Historische representatie en de betekenis van het verleden

Historical narratives consist of three different kinds of information: information about past events (the inventory of the past), information about other historical narratives (the historiographical thesis), and information about the meaning of the past (the historical thesis). These different aspects of historical knowledge together constitute a coherent view on a certain period in time. This article examines these forms of information and their interaction by examining Georgia J. Cowart’s book The Triumph of Pleasure. Louis XIV & the Politics of Spectacle (2008) as a case study. Her work shows how artists undermining the Sun King’s propaganda of absolute kingship were expressing an ideology of social equality and harmony, anticipating eighteenth century Enlightenment. These criticisms of absolutism are part of the inventory of the past. The view that those criticisms should be highlighted when interpreting late seventeenth-century France is the historiographical thesis of the work. What makes the criticisms of absolutism meaningful is that they function as examples of the new ideology of social equality and harmony. Historical narratives exemplify the past in order to express a thesis about the past.