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Doing Historical Research in the Early Nineteenth Century. Leopold Ranke, the Archive policy, and the Relazioni of the Venetian Republic.

Müller, P; (2009) Doing Historical Research in the Early Nineteenth Century. Leopold Ranke, the Archive policy, and the Relazioni of the Venetian Republic. History of Historiography , 56 (2) 80 - 103.

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Abstract

This article examines the historical conditions of archival research faced by the historian Leopold Ranke whilst on research mission in Central Europe in the early nineteenth century. In 1827, the historian was granted a study leave and was to search for original manuscripts. However, access to both libraries and archives was restricted. Particularly access to the archive, integral part of the arcane sphere of the state, was closely monitored by the state administration. Moreover, after Napoleon’s imperialism in Europe state governments were rather sensitive due to the disorder and recent recasting of the political map. But in this period of enhanced nation building process leading statesmen were also keen on to put history based on archival research into service. I contend that the historian’s research unfolded at a very early stage of his research process in a field of forces in which Ranke, although he benefited from his recently established scholarly reputation, took the position of a (foreign) subject. Ranke was to ask for permission to use archive material. To achieve his goal, the historian deployed various means and strategies in the anteroom of the archive. Moreover, the administrative examination of the historian’s request impacted on Ranke’s relationship to members of state governments, his agenda of research, the historical notion of knowledge and truth, his reputation as a historical scholar and, finally, on the choice of his favoured materials, the relazioni.

Type:Article
Title:Doing Historical Research in the Early Nineteenth Century. Leopold Ranke, the Archive policy, and the Relazioni of the Venetian Republic.
Keywords:Ranke, Historiography, Relazioni, Venice, Archive, Archives, Archivist, Austria, Vienna, Italy, Knechtl, Metternich, Gentz
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES

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