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The Prussian School of History first predicted and advocated, then celebrated and defended, the unification of Germany by Prussia. Experts in German historiography and the history of German liberalism have often complained about the lack of a book, in any language, that traces the origins and explains the ideas of this school of history. Here is that book.

Robert Southard finds that, for the Prussian School, history had an agenda. These historians generally expected history to complete its main tasks in their own time and country. The outcome of their politics was, really, an "end of history"—not a cessation to historical occurrences, but a cessation of onward historical movement because the historical process had already achieved its long-term, beneficent purposes.

Leading us through the intricacies of important but untranslated works of J. G. Droysen, Max Duncker, Rudolph Hayn, and Heinrich von Sybel, Southard demonstrates their belief that the historical sequence was a continual unfolding of God's plan. Indispensable for those interested in the history of German historical writing, this book also has major implications for understanding the history of political liberalism.

Robert Southard (1945–2007) was professor of history at Earlham College.

"Illustrates well the links between historiography and the key issue of 19th-century German history—the reconstitution of a unified German state."—Choice

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Droysen, Prussian School, Historiography, German unification


European History

Droysen and the Prussian School of History
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