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Leopold von Ranke (; 21 December 1795 – 23 May 1886) was a German
historian A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the stu ...
and a founder of modern
source Source or subsource or ''variation'', may refer to: Research * Historical document * Historical source * Source (intelligence) or subsource, typically a confidential provider of non open-source intelligence * Source (journalism), a person, public ...
-based
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
. According to Caroline Hoefferle, "Ranke was probably the most important historian to shape
he
he
historical profession as it emerged in Europe and the United States in the late 19th century". He was able to implement the
seminar teaching
seminar teaching
method in his classroom and focused on archival research and the analysis of historical documents. Building on the methods of the
Göttingen School of History Göttingen (, , ; nds, Chöttingen) is a college town, university city in Lower Saxony, central Germany, the Capital (political), capital of Göttingen (district), the eponymous district. The River Leine runs through it. At the end of 2019, th ...
, he was the first to establish a historical seminar. Ranke set the standards for much of later historical writing, introducing such ideas as reliance on
primary source In the study of history History (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its populatio ...

primary source
s (
empiricism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...
), an emphasis on
narrative history Narrative history is the practice of writing history in a story-based form. It tends to entail history-writing based on reconstructing series of short-term events, and ever since the influential work of Leopold von Ranke on professionalising histor ...
and especially international politics ('' Außenpolitik''). Ranke also had a great influence on Western historiography. He was ennobled in 1865, with the addition of a "von" to his name.


Early life

Ranke was born in
Wiehe Wiehe is a town and a former municipality in the Kyffhäuserkreis district, in Thuringia, Germany. Since 1 January 2019, it is part of the town Roßleben-Wiehe. It is situated south of Sangerhausen, and north of Weimar. Location Wiehe is located ...

Wiehe
,
Thuringia Thuringia (; german: Thüringen ), officially the Free State of Thuringia ( ), is a states of Germany, state of Germany. Located in central Germany, it covers , being the sixth smallest of the sixteen German States (including City States). It ...
,
Saxony Saxony (german: Sachsen ; Upper Saxon Upper Saxon (german: Obersächsisch, ; ) is an East Central German East Central German (german: Ostmitteldeutsch) is the eastern, non-Franconian languages, Franconian Central German language, part o ...

Saxony
. Wiehe was then a part of the
Electorate of Saxony The Electorate of Saxony (german: Kurfürstentum Sachsen, also ') was a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (news ...
. He came from a family of Lutheran pastors and lawyers. He was educated partly at home and partly in the
high school A secondary school describes an institution that provides secondary education Secondary education covers two phases on the International Standard Classification of Education The International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) is a ...
at
Schulpforta Pforta, or Schulpforta, is a school located in Pforta monastery, a former Cistercians, Cistercian monastery (1137–1540), near Naumburg on the Saale River in the Germany, German state of Saxony-Anhalt. Since the 16th century the site has been a ...
. His early years engendered a lifelong love of
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
,
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
and
Lutheranism Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a major ...
. In 1814, Ranke entered the
University of Leipzig Leipzig University (german: Universität Leipzig), in Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 mill ...
, where his subjects were
Classics Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer ...

Classics
and Lutheran
theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
. At
Leipzig Leipzig (, ; Upper Saxon: ) is the most populous city in the Germany, German States of Germany, state of Saxony. With a population of 605,407 inhabitants as of 2021 (1.1 million residents in the larger urban zone), it surpasses the Saxon c ...

Leipzig
, Ranke became an expert in
philology Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languag ...
and translation of the ancient authors into
German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of Germany, see also German nationality law * German language The German la ...

German
. His teachers included
Johann Gottfried Jakob Hermann Johann Gottfried Jakob Hermann (28 November 1772 – 31 December 1848) was a German classical scholar and philologist. He published his works under the name Gottfried Hermann or its Latin equivalent . Biography He was born in Leipzig. Entering ...
. As a student, Ranke's favorite authors were
Thucydides Thucydides (; grc-gre, Θουκυδίδης ; BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the app ...
,
Livy Titus Livius (; 59 BC – AD 17), known in English as Livy ( ), was a Ancient Rome, Roman historian. He wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people, titled , covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome before the traditiona ...
,
Dionysius of Halicarnassus Dionysius of Halicarnassus ( grc, Διονύσιος Ἀλεξάνδρου Ἁλικαρνασσεύς, ; – after 7 BC) was a Greek historian Hellenic historiography (or Greek historiography) involves efforts made by Greeks to track and r ...
,
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 – 22 March 1832) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
,
Barthold Georg Niebuhr Barthold Georg Niebuhr (27 August 1776 – 2 January 1831) was a Danish–German statesman, banker, and historian who became Germany's leading historian of Ancient Rome and a founding father of modern scholarly historiography. By 1810 Niebuhr was ...

