relied on professional historians who provided them with a national history of their states and, finally, Ranke searched for relazioni not only in archives. However, the successful appropriation of arcane material produced an immediate effect in scholarly terms: being initiated to the arcane distinguished the historian. Although Leopold Ranke did not conceal his disappointment about his findings to his friends as he noticed gaps and complained about the poor quality of the archival material found there, the historian was finally in the position to see the promising material kept in the archive. It is no coincidence that the Prussian professor in history silenced his dissatisfaction about the material found there to his superiors, but instead reported deliberately the Prussian Minister Altenstein (1770-1840), Minister of Cultural Affairs (1817-1838), about his petition and, subsequently, about its successful approval by the Austrian state government87. The achievement of the initiation to the arcane sphere of the Habsburg monarchy marked the first successful step of Ranke in accomplishing his research mission. Last but not least, the arcane sphere guaranteed authenticity of the material; using it awarded the initiated historian and enhanced his professional position. Passing the threshold to the arcane made a difference in professional terms. Ranke excerpted materials which were neither in immediate reach nor accessible to any other colleague. Besides the privileges the historian Ranke enjoyed already (the Prussian King had granted him a stipend and had relieved him of his teaching duties), Ranke had passed the administrative threshold. The permission to enter the arcane, though confined and constrained in many ways, distinguished his professional status from his colleagues; the work in the arcana imperii furnished him with exclusive clues about the truth of the past and advantaged him in scholarly terms. IV. ARCHIVE POLICY, THE RELAZIONI AND RANKES HISTORY OF STATES

Let. Altenstein, 2.10.1827, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 98f., 98.; Let. Altenstein, 17.1.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 100f. 88 Let. Ritter, 20.8.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 206ff., 208. 89 Most interestingly, in the second half of the nineteenth century members of the historical discipline no longer considered the collecting of materials at different sites of knowledge a performance at the

In the context of the various constraints of archival research, i. e. the administratively regulation of access, the monitored work of the historian in the archive, and the effort in lobbying in the anteroom of the archive, it is worth considering the historians enjeu while on research mission, for the favourite source Ranke collected at various places provided him with a tactical response to the conditions and limits of archival research in the early nineteenth century. Asking what he has done so far, Ranke answered this himself: Nothing but collected88. While on study tour Rankes industrious diligence centred mainly at one performance: collecting material89. Ranke gathered notes of manuscripts,



heart of the historical discipline, see A. Zimmermann, Geschichtslose und schriftlose Vlker in Spreeathen. Anthropologie als Kritik an den Geschichtswissenschaften im Kaiserreich, Zeitschrift fr Geschichtswissenschaft, 47, (1999): 197-210; C. Goschler, Wissenschaftliche Vereinsmenschen. Wissenschaftliche Vereine in Berlin im Spannungsfeld von Wissenschaft und ffentlichkeit, Wissenschaft und ffentlichkeit in Berlin 1870-1930, ed. C. Goschler (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2000), 3164; see also Sammeln als Wissen. Das Sammeln und seine wissenschaftliche Bedeutung, eds. A. te Heesen and E. C. Spary (Gttingen: Wallstein, 2001). 90 Let. Perthes, 12.10.1828, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 108f., 109. 91 Let. Ritter, 25.12.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 213ff., 213. 92 Let. Bartholomus Kopitar, 13.1.1830, Ranke, Neue Briefe, 132ff., 134. 93 Let. Platen, 17.7.1830, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 236ff., 237. 94 Let. H. Ranke, 15.11.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 226ff., 227. 95 Let. Ritter, 4.10.1827, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 240ff., 242. 96 Let. H. Ranke, 7.4.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 219ff., 219; cf. Let. Altenstein, 11.4.1829, Ranke, Neue Briefe 122ff., 123. 97 Let. H. Ranke, 7.4.1829, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 219ff., 220. 98 Let. Ritter, 20.8.1828, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 206ff., 208.

excerpted, copied or hired writers to copy them and, finally, he also purchased original manuscripts. In Venice, he hoped to achieve a large output [Ausbeute]90 out of the Biblioteca Marciana and as matter of fact he made a beautiful catch [eine schne Beute]91. From Rome he reported that his collection increased hugely due to the help of a couple of copyists and the Biblioteca Corsini provided him with important results [Ausbeute]92. On his way back further north he asserted in regard to his work in Florence that I am enriched, now, of several hundred sheet and I obtained nearly complete possession of the Medicis history93. For Ranke, the real enjeu of his research mission was the appropriation of material; he was to take possession of it. As a consequence, my collection94 grew and the successful enlargement prompted utterances of satisfaction in his letters. While gathering material the researcher became increasingly attached to his collection: I only wish to bring everything home happily95. The enlargement of the collection went together with the fear of loss and disintegration. In Padua, for example, Ranke was rather lucky, for a librarian offered him to purchase a collection of most significant relazioni; he had never seen most of the reports. In the moment I saw them, I felt the strong need to possess them96. After an agreement had been achieved, the relazioni had been brought immediately to my apartment (do not tell this to anybody; everybody will deem me superstitious)97. Gathering here and there the fear of loss was always present. For Ranke, his collection became increasingly tied to his own fate and vice versa. The collections destiny relied on the collectors safety; the researchers life depended on the continuing existence of the collection: It would be a real malheur if I, before I had completed it, had an accident. No man alive will make something out of it besides me!98. On his way back to Berlin Ranke was so afraid of loosing the relazioni found recently in the Venetian archive that he decided to postpone his departure. Two writers had been commissioned with the copying of the relazioni. Although he could have left for his home country, he



delayed his departure until he had received the last sheet of the copied relazioni. Considering the dangers for the masters effects resulting from the masters absence, the historian deemed it simply too delicate to leave these manuscripts which are of essential importance to my life in the hands of the scribes99. Indeed, the collection of the relazioni was the beginning of a long lasting relationship of life100. In the decades to come, Ranke staked his scholarly reputation on his choice of the relazioni as his pre-eminent source101 and his following investigations benefited from this stock: in both his larger and smaller studies on non-Italian history Venetian and Roman information appears everywhere besides domestic one102. The manuscripts gathered during his study trip from 1827 until 1831 provided Ranke with an enormous collection kept nowadays in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin and the University of Syracuse103. In other words, collecting relazioni throughout his study trip, Ranke established his own private and probably barely accessible archive of sources104 which set the basis for his own scholarly independence in the following decades. The objective of his industrious collecting resonates in his dream of a unified archive.
What kind of archive would emerge, if one united the political part of the Mantuanian as well as the Venetian with the one located in Vienna. It would be an inexhaustible mine for the exploration of modern history. No archive in the world would resemble this one105.

Rankes favourite source106, the relazioni, were a product of the sophisticated diplomacy of the small Venetian Republic in the early modern period. Their authors, the ambassadors of the Venetian state, were to distil the essence of their diplomatic experience in these reports. Reporting on the state of countries, these manuscripts furnished the reader with governmental knowledge which suited the historians primary interest in state affairs and their developments in the modern period107. In contrast to dispatches, the daily ambassadors correspondence, retrospection, interpretation and synthesis were prevailing characteristics of this elaborated literary artistic form: first they discuss the site and the quality of the territory, then the inhabitants, including their customs and activities, and lastly the court or government108. Thus, if one reads the relazioni in synchronologic and diachronologic order, these products of the diplomatic system of observation109
Let. Ritter, 28.1.1831, Ranke, Lebensgeschichte, 242ff., 243. Dove, Ranke, 252. 101 Benzoni, Source, 50. 102 Dove, Ranke, 254. 103 E. Muir, The Leopold von Ranke Manuscript Collection of Syracuse University. The Complete Catalogue (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1983). 104 Baur, Versuch ber die Historik des jungen Ranke, 106, footnote 35. 105 104 Let. Gentz, 3.11.1828, Ranke, Briefwerk, 173f., 173f. 106 Benzoni, Source, 47. 107 Benzoni, Source, 47. 108 Benzoni, Source, 54. 109 Dove, Ranke, 254.
99 100



provided Ranke with what his research focus required most: the Venetian telescope110 allowed him to observe European courts and governments, their interactions and developments throughout the recent centuries. If one puts the very fabric of the relazioni in context to the archive policy one can not but acknowledge the strategic advantage of this material. A leitmotif of the archive policy was not only their concern about Rankes interest in the modern period of the sixteenth and seventeenth century but also the potential finding of sensitive data related to state affairs. In Florence archivists objected his interest in the history of the Medici; in Venice he was not allowed to use relazioni referring to the dynastic family or to events since 1739111; in Vienna one of the main sources of irritation about Rankes request was that the historian wished to see by preference the Venetian but also the other archives in so far as they are related to his subject and to the history of the former republic of Venice and its nobles112, but, given Rankes interest in secret files of modern times, his first request was rejected113. The relazioni, however, allowed him to learn indirectly about governmental affairs of the recent past as, for the state administration, these manuscripts were less worrying than the pieces of their own state authorities. It is true that Ranke came across Venetian relazioni for the first time in the Hofbibliothek in Berlin and so his preference for this type of manuscripts did not result immediately from the conditions of his work during his study tour. However, it is fair to say, the relazioni provided Ranke with a tactical response to the principles and maxims of archive policy. The relazioni kept in the diversely located parts of the Venetian archive enabled him to circumvent the obstacles imposed by the governments supervision of their archives and thus, gathering relazioni, Ranke was able to get insight into governmental affairs of the recent European past which he was not allowed to access directly while working in the arcane sphere. V. CONCLUSION. THE ARCHIVE, HISTORICAL RESEARCH, AND THE PAST

Leopold Ranke holds a particular position in both the history of the historical discipline and the history of German science: due to his achievements in historical scholarship he is deemed a central figure of foundation of the modern historical discipline; the establishing of the first historical seminar modelled on the philological original guaranteed him a prominent position in the institutional history of academia in the nineteenth century. Given this outstanding position, the historian Ranke was, depending on scholars research position, either to be blamed or hailed and, especially, the mythical nimbus of Ranke gave occasion to swift
110 111 112 113

Dove, Ranke, 254. Let. Altenstein, 21.12.1830, Ranke, Briefwerk, 225f., 225. AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 4. AT OeSTA HHSTA SB KA 18/1827, Joseph Knechtl, Draft of expert opinion, 9.10.1827, 4.



judgements based on associative identifications of different historical contexts114. In this respect, I agree very much with Ulrich Muhlack who demands an end of the long lasting series of praise and reproach115. Thus, it is not in my interest to gauge the status of his historical studies or his contributions to the establishing of the modern historical discipline. But instead, my assertion is that Leopold Ranke must be placed in the historical field in which he performed to appropriate the conditions of research. If conceived as an actor in a constrained social and political field of the past, judgment about his achievements (or failures) finally gives way to the analysis of the historical conditions of archival research as reflected in Leopold Rankes letters. In the early nineteenth century the archive policy of the state government hindered as well as fostered, impeded as well as spurred Rankes historical research. The approval of his request, the duration of the bureaucratic decision making process, the restriction of material to be used; all this crucially impacted on the studies of a discipline which increasingly staked its epistemic status on archival sources whilst the use of other materials was discriminated. Since Ranke was keen on to examine and study the states, their rise and development in the recent past the historian put himself in a position where he became dependent on the goodwill and favour of his patrons as much as on the good will of archivists. Lobbying, professional reputation, good contacts, and references by attachs and well known men were required in the anteroom of the archive in order to promote ones own request. For Leopold Ranke, the consequences of the archive policy were clear: he had to reconcile his research interests with the decisions made by leading statesmen as well as by archivists and he had to assure his patrons about his loyalty and the harmless nature of his findings in order to sustain his sources of political and administrative support. Certainly, historians face nowadays also various obstacles while doing archival research. However, in heuristic terms, one must consider that these are our problems, but not the difficulties which Leopold Ranke faced in the early nineteenth century. Historical work and archival research in the past differ from our experiences, although the task of differentiation is sometimes difficult due to an alleged closeness of both issues. My contention is that we have to assume a fundamental difference between the past and the presence as it is this clear distinction between them and us, the past and the presence which finally allows us to break with the tradition of the holy or rather sacred history [of sciences] in which geniuses take the role of prophets, ruptures come in the shape of revelations; controversies or debates exclude the heretics and colloquiums emulate councils. Science is gradually becoming incarnate in time as once the holy spirit116. To put it differently, our comprehension of things and words of the past
Muhlack, Ranke-Korrespondenz, 3-49. Muhlack, Ranke-Korrespondenz, 3-49. 116 M. Serres, Prface qui invite le lecteur a ne pas ngliger de la lire pour entrer dans lintention des auteurs et comprendre lagencement de ce livre, Elments dhistoire des sciences, 1-16, 11.
114 115



must be temporalised, meaning a radical historicisation is required. This applies also to familiar terms such as habilitation, footnote or profession(al)117. Furthermore, what was deemed an appropriate source118 for historical studies and how the critique of sources was performed, was neither a fixed notion nor an action which remained unchanged. During the last couple of decades the material considered in historical studies widened dramatically, and it is only a matter of time that historians will have to consider not only the data retrieved from the remnants of modern administrative technology, e.g. database etc., but also their processing. In this respect media scholars have a good point in emphasizing the significance of these technical tools of administrative rule in the twentieth century. However, the metaphoric comprehension and overall analysis of human relationships embedded in a social field based on technological terms is slightly misleading. This becomes plain in the use of the term archive119. Wolfgang Ernst argues in his voluminous oeuvre that the historians narrative is just an epiphenomenon of the archive; an effect of the hardware, i. e. the archive, which provides the historian with relevant data to finally produce a narrative account120. However, this theoretical and philosophically grounded concept of archive is underlying the idea of an unconditional entity, an ultimate apriori, from which the world is supposed to emanate. In other words, the attempt to conceive an archive as an apparatus or as a medium establishes just another marvellous origin [Wunder-Ursprung]121.
A. Grafton, The Footnote from de Thouh to Ranke, History & Theory, 33, (1994): 53-76; A. Grafton, The Footnote. A Curious History (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997); B. Smith, Gender and the Practices of Scientific of History. The Seminar and Archival Research in the Nineteenth Century, American Historical Review, 100, (1995): 1150-1176; Paletschek, Erfindung einer Tradition. 118 B. Smith, The Gender of History. Men, Women, and Historical Practice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998); M. Zimmermann, Quelle als Metapher. berlegungen zur Historisierung einer historiographischen Selbstverstndlichkeit, Historische Anthropologie, 5, (1997): 268287; L. Kuchenbuch, Sind medivistische Quellen mittelalterliche Texte? Zur Verzeitlichung fachlicher Selbstverstndlichkeiten, Aktualitt des Mittelalters, ed. H.-W. Goetz (Bochum: D. Winkler, 2002), 317354, 326. 119 Since Foucaults famous attempt at integrating the notion of archive in his discourse analytical considerations, discussions of this term, albeit very different in form and tone, did not die down: M. Foucault, Archologie de savoir (Paris: Gallimard, 1979); A. Farge, Le got de larchive (Paris: Seuil, 1988); J. Derrida, Archive Fever. A Freudian Impression, Diacritics, 25, (1995): 9-63; C. Steedman, Dust (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2001); P. Melichar, Tote und lebendige Archive. Ein Begriff, seine Verwendungen und Funktionen, sterreichische Zeitschrift fr Geschichtswissenschaften, 18, (2007): 129-144; D. Schenk, Kleine Theorie des Archivs (Stuttgart: Steiner, 2007). 120 E. Wolfgang, Im Namen von Geschichte. Sammeln-Speichern-Er/Zhlen. Infrastrukturelle Konfigurationen des deutschen Gedchtnisses (Mnchen: W. Fink, 2003). 121 M. Foucault, Nietzsche, genealogie et lhistorie, Dits et crits, 2 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), 133156, 137; F. Nietzsche, Menschliches Allzumenschliches, Werke, III, ed. K. Schlechta, (Mnchen: Hanser, 1954), 435-1008. About the implementations of new systems of recording and their limits: U. Tschirner, Sammelkasten der Kulturnation. Die mediale Erfassung von Geschichte im Germanischen Nationalmuseum in Nrnberg, SoWi. Das Journal fr Geschichte, Politik, Wirtschaft und Kultur, 34, (2005): 6677.



The notion of archive as hardware voices a compulsive, repetitive and nostalgic desire for the archive122. I feel that the real question, however, is in which way we conceive and seek to analyse power and, finally, account for it. Friedrich Nietzsche put it in a nutshell as he fearfully reckoned that we will never get rid of God because we still believe in grammar123. It is the structure of our language which suggests that a subject does something to an object; for example, the archive determines the historians narrative account or vice versa; the grammatical order of the phrase suggests that the subject is active while the object is passive. Ascribing power to something is, therefore, a matter of our own writing. However, twisting the common grammatical order of phrases does not help it. Thus, accounting for the past, a mode of describing is required which prevents the illusions of a one-sided notion of power and which displays accurately these relations of power, their dynamics and interrelations in a particular historical field124. In this article I chose the analytical method of thick description to ascertain the diverse loci of historical research and to examine their diverse conditions of historical research in the early nineteenth century. In regard to the question of power(s), the result is betwixt and between; the analysis revealed different and interrelated relations of power(s) which conditioned historical research in the early nineteenth century. Given Leopold Rankes status as a foreign subject, the historian took an inferior position; if permission was granted, the initiation to the arcane was never complete, but only temporary and limited in a number of ways; the historian and the state government were not on equal terms. However, the historians performance in this social and political field was not one-sided: the humble petitioner occupied a vulnerable and inferior position and yet the historian was actively engaged in archive policy of the government while promoting his cause in the anteroom of the archive. Doing archival research the historians performance was inextricably interlinked with the archive policy. In the aftermath of Napoleons imperialism the subsequent recast of the political map in Central Europe, state governments in particular were keen on to allow for a scientific exploitation of their archives as history was deemed a promising source to legitimise the political status by scholarly historical narratives. Finally, the approval of the Rankes request initiated the scholar to the arcane and went with distinction as he was provided with exclusive clues which were out of immediate reach for other colleagues; Ranke became an accomplice of the archive policy.
122 123

124 M. Foucault, Power and Norm, Power, Truth, Strategy, eds. M. Morris and P. Patton (Sydney: Feral Publications, 1979); M. Foucault, Securit, territoire, population. Cours au College de France, 1977-1978 (Paris: Seuil; Gallimard, 2004), 3-6, 4; A. Ldtke, Herrschaft als soziale Praxis, Herrschaft als soziale Praxis. Historische und sozial-anthropologische Studien, ed. A. Ldtke (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1991), 7-33.


