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  • What is History?

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, and to mature is to make progress. History is the barometer of this progress of mankind. The very term 'History' stands for sharply different concepts, although they are related. These could be past human events, past actuality, and the record of these past events. The process or technique of making these records or the process by which these records are made could be said to be history.

Actually the word 'History' is taken from German word 'Geschichte' which means an intelligible and significant narrative of the past events.

  • Relativity in History

Ranke (an eminent historian) has said, "All history is a political history." It is a totality of the experiences of man. History has many dimensions. It is passionate, intimate. Day-to-day occurrences, all infinite happenings are deeply related in some or the other manner to history.

  • The Meaning

It was believed for a long time that history was a record of facts, and these facts served as the raw material for historians or writers of history. The historians pick up the true events and facts; then they arrange them in a proper manner, in the proper context.

In the 19th century, some historians challenged the primacy of facts and in its place ’The Philosophy of History’ was advocated. The great historian and philosopher of history Croce (an Italian) in his thesis expressed that ’History consists essentially in seeing the past through the eyes of the present and in the light of the problems. The main job of an historian is not to record but to evaluate.’

  • Defining History

History is a very rich subject not very easy to define and evaluate. Moreover it is an analysis of facts. As these facts involve a lot of subjective matter, history written in a particular period bears an imprint of that time. According to E. H. Carr, "History consists of the corpus of ascertainable facts. The facts are available to the historian in documents, inscriptions and so on, like fish on the monger’s slab. The historian collects them, takes them home, and cooks and serves them in whatever style appeals to him."

He defines History as "an unending dialogue between the past and the present, the chief function of the historian is to master and understand the past as a key to understand the present."

Prof. A. J. Rouse, while giving a definition of history has said that history is essentially a record of the life of men in societies in their geographical and their physical environment. Their social and cultural environments arise from the interaction of the one with the other, the society, and its geographical conditions.

  • Selective Study of the Past

An historian has to resort to picking and choosing historical facts. It is difficult to recollect the entire past because of human limitations. Besides this, there are less relevant records. The historians select the material on the basis of certain concepts, regulations, formulae and generalizations. However, some historians hold the opinion that the major part of human actions, thoughts and words go unobserved. Due to this the records that come down to a historian are insufficient for the writing of history. According to Prof. Goths Chalk "most of the history as recorded is only the surviving part of the recorded part of the remembered part of the observed part of that whole."


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Introduction to History
General Introduction to the History of Europe

Chapter 1

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