The empiricists
in The houses of history
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Empiricism is both a theory of knowledge, an epistemology, and a method of historical enquiry. The core tenets of empirical history remained deeply influential among the historical profession throughout the twentieth century. An exclusive emphasis upon the core principles of empirical epistemology may lead historians to reject understandings of the past based upon different types of historical sources, such as oral tradition or material culture. This chapter outlines the principles of empiricism, the founding epistemology of the professional discipline, and explores the ways in which historians have challenged and modified this theory of knowledge over the past century and a half. It presents an example of empiricist history, taken from one of Geoffrey Elton's most influential works, England Under the Tudors, first published in 1955. His corpus of work focuses primarily upon administrative history, and he also become one of the leading defenders of empiricism as a theory of knowledge.

The houses of history

A critical reader in history and theory, second edition


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