Whig History - Terminology

Terminology

The British historian Herbert Butterfield coined the term "Whig history" in his short but influential book The Whig Interpretation of History (1931). It takes its name from the British Whigs, advocates of the power of Parliament, who opposed the Tories, advocates of the power of the king.

The term has been applied widely in historical disciplines outside of British history (the history of science, for example) to criticize any teleological (or goal-directed), hero-based, and transhistorical narrative. The abstract noun "Whiggishness" is sometimes used as a generic term for Whig historiography. It should not be confused with "Whiggism", which is a political ideology, and has no direct relation to either the British Whig or American Whig parties. (The term "Whiggery" is ambiguous in contemporary usage: it may either mean party politics and ideology, or a general intellectual approach.)

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