History can only exist as a discipline if it develops a theory of periodization.
Reinhart Koselleck here summarizes the method of history that materialized in the Enlightenment and was further developed during the nineteenth century. With this idea of the period, the division of historical time became dominant. For the first time, according to Koselleck, concepts (Begriffe
) such as the Middle Ages or the Renaissance became associated with a unique and demarcated historical era. Indeed, it could be argued that this development in the classification of time contributed to the establishment of history as a profession or even as an independent discipline. History suddenly possessed borders. These "borders of time" defined the main division of history into three demarcated periods: antiquity, Middle Ages, and modernity. This Eurocentric triad dominates our general perception of historical time and corresponds with the division between antiquity, feudalism, and capitalism. It does not, as Jack Goody notes, take into consideration other "spaces" or "times" of non-European civilizations. In the modern era, to use this dominant Eurocentric periodization, especially because of the tendency to trace modernity's own alleged origin, this division became almost sanctified and could be referred to as the historiographical "Holy Trinity."
Periodization arose as a concept in the nineteenth century simultaneously with the emergence of two other, sometimes amalgamated terms: "nation" and "race." The significance of nationalism (as a concept), some argue, remained almost unnoticed by nineteenth-century scholars. For instance, Isaiah Berlin argues that, with the exception of Moses Hess in his Rome and Jerusalem (1862), no nineteenth-century contemporary thinker considered nationalism as the political force of the future. Whether or not one accepts Berlin's assertion, his argument seems plausible in the sense that, for most nineteenth-century scholars, nationalism was conceived as merely another stage in human progress. This stage corresponded with the basic natural feeling of belonging to a certain community, or Gemeinschaft. It could be argued that "race," like "nation," was also not identified as a distinct concept until the twentieth century. However, especially following the "Darwinian revolution" of the 1860s, a somewhat unique and allegedly scientific character was given to the notion of "race" by late nineteenth-century scholars. Thus, it may be argued, the concepts of "race" and "periodization" were transformed during the nineteenth century.
The present book proposes a novel thesis as to how historical periodization converged with racial, national, and religious themes and came to inform the historical perception of certain notable English and German scholars during the second half of the nineteenth century. The argument is developed by way of the exploration of two interlinked themes: how a specific group of English and German scholars employed the Teutonic notion to construct their past and present communities; and, given this notion, how some of the English scholars came to perceive historical periodization.
In light of these two themes, the book is divided into two interlinked parts: "community" and "time." "Community" engages with a particularly close community—or Gemeinschaft—of English and German scholars that emerged around the middle of the nineteenth century. On the English side, this community included Edward Augustus Freeman (1823-92), William Stubbs (1825-1901), John Richard Green (1837-83), and James Bryce (1838-1922). On the German side, it comprised scholars deeply involved with English scholarship, like Christian Karl Josias von Bunsen (1791-1860), Reinhold Pauli (1823-82), and finally the renowned, almost English, Oxford scholar Friedrich Max Müller (1823-1900). Building on the notion of Teutonic kinship, this community of scholars founded an imagined community of belonging, composed of several subnations that were nevertheless understood to be united by racial, ethnic, and cultural bonds. Hence, England's dominant Anglo-Saxons—namely, the retrospective identification of the Germanic Saxons, Angles and Jutes as the nation's ancestors (Chapter 1)—were imagined to have racially united most of the British Isles' inhabitants (excluding the autochthonic Celts of Ireland, Wales, and Scotland) with the Germanic entities of mainland Europe. From their historical work arose a vision of the English and Germans as ultimately one people, an almost indivisible community. For most of these scholars, the Teutonic notion was not a remnant of the past but a present, living ideal determining their social, political, and religious realities. Due to the Napoleonic Wars and, later in the century, the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), France was a key force in shaping these nineteenth-century realities. For many, including the above-mentioned Anglo-German scholars, France denoted the great as well as eternal "other" of both Germany and England. Why eternal? Because since antiquity, according to these scholars, France's Celtic/Gallic, Roman, and later Catholic identities have confronted the Teutonism and (later) Protestantism of Lutheran Germany and Anglican England. Indeed, the book will illustrate how these Anglo-German scholars studied the glorious tribal/barbarian past also in order "to penetrate below the Roman surface of Western Europe." Thus, their mutual Anglo-Saxon/Teutonic and Protestant narratives mainly emerged in response to France's "Latinity" and Catholicism.
