From the late-fifteenth century onwards, scholars across Europe began to write books about how to read and evaluate histories. These pioneering works - which often take surprisingly modern-sounding positions - grew from complex early modern debates about law, religion, and classical scholarship. In this book, based on the Trevelyan Lectures of 2005, Anthony Grafton explains why so many of these works were written, why they attained so much insight - and why, in the centuries that followed, most scholars gradually forgot that they had existed. Elegant and accessible, What Was History? is a deliberate evocation of E. H. Carr's celebrated and iconclastic Trevelyan Lectures on What Is History?, and will appeal to a broad readership of students, scholars and historical enthusiasts. Anthony Grafton is one of the most celebrated historians writing in English today, and What Was History? is a powerful and imaginative exploration of some central themes in the history of European ideas.
Anthony Grafton is Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University, and one of the most distinguished and influential cultural historians writing today. His many previous publications include The Footnote (Harvard University Press, 1997), Leon Battista Alberti (Harvard University Press and Penguin, 2000), and Christianity and the Transformation of the Book (Harvard University Press, 2006).