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Samuel Rawson Gardiner and the Idea of History

Samuel Rawson Gardiner and the Idea of History

Mark Nixon
Volume: 76
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Samuel Rawson Gardiner and the Idea of History
    Book Description:

    Samuel Rawson Gardiner [1829-1902] is the colossus of seventeenth-century historiography. His twenty-volume history of Britain from 1603 to 1656 and his many editions of key texts still serve to underpin almost all study of the Civil Wars and of the Commo

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-838-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xi)
  5. Editorial Note
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    During 2002 a major television series entitled ‘The Civil War’ was broadcast by the BBC. In the opening episode the presenter, Tristram Hunt, introduced the topic while sitting on a beach. Apparently playing with a couple of pieces of driftwood and a piece of string that he had found on his stage, Hunt began his narrative with the assertion that what has traditionally been called ‘the English Civil War’ was neither a single event nor a specifically English event, and should be thought of, rather, as ‘the British Civil Wars’. Moreover, he opined, they should be recognised as a part...

  7. 1 Theory
    (pp. 23-46)

    If Gardiner’s historical practice is to be understood, an attempt to divine his historical theory is essential. However, Gardiner’s ideas about history have rarely been mentioned as historians and students of historiography have chosen rather to focus on his political and religious life. In part, this neglect has been occasioned by — or, perhaps, has caused — the concentration on Gardiner’s magnum opus, the eighteen–volume History.¹ In this work, the historian did not explicitly discuss any grand theory of history or, indeed, any other writer’s theories regarding the study of the past. However, in his private correspondence, and his...

  8. 2 Practice
    (pp. 47-70)

    German theories of history clearly played a significant role in the work of Gardiner. However Gardiner was interested not just in German theories of history, but also in German history, both as a part of the story that he told of seventeenth-century England, and in its own right. In the 1870s, perhaps as a result of the Franco-Prussian War, the subject of the internecine European struggles of the seventeenth century loomed large for Gardiner’s conception of the political and religious crises in England in that century. As a result, the Thirty Years War plays an important part in the History...

  9. 3 Religion
    (pp. 71-96)

    With the stately periods of Hooker English prose entered on a new stage. For the first time it sought to charm and to invigorate, as well as to inform the world. In Spenser and Shakspere are to be discerned the same influences as those which made Hooker great. They, too, are filled with reverence for the reign of law. Spenser, in his Faerie Queen, set forth the greatness of man in following the laws which rule the moral world — the laws of purity and temperance and justice; whilst Shakspere, in the plays which he now began to pour forth,...

  10. 4 Politics
    (pp. 97-120)

    Richard Hooker and Francis Bacon were crucial elements in Gardiner’s understanding of the early seventeenth century. Bacon was a very different kind of public figure from Hooker, a politician and lawyer whose slow rise through the ranks of the servants of the state led him, eventually, to the post of lord chancellor to James I in 1618. In 1621, however, he was accused and convicted of bribery and thus fell from his lofty position. He died five years later having spent the intervening time continuing the literary and philosophical studies that he had begun in the 1580s. These works —...

  11. 5 Writing
    (pp. 121-160)

    Gardiner produced a number of different kinds of historiographical discourse. He wrote school textbooks, he was a popular lecturer to university and wider audiences, he was a reviewer of some industry in a number of journals and newspapers, he wrote the histories for which he is famous, and he produced short biographical articles for reference works and, indeed, a full–length biography of Cromwell. If Gardiner as a writer is to be understood, it is necessary to consider the different forms of writing that he practised. Furthermore, Gardiner was always ready to use forms of writing not usually considered historiographical,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 161-164)

    Indeed, it may also be said to exist only in the imaginations of those detractors too disrespectful of his work to read it. And, of course, both admirers and detractors, fuelled by their failure to read Gardiner, imagine that his work can be characterised in simple terms — that is, according to the life of the writer.

    This book has sought to provide a new way to understand the work of Samuel Rawson Gardiner. Traditional (‘contextualist’) approaches to historiography have sought to ‘discover’ in a historian’s writings the ideological preoccupations of his or her political, religious or institutional lives. The...

  13. APPENDIX The Published Writings of Samuel Rawson Gardiner
    (pp. 165-192)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 193-202)
  15. Index
    (pp. 203-206)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-207)