Barthold Georg Niebuhr
,
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Immanuel Kant
,
Johann Gottlieb Fichte Johann Gottlieb Fichte (; ; 19 May 1762 – 29 January 1814) was a German philosopher who became a founding figure of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, which developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kan ...

Johann Gottlieb Fichte
,
Friedrich Schelling Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (; 27 January 1775 – 20 August 1854), later (after 1812) von Schelling, was a German philosopher. Standard histories of philosophy make him the midpoint in the development of German idealism, situating him be ...
and
Friedrich Schlegel Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (after 1814: von) Schlegel (; ; 10 March 1772 – 12 January 1829) was a German poet A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a ...
. Ranke showed little interest in the work of modern history because of his dissatisfaction with what he regarded as history books that were merely a collection of facts lumped together by modern historians. Between 1817 and 1825, Ranke worked as a schoolmaster teaching classics at the Friedrichs Gymnasium in
Frankfurt an der Oder Frankfurt (Oder) (also known as Frankfurt an der Oder, ; abbreviated ', 'Frankfurt on the Oder') is a town in Brandenburg, Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest ...
. During this time, he became interested in
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...

history
in part because of his desire to be involved in the developing field of a more professionalized history and in part because of his desire to find the hand of
God In monotheistic Monotheism is the belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the ...

God
in the workings of history.


Career

In 1824, Ranke launched his career with the book ''Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514'' (''Histories of the Latin and Teutonic Peoples from 1494 to 1514'') in which he used an unusually wide variety of sources for a historian of the age, including "memoirs, diaries, personal and formal missives, government documents, diplomatic dispatches and first-hand accounts of eye-witnesses". In that sense, he leaned on the traditions of philology but emphasized mundane documents instead of old and exotic literature. After the minister of education was impressed with the work of a historian who did not have access to the nation's great public libraries, Ranke was given a position in the
University of Berlin Humboldt University of Berlin (german: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, abbreviated HU Berlin) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an ...
, where he was a professor for nearly fifty years, starting in 1825. At the university, he used the seminar system and taught how to check the value of sources. Ranke became deeply involved in the dispute between the followers of the legal professor
Friedrich Carl von Savigny Friedrich Carl von Savigny (21 February 1779 – 25 October 1861) was a German jurist A jurist is a person with expert knowledge of law; someone who analyses and comments on law. This person is usually a specialist legal scholarnot necessarily ...

Friedrich Carl von Savigny
, who emphasized the varieties of different periods of history, and the followers of the philosopher
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For cit ...
, who saw history as the unfolding of a universal story. Ranke supported Savigny and criticized the Hegelian view of history as being a one-size-fits-all approach. Also during his time in
Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as of 31 December 2019 makes it the List of cities in the European Union by ...

Berlin
, Ranke became the first historian to use the forty-seven volumes that comprised the diplomatic archives of
Venice Venice ( ; it, Venezia ; vec, Venesia or ) is a city in northeastern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of delimited by the and surrounding ...

