The Rise of Auxiliary Sciences in Early Modern National Historiography: an ‘Interdisciplinary’ Answer to Historical Scepticism

Lydia Janssen

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


In response to the rising popularity of empirical models of scholarship and an increasingly sharp sceptic criticism against historiography, early modern historiographers strived to place their reconstruction of the past on a more ‘scientific’ basis through a new approach to historical writing. Their strategies included the mobilization of various other scholarly disciplines, such as geography, chronology, linguistics, ethnography, philology, etc. that came to function as ‘auxiliary sciences’ of early modern historiography. These came to fulfil three main roles in historical writing. Firstly, they supplied knowledge on cultural-historical topics that were newly introduced into the subject range of historiography. Secondly, they offered new solutions to the problem of reliable historical evidence by opening up new sources of historical information. And thirdly, they proved helpful in deciding scholarly discussions among historical writers. Through a detailed study of the use of ‘auxiliary sciences’ in seminal texts from the new current in historical writing, I will shed light on the range of scholarly disciplines that were enlisted in early modern historiography and how they contributed to the development of a new, more ‘scientific’ approach to the reconstruction of the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427-441
JournalHistory of European Ideas
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • renaissance humanism
  • interdisciplinarity
  • historical scepticism
  • renaissance historical method
  • antiquarianism
  • early modern historiography


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