Through the idea of "race," scholars categorized time with a more precise criterion than hitherto, based upon scientific and philological reasoning. "Race" was taken as reflecting the assumed "purity" of the community in the most predominant way. The appearance of a certain race at a specific space and time signified the beginning or the end of a period; in other words, a certain correlation was now established between the method in which these scholars divided time and their perception of the emergence of national communities. For many, the beginning or end of a certain era also signified the ascent or descent of a race or of a nation. Scholars today tend to discuss race and time prolifically, though usually as independent entities and without exploring the explicit correlation between these terms. In this book, however, they are incorporated, since the development of the modern racial doctrine, it is argued, influenced the division of time. Throughout the discussion, I will refer to this aspect as "racial time." Note that I do not claim that, according to these scholars, only racial characteristics demarcated history. Rather, I argue that racial perceptions of time were dominant but not exclusive in the division of time. The racial element, I assert, was especially prevalent in the modern perception of the nature and significance of the invasions and wanderings of the Teutonic tribes into the realms of the Roman Empire—a development that signified for many the end of antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Teutonism, as part of this concept of "racial time," thus gave shape to scholars' historical periodization. For some, the invasions of the Teutonic tribes initiated a new period in world history. The year AD 476, associated as it is with the fall of Rome, plays a crucial role here. During the nineteenth century, "Roman" scholars emphasized the barbarism of and the devastation caused by the tribes, which they contrasted with the glory of Rome, while "Germanic" scholars highlighted the role of the Germanic tribes in rejuvenating a decaying empire. For the latter, the tribes' conquest of the Roman Empire was not "ordinary" but "formative," symbolizing the transformation from antiquity to the Middle Ages by way of the injection of a new and dominant ethnoracial character into the decaying empire. As will be shown, for both the "Romanist" and "Germanic" schools, the fifth century became the ultimate "time border" between antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Following this initial discussion, the first part of the book (the first and second chapters) sets the Teutonic "community/Gemeinschaft" at the center of the research. In this part both the common ground and the divergences between individual scholars will be addressed. In the first chapter, I concentrate on the English Teutonic scholars and especially on the writings of Thomas Arnold (1795-1842), Freeman, Stubbs, Green, and Bryce. The chapter explores the shared Teutonic theme that dominated all their writings. These scholars were connected with each other through both social and academic ties. Some of them played a formative role in the construction of the historical profession in England. Together with their Teutonism, the chapter explores the "Anglo-Saxon" identity of these scholars. Through their Anglo-Saxonism, which was similar but not necessarily identical with their Teutonism, some of these scholars found affinity with American scholars such as Herbert B. Adams.
Chapter 2 turns to several German scholars who maintained prolific relations with these English scholars. There is, as I will show, a "genealogy" of German scholars who embraced the Teutonic theme and maintained long-lasting links with England. This scholarly genealogy begins with B. G. Niebuhr (1776-1831), the great German historian of Rome, and continues with Baron Bunsen, Max Müller, and Reinhold Pauli. As in the first chapter, the Teutonic theme again sets the tone. This German "Teutonism," as will be shown, included a seminal anti-French and anti-Celtic tendency also evident among the English scholars.
Chapter 3 merges the discussion of community in the first part of the book with the idea of temporal periodization, which is the focus of the second part. The chapter demonstrates how the perceived emergence and decline of a certain historical community/race/nation was pivotal in the periodization of history. In concrete terms, the chapter discusses how the invasions of the Germanic tribes signified, according to many nineteenth-century scholars, the time border between antiquity and modernity. The chapter delves into the works of "Roman" authors such as François Guizot (1787-1874), Numa-Denis Fustel de Coulanges (1830-89), as well as others who named the period after the fall of the Roman Empire the "Barbarian Era." The chapter then engages with a close reading of the Germanic position, prevalent among English scholars, which identified the Teutonic tribes as active and creative agents in a momentous historical transformation: the tribes defeated Rome, the greatest empire of all time, paved the way for the Middle Ages, embraced the Christian faith, and spread Christianity among the pagans.
While the first chapters are dedicated to the conventional periodization, the second part of the book—Chapters 4, 5, and 6—examines the theme of "time" in greater detail and delves into the distinctive periodizations of Freeman, Bryce, and John Bagnell Bury (1861-1927). Although these scholars still held to some aspects of the conventional triadic periodization, they mainly adopted a vision of a historical continuum. Both Freeman and Bryce, as will be detailed in the first part of the book, belonged to the Teutonic circle. Hence, through their contact with and reading of German scholars, the Teutonic notion was transferred into their historical perception. Indeed, the two men were themselves good friends for over four decades and maintained a prolific correspondence, a thorough examination of which provides a fair part of the documentary evidence used in the book. Despite some divergence in their respective attachments to the Teutonic idea, both highlighted the historical significance of the Germanic tribes and celebrated their vast influence on the making of the nations of modern Europe. Bury, however, was far less keen on the notion of "Teutonism" and, although admiring Freeman, can be viewed as a contrasting example to that of both Freeman and Bryce. In the case of Freeman and Bryce, it is important to note that their creation of a unique historical periodization did not contradict their Teutonic affinity. The three scholars, discussion of whose work is at the heart of the second part of the book, reveal important similarities but also major differences. Their unique historical periodization, it is here argued, has not been recognized in the secondary research literature. All three adopted a certain historical unity that signified a departure from the conventional and time-hallowed division between antiquity and the Middle Ages. Thus, their concept of the "unity of history," initially developed by Thomas Arnold, while a central focus throughout the book, is especially prominent in the second part. These scholars, it should be noted, also left a substantial mark on the professionalization of the English university system. All three were regius professors in Oxbridge and each aimed to implement a certain innovative periodization within the Oxbridge curriculum.
