In moving from an analysis of Freeman’s views on the Teutonic origins of English freedom to the wider context of his Aryanism, we must proceed with caution. Not only are Victorian attitudes towards race notoriously difficult to interpret, but the word ‘Aryan’ has connotations in the twenty-first century which it did not have in the nineteenth. Analysing the only work to contain a systematic articulation of Freeman’s racial theory, the relatively obscure Comparative Politics (1873), I argue that his views were not idiosyncratic or extreme when judged by the
This book seeks to reclaim E. A. Freeman (1823–92) as a leading Victorian historian and public moralist. Freeman was a prolific writer of history, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, and outspoken commentator on current affairs. His reputation declined sharply in the twentieth century, however, and the last full-scale biography was W. R. W. Stephens’ Life and Letters of Edward A. Freeman (1895). When Freeman is remembered today, it is for his six-volume History of the Norman Conquest (1867–79), celebrations of English progress, and extreme racial views.
Revisiting Freeman and drawing on previously unpublished materials, this study analyses his historical texts in relationship to the scholarly practices and intellectual preoccupations of their time. Most importantly, it draws out Thomas Arnold’s influence on Freeman’s understanding of history as a cyclical process in which the present collapsed into the past and vice versa. While Freeman repeatedly insisted on the superiority of the so-called ‘Aryans’, a deeper reading shows that he defined race in terms of culture rather than biology and articulated anxieties about decline and recapitulation. Contrasting Freeman’s volumes on Western and Eastern history, this book foregrounds religion as the central category in Freeman’s scheme of universal history. Ultimately, he conceived world-historical development as a battleground between Euro-Christendom and the Judeo-Islamic Orient and feared that the contemporary expansion of the British Empire and contact with the East would prove disastrous.
languages, Orientalist scholars fostered the comparative science of religion and mythology that developed a vision of an Aryan race as the originator of Indian and European culture. 1 The belief in Indo-European origins further spurred European interest in Vedic Aryan sources. Certain Enlightenment thinkers idealised the Vedic past in an attempt to find a utopia outside Europe and as an alternative tradition to that of the Bible. Romantic mythographers not only accepted Aryan genius, but prioritised it. Speculation
This book has attempted a reinterpretation of Edward Freeman, analysing his activities as a historian and political campaigner, and positioning him as a leading public moralist of the Victorian age. Previous scholarship on Freeman has tended to dissect his output, focusing on his celebration of English history and his Aryan racialism, and representing him as a confident proponent of the Whig historiographical tradition which celebrated Western progress. In my opinion, this approach privileges some of Freeman’s ideas above others and gives only a partial
evident most famously in Germany's history of National Socialism and the idea of an ‘Aryan race’. This symbiosis is again made visible in the problem of the ‘non-white’ immigrants to European countries and the US, which reinforces the idea of a white nation (El-Haj, 2007 ; Schinagl, 2019 ). More recently, the focus of citizenship and belonging has been reframed within the language of genomics, as observed by scholars looking at Taiwan (Tsai and Lee, 2020 ), India (Subramaniam, 2019 ), South Africa (Erasmus, 2017 ), and Korea (Gottweis and Kim, 2009 ) within the
of David in September 1941. The actual physical removal of German Jews and other ‘non-Aryans’ from German society began with the first deportations in October 1940. Against the background of these ever-radicalising antisemitic policies it became increasingly difficult for the German Catholic hierarchy to retain their neutral position on the ‘Jewish question’, especially since racial discrimination was a principle the Vatican and the bishops had always rejected in their public statements. Moreover, tens of thousands of ‘non-Aryan’ Catholics would fall victim to
It is worth reiterating two aspects of Freeman’s racialised thinking before turning to consider his views on imperialism. First, Freeman presented English history as one chapter in a wider narrative of the progress of the Aryan race. The English were, for him, the foremost representatives of the Teutonic branch of an Aryan ‘family’ which also included the modern European descendants of the ancient Greeks and Romans. In this sense, Freeman’s nationalism was muted: as Burrow writes, Freeman ‘wanted to be a Whig on a European scale’ and he celebrated the shared
During the 1870s, the CMS declared its intention to open more missions ‘among the non-Aryan hill-people’, who it was feared were coming under Hindu influence. The Santals of Bengal and Arrains of Travancore had ‘already yielded a good harvest of souls to the Society’s sowing’. A new mission to the Gonds of central India had been opened and efforts had been made from time
. The time has come to speak out plainly … it will not do to have the policy of England, the welfare of Europe, sacrificed to Hebrew sentiment. The danger is no imaginary one. Every one must have marked that the one subject on which Lord Beaconsfield, through his whole career, has been in earnest has been whatever has touched his own people. A mocker about everything else, he has been thoroughly serious about this … we cannot sacrifice our people, the people of Aryan and Christian Europe, to the most genuine belief in an Asian mystery. We cannot have England or Europe
I N THE SUMMER of 1990, some two hundred white supremacists gathered on the remote estate of an Oklahoma farmer for Aryan Fest, a three-day-long concert and rally. Organized by the California group White Aryan Resistance (WAR), Aryan Fest was meant to politicize and radicalize young American skinheads. 1 The leader of WAR, a former Klansman from suburban San Diego named Tom Metzger, had been thrilled by the spread of skinhead subculture across the United States in the late 1980s, seeing in it profound political potential. “I was the first in the country to