Derrida, Archive Fever, 57. Nietzsche, Goetzendmmerung Die Vernunft in der Philosophie 5, in Werke, ed. K. Schlechta,



However, in order to circumvent certain obstacles imposed by state governments and their administrations, Ranke deliberately searched for a particular type of material which indirectly furnished him with knowledge about European states, the relazioni. University College London


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 105-128


With the publication of Le discours de lhistoire in 1967, Roland Barthes became one of the first theorists to apply the methods and concepts of structural linguistics to historiography. The overall goal of historical discourse analysis, he explained, was not only to look for the universals of discourse (if they exist) under the form of units and general rules of combination, but also to determine whether structural analysis is justified in retaining the traditional typology of discourses; whether it is fully legitimate to make a constant opposition between the discourses of poetry and the novel, the fictional narrative and the historical narrative1. Le discours de lhistoire itself is primarily concerned with two questions: first, does the narration of past events really differ, in some specific trait, in some indubitably distinctive feature, from imaginary narration, as we find it in the epic, the novel, and the drama; and second, if this trait or feature exists, then in what level of the historical statement must it be placed2? Barthes answers to these questions were provocative, to say the least. In Section I, for example, Barthes concluded that the answer to his first question is no: that the discourse of history has no such trait or feature. In its references to itself, historical discourse does not really differ from the discourse of ancient
D. M. Leeson, Ph. D., assistant professor, Department of History, Laurentian University, Ramsey Lake Road, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada ( The author would like to thank the faculty and graduate students of the Laurentian University Department of History for their criticism and comments, along with Catherine Ellis and Daniel Gorman of the Southern Ontario British History Discussion Group with special thanks to Stephen Heathorn and Ian Hesketh for their criticism and comments on the first draft of this work, which was roughly twice as long as the final version. 1 R. Barthes, The Discourse of History, Comparative Criticism. A Yearbook, 3 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 7. Cfr. R. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, Social Science Information, 6, (1967): 6: Cette linguistique seconde, en mme temps quelle doit rechercher les universaux du discours (sils existent), sous le forme dunits et de rgles gnrales de combinaison, doit videmment dcider si lanalyse structurale permet de garder lancienne typologie des discours, sil est bien lgitime dopposer toujours le discours potique au discours Romanesque, le rcit fictive au rcit historique. Henceforth, we shall refer to Barthes original article as Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, and to Banns translation as Barthes, The Discourse of History. Quotations from Banns translation will be accompanied by quotations from the original in the notes. 2 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 6. Cfr. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 5: par quelque trait spcifique, par une pertinence indubitable, de la narration imaginaire, telle quon peut la trouver dans lpope, le roman, le drame? Et si ce trait ou cette pertinence existe, quelle lieu de systme discursive, quelle niveau de lnonciation faut-il le placer?.



On the other hand, the absence from historical narration of specific signs of the utterer seems like a particular form of imaginary projection, the product of what might be called the referential illusion, since in this case the historian is claiming to allow the referent to speak all on its own an illusion that realistic novelists have created as well4. Since its publication more than forty years ago, Barthes essay has become a classic of postmodernist historiography. Le discours de lhistoire has been translated from French into English not just once, but twice: as Historical Discourse by Peter Wexler (1970)5; then as The Discourse of History by Stephen Bann (1981)6. And the arguments therein have been taken up by some of the most radical figures in contemporary historiography. In Re-thinking History (1991), for example, Keith Jenkins quotes Barthes to prove a particularly difficult point and then, having quoted Barthes, says merely: We can leave it there7. Jenkins later included a lengthy excerpt from Barthes essay in his Postmodern History Reader (1997)8, and in Refiguring History (2003) he reminds the reader, with just a hint of impatience, that It is now nearly forty years since Roland Barthes in his The Discourse of History demonstrated that facts were linguistic entities9. Alun Munslow had written something similar in Deconstructing History
Barthes, The Discourse of History, 10. Cfr. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: la prsence dans la narration historique, de signes explicites dnonciation viserait dchronologiser le fil historique et restituer, ne serait-ce qu titre de rminiscence ou de nostalgie, un temps complexe, paramtrique, nullement linaire, dont lespace profond rappellerait le temps mythique des anciennes cosmogonies, li lui aussi par essence la parole du pote ou du devin. 4 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 11. Cfr. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 69: une forme particulire dimaginaire, le produit de ce que lon pourrait appeler lillusion rfrentielle, puisquici lhistorien prtend laisser le referent parler tout seul. 5 R. Barthes, Historical Discourse, Structuralism: a Reader, ed. M. Lane (London: Cape, 1970), 145-55. 6 See also S. Bann, Analysing the Discourse of History, Renaissance and Modern Studies, 27, (1983): 61-84. Later reprinted in S. Bann, The Inventions of History: Essays on the Representation of the Past (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), 33-63. 7 K. Jenkins, Re-thinking History (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 60-61. 8 The Postmodern History Reader, ed. K. Jenkins (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 120-23. 9 K. Jenkins, Refiguring History (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), 43. Jenkins takes a similarly epochal view of Barthes work in Why History?, where he first quotes from The Discourse of History, and then says: But since Barthess Discourse of History (from which the above quote comes) nobody really takes the view now surely archaic of history as a discourse committed to the

the presence in historical narration of explicit signs of uttering would represent an attempt to dechronologize the thread of history and to restore, even though it may merely be a matter of reminiscence or nostalgia, a form of time that is complex, parametric and not in the least linear: a form of time whose spatial depths recall the mythic time of the ancient cosmogonies, which was also linked in its essence to the words of the poet and the soothsayer3.

creation myths (which resemble both poetry and prophecy); while in its lack of references to both writer and reader, the discourse of history does not really differ from the discourse of the novel. On the one hand,



(1997), six years before. After a detailed summary of Le discours de lhistoire, Munslow remarks that, in spite of Barthes, mainstream historians still insist that they work in a discipline that aspires to a high degree of correspondence with the past as it actually was [...]10. Munslows Routledge Companion to Historical Studies (2001) includes entries for both Barthes, Roland and Reality/Realistic Effect, describing the latter as a concept explored at some length by Roland Barthes in his essay The Discourse of History11. But as we shall see, this confidence in Barthes is rather sadly misplaced. In the following pages, we will discuss Barthes arguments in Section I of Le discours de lhistoire the section on nonciation or, as Bann renders it, the act of uttering. In particular, we will consider this essays claims in the light of evidence from a selection of classic histories (and one classic historical novel) from the historiographical tradition with which I am most familiar the British tradition12.
recovery of the past in some kind of pre-discursive state. K. Jenkins, Why History? Ethics and Postmodernity (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 137. 10 A. Munslow, Deconstructing History (London and New York: Routledge, 1997), 61-62. The remainder of this sentence reads: and that narrative is a vehicle for report rather than the primary (if flawed) medium of explanation (62). 11 A. Munslow, The Routledge Companion to Historical Studies (London and New York: Routledge, 2001), 193. In a recent Guide to Key Reading, Munslow recommends Le discours de lhistoire once again: Roland Barthes contribution to our understanding of the semiotics of history has been profound, he says. A. Munslow, The New History (London: Longman, 2003), 204. 12 These are, in chronological order by authors date of birth: W. Raleigh, History of the World (Edinburgh: Constable, 1820); W. Camden, The History of the Most Renowned and Victorious Princess Elizabeth, Late Queen of England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970); F. Bacon, Bacons History of the Reign of King Henry VII, with Notes, ed. J. R. Lumby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902); Edward, Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1819); D. Hume, The History of England from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1854); W. Robertson, The Progress of Society in Europe, ed. F. Gilbert (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1972); E. Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1993); W. Scott, Waverley; or, Tis Sixty Years Since, ed. C. Lamont (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981); H. Hallam, View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages (Boston: Little, Brown, & Co., 185310); W. F. P. Napier, History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France (London: Frederick Warne, 1900); T. Carlyle, The French Revolution (London: Chapman and Hall, 1915); T. B. Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James II (Boston: Philips, Sampson, & Co., 1856); J. A. Froude, History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, New Edition (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1893); H. T. Buckle, History of Civilization in England (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1908); W. Stubbs, The Constitutional History of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 18915); S. R. Gardiner, A Students History of England (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916); Lord Acton, Lectures on Modern History (London: Macmillan & Co., 1906); J. R. Green, History of the English People (London: Macmillan & Co., 1885-90); F. Pollock and F. W. Maitland, The History of English Law before the Time of Edward I (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 19682); G. M. Trevelyan, England Under the Stuarts (London: Routledge, 2002); R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism (London: John Murray, 1960); L. Namier, The Structure of Politics at the Accession of George III (London: Macmillan & Co., 19632); A. J. P. Taylor, English History 1914-1945 (Oxford: Oxofrd University Press, 2001); M. Howard, The Franco-Prussian War: The German Invasion of France, 1870-1871 (London & New York: Routledge, 20012); and E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London: Penguin, 1991).



This list consists of those twenty-one authors mentioned in The Evolution of British Historiography: From Bacon to Namier, ed. J. R. Hale (Cleveland and New York: Meridian Books, 1964) plus four. I added Napier and Howard because Im a military historian, because their works are classics of the form, and because the roots of this article can be traced to seminar discussions about the Franco-Prussian War; I added Taylor and Thompson, because their works were published around the same time as Hales, and have since achieved classic status. 13 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 7. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: Et tout dabord, dans quelle conditions lhistorien classique est-il amen ou autoris dsigner lui-mme, dans son discours, lacte par il-le profre?. 14 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 7. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: En dautres termes, quels sont, au niveau du discours et non plus de la langue , les shifters (au sens que Jakobson a donn ce mot) qui assurent le passage de lnonc lnonciation (ou inversement)?. 15 This chapter Les embrayeurs, les catgories verbales et le verbe russe is a French translation of an English-language work: the English original can be found in R. Jakobson, Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb, Selected Writings, II (The Hague and Paris: Mouton, 1971). 16 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 8. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: les embrayeurs dcoute.

And the evidence will show that what Barthes says is mostly wrong. In his discussion of historical discourse deixis, Barthes omits any discussion of the most obvious and important shifters in historical discourse, and wrongly credits anthropologists with practices that originated with historians. He takes a necessary condition of human existence the asynchronous nature of experience and tries to make it seem like a peculiar weakness of historical discourse. He stresses one type of inauguration that scarcely seems to exist in actual history-writing (the performative opening), and makes plainly false claims about another (the preface). His claims about references to the reader in both literary and historical discourse are equally false. Worst of all, he blames historians for absenting themselves from their discourse, like the narrator of a realistic novel: when in fact, historical discourse is distinguished from (realistic) literature chiefly by the historians clear and continuous presence. Throughout his essay, Barthes use of evidence is poor. And finally, even if we could overcome these problems, and somehow make what Barthes says come true, what he says would be trivial: his arguments prove too much. Barthes begins his analysis of the act of uttering by asking under what conditions the classic historian is enabled or authorized himself to designate, in his discourse, the act by which he promulgates it13. And by this he means: when is deixis allowed in historical discourse? Using an older term for deictic expressions, Barthes asks: what, on the level of discourse and not of language, are the shifters (in Jakobsons sense of the term) which assure the transition from the utterance to the act of uttering (or vice versa)14? And in his notes, Barthes refers the reader to R. Jakobson, Essais de linguistique gnrale (Paris: 1963), Ch. 915. Inspired by Roman Jakobsons classifications of Russian verbs, Barthes identifies two common types of deictic expressions or shifters in historical discourse: evidential shifters and organizational shifters. Barthes calls evidential shifters shifters of listening16. This form of shifter, he says, designates any reference to the historians listening, collecting testimony from elsewhere and



Barthes, The Discourse of History, 8. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: Ce shifter dsigne donc toute mention des sources, des tmoignages, toute rfrence une coute de lhistorien, recueillant un ailleurs de son discours et le disant. 18 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 8. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: Le second type des shifters couvre tous les signes dclares par lesquels nonant, en loccurrence lhistorien, organise son propre discours, le reprend, le modifie en cours de route, en un mot y dispose des repres explicites. 19 Jakobson, Shifters, 133. These distinctions are combinations of more basic distinctions: speech itself (s); its topic, the narrated matter (n); the event itself (E); and any of its participants (P). 20 Jakobson, Shifters, 135. 21 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 8. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: CeCa1/Ca2: outr lvnement rapport (Ce), le discours mentionne la fois lacte de linformateur (Ca1), et la parole de lnonant qui sy rfre (Ca2). 22 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 8. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 66: Cette catgorie t, au niveau de la langue, par Jakobson, sous le nom de testimonial et sous la formule CeCa1/Ca2. 23 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 9. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 67: celui qui nat de la coexistence, ou, pour mieux dire, du frottement de deux temps: le temps de lnonciation et le temps de la matire nonce.

telling it in his own discourse17. Organizational shifters, by contrast, consist of all the explicit signs whereby the utterer in this case, the historian organizes his own discourse, taking up the thread or modifying his approach in some way in the course of narration: that is to say, where he provides explicit points of reference in the text18. But readers who check Barthes notes at this point will discover a troubling detail. In Shifters, verbal categories, and the Russian verb, Jakobson based his analysis of Russian verbal categories on four distinguishing characteristics: a narrated event (En), a speech event (Es), a participant of the narrated event (Pn) and a participant of the speech event (Ps), whether addresser or addressee19. All verbal categories, he argues, can be reduced to combinations of these characteristics. An evidential shifter, for example, consists of three elements: a narrated event, a speech event, and a narrated speech event (EnEns/Es)20. In Chapter 9 of Jakobsons Essais de linguistique gnrale, this is translated as le procs de lnonce, le procs de lnonciation, et un procs de nonciation nonc (CeCea/Ca). Yet somehow, in Barthes text, this clear and precise formula became CeCa1/Ca2: in addition to the event reported (Ce), discourse mentions at the same time the act of the informer (Ca1), and the speech of the utterer which is related to it (Ca2)21. The reasons for this change are obscure. I suspect that Barthes altered Jakobsons formula to make it conform to the Saussurean model of the sign: Ce = referent, Ca1/Ca2 =signifier/signified. But the problem is not the fact that Barthes alters Jakobsons formula: the problem is that he explicitly attributes his own formula to Jakobson; the shifter of listening, he says, has been identified by Jakobson, on the level of language, with the term testimonial, according to the formula CeCa1/Ca222 (emphasis added). And that is just not true. According to Barthes, the historians need for organizing shifters reveals an important problem with history: the problem arising from the coexistence, or to be more exact the friction between two times the time of uttering and the time of the matter of the utterance23. This friction is a problem for three reasons,



Barthes says. First, because of the way that historians speed up and slow down the passage of time: an equal number of pages (if such be the rough measure of the time of uttering) can cover very different lapses of time (the time of matter of the utterance). In particular, Barthes notes a tendency for history to slow down as it gets closer to the present. The nearer we are to the historians own time, the more strongly the pressure of the uttering makes itself felt, and the slower the history becomes. The first book of Machiavellis History of Florence, for example, covers more than a thousand years, from 379 to 1423. The second book, by contrast, covers less than four hundred years, from 1010 to 1353, while the third book covers only seventy, from 1350 to 1420. There is no such thing as isochrony, says Barthes, and to say this, is to attack implicitly the linearity of the discourse and open it up to a possible paragrammatical reading of the historical message24. But this is absurd. For one thing, Barthes seems to have misappropriated the term isochrony, which in linguistics has been described as the rhythmic organization of speech into more or less equal intervals25. Perhaps the best-known example of isochrony in English is the beating-heart rhythm of the iambic pentameter: I had a dream which was not all a dream26. But when he says there is no isochrony in history, Barthes seems to mean that the time of the matter of uttering is not uniformly proportional to the time of the matter of the utterance or, in other words, that history is not a scale model of the past. But of course it isnt: why should it be? An historian is not a model-builder. Yet Barthes wants us to believe that, unless the same amount of text always proportionally represents the same amount of time, the discourse will somehow be flawed. But would anybody say that an historical discourse was flawed unless the same amount of text always proportionally represented the same amount of space? That, for example, any description of France should always be roughly three times as long as a description of Great Britain, because France is roughly three times as large as Great Britain? Does it matter that history is not isomegethic27? That there is no such thing as isomegethy? Of course not. Why, then, should it matter that history is not isochronic? Before we continue, we should note that, had Barthes looked beyond Machiavellis History of Florence, he would have discovered numerous exceptions to his generalization. Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, for
24 Barthes, Discourse of History, 9. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 67: un nombre gal de pages (si telle est la mesure grossire du temps de lnonciation) couvre des laps de temps varies (temps de la matire nonce) [] plus lon se rapproche du temps de lhistorien, plus la pression de lnonciation se fait forte, plus lhistoire se ralentit [] il ny a pas disochronie ce qui est attaquer implicitement la linarit du discours et laisse apparatre un paragrammatisme possible de la parole historique. 25 I. Lehiste, Isochrony Reconsidered, Journal of Phonetics, 5, (1977): 1. 26 George Gordon, Lord Byron, Darkness, line 1. 27 Isomegethic: a portmanteau adjective meaning equal in size, from the Greek isos, equal + megethos, size: cfr. megethology.



