History as Chronicle

Jun 2013
508
Connecticut
When you read about what is history, oftentimes it's mentioned that it is not a chronicle of events. But isn't it really just that?

The historian needs to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. The stringent drive for objectivity via trusted historical methods does not leave any room for bias, prejudice or subservience to an agenda. So really it's just a chronological event record. New data gets studied on how it fits into this chronicle.

The historian's narrative is based more on how grammatically nice the flow of his story is.

What do you think?
 
Jun 2018
185
New York
Well, if I remember correctly, in the past recorded history was sometimes called a Chronicle, but because of how people have developed in this field, how history is recorded has changed. But it is all one long record of events. If anything the difference between a chronical and a modern history book is the methods on how the author researches and writes the events down.

Then we get into the question of if those chronicles can be considered history. Like the Icelandic Sagas, which were considered history for many centuries but today is questioned on their validity as a history.

In the end one can consider any writing on history a chronicle as it records past events.
 
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David Vagamundo

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,439
Atlanta, Georgia USA
We’ve discussed this before. First, there cannot really be an objective chronicle, as every chronicler must necessarily choose what to write about. Second, even if it were possible, such a chronicle would be so dull we wouldn’t want to read too much of it. Interpretation is what makes written history live.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,136
Portugal
When you read about what is history, oftentimes it's mentioned that it is not a chronicle of events. But isn't it really just that?

The historian needs to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. The stringent drive for objectivity via trusted historical methods does not leave any room for bias, prejudice or subservience to an agenda. So really it's just a chronological event record. New data gets studied on how it fits into this chronicle.

The historian's narrative is based more on how grammatically nice the flow of his story is.

What do you think?
I think that this is an outdated vision of how to write history, even if it is one still quite strong one. By the way, your second paragraph is controversial. Anyway, the theme is recurrent. I recall that in my post-graduation I had a discipline that was in a great part about this.

At least since the Annales School and the consequent development of history there was a changed of the vision of history solely as a narrative, or a narrative of the truth, that last truth about the theme, as it had been previously seen by the positivists, even if the narrative is necessary as in any science or discipline. How can I write a report without using a narrative, even if a small one? Today History is inter-disciplinary, the analysis is essential, and the last word about the past is yet to be written.

For simple reference:

Annales school - Wikipedia

And two articles around the theme, I wanted to post another one, but is in Portuguese and in paper (the first one is from 1985, so we can see that the theme is in discussion for a while… well maybe for even more, some 90 years):

SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class journal research

History and Narrative: An Overview | Carrard | Narrative Works
 
Jun 2013
508
Connecticut
What's mostly written, what mostly appears on this forum, especially what's taught in schools is a list of political-diplomatic events, ideas, movements and definitely leaders. Whether we like it or not the "great man", and his influence, is all over especially on this forum for example.

Political history is structured around a political state. This is usually broken down to listing the state's advancement and regression, cultural development, economics, war (military history), etc., etc.

Take military history for example. It follows the same method as chronicling something. That something can be a crisis event or leader or war or war's effects on civilians or armies or battles or types of soldiers or soldier's weaponry or how the weaponry was developed...and on and on.

The historian explains by simply collecting as much data about something and tries list them in chronological order. The only way to look at the past is to list the events and what characters did. The more organized the detail the better. Historian's don't explain WHY; they explain WHAT.
 

Kookaburra Jack

Ad Honorem
May 2011
2,962
Rural Australia
When you read about what is history, oftentimes it's mentioned that it is not a chronicle of events. But isn't it really just that?
History is also is a matter of highly debatable possibilities and probabilities. Some important events so chronicled may never have happened, and some important events that did happen are not chronicled. Underpinning any event and its date there must be historical evidence - hopefully primary sources of evidence. This evidence however is mute. I does not talk and tell the historian what it is. The historian evaluates this evidence. There is an evaluation process ...

The historian needs to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
The historian must also be prepared to deal in hypothetical truth - in possibilities and probabilities.

The stringent drive for objectivity via trusted historical methods does not leave any room for bias, prejudice or subservience to an agenda. So really it's just a chronological event record. New data gets studied on how it fits into this chronicle.
Evaluation of the evidence may differ between historians. What causes the difference in the evaluation of the same evidence may include stuff like "bias, prejudice or subservience to an agenda". It may also include the failure to take into account related evidence which some historians may not have studied, or for example primary evidence that is literary but in another language.

Also new data may rewrite the chronological order of events.


The historian's narrative is based more on how grammatically nice the flow of his story is.

"But I have good reason to distrust any historian who has nothing new to say or who produces novelties, either in facts or in interpretations, which I discover to be unreliable. Historians are supposed to be discoverers of truths. No doubt they must turn their research into some sort of story before being called historians. But their stories must be true stories. [...] History is no epic, history is no novel, history is no propaganda because in these literary genres control of the evidence is optional, not compulsory.

~ Arnaldo Momigliano, The rhetoric of history, Comparative Criticism, p. 260




What do you think?


On Pagans, Jews and Christians:
Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987

p.7

One is almost embarrassed to have to say
that any statement a historian makes must
be supported by evidence which, according
to ordinary criteria of human judgement,
is adequate to prove the reality of the
statement itself. This has three
consequences:


1) Historians must be prepared to admit
in any given case that they are unable
to reach safe conclusions because the
evidence is insufficient; like judges,
historians must be ready to say 'not proven'.


2) The methods used to ascertain the value
of the evidence must continually be scrutinised
and perfected, because they are essential to
historical research.

3) The historians themselves must be judged
according to their ability to establish facts.


The form of exposition they choosen for their presentation
of the facts is a secondary consideration. I have of course
nothing to object in principle to the present multiplication
in methods of rhetorical analysis of historical texts.

You may have as much rhetorical analysis as you consider
necessary, provided it leads to the establishment of the
truth - or to the admission that truth is regretfully
out of reach in a given case.

But it must be clear once for all that Judges and Acts,
Heroditus and Tacitus are historical texts to be examined
with the purpose of recovering the truth of the past.

Hence the interesting conclusion that the notion of forgery
has a different meaning in historiography than it has in
other branches of literature or of art. A creative writer
or artist perpetuates a forgery every time he intends
to mislead his public about the date and authorship
of his own work.

But only a historian can be guilty of forging evidence
or of knowingly used forged evidence in order to
support his own historical discourse. One is never
simple-minded enough about the condemnation of
forgeries. Pious frauds are frauds, for which one
must show no piety - and no pity.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,349
Sydney
Some of the best and most gripping books now written only claim to be a narrative of events
it allow the writer to assume its personal views and is thus more honest
 

Linschoten

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
16,217
Welsh Marches
History does not just deal with external facts or events, but has to interpret those events as expressions of human intentions and desires etc., so a mere chronicle, as typically represented in a certian type of ancient or medieval literature, as merely recounting one damned thing after another, represents a very reduced and inadequate form of history. R. G. Collingwood argued that history is essentially concerned with human thought, because it requires a reconstruction or re-enactment of the thought processes of historical agents, because one cannot otherwise understand the meaning of people's actions in the past (The Idea of History, 1946). Some account of his views here:
http://www.math.chalmers.se/~ulfp/Review/collingwood.pdf
For that reason, the positivistic view of history that you present is insupportable. History is properly formed into narrative, explaining patterns of events thus understood, but not chronicle unless a mere record of scattered facts is all that is preserved.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,349
Sydney
events as recorded in the chronicles are still the building block of any history ,
never mind the ultimate style of the building itself
 
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