Venice
from the 16th and 17th centuries. Since many archives opened up during this time, he sent out his students to these places to recruit information. In his classrooms, he would discuss the sources that his students would find and would emphasize that history should be told "the way it happened". Therefore, he is often seen as "the pioneer of a critical historical science". Meanwhile, Ranke came to prefer dealing with primary sources as opposed to secondary sources. It was in Vienna where the friendship of
Friedrich von Gentz Friedrich von Gentz (2 May 1764 – 9 June 1832) was a German diplomat A diplomat (from grc, δίπλωμα; romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encom ...
and the protection of
Klemens von Metternich Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar, Prince of Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein( ; german: Klemens Wenzel Nepomuk Lothar Fürst von Metternich-Winneburg zu Beilstein (15 May 1773 – 11 June 1859), was an Austrian diplomat who was at the center of ...
opened to him the Venetian Archives, a fresh source, the value of which he first discovered; it is still not exhausted. He found time to write a short book entitled ''Die Serbische Revolution'' (1829) from material supplied to him by Vuk Karadžić, a Serb who had himself been witness to the scenes he related during the
First Serbian Uprising The First Serbian Uprising ( sr, Prvi srpski ustanak, italics=yes, sr-Cyrl, Први српски устанак; tr, Birinci Sırp Ayaklanması) was an uprising of Serbs in the Sanjak of Smederevo against the Ottoman Empire from 14 February 18 ...
in 1804. This was afterwards expanded into ''Serbien und die Turkei im 19 Jahrhundert'' (1879). At the behest of the Prussian government, Ranke founded and edited the ''Historische-Politische Zeitschrift'' journal from 1832 to 1836. Ranke, who was a
conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and taste (sociology), taste, as well as the philosophy of art (its own area of philosophy that comes out of aest ...
, used the journal to attack the ideas of
liberalism Liberalism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), power relations between individuals ...

liberalism
. In his 1833 article "The Great Powers" and his 1836 article "Dialogue on Politics", Ranke claimed that every state is given a special moral character from God and individuals should strive to best fulfill the "idea" of their state. Thus, in this way, Ranke urged his readers to stay loyal to the Prussian state and to reject the ideas of the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, which Ranke claimed were meant for France only. From 1834 to 1836, Ranke published ''Die römischen Päpste, ihre Kirche und ihr Staat im sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhundert'' (''The Popes of Rome, Their Church and State in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries'') (3 vols.). As a Protestant, Ranke was barred from viewing the
Vatican Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Città del Vaticano; la, Status Civitatis Vaticanae),—' * german: Vatikanstadt, cf. '—' (in Austria: ') * pl, Miasto Watykańskie, cf. '—' * pt, Ci ...
archives in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
, but on the basis of private papers in Rome and Venice he was able to explain the history of the
papacy The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...
in the 16th century. In this book, Ranke coined the term the
Counter Reformation The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic resurgence that was initiated in response to the Protestant Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protes ...
and offered colorful portrayals of
Pope Paul IV Pope Paul IV, C.R. ( la, Paulus IV; 28 June 1476 – 18 August 1559), born Gian Pietro Carafa, was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominati ...

Pope Paul IV
,
Ignatius of Loyola Ignatius of Loyola, Society of Jesus, S.J. (born Iñigo López de Oñaz y Loyola; eu, Ignazio Loiolakoa; es, Ignacio de Loyola; la, Ignatius de Loyola; – 31 July 1556), venerated as Saint Ignatius of Loyola, was a Spanish Catholic priest ...

Ignatius of Loyola
and
Pope Pius V Pope Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri, O.P.), was head of the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian ...

Pope Pius V
. He promoted research into primary sources: "I see the time approaching when we shall base modern history, no longer on the reports even of contemporary historians, except insofar as they were in the possession of personal and immediate knowledge of facts; and still less on work yet more remote from the source; but rather on the narratives of eyewitnesses, and on genuine and original documents". The papacy denounced Ranke's book as anti-Catholic while many Protestants denounced it as not anti-Catholic enough, but he has been generally praised by historians for placing the situation of the
Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Roman Catholic Church
in the context of the 16th century and for his fair treatment of the complex interaction of the political and religious issues in that century. The British Roman Catholic historian
Lord Acton John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, 13th Marquess of Groppoli, (10 January 1834 – 19 June 1902), better known as Lord Acton, was an English Catholic The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, ...
defended Ranke's book as the most fair-minded, balanced and objective study ever written on the papacy of the 16th century. In 1841, his fame in its ascendancy, Ranke was appointed
Historiographer Royal Historiographer Royal is the title of an appointment as official chronicler or historian of a court or monarch. It was initially particularly associated with the French monarchy, where the post existed from at least 1550, but in the later 16th and 1 ...
to the Prussian court. In 1845, he became a member of the
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences ( nl, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, abbreviated: KNAW) is an organization An organization, or organisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English langu ...
. In Paris, Ranke met the Irish woman Clarissa Helena Graves (born 1808) from Dublin in July 1843. She had been educated in England and the Continent. They were engaged on 1 October and married in , England in a ceremony officiated by her brother Robert Perceval Graves, an Anglican priest. From 1847 to 1848, Ranke published ''Neun Bücher preussicher Geschichte'' (translated as ''Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg and History of Prussia, during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries'') in which he examined the fortunes of the family and state from the Middle Ages to the reign of
Frederick the Great Frederick II (german: Friedrich II.; 24 January 171217 August 1786) was King in Prussia King ''in'' Prussia ( German: ''König in Preußen'') was a title used by the Prussian kings (also in personal union Electors of Brandenburg) from 1701 ...

