François Guizot - General History of Civilization in Europe. PDF


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This is a comprehensive history of how civilization developed in Europe, and thus a history of how the continent was settled and formed various nation states.
From the intro:
“There are three sorts of written history:
1. A mere orderly statement of facts, unconnected in the narrative save by the order of succession. This is hardly more than a catalogue of facts and events, and does not properly constitute history. Such were the annalistic writings and the chronicles of earlier ages; some of the [iv] modern “elementary histories” belong in this group, if anywhere among historical writings.

2. A detailed recital of events and facts, so framed as to show the more immediate causes and the direct consequences and results of those events and facts. Here the causal relation between events, not widely separated in time or place, is brought into view. This is the aim of general histories, histories of individual countries, and most histories of special periods. This group includes the larger part of historical writings.

3. A study of the growth of historical ideas, of the forces that have moved men and nations, of the causes which have been operative through long periods directing the tendencies of peoples, of the development of institutions, and of their relation to the general march of history and to the advance of civilization. Such are works which trace the history of political institutions and of the ideas and forces that have shaped them. It is obvious that the aim of this last group is really the ultimate aim of all historical inquiry—not merely to know facts, but to learn the deeper purpose and meaning which run through all history, and to which each event of history is in greater or less degree contributory.
A historical study of the last class—and to this belongs in high degree the present work—presupposes on the part of the writer a thorough acquaintance with all essential facts in the period covered, and for its thorough comprehension by the reader and student, a good general knowledge of history.
In the present work the author has directed his chief attention to the external forms of political society, and has sought to trace the changes in these forms and institutions back to their causes and forward to their consequences. Both the forms themselves and their changes [v] are traceable only in the facts of history, while the causes for the changes are the forces which have moved man to political, social, and industrial action. Such a study is not, then, a recital, but an interpretation, of facts; it is an inquiry into the meaning—the result, of external events—the philosophy of history, if I may use that high-sounding and much abused expression. It is not a history of the facts of the past fourteen centuries, nor even a substitute for such history. It is an analysis and interpretation of that history so far as it has affected the development of social and political institutions.”

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