Perse Studio

Independent-learning super-curriculum projects: reading, research and ideas shared by Perse students


It would be wrong to conflate history and memory

Francoise D, Y12

Historical facts and memory are undoubtedly essential for reconstructing the history of the world in our minds accurately. Memory is often the reason for certain sources to exist, as accounts of events always come from what someone remembers of the incident at the time. However, conflating history and memory is dangerous as it eventually becomes impossible to divide the two as they become entwined in the remaking of past events. Whether it’s entirely wrong to conflate the two is debatable as often you can’t piece together the past without intertwining the two. The definition of conflate can vary, so to avoid confusion, in this essay I am going to use this definition of conflate: “brought together from various sources, composed of various elements”.

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What claim does Charlemagne have to the accolade ‘Father of Europe’?

Rupert G, Y12

The term Europae Pater, from which the modern accolade ‘Father of Europe’ has been translated, originates from an anonymously-authored manuscript written c. 800 AD. Known as Karolus Magnus et Leo Papa it tells of the dramatic flight from Rome of Pope Leo III and his meeting with the omnipotent King of the Franks, Charlemagne, at Paderborn (giving rise to its other name, the Paderborn Epic). Charlemagne was born sometime in the 740s, son of Pepin the Short. Pepin’s deposition of the ‘do nothing’ Merovingian dynasty in 751 allowed Charlemagne to succeed his father as King of the Franks from 768 until his death in 814. Charlemagne’s empire was enhanced by the wars of his reign until he reigned most of modern western Europe. The aforementioned meeting of Leo and Charles would eventually result in the coronation of Charlemagne as Imperator Romanorum (800AD) and cement his position within the European myth. Such is the power of the legacy he left behind, that he continues to appear as an icon of European politics to this day.

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Should historians embrace or resist ‘presentism’?

Ethan A, Y12

The debate over historical presentism can be interpreted as mirroring the debate between the scientific school, championed by Leopold von Ranke, and the Postmodernists, over the ability of historians to remove their influence from their works. Both sides go too far. History can never be totally scientifically objective. The selection and ordering of facts inherent in historical research necessitates the making of value judgements by the historian. Neither is it completely relativist, as there has to be basic grounding in fact so as to avoid the manufacture of pure fictions.

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