Frederick the Great
. Many Prussian nationalists were offended by Ranke's portrayal of Prussia as a typical medium-sized German state rather than as a great power. From 1852 to 1861, Ranke published ''French History Mainly in the 16th and 17th Centuries'' (5 vols.), covering
Francis IFrancis I or Francis the First may refer to: * Francesco I Gonzaga (1366–1407) * Francis I, Duke of Brittany (1414–1450), reigned 1442–1450 * Francis I of France (1494–1547), reigned 1515–1547 * Francis I, Duke of Saxe-Lauenburg (1510–15 ...
to
Louis XIV Louis XIV (Louis Dieudonné; 5 September 16381 September 1715), also known as Louis the Great () or the Sun King (), was King of France from 14 May 1643 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the List of longest-reigning mo ...

Louis XIV
and gaining him more praise for his impartiality despite being German. In a series of lectures given before future King
Maximilian II of Bavaria Maximilian II (28 November 1811 – 10 March 1864) reigned as King of Bavaria King of Bavaria was a title held by the hereditary House of Wittelsbach, Wittelsbach rulers of Bavaria in the state known as the Kingdom of Bavaria from 1805 unti ...

Maximilian II of Bavaria
in 1854, Ranke argued that "every age is next to God", by which he meant that every period of history is unique and must be understood in its own context. He argued that God gazes over history in its totality and finds all periods equal. Ranke rejected the teleological approach to history, by which each period is considered inferior to the period which follows. Thus, the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
were not inferior to the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
, simply different. In Ranke's view, the historian had to understand a period on its own terms and seek to find only the general ideas which animated every period of history. For Ranke, history was not to be an account of man's "progress" because " ter Plato, there can be no more Plato". For Ranke, Christianity was morally most superior and could not be improved upon. Ultimately, " story is no criminal court". From 1854 to 1857, Ranke published ''History of the Reformation in Germany'' (''Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation''), using the ninety-six volumes of correspondence from ambassadors to the Imperial Diet he found in
Frankfurt Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian dialects, Hessian: , "Franks, Frank ford (crossing), ford on the Main (river), Main"; french: Francfort-sur-le-Main), is the most populous city in the States of Germany, German state of Hess ...

Frankfurt
to explain the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
in
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
as the result of both politics and religion. From 1859 to 1867, Ranke published the six-volume ''History of England Principally in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries'' (''Englische Geschichte vornehmlich im XVI and XVII Jahrhundert''), followed by an expanded nine-volume edition frpm 1870 to 1884, which extended his huge reach even farther. At this point, he was eighty years old, and devoted the rest of his career to shorter treatises on German history that supplement his earlier writings.


Later life

The honors poured in when Ranke was ennobled in 1865, appointed a Prussian Privy Councillor in 1882 and given an honorary citizenship of Berlin in 1885. In 1884, he was appointed the first honorary member of the
American Historical Association The American Historical Association (AHA) is the oldest professional association of historians in the United States and the largest such organization in the world. Founded in 1884, the AHA provides leadership for the discipline by protecting acade ...
. In 1885, he was elected as a member to the
American Philosophical Society The American Philosophical Society (APS), founded in 1743 in Philadelphia Philadelphia (colloquially known simply as Philly) is the largest city in the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community ...
. After his retirement in 1871, Ranke continued to write on a variety of subjects relating to
German history The concept of Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , languages_type = Official language , languages = German language, German , demonym = Germa ...
such as the
French Revolutionary Wars The French Revolutionary Wars (french: Guerres de la Révolution française) were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted French First Republic, France against Gr ...
,
Albrecht von Wallenstein Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein (24 September 1583 – 25 February 1634), also von Waldstein (Czech Czech may refer to: * Anything from or related to the Czech Republic The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name Cz ...

