The Importance of Dates to History


"There is a clichéd view of history encouraged by bad teaching that presents the subject as the memorising of long lists of dates that somebody has designated as being significant, 55 BC, 1066, 1492, 1687, 1859, 1914 etc., etc. Now whilst in reality history is much more concerned with what happened and why it happened than with when it happened dates are the scaffolding on which historians hang up their historical facts for inspection."

I tell my students this every time I teach historical material: importance of these dates is not that you know exactly which year Luther broke with the Catholic Church or Constantinople fell, but that one understands the sequence in which such events took place. Otherwise, history becomes similar to trying to watch Memento.


  1. ...and this is precisely why I loathed history until college.

  2. Gene, didn't you post this once before?

  3. Gene, didn't you post this once before?


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