Google

The picture that you see above is a painting of the Danish attack at Battle of Dybbøl, part of the Second Schleswig War between Denmark, Prussia and Austria in 1864, painted by Vilhelm Rosenstand.

It is a painting, a battle - indeed a war which until about two weeks ago I knew absolutely nothing about. And it's only been in thanks to the masterful series '1864' which has been shown on the last few weekends on BBC4 that I've learnt of it. (If you want to watch it, and you seriously should - it's amazing, then the (Danish) trailer is here):

Now I consider myself to know hopefully a thing or two about history having done it for my degree. But this, to my embarrassment this has passed me by. And it got me thinking about something which in the trade is known as historiography-

Historiography -

"The study of the way history has been and is written – the history of historical writing" - Furay and Salevouris

To me historiography means the study of what is remembered, what is forgotten and how things are re-remembered. What's is genuinely fascinating about studying history is how events which on the surface seem frozen into place are actually take on a fluid appearance as the decades roll on by. The First World War was originally the study of the generals, the battlefronts, of poetry. Now, it is the history of the people. Every family from up and down the country sharing their memories of their loved ones, creating a dense tapestry of thousands of intertwined stories. Why the change?

Here's the ramble...

So, why is the Schleswig wars never mentioned? Why is the First World War all the more important at a centenary and not as important either before or after that point? Why is the British Second World War always mentioned? (On another note why is it's Britain's war, and not the British Empire?)

Why is Second World War remembered so frequently when the wars of Korea, the Falklands or the Gulf that also had saw Britain play an integral role so infrequently mentioned? 

I don't have the deciding answers to these questions but it does provide an incredible insight into what is and isn't remembered when you can start to remember the stuff that isn't remembered.

And in the future?

However, with the sheer scale of the web, more and more people are able to access information, share memories and record the world around them at such an unprecedented rate how we remember everything is becoming ever more impressive and complicated. Would a historian in the future be able to get a greater insight into 2015 by reading our tweets? Or would it just give a narrow opinion a step away from the wider majority? What if everything online wasn't accessible - would there be a huge void in understanding the world in which we lived.

As I say in the title, this is a ramble. But something which I hope to re-visit when I've spent some more time thinking about it. 

If you can offer any advice, suggestions about why history is understood the way it is in 2015 then add your comments below.

Comment