Albrecht von Wallenstein
,
Karl August von Hardenberg 250px, Karl August von Hardenberg; portrait by Friedrich Georg Weitsch Karl August Fürst von Hardenberg (31 May 1750 in Essenrode-Lehre – 26 November 1822 in Genoa) was a Prussian wikt:statesman, statesman and Prime Minister of Prussia. While ...
, and King
Frederick William IV of Prussia Frederick William IV (german: Friedrich Wilhelm IV.; 15 October 17952 January 1861), the eldest son and successor of Frederick William III of Prussia, reigned as King of Prussia from 7 June 1840 to his death on 2 January 1861. Also referred to ...
. In 1880, Ranke began a huge six-volume work on
world history World history or global history as a field of historiography, historical study examines history from a global perspective. It emerged centuries ago; leading practitioners have included Voltaire (1694–1778), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hegel ...
which began with ancient
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
and the
Israelites The Israelites (; ) were a confederation of Iron Age ancient Semitic-speaking peoples, Semitic-speaking tribes of the ancient Near East, who inhabited a part of Canaan during the history of ancient Israel and Judah, tribal and monarchic peri ...

Israelites
. By the time of his death in Berlin in 1886 at the age of 90, Ranke had reached only the 12th century, but his assistants later used his notes to take the series up to 1453. After his wife died in 1871, Ranke became half-blind, depending on assistants to read to him. A diary entry from January 1877 contains his mature thoughts about being a historian:
The proverb tells us that poets are born. Not only in the arts, but even in some scholarly fields, young men develop into full bloom, or at least display their originality. Musicians and mathematicians have the expectation of attaining eminence in early years. But a historian must be old, not only because of the immeasurable extent of his field of study, but because of the insight into the historical process which a long life confers, especially under changing conditions. It would hardly be bearable for him to have only a short span of experience. For his personal development requires that great events complete their course before his eyes, that others collapse, that new forms be attempted.
After Ranke's death,
Syracuse University Syracuse University (Syracuse, 'Cuse, or SU) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, afte ...

Syracuse University
purchased his collection. The Ranke Library of 25,000 books and other materials was ten times as large as the university's own.


Methodology and criticism

At the core of his method, Ranke did not believe that general theories could cut across time and space. Instead, he made statements about the time using quotations from primary sources, saying: "My understanding of 'leading ideas' is simply that they are the dominant tendencies in each century. However, these tendencies can only be described; they can not, in the last resort, be summed up in a concept". Ranke objected to
philosophy of history Philosophy of history is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality ...
, particularly as practiced by Hegel, claiming that Hegel ignored the role of human agency in history which was too essential to be "characterized through only one idea or one word" or "circumscribed by a concept". This lack of emphasis on unifying theories or themes led Rudolf Haym to denigrate his ideas as "the mindlessness of the empiricist". In the 19th century, Ranke's work was very popular and his ideas about historical practice gradually became dominant in western historiography. However, he had critics among his contemporaries, including
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
, a former Hegelian, who suggested that Ranke engaged in some of the practices he criticized in other historians. Ranke began his first book with the statement in the introduction that he would show the unity of the experiences of the "Teutonic" nations of
Scandinavia Scandinavia; Sami Places * Sápmi, a cultural region in Northern Europe * Sami, Burkina Faso, a district of the Banwa Province * Sami District, Gambia * Sami, Cephalonia, a municipality in Greece * Sami (ancient city), in Elis, Greece * Sa ...

Scandinavia
,
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
and
Germany ) , image_map = , map_caption = , map_width = 250px , capital = Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inh ...

Germany
and the "Latin" nations of
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
,
Spain , image_flag = Bandera de España.svg , image_coat = Escudo de España (mazonado).svg , national_motto = , national_anthem = , image_map = , map_caption = , image_map2 ...

Spain
and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
through the great "respirations" of the ''Völkerwanderung'' (great migration), the
Crusades The Crusades were a series of religious wars initiated, supported, and sometimes directed by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The term refers especially to the Eastern Mediterranean campaigns in the period between 1095 and 1271 that h ...

