Sir Lewis Namier: an Eastern European's Historical Outline

Mark Baker


Sir Lewis Namier is well known for the method of historical research that he developed. His emphasis on intense primary source research, attention to political structures, and concentration on the motivation of the individual historical actors have been incorporated, in varying degrees, into the methodology of most historians. Yet, an examination of his essays on Eastern Europe suggests differences and similarities between Namier's historical work on Eastern Europe and his work in other areas. An explanation of these differences suggests that the historian who atomized eighteenth-century British history also had the ability to synthesize those "atoms" into a broad historical outline. This important and often overlooked aspect of this most enigmatic of historians is brought out clearly in his work on Eastern Europe.

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