Starting with the unique periodization of Freeman in the fourth chapter, I will focus primarily on his notion of the "unity of history" and its associated idea of a long-lasting historical continuum. For most of his life, Freeman was an independent man of letters who published broadly on various historical matters. From 1884 to his death in 1892 he was regius professor of modern history in Oxford. Although he at times admitted the role of religion and language, in general, Freeman viewed historical unity and historical continuity as pertaining to the history of a single race. As such, however, his unity theory appears incompatible with his occasional use of periodization. Chapter 4 explores the interesting and idiosyncratic ways in which Freeman conceived of a long historical unity that was nevertheless divisible into subperiods.
Chapter 5 concentrates on the distinctive periodization of the scholar and politician James Bryce. At the center of this chapter is a study of Bryce's underresearched The Holy Roman Empire (THRE, 1864). Bryce offered an innovative scheme that identified a long unity that had lasted within the Roman Empire from its foundation by Augustus until its dissolution in 1804-6. The key to this this long historical European unity, he argued, was that the original Roman institutional element had integrated with the new Teutonic components. Together with emphasizing the racial fusion between Teutonic and Latin races, Bryce also looked to an institutional, cultural, and juristic inheritance that glued the empire together for centuries.
Chapter 6 explores the work of Bury, the Irish classicist and historian of the "late" Roman Empire (i.e., Byzantium). Bury— in contrast to all the other figures discussed in this book— was only lukewarm on Teutonism. In fact, he opened up a whole new path of historical research that recognized the late Byzantine Empire as the true successor of Rome. For him, Rome and, with it, antiquity were not terminated in the fifth century, and there was a continuity between the "old" Rome of the West and the "new" Rome of the East. This periodization, as in the cases of Freeman and Bryce, partly resulted from Bury's adoption of a particular version of the "unity of history" idea. But, in part due to his Irish Protestant background, Bury also dismissed Christianity— or, more accurately, Catholicism— as a marker of historical unity. For Bury, Catholicism stood in opposition to two notions central in his writings: reason and progress. Thus, Bury turned his gaze to the Roman East as providing an alternative to the "imagined" Catholic unity of the West.
These three scholars reveal similarities as well as major differences in their writings. They all devised a method that signified a departure from the accepted and almost sacred division between antiquity and the Middle Ages. Each from his unique point of view, presented an innovative scheme for the division of time. In terms of the whole book, "race," as will be shown, was the cornerstone for temporal periodization. It was key in the establishment of the triad periodization as well as in the unique periodizations of Freeman and Bryce.
"Race," "Language," and "Periodization": Some Preliminary Remarks
Throughout this work, I shall refer to terms such as "race," "language," and "periodization," and their role in the process of constructing the national community by various scholars. In this introduction, I therefore turn to an initial clarification of these terms.
From the mid- and especially late eighteenth century, following the publications of scholars such as the Scottish naturalist James Hutton (1726-97), major debates had evolved regarding prehistory, the origins of mankind, and the earth's age. Hutton, for instance, refuted the time-honored belief in the biblical narrative and replaced it with a scientific approach to the earth's age. The earth, according to him, was very old, millions of years older than biblical calculations. Thus, both God and men, as Jack Repcheck shows, were omitted from Hutton's today somewhat forgotten but unique and pathbreaking scientific theory.
While Hutton was challenging the biblical chronology, some of his Enlightenment contemporaries followed a related path and contested the divine origins of language. These thinkers adopted the ancient Epicurean theory attesting to the linkage between language and reality. Language, they argued, developed gradually through history. This claim differed from theories that, mainly based on the Genesis narratives concerning Adam's naming of the animals and the Tower of Babel, posited the existence of a perfect original language. As Maurice Olender aptly commented on this tradition, "the story of Genesis is thus the story of language in action—first the language of God, then the language of man." After the Deluge, in a narrative that has received multiple commentaries, the three sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, scattered over the face of the earth and formed three distinct language (as well as ethnic) families. According to the genealogies of the Middle Ages: Shem was the ur-father of the Asian people, the Europeans descended from Japheth, and the Africans from Ham. Thomas Trautmann has named this Bible-oriented genealogy the "Mosaic ethnology." Its influence may be seen, for instance, in the works of Sir Isaac Newton, who offered his own interpretation of the Noachite scheme. Some scholars, including Rousseau, even attempted to merge the biblical and Epicurean theories by claiming, for instance, that human history (and the use of mundane languages) had only developed after the Deluge, while between the age of Adam and the Flood had existed an original divine language.
In 1771 a famous contest on the origins of language was held at the Berlin Academy. Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) won the first prize with what would become a celebrated essay, Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache (1771), in which he argued that four natural laws (Naturgesetze) define language. The third law states: "Just as the whole human species could not possibly remain a single herd, likewise it could not retain a single language either. So there arises a formation of different national languages." For Herder, languages form a central part of the community's identity and nurture the community's alleged superiority over other neighboring groups. Language, he writes, was a "characteristic word of the race [Merkwort des Geschlechts], bond of the family, tool of instruction, hero song of the fathers' deeds, and the voice of these fathers from their graves. Language could not possibly, therefore, remain of one kind, and so the same familial feeling that had formed a single language, when it became national hatred, often created difference, complete difference in language. He is a barbarian, he speaks a foreign language [Er ist Barbar, er redet eine fremde Sprache]."