Finally there is a third factor in historical discourse which is of the utmost importance, one which bears witness to the destructive effect of organizing shifters as far as the chronological time of the history concerned. This is a question of the way historical discourse is inaugurated, of the place where we find in conjunction the beginning of the matter of the utterance and the exordium of the uttering. Historical discourse is familiar with two general types of inauguration: in the first place, there is what we might call the performative opening, for the words really perform a solemn act of foundation; the model for this is poetic, the I sing of the poets. So Joinville begins his history with a religious invocation (Au nom de Dieu le tout-puissant, je, Jehan, sire de Joinville, fais crire la vie de nostre Saint roi Louis), and even the socialist Louis Blanc does not disdain the purificatory introit, so evident is it that the beginnings of speech always carry with them a kind of difficulty, perhaps even a sacred character. Then there is a much more commonly found element, the Preface, which is an act of uttering characterized as such, whether prospectively in so far as it announces the discourse to come, or retrospectively in that it embodies a judgement on the discourse (such is the case with the Preface which Michelet wrote to crown his History of France, once it had been completely written and published)29.

example, actually speeds up as it gets closer to the present. Volumes 1-3 cover less than three hundred years, while volumes 4-6 cover more than nine hundred. Having criticized historians for speeding up and slowing down, Barthes goes on to criticize them for amplifying the depth of historical time, by writing in a zig-zag or saw-toothed fashion. Herodotus, he says, turns back to the ancestors of a newcomer, and the returns to his point of departure to proceed a little further and then starts the whole process all over again with the next newcomer28. Presumably this too constitutes a paragrammatism. But once again saw-toothed or zig-zag discourse is only problematic if we assume that there should be some sort of uniform correspondence between the time of uttering and the time of the matter of utterance. Why should we assume that? What Barthes says next must be quoted in full to be properly understood:

This clearly will not do. Barthes claims to be discussing the place where we find in conjunction the beginning of the matter of the utterance and the exordium of the uttering. But this cannot be correct, as a quick search through our sample

28 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 9. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 67: il sagit de ce que lon pourrait appeler lhistoire on zigzags ou en dents de scie [] Hrodote remonte vers les anctres du nouveau venu, puis revient son point de dpart, pour continuer un peu plus loin et recommencer. 29 Barthes, Discourse of History, 9-10. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 67-68: Enfin, un troisime fait de discours, considrable, atteste le rle destructeur des shifters dorganisation par rapport au temps chronique de lhistoire: il sagit des inaugurations du discours historique, lieux o se rejoignent le commencement de la matire nonce et lexorde de lnonciation. Le discours de lhistoire connait en gnral deux formes dinauguration: tout dabord ce que lon pourrait appeler louverture performative, car la parole y est vritablement une acte solennel de fondation: le modle en est potique, cest le je chante des potes; ainsi Joinville commence son histoire par un appel religieux (Au nom de Dieu le tout-puissant, je, Jehan, sire de Joinville, fais crire la vie de nostre Saint roi Louis), et le socialiste Louis Blanc lui-mme ne ddaigne pas lintroit purificateur, tant le dbut de parole garde toujours quelque chose de difficile disons de sacr; ensuite une unit beaucoup plus courante, la Prface, acte caractris dnonciation, soit prospective lorsquelle annonce le discours venir, soit rtrospective lorsquelle le juge (cest le cas de la grande Prface dont Michelet couronna son Histoire de France une fois quelle fut entirement crite et publie).



This slight sketch takes up more then 200 pages, from page 3 to page 217: only then do we find the beginning of the matter of uttering. What is more, Macaulays performative preface clearly lacks the poetic, religious, and even magical character that Barthes attributes to the performative opening. Barthes says, for example, that even the socialist Louis Blanc does not disdain the purificatory introit. There are a couple of errors here. First, the purpose of the Introit was never to purify those who celebrate Mass. According to the 1962 missal (recently revived by Benedict XVIs apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum), the celebrant is purified by the Confiteor which comes before the Introit32. More importantly, Barthes interpretation of Blancs preface is plainly wrong. The Confiteor (I confess) is a public confession of sins, during which the celebrant famously beats his breast and says mea culpa (my fault). Blanc, by contrast, has nothing to confess: his tone is complacent rather than contrite. I am
30 31

The events which I propose to relate form only a single act of a great and eventful drama extending through ages, and must be very imperfectly understood unless the plot of the preceding acts be well known. I shall therefore introduce my narrative by a slight sketch of the history of our country from earliest times. I shall pass very rapidly over many centuries: but I shall dwell at some length on the vicissitudes of that contest which the administration of King James the Second brought to a decisive crisis31.

histories will reveal: the beginning of the historical event and the exordium of the historiographic event coincide, not in a performative opening, or in a Preface, but in the Introduction. In fact, performative openings appear to be quite rare in traditional British historiography. Just one of our twenty-five histories begins with performative statements: Macaulays History of England, which opens with a series of ambitious commissives: I purpose to write the history of England from the accession of King James the Second down to a time which is within the memory of men still living. I shall recount the errors which, in a few months, alienated a loyal gentry and priesthood from the House of Stuart. I shall trace the course of that revolution which terminated the long struggle between our sovereigns and their parliaments, and bound up together the rights of the people and the title of the reigning dynasty. And so on30. Note, however, that Macaulays performative opening is not the place where we find in conjunction the beginning of the matter of the utterance and the exordium of the uttering. The matter of the utterance, as Macaulay himself states, is the history of England from the accession of King James the Second down to a time which is within the memory of men still living in practice, from 1685 to 1702. But as Macaulay also states:

Macaulay, Vol. 1, 1. Macaulay, Vol. 1, 3. 32 Mass of the Catechumens, SubIndex/66/ContentIndex/18/Start/17 (Accessed 9 December 2007).



about to write the history of my own day, he says: a delicate and dangerous task! But a task, it seems, for which he thinks himself well-suited. The result of a rigid self-examination, instituted before I took up my pen, having been to acquit me alike of interested affections and of implacable animosities, I have ventured to infer that I am competent to pass judgment on men and things, without wronging justice, and without betraying truth33. Blanc then explains how he finds himself in this historiographical state of grace:

Barthes plays equally fast and loose with The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville. He quotes only part of a sentence, in order to strengthen the impression that Joinville began his memoirs with a religious invocation: In the name of Almighty God, I, John, Lord of Joinville, Seneschal of Champagne, do cause to be written the life of our Saint Louis. In fact, Joinville goes on: [...] the life of our Saint Louis, that which I saw and heard during the space of six years that I was in his company during the pilgrimage over seas and after we returned35 (emphasis added). Quoted in full, this passage seems far more constative than performative. More importantly, Joinvilles history does not actually begin with these words, as Barthes claims. The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville instead begin with a dedication to Louis, son of Philip IV the Handsome and Jeanne of Navarre (afterwards Louis X the Quarrelsome), and continues with an account of how the Lord of Joinvilles memoirs came to be written: Dear Lord, I give you to know that your Lady Mother the Queen, who loved me well, May God have mercy on her! desired of me right earnestly that I would make her a book of the holy words and good deeds of our king Saint Louis; and I did promise her the same; and by Gods aid the book is completed in two parts36. In other words, The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville are inaugurated, not with a solemn act of foundation, but with a rather commonplace preface. Having considered Barthes use (and misuse) of evidence at some length, we are finally in a position to judge his conclusions:

The cause of the noble, the rich, and the prosperous, is not the cause I serve. I belong by conviction to a party that has committed blunders, and sorely has it atoned for them: but I did not enter that party till the morrow after its last defeat; consequently, I have not had either to share in all its hopes or to suffer personally in its disasters. It has, therefore, been possible to keep my heart free both from the rancour of disappointed pride, and from the venom that lurks even in feelings of legitimate resentment34.

33 Barthes provides the original French text in a note: Avant de prendre la plume, je me suis interrog svrement, et comme je ne trouvais en moi ni affections intresss, ni haines implacables, jai pens que je pourrais juger les hommes et les choses sans manquer la justice et sans trahir la vrit. L. Blanc, Histoire de dix ans (Paris: 1842). 34 L. Blanc, The History of Ten Years 1830-1840 (London: Chapman & Hall, 1845; New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1969), i. 35 The Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville: A New English Version (London: John Murray, 1906), 9. 36 Memoirs of the Lord of Joinville, 1-2.

Bearing in mind these different elements, we are likely to conclude that the entry of the act of uttering


into the historical utterance, through these organizing shifters, is directed less towards offering the historian a chance of expressing his subjectivity, as is commonly held, than to complicating the chronological time of history by bringing it up against another time, which is that of the discourse itself and could be termed for short the paper-time. To sum up, the presence in historical narration of explicit signs of uttering would represent an attempt to dechronologize the thread of history and to restore, even though it may merely be a matter of reminiscence or nostalgia, a form of time that is complex, parametric and not in the least linear: a form of time whose spatial depths recall the mythic time of the ancient cosmogonies, which was also linked in its essence to the words of the poet and the soothsayer. Organizing shifters bear witness, in effect though they do so through indirect ploys which have the appearance of rationality to the predictive function of the historian. It is to the extent that he knows what has not yet been told that the historian, like the actor of myth, needs to double up the chronological unwinding of events with references to the time of his own speech37.

Barthes, The Discourse of History, 10. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: Le rappel de ces quelques units vise suggrer que lentre de lnonciation dans lnonc historique, travers les shifters organisateurs, a moins pour but de donner lhistorien une possibilit dexprimer sa subjectivit, comme on le dit communment, que de compliquer le temps chronique de lhistoire en laffrontant un autre temps, qui est celui du discours lui-mme et que lon pourrait appeler par raccourci le temps-papier; en somme la prsence, dans la narration historique, de signes explicites dnonciation viserait dchronologiser le fil historique et restituer, ne serait-ce qu titre de rminiscence ou de nostalgie, un temps complexe, paramtrique, nullement linaire, dont lespace profond rappellerait le temps mythique des anciennes cosmogonies, li lui aussi par essence la parole du pote ou du devin; les shifters dorganisation attestent en effet ft-ce par certains dtours dapparence rationnelle la fonction prdictive de lhistorien: cest dans la mesure o il sait ce qui na pas t encore racont, que lhistorien, tel lagent de mythe, a besoin de doubler le dvidement chronique des vnements par des rfrences au temps propre de sa parole. 38 Stephen Heathorn has reminded me that E. H. Carr used a very similar analogy in What is History? (1961). Pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerunt.

Actually, when we bear in mind Barthes inability to provide any convincing evidence to support this hypothesis (despite having cherry-picked his historiographical examples), we are not likely to conclude this at all. The need to dechronologize historical narratives through the use of organizational shifters arises, not from any pretended resemblance between historians and fortunetellers, but from the asynchronous nature of all spoken and written discourse: and, indeed, from the asynchronous nature of all human experience. Historians can only write about one thing at a time: consequently, they analyze large, complex, and synchronous events into series of smaller, simpler, and asynchronous events. Readers of history can only read about one thing at a time: but they can synthesize a series of small, simple, asynchronous events into larger, more complex, and synchronous events. In fact, the need for paper-time is not all that different from the need to see physical objects from different perspectives before we can grasp their true shape. Imagine, for example, a four-sided building. We cannot see all four sides of this building at once from street level. We cannot grasp its three-dimensional shape by looking at just one of its sides or even two of its sides. We have to walk around the building and examine it from all sides before we can discover (for example) that it has four sides instead of three38. In our minds, then, a series of simple sensations (each side of the building), becomes a complex perception (the



Consider, as well, the close parallel between this procedure and the sense of sight itself. Stereoscopic vision allows us to navigate a three-dimensional world by providing us, quite literally, with two different perspectives on the world two slightly different points of view. In our brains, we synthesize these two different two-dimensional viewpoints into one three-dimensional viewpoint metaphorically speaking, into the view through a third eye, situated between our two physical eyes. If these perspectives are too dissimilar, then synthesis becomes impossible, and we experience double vision. But if these perspectives are too similar, then we lose our depth perception. Thus, the sort of intersubjectivity practiced by historians is built right into our visual sensory apparatus, in the form of stereopsis. 40 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 10. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: Cest un fait notable et passablement nigmatique que le discours littraire comporte trs rarement les signes du lecteur; on peut mme dire que ce qui le spcifie, cest dtre apparemment un discours sans tu, bien quen ralit toute la structure de ce discours implique un sujet de la lecture. 41 I. Calvino, If on a winters night a traveler (San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, & Co., 1981), 3. 42 J. McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 1. The first chapter is entitled: Its Six A.M. Do You Know Where You Are?.

buildings true shape)39. The process of analyzing and synthesizing historical events is quite similar. Ultimately, historical discourse is no more occult or mysterious than a walk around the block. Before we proceed, it may be worth noting that, as Barthes rhapsodizes about forms of time that are complex, parametric, and not in the least linear: a form of time whose spatial depths recall the mythic time of the ancient cosmogonies, he overlooks an inconvenient fact: namely, that the ancient cosmogony with which most Western historians are most familiar the seven-day creation myth of Genesis 1:1-2:2 is both simple and linear. Day by day, step by step, the God of Genesis creates the world, pausing only to reflect favorably on each stage of his work before proceeding to the next, until, after six days, he has completed both the heavens and the earth in all their vast array, and settles back for a well-deserved seventh day of rest. It is a fact worthy of note, says Barthes, and somewhat mysterious at the same time, that literary discourse very rarely carries within it the signs of the reader. Indeed we can say that its distinctive trait is precisely that it is or so it would appear a discourse without the pronoun you, even though in reality the entire structure of such a discourse implies a reading subject40. This might have been considered worthy of note in 1967 but its hardly worth noting today. Consider, for example the first lines from Italo Calvinos novel If on a winters night a traveler: You are about to begin reading Italo Calvinos new novel, If on a winters night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door: the TV is always on in the next room41. Or consider the first lines from Jay McInerneys novel Bright Lights, Big City: You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say the terrain is completely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub, talking to a girl with a shaved head42. Nor can Barthes be excused on the grounds that all these works were published years after Le discours de lhistoire. Butors La Modification, a novel written



Clearly, the absence of the pronoun you could no longer be considered the distinctive trait of literary discourse, even in 196745. Nevertheless, Barthes plows onward, bravely. In historical discourse, he says, the signs of the receiver are usually absent: they can be found only in cases where History is offered as a lesson, as with Bossuets Universal History, a discourse which is explicitly addressed by the tutor to his pupil, the prince. Barthes then imputes an occult character to history-writing once again. Yet in a certain sense, he says, this schema is only possible to the extent that Bossuets discourse can be held to reproduce by homology the discourse which God himself holds with men precisely in the form of the History which he grants to them. It is because the History of men is the Writing of God that Bossuet, as the mediator of this writing, can establish a relationship of sender and receiver between himself and the young prince46. Signs of the receiver do sometimes appear in cases where history is offered as a
43 M. Butor, La Modification (Paris: ditions de Minuit, 1957), 9: You have put the left foot on the copper strip, and with your right shoulder you are trying vainly to push the sliding panel a little farther. 44 F. Brown, Dont Look Behind You, The Mammoth Book of Pulp Action, ed. M. Jakubowski (New York: Carroll and Graf, 2001), 457. Originally published in Ellery Queens Mystery Magazine (1947). 45 Indeed, one of the most interesting and least-noticed developments in Western culture since the late 1960s has been the proliferation of second-person narratives, in the para-literary form of role-playing games, interactive fiction, gamebooks, and computer games. In each of these entertainments, the narrator addresses the narratee in the second person, whether they are the Dungeon Master in a game of Dungeons & Dragons, the author of a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, or the computer screen that displays the action in a first-person shooter video game like Half-Life. It is also worth noting that this last genre, the first-person shooter, was partly inspired by the use of POV shots (the cinematic equivalent of second-person literary narration) in film. 46 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 10. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: Dans le discours historique, les signes de destination sont communment absents: on en trouvera seulement lorsque lHistoire se donne comme une leon: cest le cas de lHistoire universelle de Bossuet, discours adress nommment par le prcepteur au prince, son lve; encore se schma nest-il possible, dune certaine manire, que dans le mesure o le discours de Bossuet est cens reproduire homologiquement le discours que Dieu lui-mme tient aux homes, sous forme prcisment de lHistorie quil leur donne: cest parce que lHistoire des homes est lcriture de Dieu, que Bossuet, mdiateur de cette criture, peut tablir un rapport de destination entre la jeune prince et lui.

