By examining the history of universal history from the late Middle Ages until the early nineteenth century we trace the making of the global. Early modern universal history can be seen as a response to the epistemological crisis provoked by new knowledge and experience. Traditional narratives were no longer sufficient to gain an understanding of events. Inspired by recent developments in theory of history, the volume argues that the relevance of universal history resides in the laboratory of intense, diverse and mainly unsuccessful attempts at thinking history and universals together. They all shared the common aim of integrating all time and space: assemble the world and keep it together.

chapter 1|11 pages


ByHall Bjørnstad, Helge Jordheim, Anne Régent-Susini

chapter 2|12 pages

On the History of Universal History

ByGérard Ferreyrolles, Kate Bastin, Amanda Vredenburgh

section I|62 pages


chapter 3|16 pages

The Unity of History in Early Modern Europe

ByZachary Sayre Schiffman

chapter 4|14 pages

“Even Fables Will Become History”

La Popelinière and Universal History at the End of the Sixteenth Century
ByPhilippe Desan

chapter 6|14 pages

Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and the End of History

ByGuillaume Ansart

section II|65 pages


chapter 7|16 pages

Providential Novelties

Werner Rolevinck’s Universal Timelines
ByPatricia Clare Ingham

chapter 8|11 pages

Tattoos and Time

Visual Ethnography and Universal History in A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1590)
ByTony Sandset

chapter 9|17 pages

Histoire de l’œil, œil de l’histoire

Can We See Universal History? About Bossuet’s Discourse on Universal History
ByAnne Régent-Susini

chapter 10|19 pages

Making Universal Time

Tools of Synchronization
ByHelge Jordheim

section III|75 pages


chapter 11|18 pages

Between Providence and Foresight

Bossuet’s Discourse on Universal History
ByHall Bjørnstad

chapter 12|18 pages

Commonplaces and Simple Truths

Ludvig Holberg’s Synopsis Historiæ Universalis (1733) and the Tradition of Textbooks
ByAnne Eriksen

chapter 14|19 pages

Historicization and Perpetuation of the French Language

A Laboratory of the Universal
ByHélène Merlin-Kajman