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GERMAN HISTORICAL INSTITUTE WASHNGTON, D.C. ANNUAL LECTURE SERIES No. 8 - page 30 / 46

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28

while lauding Thompsons attempt to write German history for an American public, Bernhard Schmeidler, whom Thompson had singled out for thanks in

his preface, found the book

  • (out of date), the volume on the

expansion even more so than the first volume. But beyond the usual criticisms of the Americans ignorance of the latest bibliography and his adherence to outdated theses, Schmeidler was particularly unhappy with Thompsons characterization of the emperor Frederick Barbarossa as a tyrant and a disaster for Germany and also with his sharp attack on modern

German historians, whose preoccupation with

he saw as a

laudation of Hohenzollern pretorianism.Thompson, while willing to compare German expansion with the American West or to see Lothar II as a state rightsman who would have stood with John C. Calhoun in the America of 1850, was very sensitive to the excessive interest of German historians in Italian policy and the resulting failure to appreciate the enormous significance of the interior changes in Germany, in ideas and especially in institutions.37

Within Germany, Thompson was deeply interested in economic and cultural history, as his praise of Karl Nitzsch and Lamprecht indicates. For him, the development of German feudal institutions was the product of social and economic conditions played upon by political purposes.Although years later Thompson was sharply critical of both these scholars, particularly of Lamprechtwho, Thompson said, in his attempt to make a science of history he had betrayed history and had ceased to be an historian39he continued to support their 38

37 38

Thompson, Ibid., 321.

, vol. 1, 320.

39

James Westfall Thompson and Bernard J. Holm,

Vol. II:

(New York, 1942), 427

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