Liberal internationalism and the uses of history

Casper Sylvest

in British Liberal Internationalism, 1880-1930

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079092
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781703151 | DOI:
Liberal internationalism and the uses of history

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This chapter investigates the historical language of internationalist ideology as it was displayed in the writings of three prominent liberal historians who informed and augmented liberal internationalism: James Bryce, John Morley and Lord Acton. Their different approaches to the emerging discipline and the practice of history reflect the broad appeal of historical representations and its relationship to political debates. The Holy Roman Empire covered the ideas which bolstered that empire, and one of the most fascinating episodes of the story – what Bryce termed the ‘theory of the Medieval Empire’ – now appeared outrageously anachronistic. Morley's Cobden represented the pinnacle of an honest and simple liberalism. The Life of Gladstone is above all the story of the young conservative High Church disciple who became the grand old man of liberalism. Acton's spirit was truly the spirit of a combative internationalism that would have an army of historians on its side.

Keywords: liberal internationalism; internationalist ideology; James Bryce; John Morley; Lord Acton; Holy Roman Empire; Cobden; Life of Gladstone

Chapter.  22688 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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