A Companion to the Study of History by Michael Stanford

By Michael Stanford

This booklet publications scholars via all of the important ancient techniques, theories, equipment and difficulties confronting these engaged within the severe examine of heritage.

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2 Is history-as-event cumulative? But what about history-as-event? If it is cyclical, then of course it cannot accumulate beyond the point where each cycle ends. But are there breaks in 'linear' history? 15 Might the fall of Constantinople in 1453 have provided another? Thirdly, what of societies and civilizations that were mutually ignorant like Europe and China before Marco Polo or America before Columbus? Were they not completely separate cumulations of history? Finally, it can be asked whether the present is the sum of all that has gone before.

Let us concentrate on Prague, November 1989. Picking up our five elements of action, we start with intention. This was to put an end to a brutal and clumsy tyranny imposed by a foreign power. The rebels' assessment of the situation was that the Czech government was clearly worried about its great unpopularity, but mainly that communist governments had already fallen in Warsaw, Budapest and Berlin. Now it was their turn. The means were, first, a student demonstration on Friday, 17 November, which was stopped by the police with much bloodshed.

We may, for all we know, be in the position of the ancient Greeks. We now know, as they did not, that a great deal of their culture was a continuation of the Mycenaean (roughly that of the age of the Trojan War), and that Mycenae owed much to the Minoan cultures of Crete, and that the Minoans had derived some things from Egypt. And surely this is not the only example of people who did not know their origins, did not know why they behaved as they did. In terms of civilization it is the analogue of the Freudian unconscious, which is said to retain the shape of infancy.

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