Through language, the community constructs an attachment to the nations' forefathers and to a certain actual or even mythical past. As George Mosse writes concerning the importance of ancient imagined or real narratives for the establishment of national communities: "the roots determine the firmness of the tree. " Indeed, and as I will further trace throughout the book, Mosse's figure accentuates the importance of deep history in the writings of many nineteenth-century scholars, including the Anglo-German circle.
Herder, in his essay, had asserted that language difference denoted cultural and national variation. Friedrich Schlegel (1772-1829) absorbed Herder's insight into the relation between languages and national uniqueness. Turning his gaze eastward in his On the Language and Wisdom of the Indians (Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, 1808), Schlegel praised Sanskrit, defining this ancient Indian language as an Ursprache (protolanguage) that various European languages had originated from. The study of India's languages, religions, and history supposedly validated not only the linguistic but also the cultural and some argued racial continuity between the subcontinent and Europe. The connection with India was especially evident in the northern parts of Europe, in the German-speaking spheres. Schlegel, however, did not necessarily identify the people who spoke these languages as physically superior in racial terms.
For some nineteenth-century scholars, however, language was an essential part of racial belonging. The notorious Arthur Comte de Gobineau (1816-82) is perhaps the best known of those who attempted to blend racial and linguistic origins. In his famous Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races (Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines, 1853), Gobineau underscored a strict association between language and race: "Where the mental development of a race is faulty or imperfect, the language suffers to the same extent. This is shown by Sanskrit, Greek, and the Semitic group, as well as by Chinese." Correspondingly, language, he continued, could also mirror "the genius of a race." Race and language, for scholars such as Gobineau, became synonymous concepts. The importance of language in these considerations will be seen throughout the discussion. The role of the philologist was hence no less and sometimes even more important than that of the historian. It was through language that one traced an alleged linkage to the ancient past of a certain race.
Other nineteenth-century scholars, however, perceived language and race as separate. John Crawfurd (1783-1868), a Scottish ethnologist, declared in an 1862 lecture before the Ethnological Society: "I do not hesitate at once to affirm that language, although valuable evidence of the history and migrations of man, affords no sure test of the Race he belongs to." As Thomas Trautmann shows, Crawfurd insisted on a gap between language and race mainly because he rejected the theory of the common racial origins of the Britons and the Indians. Crawfurd and other scholars, such as Isaac Taylor (1787-1865), insisted that while it was possible to acquire language, biological characteristics were natural and fixed.
"Race," it must be noted, also included what in the post-World War II era is defined as "ethnicity," that is, a common ancestry with shared memories and culture. Thus, in the nineteenth century, race and ethnicity were not entirely distinct concepts, and in some cases it is futile to distinguish between them. Indeed, it is rather difficult to form a clear and comprehensive definition of "race" in nineteenth-century discourse. Race could mean either "lineage" or "type." As lineage, it usually took its meaning from the idea of a common ancestry of all mankind and an evolving physical differentiation that led to the division of mankind into races. Indeed, in modernity the purported theory that physical difference separates human beings became prominent. Already in the first half of the eighteenth century naturalists such as the Swedish Carl von Linné (Linnaeus, 1707-78) divided mankind into four races, distinguished by unique physiognomy and social structures (Systema naturae, 1735). Later in the century the scientific character of race became far more prominent, especially through the development of climatic theories. For instance, in his encyclopedic Histoire naturelle (1749-1804), Comte de Buffon (1707-88) singled out climate as the main factor determining the physiognomy of mankind. In this theory, it important to note, race was not a fixed criterion but could change depending on different climates. Herder, influenced by Buffon's work, also cherished the notion of racial mutability. The English Charles White (1728-1813), nevertheless, rejected Buffon's (and Herder's) stance. In An Account of the Regular Gradation in Man (1799), White "sanctified" race and located it at the heart of science. An unmitigated gap, he argued, separated the allegedly superior white race from the black Africans.
Some of these late eighteenth-century debates injected a prominent physical-biological dimension into the nineteenth-century discourse about "race." The Scottish anatomist Robert Knox (1791-1862) wrote in 1850 that "race is everything: literature, science, art, in a word civilization, depends on it." Knox's aphorism hinged on ostensible "scientific evidence" gathered from his studies of the human body. As the title of his book—The Races of Man (1850)—suggested, "race" separated human groups: "Men are of various Races; call them Species, if you will; call them permanent Varieties; it matters not . . . men are of different races." Resembling the eighteenth-century Charles White in his views, Knox believed that racial identity could not be altered. But the most dramatic impact on the racial discourse of the nineteenth century, especially in Britain, occurred following the publication of Sir Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species (1859). As has been argued in many studies, Darwin was no racist. Alas, the interpretation of Darwin's writings became central among many racist thinkers. Race, after Darwin, also received a supposedly more scientific aura, as seen, for example, in the works of Darwin's half cousin Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911), the founder of eugenics.
