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Allegory of history:
The truth overlooks the historians , while the wisdom wakes; including a profile of Ptolemy I Soter as a representative of objective historiography. Oil painting by Jacob de Wit , 1754

Historiography or historiography (rarely chronography for a historical representation in chronological order) describes the representation of historical events. Modern historiography with a scientific claim belongs to the science of history and defines the term “historiography” as “linguistic communication of historical knowledge”.

Problems of historiography

Historiography always exists when historical events are recorded in writing, i.e. even when the representations are not based on a current understanding of scientific nature . Historians choose what is worth mentioning according to criteria that are influenced and connoted by their concept of history . The view of what has happened, historical relationships and structures by historians is always subject to changes that make generally binding definitions difficult, if not impossible. A scientific historiography selected historical data to ultimately subjective or ideological of criteria, it is new is, assigns and indicates them and therefore can never be completely neutral. However, modern historical works can be checked in terms of content and method. Scientific methods such as source criticism are just as much a part of this as scientific discourse within the respective subject area.

Anyone who writes about history necessarily proposes an interpretation of the past and postulates causalities and connections for this purpose. This already applies to the works of Herodotus and Thucydides , whose historical-theoretical ideas and methodological practice must be reconstructed in order to use them for writing history according to more recent scientific standards. After all, “what is fundamentally thought today in historical science” was already in place for these two. Some of the ancient historians saw themselves primarily as authors of literary works of art; their goals and methods therefore differed greatly from those of today's historians. The beginnings of a historical science in the narrower sense can only be found from the beginning of the 19th century (see history of historical science ). This scientification of historiography remains confronted with the question: In what sense is history written and by whom? Modern historiography also reconstructs historical data and, in doing so, necessarily stores it with a meaning. This becomes problematic when there is a glorification of historical processes in historiography and / or a certain historical policy is pursued. A methodologically well-founded scientific historiography offers the possibility of extensive verifiability of presentation and argumentation.

Not only chronologically , but also according to typology, there is a strong differentiation of types of historiography. With regard to the typology which is unquestionably viewing perspective, and thus the respective cognitive or mediation object of the history at the center. The historian's individual point of view and interpretation naturally play an equally important role.

Hayden White in particular emphasized this fact; he analyzed the problem of narration in modern history theory and described how narrative structures still guide and thus manipulate the understanding of every reconstruction of history. Elfriede Müller and Alexander Ruoff summarize the result of his analysis as follows: "If you tell history, you necessarily interpret it through the way in which you structure your individual data."

Types of historiography

First, the historiography is sorted according to historical periods, the origin of the author , thematic and methodological aspects (see History of Historiography ). The writing of history depends on the political and social realities under which history is written. Some examples are given below, but they do not fully reflect all relevant types of historiography:

  • Concept history : In the concept history, the semantics of the concepts are placed in the focus of the historical perspective.
  • Chronicle : A chronicle (from Greek: chronika (biblia) to chronos = time) is a historical representation that shows the events in chronological order.
  • Women's history : aims to research the history of women.
  • Gender history : Gender history is primarily concerned with the change in femininity and masculinity over time and with the gender order .
  • Global history : Global history or global history is a sub-discipline of historical studies. Due to the wide range of thematic access options, a comprehensive definition appears very difficult. Her concern is to break the Europe-centered view of universal history or world history, which in turn is not infrequently operated from a nation-state point of view and has been determinative from the 18th to the 20th century, and thus intensified the process of globalization Dimensions to take into account. It is a specific approach that emphasizes interrelationships (transfers) and the comparison of different world regions. The aim is a history of science beyond the nation state (J. Osterhammel).
  • Court historiography : Court historiography is an official type of historiography, whereby the court as such or individual persons of a court, emperors, popes, kings, princes, dukes, counts etc. are described.
  • Church history : Church history is a sub-discipline of theology. The church historians as scientists deal specifically with the history of dogma or the history of Christian theology or the development of the churches in general. This also includes aspects of legal history, economic history, settlement history and social history as far as they are related to the development of the churches.
  • Cultural history : The cultural history (or cultural history) deals with the research and representation of intellectual and cultural life in time periods and landscapes.
  • National history : National history is a pattern of interpretation and at the same time a type of historiography in which history is viewed from the perspective of the nation-state. The underlying idea of ​​the “emergence of the nation” is also linked to a process of “scientification” of the subject of history. National historiography also has the task of legitimizing the state as a political entity using the means of historical science.
  • Political history : Political history is a type of historiography that places the state and the politically active people at the center of its consideration.
  • Social history : Social history researches and describes the development of the composition according to groups, classes, strata or classes of people in past communities. It also has the size of the respective groups, classes, strata or classes of people as well as their significance and location as an object. She also deals with interactions and the history of social processes.
  • Transnational history : Transnational history is a type of historiography or the consideration of history in the study of history, in which the historical perspective goes beyond the nation-state fixed and limited historical interpretation of a national history and therefore develops a corresponding perspective.
  • Universal history : The term universal history refers to the entirety of human history .
  • Economic history : Economic history is a bridging discipline between economics and history. It examines the historical economic development in connection with other cultural changes.
  • World history : World history (also: universal history) is a sub-discipline of historical science and ideally deals with the historical development of the entire human race, the individual aspects of which it relates to one another.

