Times and Tides

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes up the cudgels for historical accuracy.

How much do mistakes matter? History has to start with facts and it is tempting to say that you can get no further if you get them wrong. Yet there is almost no error-free historical writing outside the narrowest of. monographs. Among the hundreds of history books of other types I have reviewed, I can hardly remember any that seemed absolutely unblemished by factual mistakes. From recent years, as pedantry has crept over me with encroaching age, only Henrietta Leyser's Medieval Women comes to mind. Sometimes, however, when it is time to write the review, the mistakes do not seem worth mentioning.

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