After you finish it you can sit there and stall a while, you can find excuses to hang around your house, or your room, or your office, wherever youre reading this; but sooner or later youre going to have to get up and go out. Thats where Im waiting for you: outside. Or maybe closer than that. Maybe in this room44.

entirely in the second person, had caused a sensation when it was published in 1957: Vous avez mis le pied gauche sur la rainure de cuivre, Butor wrote, et de notre paule droite vous essayez en vain de pousser un peu plus le panneau coulissant43. And Fredric Browns classic second-person short-story thriller Dont Look behind You had been published ten years before Butors novel. Just sit back and relax, now, wrote Brown, try to enjoy this; its going be the last story you ever read, or nearly the last.



lesson. Raleigh, for example, assures us that what strength cannot do, mans wit, being the most forcible engine, hath often effected; of which I will give you an example in a place of our own47; while Bossuets contemporary Clarendon says that you shall find the policy of many Princes hath endured as sharp animadversions and reprehensions from the Judges of the Law, as their piety hath from the Bishops of the Church48. But for the most part, in traditional British historical writing, signs of the receiver occur as parts of organizational shifters. Raleigh, for example, talks about how the Persian ambassadors, as you have heard before, were, for their insolent behaviour toward the Macedonian ladies, slain by the direction of Alexander; and how Hannibal was nephew to that Hamilcar, who (as you have heard before) was overthrown by the Carthaginian army at Himera by Gelon49. Clarendon writes that it was useful to the Lords to prove those words against the Earl of Strafford, which Sir Harry Vane so punctually remembered (as you will find at the earls trial); about Marquis Hamilton, who you heard before was licensed to take care of himself; and was now of great intimacy with the governing and undertaking party; and how The vast charge of the two armies was no other way supplied (for I have told you before why they were so slow in the granting of subsidies), than by borrowing great sums of money from the city or citizens of London50. It is nonetheless true that, as Barthes says, Signs of the utterer (or sender) are obviously much more frequent. But Barthes says much more than this.

Here we should class all the discursive elements through which the historian as the empty subject of the uttering replenishes himself little by little with a variety of predicates which are destined to constitute him as a person, endowed with a psychological plenitude, or again (the word has a precious figurative sense) to give him countenance (6). We can mention at this point a particular form of this filling process, which is more directly associated with literary criticism. This is the case where the utterer means to absent himself from his discourse, and where there is in consequence a systematic deficiency of any form of sign referring to the sender of the historical message. The history seems to be telling itself all on its own. This feature has a career which is worthy of note, since it corresponds in effect to the type of historical discourse labelled as objective (in which the historian never intervenes). Actually in this case, the utterer nullifies his emotional persona, but substitutes for it another persona, the objective persona. The subject persists in its plenitude, but as an objective subject. This is what Fustel de Coulanges referred to significantly (and somewhat naively) as the chastity of History. On the level of discourse, objectivity or the deficiency of signs of the utterer thus appears as a particular form of imaginary projection, the product of what might be called the referential illusion, since in this case the historian is claiming to allow the referent to speak all on its own. This type of illusion is not exclusive to historical discourse. It would be hard to count the novelists who imagined in the epoch of Realism that they were objective because they suppressed the signs of the I in their discourse! Today linguistics and psychoanalysis have made us much more lucid with regard to privative utterances: we know that absences of signs are also in themselves significant51. Raleigh, History of the World, 327. Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, vol. 1, 125. 49 Raleigh, History of the World, 234, 593. 50 Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, vol. 1, 284, 289, 369. 51 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 11. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68-69: Les signes de lnonant (ou destinateur) sont videmment beaucoup plus frquents; il faut y ranger tous les
47 48



This is Barthes most important claim about the act of uttering the claim which his admirers have been repeating since this essay was first published. And I would respond to this in three ways: 1. Even if this was true, Barthes has given us no reason to believe that its true; 2. Even if this was true, it would be trivial, because Barthes has proven too much; 3. In any case, this is simply not true. It is tempting, at this point, to simply reject Barthes claims out of hand: after all, what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. But Barthes is almost certainly correct about one thing: absences can indeed be quite significant; take, for example, the absence of any evidence here to support Barthes claims. Up to this point, Barthes has been careful to provide one or two authorities for each of his arguments: his arguments about inaugurations, for example, were (allegedly) supported by the works of Joinville and Blanc. Here, however, his authorities are merely linguistics, psychoanalysis, and a brief, undocumented quotation attributed to Fustel de Coulanges. And, once we have tracked down the source of that quotation, we shall hardly be surprised, by now, to find that Barthes has taken the great French medievalists words out of context. The phrase chastity of history comes from a passage in an essay entitled De la manire dcrire lhistoire en France et en Allemagne depuis cinquante ans, originally published in the Revue de Deux Mondes in 1872, and later reprinted in the volume Questions Historiques: roughly translated, its title means, On the ways in which history has been written in France and Germany these fifty years past. Fustel de Coulanges was reviewing Origines de lAllemand et de lempire germanique by Jules Zeller. Here, he says with some satisfaction, is a new history of Germany which differs from those we have had up to now: it is not a panegyric to Germany.
fragments de discours o lhistorien, sujet vide de lnonciation, se remplit peu peu de prdicats varis destins le fonder comme une personne, pourvue dune plnitude psychologique, ou encore (le mot est prcieusement imag) dune contenance. On signalera ici une forme particulire de ce remplissage, qui relve plus directement de la critique littraire. Il sagit du cas o lnonciateur entend sabsenter de son discours et o il y a par consquent carence systmatique de tout signe renvoyant lmetteur du message historique: lhistoire semble se raconter toute seule. Cet accident a une carrire considrable, puisquil correspond en fait au discours historique dit objectif (dans lequel lhistorien nintervient jamais). En fait, dans ce cas, lnonant annule sa personne passionnelle, amis lui substitue une autre personne, la personne objective: le sujet subsiste dans sa plnitude, amis comme sujet objectif: cest ce que Fustel de Coulanges appelait significativement (et assez navement) la chastet de lhistoire. Au niveau du discours lobjectivit ou carence des signes de lnonant apparat ainsi comme une forme particulire dimaginaire, le produit de ce que lon pourrait appeler lillusion rfrentielle, puisquici lhistorien prtend laisser le rfrent parler tout seul. Cette illusion nest pas propre au discours historique: combien de romanciers lpoque raliste simaginent tre objectifs, parce quils suppriment dans le discours les signes du je! La linguistique et la psychanalyse conjugues nous rendent aujourdhui beaucoup plus lucides lgard dune nonciation privative: nous savons que les carences de signes sont elles aussi signifiantes.



For the past fifty years, it would not have occurred to any Frenchman to speak of this country with anything but admiration. This attitude goes back to 1815. Our liberal school, out of hatred for the recently-fallen Empire, acquired a decided taste for those who had been the Empires most implacable enemies, that is to say, for England and Germany. From this moment, historical studies in France were directed wholly toward the glorification of these two countries. It seemed that England had always been wise, always free, and always prosperous; while Germany had always been industrious, virtuous, and intelligent. Since these were the self-evident truths of history, one did not bother to study historical facts. The need to admire these two peoples was greater than the love of truth and the critical spirit. They were admired in spite of the documents, in spite of the chronicles and writings of each century, in spite of the most noteworthy facts52.

Zeller, by contrast, has provided a less biased version of Germanys history. Fustel de Coulanges review is full of praise: but he does find fault with Zellers tone, which is needlessly, even tediously bitter. The author, he says, seems to dislike, indeed, almost to resent his subject. He speaks only the truth; but he does not conceal his happiness when the truth is unfavorable to Germany. The scholarly foundation is both secure and exact, but the tone is too often that of recrimination and hatred53. It is regrettable, says Fustel de Coulanges, that Zellers work was not written in the loftier style of historys (French-speaking) golden age54. But alas we live today in a time of war. It is almost impossible for science to preserve its former serenity.

Everyone struggles around us and against us; inevitably, scholarship arms itself with sword and shield. Behold for fifty years France has been attacked and harassed by a scholarly army. Can one blame her for thinking a little of avoiding the blows? It is quite legitimate that our historians finally answer these ceaseless aggressions, confound the lies, arrest the ambitions, and defend, before its too late, both the

N. D. Fustel de Coulanges, La manire dcrire lhistoire en France et en Allemagne, Revue des Deux Mondes, 2nd series, 101, (1872): 241: Voici une nouvelle histoire dAllemagne qui diffre de celles que nous avions jusquici: elle nest pas une pangyrique de lAllemagne. Pendant les cinquante dernires annes, il ne venait presque lesprit daucun Franais quon pt parler de ce pays autrement quavec le ton de ladmiration. Cet engouement date de 1815. Notre cole librale, en haine de lempire qui venait de tomber, sprit dun got trs vif pour ceux qui staient montrs les ennemis les plus acharns de lempire, cest--dire pour lAngleterre et lAllemagne. A partir de ce moment, les tudes historiques en France furent diriges tout entires vers la glorification ces deux pays. On se figura une Angleterre qui avait toujours t sage, toujours libre, toujours prospre; on se reprsenta une Allemagne toujours laborieuse, vertueuse, intelligente. Pour faire de tout cela autant daxiomes historiques, on nattendit pas davoir tudi les faits de lhistoire. Le besoin dadmirer ces deux peuples fut plus fort que lamour du vrai et que lesprit critique. On admira en dpit des documents, en dpit des chroniques et des crits de chaque sicle, en dpit des faits les mieux constats. 53 Fustel de Coulanges, 250: Lauteur semble avoir de lantipathie et presque de la rancune lgard de son sujet. Il ne dit que la vrit; mais il ne se cache pas dtre heureux quand la vrit est dfavorable lAllemagne. Le fond est dune rudition exacte et sre; la forme est trop souvent celle de la rcrimination et de la haine. 54 It is here, on p. 251, that the phrase chastity of history appears: Assurment il serait prfrable que lhistoire et toujours une allure plus pacifique, quelle restt une science pure et absolument dsintresse. Nous voudrions la voir planer dans cette rgion sereine o il ny a ni passions, ni rancunes, ni dsirs de vengeance. Nous lui demandons ce charme dimpartialit parfaite qui est la chastet de lhistoire.


borders of our national conscience and the frontiers of our patriotism against the onrush of this new kind of invasion55.

Thus, when he wrote of the chastity of history, Fustel de Coulanges seems to have meant something akin to the childlike innocence of Eden a lost ideal, rather than a professional standard. More than fifty years had passed since French historians had been expelled from Paradise and when Fustel de Coulanges used this expression in 1872, he was in fact excusing another French historians lack of objectivity or, to be precise, another French historians inability or unwillingness to write in a more becoming style. In his review, Fustel de Coulanges wishes that Zeller had concealed his happiness when the truth was unfavorable to Germany: there was a time when it was beneath a (French) historian to write in such a fashion; but few historians can or even should live up to such expectations in this Age of Iron56. In addition, pay close attention to Barthess bait-and-switch tactics when he talks about history telling itself. At first, Barthes says only that, when there is no sign of the sender, the message seems to deliver itself: The history seems to be telling itself all on its own57. This is a fair point, though not very original. American literary critic Clayton Meeker Hamilton said exactly the same thing fifty years before Barthes: the author, says Hamilton, is free to choose between two very different tones of narrative the impersonal and the personal.
He may either obliterate or emphasize his own personality as a factor in the story. The great epics and folk tales have all been told impersonally. Whatever sort of person Homer may have been, he never obtrudes himself into his narrative; and we may read both the Iliad and the Odyssey without deriving any more definite sense of his personality than may be drawn from the hints which are given us by the things he knows about. No one knows the author of Beowulf or of the Nibelungen Lied. These stories seem to tell themselves. They are seen from nobodys point of view, or from anybodys whichever way we choose to say it58.

But Barthes then goes on to claim that, discursively speaking, objectivity or the deficiency of signs of the utterer thus appears as a particular form of imaginary projection, the product of what might be called the referential illusion, since in this case the historian is claiming to allow the referent to speak all on its

55 Fustel de Coulanges, 251: Tout est lutte autour de nous est contre nous; il est invitable que lrudition elle-mme sarme de bouclier et de lpe. Voila cinquante ans que la France est attaque et harcele par la troupe des rudits. Peut-on la blmer de songer un peu parer les coups? Il est bien lgitime que nos historiens rpondent enfin ces incessantes agressions, confondent les mensonges, arrtent les ambitions, et dfendent, sil en est temps encore, contre le flot de cette invasion dun nouveau genre, les frontires de notre conscience nationale et les abords de notre patriotisme. 56 The irony here, of course, is that Fustel de Coulanges own style was, in this case, anything but detached. English historian H. A. L. Fisher later suggested that Fustel de Coulanges review of Zellers book had been written in tones which are perhaps too rancorous. H. A. L. Fisher, Fustel de Coulanges, English Historical Review, 17, (1890): 1. 57 Barthes, Discourse of History, 11. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: lhistoire semble se raconteur toute seule. 58 C. M. Hamilton, A Manual of the Art of Fiction (New York: Doubleday, 1918), 133.



own59. And that is not the same thing at all: for the referent, remember, is the past or, strictly speaking, the documentary evidence of the past. Within the space of a few lines, Barthes has changed his position completely, without adducing any new evidence to support his new position. Having previously declared that, by adopting an impersonal tone, historians make it seem as if their histories had written themselves, Barthes now declares that, by adopting an impersonal tone, historians make it seem that the past itself had written their histories. But no historian has ever claimed to let the referent speak all on its own, except through direct quotations. Precision is important here, because Barthes is confusing and conflating two very different types of discourse. On the one hand, we have a type of discourse from which the discoursers absent themselves and where there is in consequence a systematic deficiency of any form of sign referring to the sender of the historical message. On the other hand, we have the type of historical discourse labelled as objective (in which the historian never intervenes). Barthes argues that there is a correspondence between the two but once again, the evidence does not bear this out. First, there is no evidence of any systematic deficiency of signs referring to the discourser in British historical discourse: indeed, to judge from our twenty-five classic histories, British historians have never completely removed such signs from their discourse. A long list of self-references can be compiled from their works with ease60. The use of the first-person singular was common in the seventeenth century, but seems to have disappeared from the text in the eighteenth century though it survived in the notes. It then reappeared in the early nineteenth century especially in Macaulays text: Macaulay used the first person both in his introduction to the book as a whole, and in his introductory paragraphs for individual chapters. Froude used the first-person singular in his text with some frequency. Buckle used it even more frequently. The historian most responsible for the spread of Rankean method to Britain, Stubbs, used the first-person singular less frequently than Froude, but did not banish it altogether to his notes: neither did another student of Ranke, Lord Acton. Only in the mid-twentieth century did the first-person singular become truly rare: Gardiner and Green, for example, referred to themselves only in their prefaces; and other twentieth century historians followed their example.
Barthes, The Discourse of History, 11. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 68: lobjectivit ou carence des signes de lnonant apparat ainsi comme une forme particulire dimaginaire, le produit de ce que lon pourrait appeler lillusion rfrentielle, puisquici lhistorien prtend laisser le rfrent parler tout seul. 60 E.g. Raleigh, History of the World, Vol. 2, 5; Bacon, King Henry VII, 73-74; Camden, Princess Elisabeth, Vol. 1, 39; Hume, History of England, Vol. 1, 229, note q; Gibbon, Decline and Fall, Vol. 1, 33, note 1; Hallam, Europe during the Middle Ages, Vol. 1, 4, note g; Napier, The War in the Peninsula, 330, footnote; Carlyle, French Revolution, 18, footnote; Macaulay, History of England, Vol. 1, 3, footnote; Froude, History of England, Vol. 1, 4; Buckle, Civilization in England, Vol. 1, 39; Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, 1, footnote 2; Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 108; etc.