Besides these kinds of historiography there are histories that are more oriented towards an issue out such as the Legal History , History of Science , University of history , art history , language history or literary history .

The form of the comic is also used as a special form of representation : z. B. Illustreret Danmarkshistorie for Folket .

See also


See above all the literature references on history

  • The Oxford History of Historical Writing . Edited by Andrew Feldherr a. a. 5 vols. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2011–2012.
  • Richard Feller and Edgar Bonjour : Historiography of Switzerland - From the Late Middle Ages to the Modern Age , 2 volumes, Basel 1962 (2nd edition 1979)
  • Etienne François : The Attitude to History. In: Robert Picht , Vincent Hoffmann-Martinot, René Lasserre, Peter Theiner (eds.): Stranger friends. Germans and French before the 21st century. 2nd Edition. Piper, Munich a. a. 2002, ISBN 3-492-03956-1 , pp. 15-21.
  • Eduard Fueter : History of modern historiography (= manual of medieval and modern history. Dept. 1). 3rd, increased edition. Oldenbourg, Munich a. a. 1936 (3rd edition with an additional supplement, reprographic reprint. Orell Füssli, Zurich et al. 1985, ISBN 3-280-01522-7 ).
  • Wolfgang Hardtwig , Erhard Schütz (Hrsg.): History for readers. Popular historiography in Germany in the 20th century (= Stiftung Bundespräsident-Theodor-Heuss-Haus. Scientific series. Vol. 7). Steiner, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-515-08755-9 .
  • Georg G. Iggers , Q. Edward Wang, Supriya Mukherjee: History cultures . World history of historiography from 1750 to today. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2013, ISBN 978-3-525-30050-3 .
  • Volker Ladenthin : Considerations on ancient historiography. In: History in Science and Education. Vol. 36, 1985, ISSN  0016-9056 , pp. 737-760.
  • Thomas Maissen : From legend to model. The interest in France's past during the Italian Renaissance (= Basel contributions to historical science. Vol. 166). Helbing and Lichtenhahn, Basel a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-7190-1369-3
  • Christian Simon : Historiography. An introduction (= university paperbacks . 1901 history ). Ulmer, Stuttgart 1996, ISBN 3-8252-1901-1 .
  • Markus Völkel : Historiography. An introduction from a global perspective . Böhlau, Cologne a. a. 2006, ISBN 3-825-22692-1 .
  • Hayden White : The Problem of Narration in Modern History. In: Pietro Rossi (ed.): Theory of modern historiography (= Edition Suhrkamp 1390 = NF Bd. 390). Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 1987, ISBN 3-518-11390-9 , pp. 57-106.

Web links

Wikisource: Historiography  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Historiography  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Ulrich Muhlack : Theory and Practice of Historiography. In: Reinhart Koselleck , Heinrich Lutz , Jörn Rüsen (Hrsg.): Forms of historiography. (Traditions of historiography and their reflection. Case studies. Systematic reconstructions. Discussion and criticism) (= Contributions to history. Vol. 4 = dtv. Dtv Wissenschaft 4389). Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-423-04389-X , pp. 607-620.
  2. Historiography can easily fail because, according to Michael Maurer , "that it either decays in the hands of fearful and pedantic collectors or falls into philosophical speculation." (Michael Maurer: Wilhelm von Humboldt. Ein Leben als Werk. Cologne, Weimar and Vienna 2016, P. 287)
  3. Overview with further literature, for example in Egon Boshof , Kurt Düwell, Hans Kloft: Basics of the Study of History. An introduction . 5th edition Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 1997; Stefan Jordan: Theories and Methods of History. 2nd edition Paderborn 2013.
  4. Wolfgang Will : Herodotus and Thucydides. The birth of the story. Munich 2015, p. 246. “In both historians, in a period of a little more than a generation, from approx. 440 to 400 BC BC, the development of two and a half thousand years of occidental historiography. "(Ibid., P. 7)