Over the course of the book these racial readings of Darwin will occasionally surface. However, following the above preliminary account, the scholars at the center of this research rather reflect a somewhat vague and loose definition of "race" and "language." Thus, occasionally, the distinction between "race" and "language" is clear in their writing, while in other cases what we find is hazy, and the two terms are blended. Caution is therefore required when asserting that scholars followed a certain interpretation of language and race. Still, and this is the main point, during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries both race and language could play a vital role in constructing new classifications of belonging, which either united or divided communities.
The Pillars of Periodization
In the context of the present discussion, it is crucial to examine the theme of historical periodization from a broader perspective. Together with the technical division of historical time, periodization seems to include an essential meaning that influences the way we perceive the past. As the famous French medievalist Jacques Le Goff (1924-2014) noted in his last book: "Periodization is not only a way of acting upon time. The very act itself draws our attention to the fact that there is nothing neutral, or innocent, about cutting time up into smaller parts." Racial classifications, it will be argued, should be examined with this wider and long-standing drive to periodization in mind, since through this discussion the modern distinctive features of the racial classification will emerge into light. Thus, I will now present other factors, besides race, that regulate historical periodization but also define communities. These other factors are significant, since in many cases they converge with the racial aspect in the works of various scholars. Furthermore, these categories of periodization, I maintain, intertwined during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries with the Germanist and Romanist arguments.
In conjunction with the racial division of time, which, as claimed, was predominantly a derivative of modernity, it is possible to identify several other leading methods of periodization. The religious division of time originated already in antiquity. Julius Africanus (ca. AD 160-240) devoted his Chronologia (AD 212-21) to calculating the world's (religious) time. His work, following his conversion from paganism to Christianity, was heavily dependent on the Old and New Testaments. For this reason, Africanus adopted a time scheme of six thousand years that will elapse between the Creation and the Second Coming of Christ. The Christian writer Dionysius Exiguus (Denis the Small) was the first to allude to the distinct periods of BC ("before Christ") and AD (anno Domini, "in the year of the Lord"), which he did, according to his own classification of time, in anno Domini 525. This binary division was later employed also in the writing of the Venerable Bede (672-735). This conception of time was founded on a specific end event. The establishment of the Christian community by Christ and his followers marked the beginning of a new epoch. Bede adopted in The Reckoning of Time (AD 725, De temporum ratione, chap. 66) the scheme of Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430). Augustine devised the most famous Christian time line by identifying six ages in world history. Five of these ages, beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden, had already come to pass, while the sixth and final age commenced with the birth of Jesus Christ: "With His coming the sixth age has entered on its process; so that now the spiritual grace, which in previous times was known to a few patriarchs and prophets, may be made manifest to all nations") On the Catechizing of the Uninstructed 22.39). Augustine himself relied on the periodic construction of Eusebius of Caesarea, who, in his Kanones, mentioned six ages before the arrival of Christ. Hence, Eusebius identified seven and not six ages. There are also other differences between the two periodizations. For instance, Augustine, following the genealogical list in the synoptic Gospels, mentioned that each of the last three eras lasted fourteen generations. Eusebius, however, divided the last three eras differently. Nevertheless, both church fathers emphasized the birth of Jesus as the monumental event in the history of the world. This event transformed history forever and will eventually lead to the redemption of the Christian community.
The biblical chronology that marked a six-thousand-year period between the Creation and the Second Coming was cherished exclusively for over a millennium. However, various writers gave different dates for the Creation. Martin Luther applied the biblical scheme in the sixteenth century when he wrote that the Creation had occurred in 3961 BC. In the seventeenth century, the British archbishop James Ussher was even more specific when he elected Sunday (noon) October 23, 4004 BC, as the start of everything. Sir Isaac Newton also adopted the biblical chronology and followed Ussher's year of creation (although not stating a specific day).
Time, therefore, merged with a "holy sequence" and was even governed by religion. Other similar examples are found in the Jewish notion of the Messiah and the idea of the Mahdi in Islam. Time, or, more accurately, history, as Mircea Eliade comments, will "cease to exist" when the Messiah appears. Hence, these religions look to a forthcoming miraculous appearance that will initiate a new order that is almost out of time. The religious community of the believers will become universal and obliterate its former structure. Thus, religious time is attuned to the transformation of the community and vice versa.
In a sense, this religious conception of time, especially as conceived by contemporaries who look back into the past, emphasizes the idea that the past was far more glorious than the present. This vision thus embeds a prominent nostalgic feature that mythicizes the deeds of founding members or institutions. The Jews flourished when the temple existed. Christianity reached its zenith when Jesus and his disciples wandered in the Galilee and Judea. Muhammad's voyages and deeds in the Arabian Peninsula became a theme that every Muslim wishes to emulate. As for the future, in all the monotheistic religions it possesses the potential to be equal and even superior to the past, yet this will only be achieved in a forthcoming era and only if the members of the community obey certain rules. Thus, time moves downward from a past peak, with the belief that in future times the members of the community will be redeemed and even surpass the nostalgic-celebrated past.