The case of Lord Acton is one of the most interesting. Acton was one of nineteenth century British historys most outspoken advocates of the impersonal style in history-writing. He told his Cambridge students that there is virtue in the saying that a historian is at his best when he does not appear61. Later, as editor of the Cambridge Modern History, he told contributors to write in such a way that nothing shall reveal the country, the religion, or the party to which the writers belong partly because impartiality is the character of legitimate history, but also because, in such a collaborative work, the disclosure of personal views would lead to such confusion that all unity of design would disappear62. Yet Acton used the first-person singular without any self-consciousness63. He was also willing to make an exception for the strongest and most impressive personalities, who project their own broad shadow upon their pages. This is a practice proper to great men, he said but not for the rest of us. Better for us is the example of the Bishop of Oxford that is to say, William Stubbs who never lets us know what he thinks of anything but the matter before him64. The most we can say, then, is that British history-writing has had its fashions, like every other field of social and cultural activity. The impersonal style comes into fashion, goes out, then comes into fashion again: yet even when the impersonal style is most en vogue, British historians have always given themselves licence to refer to themselves if only in paratextual asides. What is more, as the cases of Bishop Stubbs and Lord Acton have made clear, there is no necessary correspondence (at least, in British historiography) between objectivity and any deficiency of signs of the utterer. So it seems to me that Barthes has given us no reason to believe that what he says is true. Before we proceed, lets pause and consider what Barthes has to say about those few cases when historians have been witnesses to history, or participants therein: that is, when the historian, who is an actor with regard to the event, becomes its narrator, as with Xenophon, who takes part in the retreat of the Ten Thousand and subsequently becomes its historian65. Disappointingly, Barthes uses this conclusion to continue his misguided critique of objective discourse. The most famous participant historian of all time, he says, has also been held up as
Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 12. Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 316. 63 E.g. Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 120, 124, 151, etc. 64 Acton, Lectures on Modern History, 12. Acton goes on to commend the Bishop of Oxfords illustrious French rival, Fustel de Coulanges, who said to an excited audience: Do not imagine that you are listening to me; it is history itself that speaks. But this is a misquote. Actons notes point to an obituary by Gabriel Monod in the Revue Historique, which says rather, Do not applaud me, he said to his students one day, I am not the one speaking to you; it is history that speaks through my mouth (Ne mapplaudissez pas, disait-il un jour ses lves, ce nest pas moi qui vous parle; cest lhistoire qui parle par ma bouche). G. Monod, M. Fustel de Coulanges, Revue Historique, 41, (1889): 278. 65 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 11. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 69: o lhistorien, acteur lors de lvnement, en devient le narrateur: ainsi de Xnophon participant la retraite des Dix Mille et sen faisant aprs coup lhistorien.
61 62



the most objective: Caesar, who in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico refers to himself in the third person. Caesars he appears at first sight to be submerged amid the other participants in the process described, says Barthes, and on this count has been viewed as the supreme sign of objectivity. And yet it would appear that we can make a formal distinction which impugns this objectivity66. According to Barthes, Caesars he appears only in certain types of phrases or syntagmas: syntagmas of command (syntagmes du chef) in which he gives orders, holds court, has things done, etc. The fact that Caesars he shows up only in such syntactic units gives the lie to Caesars pretended objectivity. It shows that the choice of an apersonal pronoun is no more than a rhetorical alibi, and that the true situation of the utterer is clear from the choice of syntagmas with which he surrounds his past actions67. There are three problems with this very superficial analysis. First, the modern reader is more likely to associate Caesars illeism with vanity rather than objectivity. Nor is this a recent association: it can be found in Shakespeares play, where Caesar says things like, I rather tell thee what is to be feard than what I fear; for always I am Caesar; Danger knows full well that Caesar is more dangerous than he; Shall Caesar send a lie, and so on. Second, Barthes has got his facts wrong again. Even a cursory glance at the Gallic Wars will show that Caesars he can tolerate a much wider variety of syntagmas than Barthes suggests. In fact, when Caesar first appears in his own memoir, he quits the capital, pushes on, makes his way, orders, directs, remembers, is not disposed, is of opinion, and finally, tells the Helvetii envoys that he will take some days for consideration68. While these are all things that we would expect from a Roman commander-in-chief, they can hardly be lumped together as syntagmas of command. At one point, Caesar says, he even feared that the garrison of Cenabum might escape in the night69. Third, it is not clear why the phrases with which Caesar surrounded his past actions would impugn Caesars objectivity. Did it occur to Barthes that the frequency with which Caesars he is described giving orders, holding court, and so on simply reflects the fact that Caesar was dux (commander-in-chief) of the Roman legions that conquered Gaul? Given the role he played in these events, it would have been strange indeed had Caesar described himself taking orders instead of giving them. Now lets consider the second objection to Barthes claims: that even if theyre
Barthes, The Discourse of History, 12. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 69: Le il csarien apparat premire vue noy parmi les autres participants du procs nonc et ce titre on a vu en lui le signe suprme de lobjectivit; il semble pourtant que lon puisse formellement le diffrencier. 67 Barthes, The Discourse of History, 12. Barthes, Le discours de lhistoire, 69: le choix du pronom apersonnel nest quun alibi rhtorique et que la situation vritable de lnonant se manifeste dans le choix des syntagmes dont il entoure ses actes passs. 68 Caesars Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, trans. T. R. Homes (London: Macmillan and Co., 1908), 6-7. 69 Caesars Commentaries on the Gallic Wars, 213.



A. A. Michelson and E. W. Morley, On the Relative Motion of the Earth and the Luminiferous Ether, American Journal of Science, 34, (1887): 333-345. The Michelson-Morley experiment was an attempt to measure the earths velocity through the aether. The apparatus was simple in principle. A circular table ABCD was arranged so as to be capable of slow rotation about its centre O. Light sent along CO was divided up at O into two beams which were made to travel along perpendicular radii OA, OB. The arms OA, OB were made as equal as possible and mirrors were placed at A and B to reflect the beams of light back to O. An extremely sensitive optical method made it possible to detect even a very slight difference in the times of the total paths of the two beams from O back to O. There would in any case be a difference owing to the necessarily imperfect equalization of the lengths of the arms OA, OB, but if the earth is moving through the aether in some direction OP, and if the table is made to rotate slowly about O, then this difference ought itself to vary on account of the earths motion through the aether. Michelson, and afterwards Michelson and Morley in collaboration, attempted to estimate the amount of this variation. No variation whatsoever could be detected, although their final apparatus was so sensitive that the variation produced by a velocity through the aether of even 1 km. a second ought to have shown itself quite clearly. Thus to the question What is our velocity through the aether? Nature appeared to give the answer None. J. H. Jeans, Relativity, Encyclopedia Britannica, 32 (London: Hugh Chisholm, 192212), 262. Michelson and Morleys experiment provided the first strong evidence against the theory of the luminiferous aether, now superseded by special relativity. It also provides interesting evidence to support Thomas Kuhns argument that scientific discoveries occur only when the experiments of normal science produce anomalous and unexpected results. 71 Michelson and Morley, On the Relative Motion of the Earth, 333, note , 334, 341. 72 Michelson and Morley, On the Relative Motion of the Earth, 336, 341.

true, theyre trivial they prove too much. In his analysis, Barthes concentrates on the alleged similarities between history and fiction, asking: are historical accounts truly different from fictional accounts? Is historical narration truly different from imaginary narration? It is interesting, and more than a little significant, that Barthes never asks: are historical accounts truly different from scientific accounts? Or: is historical narration truly different from scientific narration? In order to suggest a reply to these questions, lets take a free and far from exhaustive look at the discourse of a couple of famous scientists: Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, who conducted their famous failed experiment in July 1887, and published their anomalous research results in the American Journal of Science in November that same year70. An examination of Michelson and Morleys account of their experiments will quickly reveal that their account exhibits all the characteristics that Barthes ascribes to historical discourse. The two scientists use both shifters of listening and organizational shifters in the same way that historians do. They make their listening explicit with both footnotes and textual references: most writers admit; according to Fresnel; Lorentz aptly remarks; Stokes has given a theory; and so on71. And they provide explicit points of reference in their text. For example: finally, as before remarked and it appears, from all that precedes72. Michelson and Morleys scientific article suffers just as much from friction between the time of uttering and the time of the matter of utterance as any historical article. Equal numbers of pages cover very different lapses of time, and the closer it gets to the present, the slower it becomes: page 333 covers 150 years



(by discussing how neither the emission theory nor the undulatory theory had been able to explain the aberration of light since its discovery in 1725), while page 340 covers just four days (8-9 and 11-12 July 1887). What is more, on page 340, their paper zigzags through time the same way history does: first they present the results of their morning observations from 8 July to 12 July; then they present the results of their evening observations during the same period. Michelson and Morley dechronologized their narrative, the same as any historian: if we follow Barthes, this would mean that scientists, like historians, try to recapture a form of time that is complex, parametric, and non-linear. There is no sign of a receiver in Michelson and Morleys article and no sign of a sender, either: its tone is impersonal, and its voice is passive. In April 1881, it says, for example, a method was proposed and carried out for testing the question experimentally. Michelson and Morley are conspicuously absent from their own work: their experiment seems to conduct itself. But if we study their paper closely, we can see that our phantom experimenters will tolerate only a certain class of syntagmas, which we could call the syntagmas of experimentation: adjustments are effected, images are made to coincide, observations are conducted, etc. Clearly, as Barthes argues, their use of a passive voice is just a rhetorical alibi the pretense of scientific objectivity. Thus, it seems that, if we accept Barthes arguments, we must accept that there is no essential difference between historical discourse and scientific discourse, as well as fictional discourse: and, since if A=B and B=C, then A=C, it would seem to follow that Barthes is also arguing that there is no essential difference between the discourses of science and fiction. Indeed, one could use his methods and concepts to prove that all discourses are essentially similar. Nor should this result surprise us. Barthes, remember, was trying to conduct a linguistic analysis of historical discourse: that is to say, he was trying to apply the methods of analysis developed for the study of words and sentences to paragraphs and pages. This is rather like a chemist using chemistry to conduct a machine analysis of a washing-machine and a dryer, and concluding that there is no essential difference between the two, because theyre both composed of the same materials. When the only tool in your kit is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But as Ive already said: theres no reason why we should accept Barthes arguments; whats more, there are good reasons to reject them. I would argue, in fact, that Barthes is just as wrong on this point as he is on most others. Even when their style is highly impersonal, historians cannot absent themselves from their discourse, the way novelists can: the true absent narrator exists in fiction alone. Though both fiction and history have adopted an impersonal style, the differences between the two have remained essential and profound as essential and profound as the difference between showing and telling. Flaubert invented the literary technique of the absent narrator in order to show his readers the tragic life and death of Emma Bovary: that is to say, as a way of exciting his readers imaginations to the point where these events are visible to the minds eye; guided by the authors descriptions, the reader re-enacts these events on the stage of the


Cartesian theater. And Flaubert understood the need to suppress any sign of the I in his discourse in order to achieve this effect: any author-intrusions would break the spell he was attempting to cast over the readers mind; his literary stage-play would become a lecture. Show, dont tell! This point is emphasized again and again in instructional literature for aspiring authors of popular fiction. Early in the twentieth century, Thomas H. Uzzell wrote that the purpose of fiction is to affect rather than to convince the reader.
Its object is to reach him through his senses rather than through his mind. The purpose of argumentation is to convince; the purpose of description is to present a picture; the purpose of exposition is to impart knowledge, ideas, facts: but the characteristic purpose of narrative in the fictional sense in which we are taking it here is to make the reader feel73.

Later how-to books have followed exactly the same line. A modern category fiction writer, says Dean Koontz, must never obstruct the plot with asides to the reader or with small sermons.
First of all, such asides often give away events or at least the outlines of events to come, thereby destroying the readers suspension of disbelief. (If he knows the story is carefully planned out, he cannot kid himself that all this is happening before his eyes). Second, such pauses in the narrative flow tend to tell the reader what he should be shown through dramatic action74.

But historians cannot follow this advice. Historians cannot show: they can only tell. History consists of argumentation and exposition it seeks to convince its readers, instead of just affecting them. This fact is obscured somewhat by the distinction that historians make nowadays between analysis and narrative but this

The moment you break the flow of the storys action to explain things to the reader, you run the risk of losing the reader. All of a sudden, instead of being in the story, living the role of the protagonist, the reader is listening to you lecture him. No matter how important the information you want to get across to him, the reader is immediately reminded that hes reading, rather than living the story76.

Science-fiction writer and editor Ben Bova goes even farther: Your job, as a writer, is to make the reader live in your story75. In writing stories of any length, he says, the most important thing to keep in mind is show, dont tell.

73 T. H. Uzzell, Narrative Technique: A Practical Course in Literary Psychology (New York: Harcourt, Brace, and Co., 19343), 2. See also p. 4: The passive state of concentration on one point only which we call hypnosis is the spell which the artist in narrative writing should try to cast over his audience. 74 D. R. Koontz, Writing Popular Fiction (Cincinnati: Writers Digest Books, 1973), 161-62. 75 B. Bova, Notes to a Science Fiction Writer (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), 11. 76 Bova, 115. Such quotations can be multiplied without limit. See, for example: D. Lodge, The Art of Fiction (London: Secker & Warburg, 1992), 10; J. Burroway, Writing Fiction (New York: Harper Collins, 1996), 58; P. Woolley, How to Write and Sell Historical Fiction (Cincinnati: Writers Digest Books, 1997), 91; and J. Gunn, The Science of Science-Fiction Writing (Lanham: Scarecrow Press, 2000), 34.



is a false distinction. An historical narrative is a form of historical analysis. Historians write about large and complex events by breaking them down into sequences of small and simple events; and the more detailed the narrative, the more detailed the analysis. In addition as Barthes himself admits history consists, not of reported events, but of reported speech. Historians cannot describe events at first hand (the way novelists pretend to) because historians have not witnessed events at first hand. Historians have witnessed only documents. As a consequence, all an historian can show the reader is an excerpt from the documents on which their histories are based: that is to say, when historians want to show instead of tell, they must stop writing, and simply point to some part of some document, as if to say: See? What did I tell you?. In the early 1950s, poet and literary critic Allen Tate captured the difference between showing and telling by paraphrasing a scene from Madame Bovary. Let the situation be something like this, he said.
A pretty young married woman, bored with her husband, a small-town doctor, has had an affair of sentiment with a young man, who has by this time left town. Growing more desperate, she permits herself to be seduced by a neighbouring landowner, a coarse Lothario, who soon ties of her. Our scene opens with the receipt of his letter of desertion. He is going away and will not see her again. The young woman receives the letter with agitation and runs upstairs to the attic, where having read the letter she gives way to hysteria. She looks out the window down into the street, and decides to jump and end it all. But she grows dizzy and recoils. After a moment she hears her husbands voice; the servant touches her arm; she comes to and recovers.

As a work of fiction, this is clearly not satisfactory: the author is telling us about Emma Bovarys near-suicide, instead of showing us; and as I have reported the scene you have got to take my word for it that she is there at all: you do not see her, you do not hear the rapid breathing and the beating heart, and you have, again, only my word for it that she is dizzy77. But Tates paraphrase would be perfectly good history. Put his paragraph in the past tense, add a footnote to point us to the passage from Flauberts novel78, and what we would have is the equivalent of an historical account: the footnote will point us to the passage in question the literary equivalent of an historical document and permit us to check Tates source for ourselves, instead of us just taking his word for it. In fact, after consulting the various histories on which this present article is based, I began to wonder how Barthes and his followers had persuaded themselves that historians have ever been absent from their discourses, in any sense of that word. How, for example, could anyone suggest that Edward Gibbon or A. J. P. Taylor were ever absent from their own works? Their styles of writing are
77 A. Tate, Techniques of Fiction, Critiques and Essays on Modern Fiction 1920-1951, ed. J. W. Aldridge (New York: Ronald Press, 1952), 39-40. 78 For example: G. Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans. G. Wall (London: Penguin, 2003), 190-91.



unmistakable: as Lord Acton wrote, their strong and impressive personalities cast their broad shadow upon their pages; or, to use a more contemporary metaphor, their voices are clear and distinct. But even when their words are muffled, and their personalities are weak and unimpressive, it is the historians voice we hear in their works always telling always lecturing using quotations like slides in a literary PowerPoint presentation. It is worth noting that PowerPoint and other presentation programs are known as persuasion technology. The art of persuasion, of course, is the province of rhetoric: and as Barthes says, at the beginning of Le discours de lhistoire, discourse analysis had been the special concern of traditional rhetoric from ancient times to the recent past. Recent developments in the science of language led Barthes to think it was possible to analyze discourse in linguistic terms. But to judge from the very poor results of this analysis at least, in the section on the act of uttering this possibility was an illusion. Instead of providing new insights, it seems, this type of pseudo-linguistics just obscures the findings of older, more traditional disciplines. But by now, the reader may be wondering what all the fuss is about. After all who cares what Barthes thought? Isnt postmodernism over? Who breaks a butterfly upon the wheel? In 1918, Lenin warned a meeting of workers and deputies that, when revolution comes, it is not the same as with the death of an individual, when the deceased is carried out of the house. When the old society dies, its corpse cannot be shut up in a coffin and placed in the grave. It decomposes in our midst; the corpse rots and infects us79. What Lenin said about the old society then applies, I think, to postmodernism now. Certainly Barthes ideas remain infectious, more than forty years later. In 2006, Alexander Lyon Macfies exposure to Raymond [sic] Barthes famous critique of history led him to confess, in the pages of Rethinking History, that his own works did employ a variety of narrative techniques originally designed for fiction to create a sort of reality effect80. Less than a year later, in 2007, Sheldon Pollock invoked The Discourse of History in a critical response to Rao, Subrahmanyam and Shulmans Textures of Time81. Postmodernism may be dead but its remains require disposal. As distasteful as the task may seem, historians need to pick up their shovels and start doing the digging and filling necessary to prevent any further such outbreaks. Laurentian University Ontario, Canada

79 Quoted in E. Naiman, When a Communist Writes Gothic: Aleksandra Kollontai and the Politics of Disgust, Signs, 22, (1996): 17. 80 A. L. Macfie, Rethinking (My) History, Rethinking History, 10, (2006): 492. One can only wonder at the editorial standards of a journal in which this type of mistake appears. 81 S. Pollock, Pretextures of Time, History & Theory, 46, (2007): 373-74. Cfr. V. N. Rao, D. Shulman, and S. Subrahmanyam, A Pragmatic Response, History & Theory, 46, (2007): 414, 420-21.


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 129-143

BOOK REVIEWS Bedrich Loewenstein, Der Fortschritssglaube: Geschichte einer europischen Idee (Gttingen: V&R Unipress, 2009), 463 pp.

