Essay on The Importance of the Invention of the Footnote

1908 Words 8 Pages
The Importance of the Invention of the Footnote


The study of history has and will always be an everlasting continuum. Throughout time, from Alexander the Great to Adolf Hitler, the study of history and why we undertake it has changed. Be it through new found articles, new technology, or new assumptions, the course of history has and will continue to change. However is there something that can add legitimacy to history? Something that can in a thousand years convince our predecessors that what we have done today is actually true. In short, no, as there will always be sceptics and critics of old articles who point towards its spuriousness and “realness”[1].

Leopold Van Ranke
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Despite the impressive documentation de Thou produced his mass volumes without footnotes as interrupted his pure classic narrative[2].

This is essay will examine the idea of ars historia and historical truth with regards to various issues, focusing mainly upon the Historical Revolution in Europe during the second millennium AD. The Catholic/Protestant relationship will be examined with their attitudes to historical writings under scrutiny. In addition two major sects of Islam will be placed under scrutiny and how their interpretation of the Qur’an has led to two varying sects.

The Footnote

Before any specific cases are examined it is essential to understand in general terms how important the invention of the footnote was. The footnote in Pre-Ranke days is given little credibility thus most articles legitimacy is consistently called into question by sceptics. However two factors need to understood. Firstly a modern day historian can identify a spurious article like an artist can identify a replica portrait[3]. Therefore when articles legitimacy is questioned it is more than likely that an experienced historian can identify its real value. Secondly by linking various documents you can build an image of how legitimate an article really is.

The invention of the footnote and its now mass use can only

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