The division between monarchies and reigns of kings, or the political periodization, as I label it, also originated in antiquity. Possibly this is the most conventional method of periodization. Until our own age, it was the most commonly used scheme to delineate historical eras. The succession of kings provided a definite time line that allows chronicles and books such as the Bible to present a sequence that depends on one criterion only, the year of the king. Bible chapters often begin with a verse stating the year or the era of a king. In the New Testament, for example, the famous verse from the synoptic Gospels states that Jesus was born during the reign of Herod (Matthew 2:1). This example in fact located Jesus in a specific time, which allowed later writers to develop the scheme of BC and AD. Despite its given name, the political division of history is sometimes apolitical, since it technically divides time between rulers with no distinct political agenda. Nevertheless, in other cases this periodization may depend on the political tendency of contemporary or of later writers. In general, special stature was usually given to the last ruler in the lineage. For example, the young Roman emperor with the ironic name of Romulus Augustulus (merging both the name of the mythic father of Rome, Romulus, and that of Augustus, the founder of the principate), signified the end of the Roman Empire because he was the last emperor to rule in the city of Rome before the barbarian invasion of AD 476. A similar stature was attributed to the first monarch in the line of kings. This was also the case with William the Conqueror who symbolized a new period in English history.
In antiquity, we find examples of a fusion between religious and political periodizations. Perhaps the most prominent such example is the famous description of the four monarchies in the book of Daniel. These narratives appear twice in the book. In the first instance (2:31ff.) there is a description of a four-piece figure denoting the four monarchies that rule the world one after another. These kingdoms will be followed by a fifth eternal monarchy representing the kingdom of God (2:44). Later in the book, this vision of Daniel is repeated in a dream depicting four animals that surface from the sea successively (7:17-18). Once again, each of these animals symbolizes the four monarchies ruling the world successively. One of the main debates concerning these prophecies is which monarchies they signify. One view, fitting to the second century BC when the book was written, maintains that the kingdoms represented are Babylon, Media, Persia, and Macedonia/Greece. Another view argues that Media, Persia, Greece, and Rome are denoted. The difference between the two interpretations derives from the fact that the second possibility was offered following the decline of Greece and before the establishment of the promised kingdom of heaven. For this reason, the fourth kingdom was thought to be Rome rather than Greece. The scheme of the four kingdoms was the foundation of the medievalist concept of the translatio imperii. This idea stressed the notion of imperial succession from the Roman Empire into the later kingdoms of the Carolingians, France, Russia, and so on. According to this interpretation, which later in the nineteenth century also received secular interpretations by some of the scholars who are at the heart of this book (Bryce and others), the "fourth kingdom," Rome, never fell and in fact continued to thrive through various political entities (Carolingians, Holy Roman Empire, and so on).
Another interpretation of time may be defined as social time. This interpretation, comparable with racial time, can also be regarded as the product of modernity. It is epitomized in the development of the socialist and Marxist schemes of history. Perhaps, in similarity with the dependency of religious time on certain sacred texts, social time is predominantly based on several nineteenth-century texts, such as the Communist Manifesto. This notion of social time is reflected in the opening pages of the Manifesto, where Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels assert their famous judgment that all history is but the struggle of the classes. Class, therefore, governs time. In an added footnote, Marx and Engels claimed that the impact of class on the course of history was finally revealed in 1847 when "August von Haxthausen (1792-1866) discovered common ownership of land in Russia." In the same footnote, they also mention the German legal historian Georg Ludwig von Maurer (1790-1872), who argued that all the Teutonic races had devised a communal ownership that already originated in their natural stage. The significance of Maurer is crucial. In his study, race and class merged in the history of Teutonic races since those presented the communal concept in the most seamless way.
What, then, is "racial time"? I identify it as a modern invention in which certain scholars divided history subsequent to the emergence and fall of races throughout history. The racial alternation is achieved through conquest, invasion, or even peaceful migration that may eventually transform the political, religious, social, and economic conditions either of a whole civilization or of a certain community and land. For instance, the case study of the wandering of the Teutonic tribes provides one of the most explicit historical examples for the convergence of periodization and race.
Racial Boundaries: Between Time, Community, and Space
According to various writers, ancient as well as modern, natural borders such as the Rhine, the Danube, the Alps, and the Pyrenees were considered borders that separated various cultures even during the times of the Romans. What was natural was identified with what was authentic. Thus, Andreas Alföldi defined the rivers Rhine and Danube as demarcating the territories of the barbarians from the Roman Empire as "moral barriers": "the frontier line was . . . the line of demarcation between two fundamentally different realms of thought, whose moral codes did not expand across the boundary." At the beginning of the first century BC, Julius Caesar and Strabo described the regions beyond the Rhine as wild zones inhabited by barbaric peoples, while referring to the rest of the Roman provinces as belonging to an established civilization. In this, they expressed a common Roman perception according to which Rome ruled the world (orbis terrarum) and therefore its rulers should be accorded the title "the masters of the world" (dominus totius orbis). In classical Greece, four hundred years earlier, a similar contrast was made wherein the zone of culture was defined as the "populated world," which was an antithesis to the "wild" zone. The peoples who resided within the border were sometimes attributed similar or identical characteristics. This contributed to the formation of a comprehensive or stereotypically generic perception in which "whole nations are treated as a single individual with a single personality." Nevertheless, alongside this essentialist identification, there was among the ancient writers a more nuanced perception that differentiated between various ethnic groups in accordance with certain characteristics and customs. Most ancient authors, it seems, held both perceptions.
