Leopold von Ranke

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Leopold von Ranke (1795-12-21 - 1886-05-23) was a German historian. A descendent of a family that had been dedicated to the Lutheran ministry in Saxony for centuries, he came to history by way of theology and the classics. He published his first book - Histories of the Latin and Germanic nations from 1494-1514 in 1824. His other books included The history of the Popes in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1834-36); German History in the Time of the Reformation (1839-43); Prussian History (1847-48); French History in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1852-61);English History Chiefly of the Seventeenth Century (1859-68); and Universal History (1881-88)[1].


  • Die glücklichsten Zeiten der Menschheit sind die leeren Blätter im Buch der Geschichte.
    • Translation: The happiest times of humanity are the blank pages in the book of history.
  • [...] nicht das Amt die Vergangenheit zu richten, die Mitwelt zum Nutzen zukünftiger Jahre zu belehren, sondern bloß zu zeigen, wie es eigentlich gewesen ist.
    • Translation: [The historian has] not the duty to judge the past, nor to instruct one's contemporaries with an eye to the future, but rather merely to show how it actually was.
  • Er, der Geschichte Bären auf Politik bilden möchte, muß sicher sein, daß seine Geschichte objektiv ist; andernfalls beeinflußt Geschichte nicht Politik, aber eher Politik Geschichte.
    • Translation: He who wants to make history bear on politics must be sure that his history is objective; otherwise, history will not influence politics, but rather politics history.


  1. Hajo Holborn; A History Of Modern Germany; 1648-1840; Princeton University Press; 1964 and 1982

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