Ranke, Leopold von


Ranke, Leopold von
(1795–1886)
   One of the most significant figures in the development of the historical profession during the nineteenth century. Born in Wiehe (Saxony) into an old Lutheran family, Ranke studied in Leipzig and initially taught at a grammar school in Frankfurt an der Oder. It was here that he wrote his History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations, 1494–1514, published in 1824. This piece is chiefly significant for Ranke’s expressed intention henceforth to reveal history Wie es eigentlich gewesen, “as it actually was.” Appointed to a chair at the University of Berlin in 1825, where he remained until 1871, Ranke aimed to turn history into an exact science, via the methodical evaluation and use of primary sources, and via the strict avoidance of value judgments. And yet, although history, for Ranke, had replaced philosophy as the “science” that offered insights into the human condition, he retained a belief in a divine plan for humanity. For him, existing political states, insofar as they were results of historical growth, were “moral energies” or “thoughts of God.” For Ranke, aiming to reveal history as it actually was primarily meant revealing the evolution of the existing order of things as God had willed it.
   Thus Ranke’s influential methodology did not imply objectivity in the contemporary sense. While not all professional historians, particularly later in the century, agreed with Ranke’s belief that what had developed historically was sanctioned by God’s will, many certainly shared his focus on the state as a quasi-mythical category. As Otto von Bismarck used Prussia to transform Germany into a nation-state, historians emerged among the most vocal advocates of the project. This is perhaps unsurprising considering the close links between the German state and the historical profession. Ranke himself was appointed royal historian by Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1841, and ennobled by Wilhelm I in 1865. The quantity of his work is as impressive as the quality, and the German edition of his complete works numbered 54 volumes. Such was his influence that, toward the end of his life, the American Historical Association, formed in 1884, chose Ranke as its first honorary member and pronounced him “the father of historical science.”
   FURTHER READING:
    Donovan, S. M., and K. Passmore, eds. Writing National Histories. Western Europe since 1800. London: Routledge, 1999;
    Iggers, G. Historiography in the Twentieth Century. London: University Press of New England, 1997;
    Krieger, Leonard. Ranke: The Meaning of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
   PAUL LAWRENCE

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ranke, Leopold von — orig. Leopold Ranke born Dec. 21, 1795, Wiehe, Thuringia, Saxony died May 23, 1886, Berlin German historian. Ranke taught at the University of Berlin (1825–71). Inspired by the scientific method of historical study used by Barthold Georg Niebuhr …   Universalium

  • Ranke,Leopold von — Ran·ke (rängʹkə), Leopold von. 1795 1886. German historian who pioneered the modern methods of rigorously analyzing firsthand documentation. His works include The History of the Popes (1834 1836). * * * …   Universalium

  • Ranke, Leopold von — ► (1795 1886) Historiador alemán, uno de los fundadores de la moderna ciencia histórica. Creó la escuela que lleva su nombre, basada en la investigación y publicación de las fuentes auténticas. * * * orig. Leopold Ranke (21 dic. 1795, Wiehe,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • RANKE, LEOPOLD VON —    distinguished German historian, born in Thüringia just 16 days after Thomas Carlyle; began life similarly as a teacher and devoted his leisure hours to the study of history and the publication of historical works; was in 1825 appointed… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • RANKE (L. von) — RANKE LEOPOLD VON (1795 1886) Un des classiques de l’historiographie germanique, Leopold von Ranke a exercé une grande influence sur la pensée historico politique en Allemagne au XIXe siècle, notamment en introduisant dans ce domaine la méthode… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Leopold von Ranke — (Porträt nach Julius Schrader) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Leopold Von Ranke — (21 décembre 1795 à Wiehe (Unstrut); † 23 mai 1886 à Berlin) est un historien allemand. Biographie Né en Saxe, Ranke est issu d un milieu familial où la religion luthérienne joue un grand rôle. De fait, se destinant à l état ecclésiastique, il… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Leopold von ranke — (21 décembre 1795 à Wiehe (Unstrut); † 23 mai 1886 à Berlin) est un historien allemand. Biographie Né en Saxe, Ranke est issu d un milieu familial où la religion luthérienne joue un grand rôle. De fait, se destinant à l état ecclésiastique, il… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Leopold von Ranke — (December 21, 1795 – May 23, 1886) was a German historian of the 19th century, and frequently considered one of the founders of modern source based history. Ranke set the tone for much of later historical writing, introducing such ideas as… …   Wikipedia

  • Leopold von Ranke — (21 de diciembre de 1795 23 de mayo de 1886), historiador alemán, uno de los más importantes historiadores del siglo XIX y considerado comúnmente como el padre de la historia científica. Leopold von Ranke en 1877. Contenido …   Wikipedia Español


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