Crusades
and colonization that in Ranke's view bound all of the nations together to produce modern European civilization. Despite his opening statement, Ranke largely treated all of the nations under examination separately until the outbreak of the wars for the control of Italy starting in 1494. However, the book is best remembered for Ranke's comment: "To history has been assigned the office of judging the past, of instructing the present for the benefit of future ages. To such high offices this work does not aspire: It wants only to show what actually happened (''wie es eigentlich gewesen ist'')". Ranke's statement that history should embrace the principle of ''wie es eigentlich gewesen ist'' (meaning "how things actually were") was subsequently taken by many historians as their guiding principle. There has been much debate over the precise meaning of this phrase. Some have argued that adhering to the principle of ''wie es eigentlich gewesen ist'' means that the historian should document facts, but not offer any interpretation of these facts. Following Georg Iggers,
Peter Novick Peter Novick (July 26, 1934, Jersey City Jersey City is the second-most populous city in the U.S. state of New Jersey New Jersey is a U.S. state, state in the Mid-Atlantic States, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, North ...
has argued that Ranke, who was more of a romantic and idealist than his American contemporaries understood, meant instead that the historian should discover the facts and find the essences behind them. Under this view, the word ''eigentlich'' should be translated as "essentially", the aim then being to "show what essentially happened". Ranke went on to write that the historian must seek the "Holy hieroglyph" that is God's hand in history, keeping an "eye for the universal" whilst taking "pleasure in the particular". While Ranke's methods remain influential in the practice of history, his broader ideas of
historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians hav ...

historiography
and empiricism are now regarded by some as outdated and no longer credible. They held sway among historians until the mid-20th century, when they were challenged by
E. H. Carr Edward Hallett "Ted" Carr (28 June 1892 – 3 November 1982) was a British historian, diplomat, journalist and international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scien ...
and
Fernand Braudel Fernand Braudel (; 24 August 1902 – 27 November 1985) was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School. His scholarship focused on three main projects: ''The Mediterranean'' (1923–49, then 1949–66), ''Civilization and Capitalism ...
. Carr opposed Ranke's ideas of empiricism as naive, boring and outmoded, saying that historians did not merely report facts; they choose which facts they use. Braudel's approach was based on the ''histoire problème''. Remarking on the legacy of Ranke's dictum that historians should represent the past ''wie es eigentlich gewesen ist'' ("as it actually happened"),
Walter Benjamin Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin (; ; 15 July 1892 – 26 September 1940) was a German Jewish The history of the Jews in Germany goes back at least to the year 321, and continued through the Early Middle Ages (5th to 10th centuries CE) and ...

Walter Benjamin
scathingly wrote that it represented "the strongest narcotic of the 9thcentury".


Honours and awards


Selected works

* ''Geschichten der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514'' ("Histories of the Romanic and Germanic Peoples from 1494 to 1514", 1824) * ''Serbische Revolution'' ("Serbian Revolution", 1829) * ''Fürsten und Völker von Süd-Europa im sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhundert'' ("Princes and Peoples of Southern Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries") * ''Die römischen Päpste in den letzten vier Jahrhunderten'' ("The Roman Popes in the Last Four Centuries", 1834–1836) * ''Neun Bücher preussischer Geschichte'' (''Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg and History of Prussia, during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries'', 1847–1848) * ''Französische Geschichte, vornehmlich im sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhundert'' (''Civil Wars and Monarchy in France, in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries: A History of France Principally During That Period'', 1852–1861) * ''Die deutschen Mächte und der Fürstenbund'' ("The German Powers and the Princes' League", 1871–1872) * ''Ursprung und Beginn der Revolutionskriege 1791 und 1792'' (''Origin and Beginning of the Revolutionary Wars 1791 and 1792'', 1875) * ''Hardenberg und die Geschichte des preussischen Staates von 1793 bis 1813'' (''Hardenberg and the History of the Prussian State from 1793 to 1813'', 1877) * ''Weltgeschichte – Die Römische Republik und ihre Weltherrschaft'' (''World history: The Roman Republic and Its World Rule'', 2 volumes, 1886)


Works in English translation


''The Ottoman and the Spanish Empires, in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,''
Whittaker & Co., 1943.
''Memoirs of the House of Brandenburg and History of Prussia During the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries,''Vol. 2Vol. 3
John Murray, 1849.
''Civil Wars and Monarchy in France, in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,''
Richard Bentley, 1852.
''The History of Servia and the Servian Revolution,''
Henry G. Bohn, 1853.
''H
Volume_Five
Volume_Six
_Oxford:_At_the_Clarendon_Press,_1875.
''The_Quarterly_Review,''_Vol._CXXXIX,_July/October_1875.
*_[https://archive.org/stream/universalhistor00rank#page/n5/mode/2up_''Universal_History:_The_Oldest_Historical_Group_of_Nations_and_the_Greeks,''">"Von_Ranke,_Pattison,_Spedding,_Gardiner,"
''The_Quarterly_Review,''_Vol._CXXXIX,_July/October_1875.

