Structural history in the sixteenth and seventeenth century

The tension in historical writings between the narration of events and the analysis of structures can be found among certain historians in the 16th and 17th centuries. Notable examples include Francesco Guicciardini's ideas of "equilibrium" and "interests" in his history of Italy, Paolo Sarpi's study of the economic problems of the Church, and Lord Clarendon's fascination with what would today be called "collective attitudes" in his history of the English Revolution. Historians in 17th-century Europe, influenced by the experience of so-called wars of religion, became fascinated by the contrasts between ideals and interests, appearance and reality, and surface and structure, and expressed this both metaphorically and by direct reference to hidden conflicts and selfish interests covered by the mask of religion.