The view that there existed a clear geographical boundary between the Roman world and the barbarian one greatly enhanced both the attitude that regarded the Germanic tribes as wild people who destroyed the ancient world and the converse attitude that named them as the "knights of freedom" who formed a better world. These two opposite approaches are based on, among others, the dichotomist view of the natural border already developed during ancient times.
Following this, a substantial premise arose in which the ethnic/racial, cultural, and geographical boundary also outlined the boundary of the historical era. In other words, the contrast between the barbarians and the Romans determined also the periodization of antiquity and of the Middle Ages. While a clear geographical boundary allegedly separated the two cultures, it was regarded as one historical era. However, when the Germanic tribes crossed the Rhine and Danube rivers from the fourth century and spread all over the empire during the fifth century, there came an end to the ancient era and a new historical epoch began. For many scholars, as I will demonstrate, there is no difference in the periodization of the end of antiquity between those who observed the Germanic tribes as heroes and those who viewed them as the enemies of civilization. Both approaches maintained that since the tribes breached the old borders and upturned the conventional order, they should be defined as the harbingers of the Middle Ages.
The crossing of the natural, almost mythic geographical border also denoted a racial change. Following the invasions, a new great mass of people transformed the character and culture of the autochthonic societies. The Rhine marked geographically one of these "racial borders," and its crossing by the tribes became seen as a dramatic event, in particular during the wars of German unity and independence (1870-71). These arguments concerning "racial time" are particularly significant since they nourished the construction of the racial English-German community of scholars. Through them it was possible to construct a transnational racial affinity linking England and Germany. The Teutonic (Vandals, Alans, and Suebi tribes) crossing of the Rhine (AD 406) and later the crossing of the Channel by the Anglo-Saxons (AD 449) were part of the same great Teutonic expansion. As will be illustrated, for the various scholars discussed, it was the racial emergence of the Teutons that altered time and, even more significant, forever bonded Germany and England. This, as I argue, is the main significance of "racial time." It allowed new racial communal demarcations to come into force, as well as dividing history and influencing the construction of communities during the nineteenth century.
One example of the merger of blood (not necessarily using the term Rasse) and periodization emerges from the arguments of the German philosopher Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814). In his famous Reden an die deutsche Nation (1808), Fichte portrayed the tribes as authentically German and as commencing a new historical age: "The Germans are first and foremost one of the Teutonic tribes [Stamm der Germanier]. As to the latter it will suffice here to define them as those whose task it was to unite the social order established in ancient Europe with the true religion preserved in ancient Asia, and thus to develop out of themselves a new age in opposition to the antiquity that had perished." The whole modern world must regard the Germans as such, since their belief in the principle of freedom paved the way to the future: "To their stubborn resistance the entire modern world owes the fact that it is as it is." The German nation was constructed thanks to the tribes because it inherited their innate characteristics. For Fichte, the tribes determine the nature of the German nation both at present and in the future:
If the Romans had succeeded in subjugating them also and, as the Romans did everywhere else, in exterminating them as a nation, then the entire development of humanity would have taken a different—and surely not a happier—course. We, the immediate inheritors of their soil, their language and their convictions, owe it to them that we are still Germans [dass wir noch Deutsche sind], that we are still borne along by the stream of original and independent life; to them we owe everything that we have since been as a nation [ihnen verdanken wir Alles, was wir seitdem als Nation gewesen sind]; and, unless it is now the end for us and the last drop of blood descended from them has dried up in our veins [der letzte von ihnen abgestammte Blutstropfen in unseren Adern versiegt ist], to them we shall owe everything that we shall yet become.
The significant sentence here, which may be referred to as an emerging racial discourse, is the statement that the modern Germans were connected to their tribal ancestors not only through cultural, political, or geographical links but also through an actual physical connection. Consequently, the blood of the Germanic tribes flows in the veins (Adern
) of the modern nation.
The German poet and historian Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1860) also signified the Rhine as an integral part of the German "racial" sphere. The people who dwelled in the Rhine valley belonged to the Germanic tribe of the Alemanni, as attested through their language, manners, and physical appearance. Despite their mingling with other races, causing a certain racial degeneration, the ancient Germanic kernel of the people on both banks of the Rhine was evident. Thus, the purity of the race was most vital for preserving its merit and strength. The Franks, however, when entering Gaul in the fifth century, became mingled with other races and lost their racial purity: "the Frank in Gaul was soon contaminated by the corrupt, servile, and Romanised Gaul, and became as cunning and faithless as he was brave and cruel." This was the origin of the French character, subsequently manifested in their ill-deeds throughout history. The invasions of the Germanic tribes did not exterminate the Gallo-Romans. Instead, a fusion occurred between the two races, the result of which was France. The racial alternation in Gallia and the ability of the Germanic tribes to prevent the Romans from conquering the territory East of the Rhine, marked the emergence of a new racial order and era that resulted eventually in the construction of the European states. The same threat of racial dilution also endangered the purity of Germany in Arndt's times: "the Rhine, of which Germany was once so proud, will be shared with the Franks, that this fine race will be reduced to a hybrid set; that Germany, the unconquered, will become the scorn of all nations." Arndt explained how animosity toward another race was necessary for the freedom of the nation. If Arminius had not pushed (getrieben) the Romans out of Germany's natural boundaries, the Germanic people would have been demolished. Arminius's courageous act, Arndt asserted, was the epic culmination of the love of the Volk and hatred of others (Volksliebe und Volkshaß).