''Universal_History:_The_Oldest_Historical_Group_of_Nations_and_the_Greeks,''
Charles_Scribner's_Sons,_1884.
''History_of_the_Popes:_Their_Church_and_State,''Vol._2''H
Volume FiveVolume Six
Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1875.
''The Quarterly Review,'' Vol. CXXXIX, July/October 1875.
* [https://archive.org/stream/universalhistor00rank#page/n5/mode/2up ''Universal History: The Oldest Historical Group of Nations and the Greeks,''">"Von Ranke, Pattison, Spedding, Gardiner,"
''The Quarterly Review,'' Vol. CXXXIX, July/October 1875.

''Universal History: The Oldest Historical Group of Nations and the Greeks,''
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1884.
''History of the Popes: Their Church and State,''Vol. 2Sarah Austin">Vol. 3
P. F. Collier & Son, 1901. (Translated by Sarah Austin (translator), Sarah Austin
); first translation by Eliza Foster in 1847-48.
''History of the Reformation in Germany,''
George Routledge & Sons, 1905.
''History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations, 1494–1514,''
George Bell & Sons, 1909. * ''The Secret of World History: Selected Writings on the Art and Science of History,'' Roger Wines, ed., Fordham University Press, 1981.


Notes


References and further reading

* Boldt, Andreas. "Ranke: objectivity and history." ''Rethinking History'' 18.4 (2014): 457–474. * Boldt, Andreas D. ''The Life and Work of the German Historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886): An Assessment of His Achievements'' (Edwin Mellen Press, 2015). 372pp * Boldt, Andreas D. ''Leopold Von Ranke: A Biography'' (2019) * Bourne, Edward Gaylord (1896)
"Leopold Von Ranke."
''The Sewanee Review,'' Vol. 4, No. 4, pp. 385–401. * Bourne, Edward Gaylord (1901)
"Ranke and the Beginning of the Seminary Method in Teaching History."
In: ''Essays in Historical Criticism.'' New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, pp. 265–274. * Braw, J. D. "Vision as revision: Ranke and the Beginning of Modern History." ''History and Theory'' 46.4 (2007): 45–60. * Croke, Brian. "How to study the historian Leopold von Ranke (1795–1886)." ''Teaching History'' 50.1 (2016): 31–37. * Cunha, Marcelo Durão Rodrigues da. "The religious roots of modern German historical science: Wilhelm von Humboldt and Leopold von Ranke." ''Religião & Sociedade'' 38.2 (2018): 244–276
online
* John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, Dalberg-Acton, John Emerich Edward (1907)
"German Schools of History."
In: ''Historical Essays and Studies.'' London: Macmillan & Co. * Eskildsen, Kasper Risbjerg. "Leopold Von Ranke (1795–1886): Criticizing an Early Modern Historian." ''History of Humanities'' 4.2 (2019): 257–262
online
* Eskildsen, Kasper Risbjerg. "Leopold Ranke's archival turn: location and evidence in modern historiography." ''Modern Intellectual History'' 5.3 (2008): 425–453. * * Farrenkopf, John (1991). "The Challenge of Spenglerian Pessimism to Ranke and Political Realism," ''Review of International Studies,'' Vol. 17, No. 3, pp. 267–284. * Fitzsimons, M. A. (1980). "Ranke: History as Worship," ''The Review of Politics,'' Vol. 42, No. 4, pp. 533–555. * * * Gilbert, Felix (1986). "Leopold von Ranke and the American Philosophical Society," ''Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society,'' Vol. 130, No. 3, pp. 362–366. * Gilbert, Felix (1987). "Historiography: What Ranke Meant," ''The American Scholar,'' Vol. 56, No. 3, pp. 393–397. * * * Grafton, Anthony. ''The Footnote: A Curious History'' (Harvard UP. 1997) pp 34–93. * * Guilland, Antoine (1915)
"Leopold von Ranke."
In: ''Modern Germany and her Historians.'' New York: McBride, Nast & Company, pp. 68–119. * Iggers, Georg G. ''The German conception of history: The national tradition of historical thought from Herder to the present'' (Wesleyan University Press, 2014). * Iggers, Georg (1962). "The Image of Ranke in American and German Historical Thought," ''History and Theory,'' Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 17–40. * * Heying, Lü. "Equal emphasis on “research” and “representation”: A new analysis of Ranke’s debut work." ''Chinese Studies in History'' 53.2 (2020): 122–135. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094633.2020.1720491 * Kinzel, Katherina. "Method and meaning: Ranke and Droysen on the historian's disciplinary ethos." ''History and Theory'' 59.1 (2020): 22–41
online
* Krieger, Leonard (1975). "Elements of Early Historicism: Experience, Theory, and History in Ranke," ''History and Theory,'' Vol. 14, No. 4, pp. 1–14. * * * Lincoln, John Larkin (1894)
"The Historian Leopold von Ranke,"
''In Memorian: John Larkin Lincoln.'' Boston & New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Company, pp. 568–584. * Maurer, Kathrin. "The rhetoric of literary realism in Leopold von Ranke's historiography." ''Clio'' 35.3 (2006): 309–328. * Müller, Christian Phillip. "Doing historical research in the early nineteenth century: Leopold Ranke, the archive policy, and the 'relazioni' of the Venetian Republic." ''Rivista internazionale di storia della storiografia'' 56 (2009): 81–103. * * Price, William (1897)
"A Contribution toward a Bibliography of Leopold von Ranke,"
''Annual Report of the American Historical Association,'' Vol. I, pp. 1265–1274. * * Rüsen, Jörn (1990). "Rhetoric and Aesthetics of History: Leopold von Ranke," ''History and Theory,'' Vol. 29, No. 2, pp. 190–204. * Schevill, Ferdinand (1952). "Ranke: Rise, Decline, and Persistence of a Reputation," ''The Journal of Modern History,'' 24#3 pp. 219–234
online
* Su, Shih-Chieh. ''Modern Nationalism and the Making of a Professional Historian: The Life and Work of Leopold von Ranke'' (Academica Press, 2014). * *