Prof. Loewenstein has undertaken the very ambitious task of writing an intellectual history of the West from its origins in Greek mythology the book starts with the Prometheus legend to the postmodern revolt at the turn to the twenty-first century against the main body of the Western intellectual tradition, and has done so very well. The theme around which the book is organized is the belief in progress (p. 8), which he distinguishes from the theory of progress and of course from real progress. The key motive of the belief in progress is the confidence in the future (p. 9). It is this belief which for him characterized the Western tradition throughout its history and distinguished it from other traditions, such as the Chinese and the Indian, which supposedly have a cyclical not a linear conception of history. The same is held to be the case of classical Greek and classical Roman historical thought. China in fact has a very rich tradition of historical writing, going back three millennia, and history plays an important role in Greek and Roman writing. In fact, however, eschatology is not totally absent in China, nor were linear conceptions of historical development entirely absent in Greece and Rome. I am thinking of Thucydides archaeology in which he outlines the upward development of Athens from a pastoral to a highly complex urban and commercial society in a brief opening section which introduces his narrative of the Peloponnesian War, and of Lucretius De Rerum Natura in Rome in which from a naturalistic perspective Lucretius traced the upward development of the universe from pure atoms to mankind and the onward liberation of human consciousness from primitive superstition to enlightenment. Yet what Thucydides and Lucretius lacked was the eschatological confidence that this upward development leads to salvation; for Thucydides it led to imperialism, war, and the self-destruction of Athens, for Lucretius to the destruction of all illusions. But for Loewenstein the belief that history has a meaning constitutes the core of the belief in progress which in turn constitutes the core of the Western conception of history. Like Karl Lwith in Meaning in History: The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History (1949), Loewenstein sees the modern conception of history as a secularized form of the Judaeo-Christian eschatological tradition. But one must be careful in speaking of a Judaeo-Christian tradition. Both the Jewish and the Christian tradition view history in teleological terms and share a messianism looking toward a future fulfilment (Lwith, p. 196). However, the messianism of Hebrew prophets such as Isaiah and Micha was this worldly, oriented toward social justice and peace on this earth, while as both Loewenstein and Lwith stress, the Christian faith in fulfillment fails to understand the future in terms of real history.


Both Loewenstein and Lwith deal with the secularization of what they consider to be the Judaeo-Christian eschatology. Lwith begins with Burckhardt and goes back to the Bible; Loewenstein follows the history of the belief in progress chronologically, beginning with the classical Greeks and Romans whose histories, both claim, focused on events and lacked any concept of continuity or development. Loewensteins book is much more substantial in length and content than that of Lwith which restricts itself to a very limited number of outstanding thinkers, primarily in the modern period, from Bossuet and Vico to Burckhardt and Nietzsche. Loewenstein examines at greater depth a much larger number of historical thinkers and links them to the intellectual atmosphere of their time. We thus move from Lwiths history of great ideas in a narrow sense to a much broader history of historical culture. Not only do the thinkers with whom Lwenstein deals share a linear conception of the historical world, but his own portrayal is also linear; he traces the progressive secularization of historical eschatology from the age of Augustine through the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century. The turning point comes with the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century which preceded the Enlightenment. Before then neither Renaissance Humanism nor the Protestant Reformation were from his perspective truly modern in their historical outlook. Thus Luthers critique of the rational ethics of the Humanists and his attacks on what he considered the commercialism and aesthetics of the Church represented an outlook closer to the Middle Ages than did the Roman church (p. 57), and while the Reformation sought to abolish papal superstition, it had as yet no interest in the natural sciences (p. 69). This interest developed with the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century which saw the world increasingly in mechanistic terms. The high point of this process was the Enlightenment, particularly in its French, English, and Scottish forms. The significance of the Enlightenment was that it applied concepts of rationality to the social and political sphere. Economic well being, as advocated by the Scottish school, became part of the concept of civilization. It may be asked whether Loewensteins discussion of the intellectual atmosphere of the Age of Enlightenment in which a secular belief in progress played a central role does not underplay the important counter Enlightenment currents such as the fundamentalist religious revivals of which Pietism, Methodism, Swedenborgianism, all of which affirmed religious eschatologies, were examples, as were the first stirrings of Romanticism. Loewenstein does give proper place to the counter-revolutionary thought of Edmund Burke, in many ways a father of historicism, and to Joseph de Maistre. The nineteenth century was marked by the triumph of industrial capitalism which, not withstanding its negative aspects of bleak working class slums and the destruction of traditional crafts (p. 303), gave rise to the optimistic notion of a lawful progressive technological development of civilization (p. 282) linked to growing nationalism. This optimism also led to a positivistic cult of science as propagated by Auguste Comte and to a new cult of biology in the form of a Social Darwinism which taught and practiced racial


inequality and justified the colonization of non-Western peoples considered culturally backward. Yet at this point a strong note of cultural pessimism emerged. America was seen as the high point of a society and a culture dominated by technology which was to be either emulated or rejected. The undercurrent of optimism among broad segments of the population was increasingly replaced by pessimism regarding the character of modern Western civilization. Loewenstein examines two responses to the barbarization of war in the twentieth century: on the left the Neo-Marxism of Georg Lukcs and Ernst Bloch, who despite their critical view of the modern world maintained confidence in a humane post-capitalist future, and on the right thinkers such as Ernst Jnger and Italian Fascists who glorified violence and war in an age of advanced military technology, Oswald Spengler saw the dissolution of the Western humanistic values which he rejected and Georges Sorel in his The Illusions of Progress built a bridge between Marxism and a cult of proletarian violence. A final chapter deals with the most recent discussions. The idea of progress is replaced by that of modernization separated from concrete cultural values and defined as an objective process, capable of being measured (p. 445). Again the West is viewed as the moving force of modernization as it was of progress, which it was argued culturally less progressive countries must follow, an outlook which amounted to the cultural arrogance of the West (p. 446). China, India, and the Islamic world will surely accept aspects of modernization in the area of technology, but they will integrate them into their own culture (p. 460). The future is open, but the complacent grand narrative of the linear upward movement of mankind, which was the theme of the book, is a remnant of the past (p. 447). Georg G. Iggers SUNY, Buffalo

The recent burst of scholarly interest in the Seleucid kingdom has addressed, naturally enough, questions of a basically historical nature: administrative structure and economy, colonization and identity, politics and warfare. Andrea Primos La storiografia sui Seleucidi da Megastene a Eusebio di Cesarea (hereafter La storiografia) is the first work to examine comprehensively the kingdoms literary production. This is a difficult task. Seleucid court authors have suffered particularly harshly the general shipwreck of Hellenistic literature. The structure of the Seleucid empire (itinerant kingship, multiple capitals) directed its cultural energy differently to the rooted, scholarly worlds of Alexandria and Pergamum; Antioch received its first library as late as the reign of Antiochus III at the end of the third century BCE. Moreover, the Seleucid court failed to generate or cultivate writers whose influence on later, especially Roman, authors would assist their

Andrea Primo, La storiografia sui Seleucidi da Megastene a Eusebio di Cesarea, Studi ellenistici Pisa (Pisa, Roma: Serra, 2009), 408 pp.


survival. Accordingly, most of the court authors studied by Primo must be excavated and reconstructed from the quotations, paraphrases, and allusions of later, extant works. For the most part, Primo achieves this operation with admirable caution, clarity, and methodological awareness, limiting himself to the themes and general arguments of the reliquiae in question. La storiografia is divided into four chapters. The first, Politica e cultura alla corte dei Seleucidi, is an overview and general discussion of the nature of the Seleucid courts literary production; it contains the books most important conclusions. Primo periodizes Seleucid court literature into two distinct phases (p. 19). The pioneering reigns of Seleucus I Nicator (305-281 BCE) and Antiochus I Soter (281-261 BCE) encouraged ethnographic and geographic treatises, such as Megasthenes Indica and Patrocles periplus of the Caspian Sea. We know of no historian active at the Seleucid court in the first two generations (a striking contrast to the cultural production of early Ptolemaic Alexandria). Primos second phase, during the reign of Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BCE), was characterized by historical and antiquarian works of an overtly propagandistic nature (pp. 24-25). Antiochus authors extolled the dynastys early history, thereby systematically producing precedents and justification for Antiochus the Greats conquests. Primo acutely relates the literary celebration of the Seleucid past to Antiochus introduction of the cult of the progonoi (his royal ancestors) and the stabilization of preceding kings epithets. Primo ends the chapter with a helpful coda on the broader intellectual life of the Seleucid court, discussing the philosophers, artists, and doctors who served the kings and surface, from time to time, in the literary record. In chapter two, Scrittori e storiografia alla corte dei Seleucidi, Primo examines the court authors one by one, reconstructing the outline of their texts and locating them within the court milieu. In several cases, Primos interpretations are ingenious. For example, he follows Athenaeus in identifying the author of the Troca, attributed to Cephalon of Gergis, as the grammarian Hegesianax of Alexandria Troas (FGrHist 45) and so understands the pseudo-archaic mythography as Hellenizing propaganda: at a time when Roman discourse was assimilating the Seleucids to the Achaemenids, Antiochus III, like Pyrrhus before him, could represent his war with Rome as a new battle of Greeks and Trojans (pp. 92-93). Another case: Primo brilliantly identifies the memoirs of the Seleucid general Patrocles (FGrHist 712) as the ultimate source for Diodorus account of Nicators reconquest of Babylon and Plutarchs description of Seleucus treatment of Demetrius Poliorcetes (pp. 77-78, 186-187, 230-232). Primo concludes the chapter with useful discussions of two papyrus fragments P. Berol 21 286, perhaps from Hieronymus or Alexander Polyhistor, and Papyrus Hamburgensis de Galatis, describing the encounter between a Hellenistic king and Galatian warriors. Unfortunately, the brevity of the chapters entries and the variety of genres covered make Primos analysis, on occasion, incomplete and limited. The first author Primo discusses, Megasthenes (FGrHist 715), is also one of the best known: Arrian, Strabo, and Diodorus preserve extensive and overlapping sections of his


Indica. Primo does not relate Megasthenes work to the well-established and influential Indographic tradition, classical and Alexandrian, within which he was writing and against which he was innovating. Accordingly, Primo does not note certain of the ethnographys characteristics that are particularly meaningful in a Seleucid context. For example, it is crucial for the Indicas analogous function that Megasthenes depicts the land as a highly rational, realistic, and non-utopian kingdom. It is important, given the terms of the treaty between Seleucus I and Chandragupta Maurya, that Megasthenes shifts the Indian heartland from the Indus to the Ganges basin, allowing the Mauryan kingdom its own center and periphery. Similarly, while Primo recognizes some of the meaning and force of Berossus Babyloniaca (FGrHist 680), such as Nebuchadnezzar IIs role as a prototype for Antiochus I (pp. 69-71), he bypasses the independent and complex Babylonian religious-literary context in which the priest of Bl-Marduk, Bl-reuunu, lived and was trained. In chapter three, I Seleucidi visti dallesterno, Primo tackles the depictions of the Seleucid empire, court, and kings in the writings of important non-court Hellenistic historians Nymphis, Phylarchus, Polybius, and Posidonius. Given the externality of these authors, Primo is eager to determine the extent to which they absorb and adapt elements of a semi-official Seleucid court narrative. Nymphis of Heraclea Pontica (FGrHist 432), preserved in books 9 to 16 of Memnon History of Heraclea, stands out in this group, as a local rather than universal historian, as the only of these writers to benefit personally from the Seleucid state, having been restored from exile after the Battle of Corupedium, and as the author most successfully and creatively examined by Primo. La storiografia demonstrates that, in contrast to other accounts of the Diadoch period, Seleucus I played a major and positive role in Nymphis histories: the Heracleote appears to have included motifs drawn from court propaganda, such as Nicators pothos to return to his Macedonian home (pp. 111-112) and Antiochus Is city foundations in Caria (p. 116). Accordingly, as we shall see, Primo regards Nymphis as the major and earliest source for the later, composite Seleucus Romance (p. 33, 117). The histories of Phylarchus, Polybius, and Posidonius share a fundamentally hostile attitude to the Seleucid state, characterized by a moralizing critique of the kingdoms supposed decline and decadence. Primo suggests that Phylarchus (FGrHist 81) repeatedly transformed pro-Seleucid partisan episodes into condemnations of excessive adulation (e. g. the veneration of Seleucus I and Antiochus I by the Athenians on Lemnus) or the loss of Hellenic identity (e. g. relations with India) (pp. 120-122). Even if Polybius adopted several Phylarchan motifs of Seleucid decay, Primo persuasively shows that the Megalopolitan historian also absorbed some of the legitimist propaganda emitted by the Seleucid court. This is most apparent in Polybius (fragmentary) narrative of Molons and Achaeus revolts and in his account of Antiochus IIIs anabasis, in which the Seleucid monarch is depicted as the ideal courageous, forgiving, and just warriorking; but even in the Roman War, Polybius, although he adopts a pro-Rome viewpoint, reproduces the salient arguments of the Seleucid court (pp. 130-141).


Naturally enough, Polybius portrait of Demetrius I, his personal acquaintance, is sympathetic. For Posidonius, Primo emphasizes both the Apamean scholars adhesion to the decadence narrative (with the partial exception of Antiochus VII Sidetes) and the importance of his local, geographical knowledge. Primo completes La storiografia with a final chapter, I Seleucidi dopo i Seleucidi, on the major extant works that narrate Seleucid history by their incorporation, reproduction, and adaptation of the otherwise lost or fragmentary authors of chapters two and three. These include Diodorus Siculus, Justin, Appian, Josephus, Plutarch, Athenaeus, Libanius, and Malalas. Primos purpose in this chapter is to ensure that, having restored authorship to lost writers, he fully recognizes the authorial rights of the secondary histories that preserve them; inevitably, there is much repetition. Primo has two key arguments. First, he suggests that the extant encomiastic narratives of the early kingdom, the so-called Seleucus Romance of Appian, Diodorus, Justin, Plutarch, Libanius, and Malalas, derives from the stabilization and transmission of three complementary but temporally distinct channels: Nymphis contemporary laudatory work, the dynastic histories of Antiochus IIIs court, and Timagenes of Alexandrias biography. Understandably, Primo cannot suggest the route of transmission or conglomeration. Second, Primo demonstrates that almost all the surviving accounts of Seleucid history take their broad outline from, in succession, Phylarchus for the reigns of Antiochus I to Seleucus II, Polybius for Seleucus III to Demetrius I, and Posidonius for the kingdoms closing agony. The only exceptions are Josephus, who absorbs in addition the independent Jewish tradition from I Maccabees, and Libanius, whose encomium of Antioch (Or. 11) required the systematic omission of all negative events and hostile charges. Ultimately, La storiografias success is most apparent in Primos treatment of Justin and Appian; he is able to show that their narratives incorporate the full panorama of the Seleucid historiography discussed in the book and map out the orientations of all the different traditions. The catalogue form of chapters two to four is a useful and accessible approach to the individual authors, but it is limited as intellectual history. Primos analysis of the political orientation of his writers is restricted, for the most part, to determining allegiance: was X pro- or anti-Seleucid? Did Y reproduce Roman or Seleucid justifications for the Bellum Antiochicum? Does Z prefer Demetrius I or Alexander Balas? This bypasses big and important themes that emerge between texts, such as the recurring trope of decadence, the characterization of good and bad kingship, and the ways in which Seleucid ideology expressed itself. More problematic is Primos principle of inclusion, or rather, exclusion. Ever since Kuhrt and Sherwin-Whites groundbreaking From Samarkand to Sardis (London, 1993) scholars have increasingly recognized the Near Eastern context for the Seleucid kingdom. Primos project, focusing only on writers operating within the Greek historiographic tradition, inevitably over-emphasizes the kingdoms Hellenic identity. The Book of Daniel, the Babylonian Chronicles, and the Borsippa Cylinder are as much products of the Seleucid world as Megasthenes Indica, the Erythraean paean to Seleucus I, and Posidonius. More to the point, if


Primo is happy to discuss Berossus and Josephus, why does he not examine in its own right II Maccabees? This well-informed and heavily Hellenizing work of Jewish historiography engages in a fascinating dialogue with Seleucid court ideology, from less peripheral a position than Polybius or Athenian comedy. My objection is not so much that these texts are not included they require training too rarely offered to classical historians but that their exclusion is considered natural and unproblematic. Despite these qualifications, La storiografia sui Seleucidi da Megastene a Eusebio di Cesarea is a well-researched and authoritatively argued book. It is, even more than an excellent addition to Seleucid studies, a necessary companion to future research. Paul J. Kosmin Harvard University

Questo, scrive Allan Megill, sul profilo personale redatto per la pagina web della University of Virginia, dove insegna Storia delle idee dellEuropa moderna e Teoria e Filosofia della storia, credo sia il mio libro migliore. Nel 1985 lautore si era cimentato in una ricostruzione delle filosofie di Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault e Derrida, sintetizzandone il significato nellicastica espressione del titolo: Prophets of Extremity. Nel 2002 aveva, invece, contestualizzata la filosofia di Marx nella tradizione opposta del razionalismo occidentale: Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason1. Con questo libro Megill non propone, come ci si aspetterebbe, una via di mezzo o una sintesi tra le tendenze opposte esaminate negli altri due, ma delinea unalternativa teorica che poteva essere evinta sin dallinizio. Finora, infatti, lautore aveva scelto oggetti dinterpretazione storica coi quali non aderiva a pieno, ragion per cui il suo punto di vista emergeva dal modo della trattazione, pi che dal tema trattato. Questo libro, invece, esplicita le questioni metodologiche ed epistemologiche che lo hanno guidato fin qui, offre una veste teorica al suo approccio storiografico. In prima istanza, va quindi riconosciuto che Megill, assieme a Zagorin, Hunt, Evans, Bentley, Tortarolo e alcuni altri, fa parte di quella nuova generazione di specialisti della storiografia (nel suo caso quella high intellectual history che nelle nostre universit praticata dagli storici della filosofia) che dia1 A. Megill, Prophets of Extremity: Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Derrida (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1985) e Karl Marx: The Burden of Reason. Why Marx Rejected Politics and the Market (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002). Allinterpretazione razionalistico-essenzialistica della filosofia di Marx offerta dal testo di Megill, ha risposto in modo critico e convincente J. Fracchia, Whose Burden, History and Theory, 42, (2003): 378-397.

