Sixteenth Century Nationalism

Sixteenth Century Nationalism

Sixteenth Century Nationalism

Sixteenth Century Nationalism

Excerpt

And why should not... twilight be recognized as a useful reality as well as the sharper rays of high‐ noon?

Charles E. Merriam,
Political Power

We should not ask too much of definitions; ideas might best be understood approximately. Nor should we ask too much of dates; many and conflicting answers have been given to such questions as when a concept was born, or when it acquired the meaning we give it today. History leaves behind too much, or too little. In the first case, the historian has the difficult task of selecting and rejecting evidence in order to understand and explicate the past. In the second case, he is forced to assume the priest's role, as he interprets fragments, signs, tokens. We have been living with both difficulties—arbitrariness and exegesis— for a long time, but the dangers from either side are fortunately attenuated by new findings and constant reversals of judgment. Then also, special interrogations of narrow aspects, of details that are lost in larger treatments, have often been the means of breathing new life into seemingly dead arguments, of shattering fixed opinions. With this in mind, I would like to raise the question again of whether or not there existed a genuine national consciousness in sixteenth-century Europe.

The choice of the sixteenth century imposed itself on me, as I encountered, almost incidentally, so much chauvinism . . .

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