Further reading

* Williams, H. S. (1907)
''The historians' history of the world''
Volume XV (ed., this volume covers Leopold von Ranke o
page 633
)


External links

* *
Works by Leopold von Ranke
at
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Hathi Trust

Syracuse University
''The Leopold von Ranke manuscript collection of Syracuse University : the complete catalogue''

at
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* ttps://archive.org/details/geschichtenderro00rankuoft ''Geschichte der romanischen und germanischen Völker von 1494 bis 1514''by Leopold von Ranke at the
Internet Archive The Internet Archive is an American digital library A digital library, also called an online library, an internet library, a digital repository, or a digital collection is an online databaseAn online database is a database In computing ...

Biography of Ranke, 1901
by
William Robinson Clark William Robinson Clark (26 March 1829 – 12 November 1912) was a Scottish-Canadian theologian. Biography Clark was born in Daviot, Aberdeenshire, Daviot, Aberdeenshire, son of Rev. James Clark. Originally educated for the Congregationalist ...

William Robinson Clark
{{DEFAULTSORT:Ranke, Leopold von 1795 births 1886 deaths People from Wiehe People from the Electorate of Saxony 19th-century Lutherans German Lutherans Lutheran writers
19th-century German writers Writer A writer is a person who uses written words in different styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art and creative writing such as novels, short stories, books, poetry, plays, screenplays, ...
19th-century German male writers {{CatAutoTOC 19th-century German writers, +Male 19th-century male writers, German German male writers ...
German male non-fiction writers {{CatAutoTOC Male non-fiction writers German non-fiction writers, Male German male writers, Non-fiction ...
19th-century German historians German monarchists German untitled nobility Leipzig University alumni
Humboldt University of Berlin faculty {{CatAutoTOC Faculty by university or college in Berlin, Humboldt Humboldt University of Berlin, Faculty ...
Members of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences Corresponding members of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Sciences Members of the American Philosophical Society Recipients of the Pour le Mérite (civil class) Commanders Grand Cross of the Order of the Polar Star