The discourse of race and time was not absent in the French sphere, and thinkers such as Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès (1748-1836), famous for his essay "What Is the Third Estate?" (Qu'est-ce que le Tiers-État?, 1789), identified the people of the third estate with the Gauls and the nobility of France with the Franks. For such anti-aristocratic thinkers, the Gauls were the true ancestors of the French, while the Franks were mere conquerors and not "natives" of France. Therefore, only the offspring of the Gauls, meaning the masses, are fit to be called "French." The Gallic myth thus served the philosophers of the revolution. Here was a historical legitimation of the claim that the French nobility did not deserve its old political and social status: "When our poor fellow-citizens insist on distinguishing between our lineage and another, could nobody reveal to them that it is at least as good to be descended from the Gauls and the Romans as from the Sicambrians, Welches and other savages from the woods and swamps of ancient Germany? 'True enough,' some will say; 'but conquest has upset all relationships and hereditary nobility now descends through the line of the conquerors.' Well, then; we shall have to arrange for it to descend through the other line!"
It is important to emphasize that this argumentation was a reaction to the claim of some representatives of the nobility, such as Henri de Boulainvilliers (1658-1722), who argued long before the French Revolution that the nobles deserved their high social and political status because they were the offspring of the Franks. For him, the Franks, following the conquest, deprived the local Gallo-Romans of their superior rights and stature. Hence, there was a racial struggle between the two social classes of the modern population. The main attribute of the Franks was their love of freedom, a notion that originated in Tacitus (AD 56-117). Boulainvilliers identified the Franks as an overclass. For him, the Gallo-Romans were tyrannical and oppressive, as seen in their legislation, tax laws, and governmental system. This split between the Franks and the Romans reflected the political stance of Boulainvilliers, who wished to endorse the power of the aristocracy and was opposed to the growing power of the third estate.
The idea of the ethnic struggle between the Gallic Romans and their German conquerors became very significant during the nineteenth century. Its effects can probably be discerned in the thesis of Marx and Engels about the struggle between the different social classes and, as mentioned earlier, in the racist views of Gobineau, who predicted the degeneration of European/Aryan civilization due to the fusion between the world's races. The perception of the existence of a "struggle" was integrated also into the national-territorial nineteenth-century confrontation between France and Germany. This insight enabled French statesmen and thinkers to argue that some disputed territories belonged to France and not to Germany, for they (the French) were the native people of Gallia (France), while the Germans were conquerors who had invaded this territory and therefore had no historic rights. The French discourse demonstrates the incorporation of the "racial time" with what I defined earlier as "social time." As in the case of religion and race, the two ideas merge and construct a certain understanding of history.
In light of these examples of "racial time," it may be asked how the racial and national schemes differed from each other. Many nineteenth-century scholars comprehended the concepts of nation and race as nearly identical and therefore interchangeable. Thus, the main difficulty is to differentiate between them, since, for some, such a distinction is only semantic. Indeed, it is possible to claim that race is focused on the physical aspect, while the nation is more concerned with language, cultural, political, and religious definitions. Yet, in regard to nineteenth-century historiography, this distinction was less apparent, since the physical aspect was occasionally adjoined with the discourse on the nation, while other traits, such as language, were linked to race. Race and ethnicity were intermingled.
Another perhaps more helpful way of approaching the distinction is between what each of the terms consists of and classifies. Race may include a variety of nations, and for that reason distinct nations can be part of the same race. The nation, alternatively, denotes a specific group usually living in a particular land. For that reason, "racial time" is more general and includes a more universal periodization. However, the national periodization concentrates on the time line of the nation itself. In many cases, there is a fusion between the two, and the more general "racial time" is attached to the particularistic national time. The reason for this is due mainly to the fact that before the "birth" of the nation in a specific historical event the people who construct it belonged to a certain race. Therefore, to detect their origins there is a need to "invent" an earlier sense of belonging that precedes the nation. As many scholars have demonstrated, the racial discourse emerged with great vigor during the middle of the nineteenth century. Conversely, sometimes the "new" racial units breached the singular national demarcations and constructed other usually more generalized classifications. As will be shown in the first part of this book, the Pan-Teutonic movement created a shared transnational community that included England, Scandinavia, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. The racial and the national distinctions added new and particularistic delineations to the division of historical time. Thus, they not only divided time but were also used as a tool for differentiating between merging people and communities. Suddenly, every nation or race was conceptualized along with a unique time line that was deemed essential for its creation.