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The Oxford History of Historical Writing, Volume 2: 400-1400

How used to be historical past written in Europe and Asia among 400-1400? How was once the previous understood in spiritual, social and political phrases? And in what methods does the range of historic writing during this interval masks underlying commonalities in narrating the prior? the amount, which assembles 28 contributions from best historians, tackles those and different questions. half I presents accomplished overviews of the advance of historic writing in societies that variety from the Korean Peninsula to north-west Europe, which jointly spotlight local and cultural area of expertise. half II enhances the 1st half through taking a thematic and comparative technique; it contains essays on style, battle, and faith (amongst others) which handle universal matters of historians operating during this liminal interval sooner than the globalizing forces of the early glossy international.

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In 589 the Sui dynasty (589–618) brought an end to the four hundred-year division of the country into multiple, competing states, initiating a second resurgence of the centralized, dynastic centre in Chang’an after the first unification of China under the Qin dynasty in 221 bc. The ensuing Tang dynasty (618–907) continued and refined this process. Early Tang leadership was based on Northern Chinese aristocratic clans, whose large land holdings enabled them to dominate society and government. Beginning in the late seventh century, however, a series of challenges to this dominance slowly eroded the authority of the aristocracy and led to its eventual demise.

The historiography written during this long and complex period is closely linked to these changes. Accordingly, this first of two chapters devoted in this volume to Chinese historical writing will begin with a brief overview of China during the first half of this period (618–959). In 589 the Sui dynasty (589–618) brought an end to the four hundred-year division of the country into multiple, competing states, initiating a second resurgence of the centralized, dynastic centre in Chang’an after the first unification of China under the Qin dynasty in 221 bc.

As it evolved from Han exegesis, the notion of ‘praise and blame’ appears, especially in modern hindsight, as a rather blunt, didactic tool with which to polish the ‘mirror’ of history. In actuality, opinions on its theory and praxis differed widely; and discussions about the proper role of ‘praise and blame’ in all kinds of history-writing recur throughout the period. The early Tang historians, fortified by the newness of the dynasty and by aristocratic bonds that linked sovereign and servitor, took quite seriously the underlying notion of using history to speak truth to authority.

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