Allan Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error. A Contemporary Guide To Practice, with contributions by Steven Shepard and Phillip Honenberger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), XIV + 267 pp.



lettizzano il proprio impegno storico con una disposizione teorica che lo rende auto-consapevole e attento alle sfide del presente. Per quel che riguarda la dislocazione del testo entro il dibattito contemporaneo, si pu forse iniziare a proporne uninterpretazione richiamando le ultime battute di una recensione di Profeti dellestremit, vergata da Warren Wagar nel 1986 per The American Historical Review:
Il movimento di pensiero che [i filosofi presi in considerazione da Megill] rappresentano scriveva Wager ha ora pi o meno esaurito le sue possibilit. La carriera di Derrida segna la fine del nuovo inizio propugnato da Nietzsche. Ma qualsiasi cosa accada da ora in avanti dovr molto al lavoro di demolizione che Derrida, e tanti suoi contemporanei, hanno compiuto con impareggiabile efficacia2.

Ci, verrebbe da dire, vale anche per questo scritto di Megill, che alle macerie e alla desolazione scettica, cos come a uninsostenibile immagine della Ragione, oppone unalternativa teorica che prospetta la necessit di impegnarsi nella costruzione del migliore dei mondi storici possibili. Con ci come si vedr pi avanti non si allude al fatto che da questi saggi emerga una teoria sistematica e unitaria di filosofia della storia riconducibile a Leibniz, ma, per utilizzare le parole stesse dellautore, con il riferimento a Leibniz si vuol richiamare la nozione secondo cui possibile immaginare un infinito numero di mondi differenti e alternativi (p. 214), che i criteri procedurali ed epistemologici di cui disponiamo, ci consentono di selezionare e costruire aspirando a una conoscenza legittima, ma mai definitiva, del nostro passato3. Per questo molto del fascino di questo libro viene da un atteggiamento che se non fosse per linsidiosa ampiezza semantica del termine, piacerebbe chiamare illuministico, in riferimento a quella disposizione teorica che a partire dalla coscienza dei limiti, della finitudine e della storicit delle imprese umane, non abdica di fronte allo scetticismo e al relativismo4. interessante il fatto che ci accada proprio dopo il lavoro di demolizione che Derrida e contemporanei hanno compiuto con impareggiabile efficacia. Megill, infatti, non elude le istanze teoriche poste da Derrida e contemporanei, ma le dispone allestremo di una tensione irrisolta con le pratiche procedurali, metodologiche ed epistemologiche degli specialisti. Questa tensione che non trova soluzione in una sintesi o in una mediazione, riconosciuta dallautore come il tratto caratteristico dellimpresa dello storico: a voler pensare chiaramente allepistemologia storica necessario prospettare il tratto distintivo con cui lo storico approccia il passato [...] questo qualcosa lo si pu definire con vari nomi. Io preferisco chiamarlo una dialettica irrisolta o una irrisolta tensione (p. 2). Questa dialettica aperta non asserisce verit e oggettivit assolute, ma non rinuncia a tematizzare queste nozioni come poli in
2 W. Warran Wager, Review of A. Megill, Prophet of Extremity, The American Historical Review, 91, (1986): 100. 3 Questo riferimento a Leibniz non ha, dunque, nulla a che spartire con la teoria della storia universale di Leibniz, cos com descritta, per esempio, in S. Givone, Il bibliotecario di Leibniz. Filosofia e romanzo (Torino: Einaudi, 2005). 4 Cfr. E. Tortarolo, Illuminismo. Ragioni e dubbi della modernit (Roma: Carocci, 1999).



tensione con soggettivit, prospettivismo e speculazione. Megill stesso ne offre (involontariamente) una metafora, quando per illustrare il rapporto tra descrizione e spiegazione storica, rimanda alla conquista della terra ferma nel lago olandese di Zuider (p. 99), ma forse una metafora insulare rende meglio lidea: guadagnare terra ferma in mare aperto, terra pi grande e pi ampia, ma sapendo che attorno si sempre circondati dal mare. Proprio grazie a questa dialettica irrisolta, allora, si configura quella prospettiva, che con le restrizioni e le contestualizzazioni dette, possiamo definire come aspirazione al migliore dei mondi storici possibili: possibili, appunto, per questuomo fatto cos e cos, pressato dal presente e dalla memoria, eppure capace di mettere in atto procedure disciplinari di controllo e di distanziamento dallimmediatezza. Se questa, in estrema sintesi, la prospettiva teorica di Megill nel contesto del dibattito contemporaneo sulla filosofia della storia, una disamina pi accurata della struttura del testo consente di chiarirne le strategie argomentative. In una recensione, davvero autorevole, del libro che presentiamo, Jonathan Gorman, dopo aver riportato dalla Prefazione questa considerazione dellautore: non penso che una singola teoria, n sulla scrittura storica in generale n sullepistemologia storica in particolare, possa essere offerta (p. X), scrive:

vero, Megill non offre in nessun punto una teoria sistematica della storiografia. Ci dipende oltre che dai convincimenti richiamati da Gorman, ed espressi nella Prefazione, dalla struttura del testo. Esso composto da dieci capitoli, raccolti in quattro sezioni, la prima dedicata alla memoria (pp. 17-59), la seconda al narrativismo (pp. 63-103), la terza al problema dellobiettivit (pp. 107-156), lultima alla frammentazione della storia (pp. 159-208). Se a questi capitoli vengono aggiunti lIntroduzione (pp. 1-14) e la Conclusione (pp. 209-215), che costituiscono saggi autonomi, si arriva a dodici studi di diversa consistenza e approfondimento, nati in occasioni diverse e pubblicati, a esclusione di soli tre, in un raggio temporale relativamente lungo, tra il 1989 e il 2004. In una struttura composita di questo tipo ovvio che non si trovi la consequenzialit che generalmente offerta da un libro di concezione unitaria, in cui i capitoli si susseguono richiamandosi e i progressi nellargomentazione sono riassunti e ripresi per rendere pi agevole la lettura. Non contraddittorio, allora, ci si potrebbe chiedere affermare assieme, come abbiamo fatto, che manca una teoria unitaria e sistematica ep5 J. Gorman, Review of A. Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error, Journal of the Philosophy of History, 3, (2009): 79-89, 86.

Sembra che questo sia un modo diverso per dire che nessun argomento generale (overall argument) o per lo meno nessuno che sia valido strutturi il libro: (in esso) implicata una pluralit di teorie tale da venir offerta una molteplicit di modi in cui i contenuti del libro possono essere selezionati e strutturati [...] la connessione tra le sue parti non teoretica, ma contingente [...] la molteplicit di punti di vista non implica incoerenza [...] e, nonostante la minaccia di frammentazione sollevata dallautore stesso, [i diversi capitoli del libro] formano un intero coerente [...] in relazione alla riflessione teoretica relativa alla pratica storiografica5.



pure che vi una precisa unit di prospettiva? Proprio lanalisi della struttura del testo mostra di no, perch lunit di prospettiva qui, emerge da una strategia argomentativa che non ha nulla a che vedere con lo sviluppo sistematico di una teoria e che piuttosto potrebbe essere resa con limmagine di una costellazione. Intendo dire che, seppure una teoria univoca della scrittura storica e dellepistemologia manca, il lettore attento e attivo si trova di fronte a una costellazione di tesi coerenti e interconnesse, che si sviluppano attorno ad alcuni punti di addensamento. I punti di addensamento sono quelli (li diamo nellordine in cui li tratteremo noi) della narrazione, dellobiettivit, della coerenza e della memoria. La costellazione tenuta insieme dalla contiguit dei problemi e dalla connessione delle tesi che tentano di venirne a capo, come se ciascun centro problematico con le sue soluzioni esercitasse sullaltro una forza gravitazionale. Il problema della narrazione affrontato nella II parte del libro e nellIntroduzione. In proposito, lautore afferma che la narrazione ha valore cognitivo suo proprio e autonomo come mostrato a partire allinizio degli anni Settanta da Mink, Barthes, Ricoeur, Gallie e Hayden White, ma il compito dellattuale riflessione filosofica sulla storia far emergere i limiti epistemologici (p. 65) di tale valore, secondo criteri esterni al contesto della narrazione stessa (p. 73). Gi qui troviamo il movimento caratteristico che si diceva. Lautore mostra la vitalit della narrazione nonostante gli annunci apocalittici della sua crisi e del suo tramonto (pp. 66-71). Prende quindi posizione contro il depotenziamento (view from nowhere) della descrizione (p. 86), contro la riduzione del recounting a mera spiegazione cronologica, o secondo laccusa di Furet, a logica del post hoc, ergo propter hoc (p. 91). Al contrario, alla narrazione riconosce una logica autonoma irriducibile a quella della spiegazione fondata sulle interconnessioni tra il piano dellazione, degli eventi, dei caratteri e degli scenari (p. 95). Giunge a concludere che al livello delle totalit, s, i corpi narrativi traggono con s un punto di vista sul mondo, che non esiste prima e viene in essere con la narrazione stessa (p. 72). Un punto di vista in cui si addensano le immagini irriflesse del passato, gli aspetti inconsci soggettivi e comunitari, i desideri del presente e le forme della memoria (p. 73), tutti elementi che svolgono una loro funzione positiva e un ruolo legittimo nella costruzione della storia. Da questo lato, quindi, lautore accoglie la portata della svolta linguistica, del narrativismo degli anni Settanta e Ottanta. Dallaltro, per, e questo un movimento tipico nel suo ragionamento, Megill dice no, la narrazione, quando si discenda a livello empirico, non ha valore cognitivo. Essa, per essere accettata, ha bisogno di una giustificazione che faccia ricorso allevidenza, alla verit di fatto. Non si pu, dunque, rinunciare al valore positivo della narrazione, ma questo non sufficiente e va giustificato con criteri epistemologici esterni alla narrazione stessa: argomentazione e giustificazione, e non solo narrazione, fanno della ricerca e della scrittura storica ci che sono (p. 76). Il richiamo allepistemologia e alle procedure elaborate dagli specialisti pongono, quindi, un argine alla trasformazione della scrittura storica e del narrativismo in soggettivismo e relativismo assoluti. Un esempio di questo virtuoso equilibrio Megill lo scorge in The Reurn of Mar138


tin Guerre (pp. 1-5)6. Natalie Z. Davis pur proiettando nella ricerca sulla condizione di Bertrande, al ritorno del falso Martin Guerre, il suo interesse per la questione femminile, si attiene sempre allevidenza e alla giustificazione del racconto. Il punto di vista prospettico, che emerge nella narrazione, ha dunque una funzione euristica positiva, giacch, senza questinteresse e questimpegno non avremmo avuto una trattazione storica tanto originale sulla condizione delle donne nella societ rurale francese del Cinquecento, ma esso altres accettabile solo per il ricorso allevidenza storica. I due aspetti sono entrambi necessari. Certo, la Davis non potr affermare un diritto allesclusivit per la sua narrazione, ma qualsiasi altra recounting della storia sociale dei contadini della provincia francese del sedicesimo secolo, per poter essere assunto legittimamente accanto al suo, dovr rispettare gli stessi criteri procedurali. La storia un rcit vridique, scrive lautore citando Paul Veyne (p. 11), e grazie a questa dialettica irrisolta tra il sostantivo e laggettivo, possibile mantenere le ragioni del soggettivismo senza abdicare al relativismo. Laltro punto daddensamento della costellazione di tesi tracciata da Megill sviluppato nella terza parte del libro e ruota attorno alla questione dellobiettivit e della spiegazione storica. Anzitutto lautore offre una rassegna di quattro tipi di obiettivit, propendendo per lobiettivit disciplinare, procedurale e dialettica ed escludendo la possibilit di continuare a concepire lobiettivit come Gods eye view o neutralit olimpica (pp. 115-117). Va segnalato che pi volte nel corso del testo lautore procede secondo distinzioni tipologiche analoghe. Il problema dellutilizzazione della tipologia, in questo caso, sta nellastrattezza: Megill costretto spesso a forzare e semplificare le sue analisi storiche per mantenere le sue distinzioni tipologiche. Le categorie dellobiettivit assoluta e di quella dialettica, per esempio, non sono utilizzabili nel caso di Hegel, che non pu certo essere sussunto nelluno o nellaltro tipo, dal momento che propose la costituzione di unobiettivit assoluta proprio a partire dal processo dialettico. Un altro luogo in cui le distinzioni concettuali di Megill paiono troppo rigide offerto nella sezione sul narrativismo che abbiamo gi preso in considerazione. Qui lautore mette a fuoco quattro compiti della produzione storica: la descrizione o recounting, la spiegazione, la giustificazione e linterpretazione (p. 97). La distinzione tra i primi tre argomentata molto accuratamente, ma la differenza tra interpretazione e descrizione sembra conseguita solo al prezzo di una delimitazione arbitraria tra le due. Se, infatti, recounting ed explanation rispondono a due logiche differenti, narrativa una e inferenziale-controfattuale laltra, non pare che per la distinzione tra descrizione e interpretazione lautore offra una ragione altrettanto salda e convincente. Cosa distingue, infatti, cos nettamente la domanda What was the case da What was the case for me o for us? Non il ricorso allevidenza! Dal momento che, secondo lautore stesso, il ricorso allevidenza la logica della spiegazione e della giustificazione storiche, non quella della descrizione o recounting.

N. Z. Davis, The Return of Martin Guerre (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983; trad. it. Il ritorno di Martin Guerre. Un caso di doppia identit nella Francia del Cinquecento, Torino: Einaudi, 1984).



Il problema della spiegazione e della giustificazione, si diceva, affrontato da Megill nella terza parte in rapporto a quello dellobiettivit. Il punto di partenza lanalisi epistemologica, condotta assieme a Steven Shepard e Phillip Honenberger, del saggio storico di Joshua D. Rothman sulla relazione amorosa tra Thomas Jefferson e la sua schiava Sally Hemings7. I tre studiosi mostrano come dispiegando criteri epistemologici associati alla inference to the best explanation (p. 127) lo storico non possa che rimanere agnostico rispetto alla questione della risonanza della relazione amorosa tra Hemings e Jefferson nel vicinato, ovvero rispetto alla tesi difesa da Rothman. Linference to the best explanation, teoria fatta oggetto di una trattazione filosofica molto accurata anche da Avizier Tucker nel 20048, pertanto il cuore dellargomentazione di Megill e dei suoi colleghi:

Il racconto nel suo complesso per essere giustificato deve funzionare come uninferenza o unabduzione in senso peirceiano. Labduzione lelaborazione di una spiegazione a partire dalleffetto. Quando lo storico giustifica il suo racconto o spiega un fatto non deduce n induce in senso proprio, ma dalleffetto inferisce la causa. La regola generale a cui deve attenersi in questa inferenza quella per cui la sua spiegazione (individuazione della causa) deve render conto nel modo pi ampio delle evidenze disponibili (effetti da cui ha avvio il ragionamento). Quando ci non avviene e la spiegazione e la giustificazione non sono in grado di render conto efficacemente di un raggio ampio di evidenze, lo storico deve dichiarare esplicitamente che la sua spiegazione non al di l di ogni sospetto. Che Cesare pass il Rubicone non una verit logica n un evento percepito direttamente, ma una spiegazione dei dati di gran lunga migliore del suo contrario che dunque pu semplicemente esser detta vera (p. 128). La nota essenziale che distingue linferenza dalla descrizione storica, cos come dalla spiegazione scientifica (p. 155), secondo Megill, il suo carattere controfattuale: tale per cui ferme restando tutte le altre condizioni, se la causa individuata come esplicativa della situazione storica venisse a mancare (condizione contro-fattuale), agli occhi dello storico verrebbe a mancare anche leffetto. Con questa interpretazione ristretta della controfattualit, lautore si oppone alla decostruzione relativistica e ai rischi revisionistici insiti nella Virtual History di Ferguson e colleghi9 (p. 152), eppure non scivola nellepistemologia du7

Il grado di certezza attribuibile a un insieme di credenze sul passato dipende dal grado in cui ladozione di queste credenze serve a dar senso alla totalit dei documenti storici [...] ovvero alla totalit dellevidenza storica, rintracciata o rintracciabile, relativa al problema in questione (p. 128).

J. D. Rothman, James Callender and Social Knowledge of Interracial Sex in Antebellum Virginia, Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson: History, Memory, and Civic Culture, eds. J. E. Lewis and P. S. Onuf (Charlottesville, VA; London: University Press of Virgina, 1999). 8 A. Tucker, Our Knowledge of the Past: A Philosophy of Historiography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). Megill cita Tucker in nota, registrando laffinit e dichiarendo che il capitolo di cui si discute era gi pronto nelle sue linee essenziali prima che il testo di Tucker fosse pubblicato. 9 Virtual History: Alternatives and Conterfactuals, ed. N. Ferguson (New York: Basic Books, 1999). La storia virtuale, secondo Megill, non ha nulla a che spartire con la spiegazione controfattuale. La Virtual History, infatti, avvia il suo ragionamento da unasserzione che esprime un fatto non accaduto, ispi-



ra di Hempel. La pi alta obiettivit possibile il frutto dellapplicazione di criteri epistemologici, che non eliminano la speculazione a nessun livello dellimpresa storica, ma la sottopongono a procedure di controllo e regolamentazione: lo storico deve speculare, ma la nostra opinione, dice lautore, che egli debba speculare onestamente e intelligentemente (p. 125). Prima di procedere, bisogner per soffermarsi su una questione, a nostro parere, non sufficientemente approfondita da Megill. Come si visto uno dei cardini su cui lautore costruisce le sue distinzioni concettuali e riconosce valore alle procedure epistemologiche, il ricorso allevidenza. Contro la tradizione realistica sembra che egli intenda indebolire questo concetto. NellIntroduzione, per esempio, scrive che levidenza sempre evidenza a favore o contro una particolare asserzione [...] in virt di un argomento che lo storico costruisce (pp. 6-7). Nel tratteggiare la nozione peirceiana dellinferenza abduttiva, per, levidenza torna come linsieme dei dati di partenza da spiegare. Da queste due differenti formulazioni, in effetti, non risulta del tutto chiaro se levidenza debba esser concepita in funzione di unasserzione o come linsieme dei dati che lo storico trova di fronte a s. Questi dati da spiegare sono stati costruiti o sono delle oggettivit? E se sono costruiti, come sembrerebbe, a che livello o in che modo, secondo quale logica e che processo, emergono? A nostro parere lautore elude queste domande spostando il problema della speculazione al livello della narrazione e del grado di certezza della spiegazione, ma lasciando inevaso il terreno altrettanto insidioso dellevidenza. Unasserzione come Cesare pass il Rubicone, scrive lautore, pu esser ritenuta vera se rende conto delle evidenze di cui disponiamo (quindi mai in senso assoluto): ma le evidenze stesse di cui disponiamo quando possono esser ritenute vere? Anche il problema dellobiettivit possibile dellevidenza, crediamo, debba entrare a far parte di una trattazione epistemologica della storiografia. La quarta sezione del libro dedicata alla frammentazione della storia e alla ricerca della coerenza. In verit tra i primi due e lultimo saggio che la compongono si registra un leggero spostamento daccento. Nel primo (pp. 159-164) lautore conclude che di fronte alla frammentazione delle narrazioni e del metodo della storiografia, lavori che cadono [...] nellambito della storiologia [historiology], come quelli di Novick, Mink, de Certeau, Veyne e Ankersmit, potrebbero assumere un ruolo integrativo importante (p. 164). Anche nel secondo saggio (pp. 165-187) Megill ribadisce che allet della frammentazione metodologica, in cui ogni speranza di giungere a un racconto unitario e totale venuta meno, si pu far fronte con un punto di vista riflessivo, orientato al compito filosofico di riflettere sul significato di fatti in un certo senso gi conosciuti (p. 187). Nellultimo,
randosi al principio della contingenza storica (se la Germania nel 1940 fosse riuscita a invadere lInghilterra...) e poi nega lo stesso principio di contingenza derivando con necessit da quella asserzione (causa) gli effetti. Al contrario, la spiegazione controfattuale parte dagli eventi reali (effetto) e inferisce la causa che rende meglio conto dellinsieme delle evidenze, senza dover ricorrrere ai principi filosofici della contingenza o della necessit del corso storico.



invece, dopo una perlustrazione del problema della coerenza storica, condotta dalle straordinarie esperienze delle diverse generazioni delle Annales (Febvre, Braudel e Furet, soprattutto) fino ai progetti della New Cultural History di Bonnell e Hunt10, Megill conclude che il compito dello storico non cercare coerenza e unit, bens mischiare le carte, mostrando le vie molteplici in cui il passato davvero incoerente con s stesso (p. 207). Questo richiamo al compito critico dello storico ci conduce, infine, alla questione della memoria e dellesperienza storica, sviluppate dallautore rispettivamente nella prima parte del libro e nella Conclusione. Il punto di avvio della riflessione la teoria della discontinuit e dellinvalicabile frattura tra passato e presente di Michel de Certeau (p. 38). Proprio questo dovrebbe armarci, secondo lautore, contro la seduzione di ridurre lattivit storiografica alla memoria. La memoria individuale e collettiva, in tutte le sue manifestazioni, dalla testimonianza alle occasioni pubbliche delle commemorazioni, una dimensione legata al presente, allesperienza, allora. Essa sempre una funzione immediata della soggettivit e, di frequente, si configura come risposta allidentit minacciata (pp. 42-46). Ma proprio questa sua aderenza al presente e allesperienza devono indurre lo storico a diffidare di essa. Lobiettivit, come si visto, il frutto di una complicata e fragile costruzione, in cui devono essere dispiegate procedure epistemologiche e di controllo del ragionamento, che non hanno nulla a che fare con la funzione affermativa della memoria. Megill discute la questione con ampiezza dangolazione, prendendo in esame le tesi di Ricoeur (p. 24), di Pierre Nora, di Nietzsche (p. 52), ma giunge ad affermare la memoria unimmagine del passato costruita da una soggettivit nel presente [...] Daltro canto la storia, in quanto disciplina, ha lobbligo di essere oggettiva, unificata, ordinata, giustificata (p. 57), pertanto, la memoria lAltro della storia, come la storia lAltro della memoria (p. 58). Si sa gi che queste asserzioni vanno prese con beneficio dinventario e che Megill non allestisce la glorificazione di unobiettivit impossibile. Anche in questo caso, piuttosto, si tratta di una dialettica irrisolta: la memoria un polo, una conditio sine qua non (p. 25) della storiografia. Non possibile fare a meno della dimensione speculativa che nel discorso storico saddensa anche attraverso la memoria; e tuttavia la storia non pu coincidere con essa. La storiografia come disciplina deve far emergere un altro passato, un passato che sia in una relazione di tensione col presente e non in una disposizione affermativa rispetto a esso. Il che significa che la critica dello storico al presente non deve essere politica, perch la sfera della politica pertiene alla stessa dimensione della memoria e dellesperienza, bens epistemologica. Solo attraverso la ricognizione della distanza e della frattura che separa il passato e i passati dal presente dato aspirare al migliore dei mondi storici possibili. Allora s, questo esercizio complesso e difficile di conquista di unoggettivit sempre parziale e precaria, questi passati distanti, umanamente immaginati e immaginativamente ricostruiti, scrive lautore riportando le parole del10

Beyond the Cultural Turn: New Directions in the Study of Society and Culture, eds. V. E. Bonnell and L. Hunt (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999).



difficile, al riguardo, dissentire. Rimane solo da osservare che dopo aver configurato lanalisi della storiografia come disciplina, non viene meno lesigenza di unanalisi filosofica dellesperienza storica, per dir cos, extra-disciplinare. In questa direzione, credo, e non in quella di una sostituzione dellesperienza storica alla conoscenza storica, possono essere proficuamente utilizzate le riflessioni recenti di Gumbrecht, Ankersmit, Jay e Runia sulle nozioni di esperienza sublime e di presenza11. Ci sembra, per concludere, che lo scopo del libro sia stato raggiunto. Nonostante lassenza di una teoria sistematica, infatti, esso come abbiamo visto offre una prospettiva unitaria che gli conferisce un posto e un compito precisi nel dibattito contemporaneo. Cos, attrezza la generazione pi giovane (p. 13), se non di una guida pratica, certo di un esempio concreto di come sia possibile impostare i problemi teorici al di l delle soluzioni o dissoluzioni, ormai stanche, del postmodernismo. Che esso, infine, possa fungere, per la generazione dei giovani storici che vorranno accoglierlo, anche da guida pratica possibile, ma la focalizzazione di questo libro rimane prevalentemente teorica e non prescrittiva. Davide Bond Universit di Firenze

Nel 2003 scrive Megill gli Stati Uniti andarono in guerra contro lIraq, unavventura giustificata dal fatto che lIraq possedesse armi di distruzione di massa, immediatamente disponibili, che potevano essere usate contro gli Stati Uniti e i suoi interessi. Di fatto, la ricerca che avrebbe dovuto giustificare questa conclusione fu lacunosa, corrotta dal desiderio di qualcuno di trovare un casus belli persuasivo [...] una disciplina storica focalizzata sulla memoria e affermativa rispetto al presente non nella posizione di contrastare un tale errore. Una disciplina storica attenta allepistemologia storica in senso proprio, daltro canto, pu servire da modello di onest e di intelligenza per lindagine del mondo umano (p. 215).

lo storico del Medioevo Thomas Bisson, possono porre in prospettiva il nostro fragile presente (p. 214). Una volta che la storia s affrancata dal presente, come pu, il ragionamento storico pu fungere anche da modello per uninterpretazione intelligente e onesta del mondo in cui viviamo:

H. U. Gumbrecht, Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004); F. R. Ankersmit, Sublime Historical Experience (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005); M. Jay, Songs of Experience: modern American and European Variations on a universal Theme (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005); E. Runia, Presence, History & Theory, 45, (2006): 1-29, e E. Runia, H. U. Gumbrecht, F. R. Ankersmit, E. Domanska, M. Bentley, R. Peters, Forum on Presence, History & Theory, 45, (2006): 305-374. Lautore cita e discute, di sfuggita, il solo libro di Ankersmit.


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 145-147

ABSTRACTS Rolf Torstendahl, Historical professionalism. A changing product of communities within the discipline

Historical professionalism has been mainly treated as a unified process of professionalisation that has taken place some time in the past. This article takes another view. Professionalism is conceived here as closely related to communities that have basic values in common. The article discerns several phases of professionalism based on different communities. After a proto-professionalism in Germany (only) in the eighteenth century, Rankeanism represents the first international phase of professionalism from the 1830s. It was followed by a professionalism concentrated on methods and methodology from the 1880s, which became very international. Social and, above all, economic historians formed competing and parallel communities from the 1920s and, after WW2, social science history in several forms (Braudel, the Bielefeld school, the new Marxist wave, dependence theory) challenged traditional professionalism. After 1980 postmodernism made the communities even more disparate and the common professionalism among historians has tended to disappear. *

This article tries to make clear that Bernardino Corios Storia di Milano, though written in Italian vulgar, is, in some way, dependent, with regard to sources and documents employed, on Ludovico il Moro and ducal chancellerys endeavours to promote the visconteo-sforzesca dynastys exaltation. Many sources handled by Corio, among which we number the most important Middle Agess Northern Italian chronicles (such as Paolo Diacono, Galvano Fiamma, Jacopo dAcqui, Sagacino Levalossi) are the same ones in those years used by the rgimes two aulic historians, that is to say Giorgio Merula and Tristano Calco: in fact we often can recognize in these three authors some coincidences in the documents and in the sources we cannot deem fortuitous. *

Stefano Meschini, Bernardino Corio e le fonti della Storia di Milano (1503)

This article explores the ways in which Scottish Enlightenment writers such as

Neil Hargraves, Resentment and history in the Scottish Enlightenment


Lord Kames, Adam Smith, David Hume and William Robertson used the concept of resentment as a means of understanding and, hopefully, taming the Scottish past. It argues that historical narrative was crucial to the process of analyzing the role of the passions in human relations, and that while it drew on the developing social theory of the Scottish Enlightenment, it also provided a distinctive and nuanced account of the various operations of resentment that more theoretical formulations could not adequately represent *

This article examines the historical conditions of archival research faced by the historian Leopold Ranke whilst on research mission in Central Europe in the early nineteenth century. In 1827, the historian was granted a study leave and was to search for original manuscripts. However, access to both libraries and archives was restricted. Particularly access to the archive, integral part of the arcane sphere of the state, was closely monitored by the state administration. Moreover, after Napoleons imperialism in Europe state governments were rather sensitive due to the disorder and recent recasting of the political map. But in this period of enhanced nation building process leading statesmen were also keen on to put history based on archival research into service. I contend that the historians research unfolded at a very early stage of his research process in a field of forces in which Ranke, although he benefited from his recently established scholarly reputation, took the position of a (foreign) subject. Ranke was to ask for permission to use archive material. To achieve his goal, the historian deployed various means and strategies in the anteroom of the archive. Moreover, the administrative examination of the historians request impacted on Rankes relationship to members of state governments, his agenda of research, the historical notion of knowledge and truth, his reputation as a historical scholar and, finally, on the choice of his favoured materials, the relazioni. * David M. Leeson, Barthes and the act of uttering in historical discourse

Philipp Mller, Doing historical research in the early nineteenth century. Leopold Ranke, the archive policy, and the relazioni of the Venetian Republic

Roland Barthes 1967 essay Le discours de lhistoire begins with two questions: does the narration of past events really differ, in some specific trait, in some indubitably distinctive feature, from imaginary narration, as we find it in the epic, the novel, and the drama?; and, if this trait or feature exists, then in what level of the historical statement must it be placed? By the end of Section I the section on nonciation or, as translator Stephen Bann renders it, the act of


uttering Barthes has concluded that the answer to his first question is no: that the discourse of history has no such trait or feature. In its references to itself, historical discourse does not really differ from the discourse of ancient creation myths (which resemble both poetry and prophecy); while in its lack of references to both writer and reader, the discourse of history does not really differ from the discourse of the novel. On the one hand, the presence in historical narration of explicit signs of uttering would represent an attempt to dechronologize the thread of history and to restore, even though it may merely be a matter of reminiscence or nostalgia, a form of time that is complex, parametric and not in the least linear: a form of time whose spatial depths recall the mythic time of the ancient cosmogonies, which was also linked in its essence to the words of the poet and the soothsayer. On the other hand, the absence from historical narration of specific signs of the utterer seems like a particular form of imaginary projection, the product of what might be called the referential illusion, since in this case the historian is claiming to allow the referent to speak all on its own an illusion which realistic novelists have created as well. Using evidence from a selection of classic histories (and one classic historical novel), my paper will show that what Barthes says about the act of uttering in historical discourse is mostly wrong. In his discussion of historical discourse deixis, Barthes omits any discussion of the most obvious and important shifters in historical discourse, and wrongly credits anthropologists with practices that originated with historians. He takes a necessary condition of human existence the asynchronous nature of experience and tries to make it seem like a peculiar weakness of historical discourse. He stresses one type of inauguration that scarcely exists in actual history-writing (the performative opening), and makes plainly false claims about another (the preface). His claims about references to the reader in both literary and historical discourse are equally false. Worst of all, he blames historians for absenting themselves from their discourse, like the narrator of a realistic novel, when in fact historical discourse is distinguished from (realistic) literature chiefly by the historians clear and continuous presence. Even if we could look past these problems, and somehow make what Barthes says come true, what he says would be trivial: his arguments prove too much.


Storia della Storiografia, 56 (2009): 148-149


Neil Hargraves ( is Lecturer in History and Philosophy at Newbattle Abbey College, Midlothian, Scotland. His principal research interests lie in the historiography of the Scottish Enlightenment, principally the works of William Robertson, and the history of popular enlightenment and adult education in Scotland. He has published articles in Journal of the History of Ideas, Eighteenth-Century Life, History of European Ideas, Anthropology of the Enlightenment, the Adam Smith Review and History of Education. Philipp Mller ( is Lecturer in Modern German History at University College London. Prior to his current position he obtained his Ph.D. at the Istituto Universitario Europeo in Florence in 2004 and was PostDoctoral Fellow at the Research Centre Media of History History of Media at the Universitt Erfurt. Selected Publications: Auf der Suche nach dem Tter. Dramatisierung von Verbrechen im Berlin des Kaiserreichs (Campus: Frankfurt a.M., 2005); Geschichte machen. berlegungen zu lokal-spezifischen Praktiken in der Geschichtswissenschaft und ihrer epistemischen Bedeutung im 19. Jahrhundert, Historische Anthropologie, 12, (2004); ed., Vom Archiv. Erfassen, Ordnen, Zeigen. sterreichische Zeitschrift fr Geschichtswissenschaften, 18, (2007).

Stefano Meschini ( is Ph. D. and he cooperates with the department of Scienze Storiche at Catholic University of Milan. He works as school teacher in Milan. He is the author of Uno storico umanista alla corte sforzesca. Biografia di Bernardino Corio and more recently of Luigi XII duca di Milano, Gli uomini e le istituzioni della prima dominazione francese (14991512),Milano, F. Angeli, 2004 and of La Francia nel ducato di Milano. La Politica di Luigi XII (1499-1512), Milano, F. Angeli, 2006, 2 voll.. His research interests include Milans political history in earlier sixteenth century and Milans Renaissance historiography.

Rolf Torstendahl ( is Professor Emeritus of History at the Department of History of Uppsala University (P.B. 628, SE-751 26 Uppsala, Sweden). His main research is concentrated on the history and theory of history, and social processes in nineteenth and twentieth century European society, such as the development of professional groups and bureaucratisation. He is the author and editor of several books and many articles in these fields. For several years he was a member of the International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography


Davide Bond ( is a PhD student in Philosophy of History and Historiography at the University of Florence (Department of Philosophy). He deals with Italian and German intellectual history in the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Alongside his studies, he is developing a research project on the contemporary discourse about the Philosophy of History after the Linguistic and Narrative Turn, focusing in particular on H. White, L. Mink, A. Danto, R. Barthes, M. de Certeau, P. Veyne and F. Ankersmit. He collaborates with the Rivista di storia della filosofia and Magazzino di filosofia, for which he has written Il giovane Croce e Labriola. Ricezione e circolazione della Vlkerpsychologie in Italia alle soglie del Novecento (Rivista di storia della filosofia, 4, 2004, 895-920) and Filologia e psicologia. Considerazioni intorno ai primi scritti di Benedetto Croce (Il Magazzino di filosofia, 14, 2004, 213-224).

Paul J. Kosmin ( is a PhD candidate in Ancient History at Harvard University. His dissertation investigates the spatial ideology of the Seleucid Kingdom.

David M. Leeson ( is an assistant professor of history at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He received his PhD from McMaster University in 2003, and has held his current position since 2005. He has published articles in the fields of British and Irish history; historiography and the philosophy of history; and video-game studies. He has recently completed a book on the Black and Tans British Police and Auxiliaries in the Irish War of Independence (1920-21) and is presently writing a second book on the British Armys first major offensive on the Western Front in World War I.


Stampato e confezionato da New Press, Como ottobre 2009

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