Historical interest is rooted in a quest for identity. The histories of tribes, communities and nations help to define their selfhood, and hence their pasts are inevitably modelled on an implicit program stating the use that an author, a ruler or a community wants to make of real or imagined history. History thus becomes a malleable concept accommodating the requirements of self-definition of individuals, or of social and ethnic groups. It also furnishes the fictional props of the ideologies of states and nascent states that are in need of national mythologies to boost their self-esteem. Under the general title Building the Past the various ends and purposes of historical reconstruction and invention in the late medieval and early modern period are examined in this volume by scholars from various specialised fields. Their contributions are grouped in two sections, Rediscovery of the Past and Construction of National Myths.
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