The Death of Thucydidean History

Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)


Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke (1678–1751), played a vital part in the politics of the eighteenth century, first as a prominent member of the last tory administration before the onset of whig rule, then briefly as a supporter of the Pretender to the throne, James Francis Stuart, and finally as a leader of the opposition to Sir Robert Walpole in the 1720s and 1730s. Bolingbroke and his circle also played a decisive part in the historiography of the age of party. As we have already seen, English history was largely written along party lines, and so whigs and tories scrutinized the past to score political points with partisan historiography. For their part, Bolingbroke and his associates championed the tory peace, which he had negotiated to end the War of Spanish Succession, and the Church of England, which he had campaigned to preserve from endangerment by dissenters and Catholics. In terms of their historiography, tories took a particular interest in guarding the reputation of Clarendon and his History of the Rebellion, whose prestige and political capital they wished to monopolize. They challenged whig initiatives to write the history of their own times, a genre which Clarendon had perfected and which was seemingly reserved for tories alone to pursue.


Political Culture Political Career Political Ambition Contemporary History Literary Project 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 13.
    Jonathan Swift, The History of the Four Last Years of the Queen, intro. Harold Williams, The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis, vol. 7 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1951), pp. 121–4.Google Scholar
  2. 35.
    Frederick S. Siebert, Freedom of the Press in England 1476–1776: The Rise and Decline of Government Controls (Urbana: Univ. of Illinois Press, 1952), pp. 346–52. Boyer, Life of Anne pp. iii-v, viii.Google Scholar
  3. 39.
    F. J. M. Korsten, Roger North (1651–1734): Virtuoso and Essayist (Amsterdam: Holland Univ. Press, 1981), pp. 3–28, 65, 76, 97.Google Scholar
  4. 50.
    Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews ed. Douglas Brooks (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1970), Preface, book 3 (chap. 1).Google Scholar
  5. Leo Braudy, Narrative Form in History and Fiction: Hume, Fielding & Gibbon (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1970), esp. pp. 91–4, 211.Google Scholar
  6. 68.
    J. A. Downie, ‘Walpole, “the Poet’s Foe,”’ in Jeremy Black, ed., Britain in the Age of Walpole (London: Macmillan, 1984), pp. 185–6.Google Scholar
  7. J. H. Plumb, Sir Robert Walpole 2 vols (London: Cresset Press, 1956–60), 1:xi–xii. DNB.Google Scholar
  8. Tom Woodman, ‘Pope and the Polite,’ Essays in Criticism, 28 (1978), pp. 19–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Isaac Kramnick, Bolingbroke and his Circle: The Politics of Nostalgia in the Age of Walpole (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1968), pp. 7, 56–83, 205–35.Google Scholar
  10. 72.
    Linda Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party 1714–60 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1982), p. 290. Pat Rogers, ‘Book Subscriptions Among the Augustans,’ TLS, 15 Dec. 1972, pp. 1539–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Philip Hicks 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint Mary’s CollegeNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations