Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship: Language, Law and History in the French Renaissance

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Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship: Language, Law and History in the French Renaissance

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Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship Language, Law, and History in the French Renaissance



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Guillaume Bude: De 1 institution du Prince (Lausanne, Bibliotheque Publique et Cantonale, MS E. 497, p. 15)

Foundations of Modern Historical Scholarship Language, Law, and Historyin the French Renaissance

Donald R. Kelley

Columbia University Press New York and London, 1970

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Copyright © 1970 Columbia University Press Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 68-8875 Standard Book Number 231-03141-6 Printed in the United States of America


In looking back over the history of this history of history, I must say that my interest in the subject is considerably older than my profes¬ sional commitment to Renaissance studies in particular. It derives in part from a curiosity, first provoked by the writings of Herbert Butter¬ field and R. G. Collingwood, about this outlandish way of looking at the world called historical mindedness, and in part from a growing belief in the need to subject historical thought to the kind of critical re-examination which E. A. Burtt and others have applied to scien¬ tific thought. It has been confirmed by my long-standing fascination with Ernst Cassirer’s studies in epistemology, which touch upon every mode of thought except the historical, and with Wilhelm Dilthey’s projected but unrealized “critique of historical reason”—though one need not be a neo-Kantian, I hope, nor even a historian of ideas, to see the value of a critical understanding of history. But my most substantial debts are personal, and I should like to acknowledge the most essential of these. First in point of time was my undergraduate encounter with the “sense of history” in Myron Gil¬ more’s seminar in historiography, which has enticed more than one unsuspecting student into this field. I learned much, too, from my teachers at Columbia, especially the late Garrett Mattingly, Paul O. Kristeller, and J. H. Mundy. More recently acquired are my debts to Hans Baron, Eugene Rice, Aldo Scaglione, Peter Gay, A. A. Schiller, Ralph Giesey, Dorothy Thickett, and Guido Kisch. For many kindnesses and provocations I should also like to thank several of my contem¬ poraries, among whom I count those with whom I can argue without reservation or undue remorse, especially Samuel Kinser, George Huppert, Julian Franklin, L. R. Shelby, Sanford Elwitt, Joseph Levine, Stuart Prall, Edward Mahoney, and Charles Schmitt. I hope that I have




sufficiently disguised, if not distorted, what I have stolen from all these mentors and friends. I am only sorry that I have not been more receptive to their experience and advice, and that I cannot rely more heavily upon their authority. Some of the most obvious deficiencies of this study, I prefer to think, are inseparable from the questions which provoked it in the first place. In particular, I have not been able to examine as thoroughly as I should have liked any single author or theme, although the subject of any one of the principal chapters deserves, I think, an entire book. At the same time I have had to venture into a number of technical fields where I can claim no special competence—particularly the history of philos¬ ophy, classical scholarship, and three separate branches of law—civil, canon, and feudal. But it is my hope that the scope of the inquiry is appropriate to the questions posed, and it is my belief that whatever value this book may possess is largely the result of my poaching, un¬ licensed as it has been, upon such alien preserves. Some of the material on which this book is based has been published as follows.

Historia Integra: Francois Baudouin and his Conception

of History,” Journal of the History of Ideas, XXV (1964), 35-57; "£>