Descriptive and Applied Military History – debating the utility of military history in Danish officer education

Anna Sofie Hansen Schøning


In the 1970s Danish debates on military history revealed a bifurcated understanding of military history between descriptive and applied military history. Descriptive military history was the study of military history done by academic historians, and applied military his- tory was done by and taught to officers. The divide between descriptive and applied was rooted in the professionalization of history and officer education; it was constructed in order to accommodate the criticism that military history used in officer education did not live up to aca- demic standards. By taking the Danish debates in the 1970s as a point of departure, this article introduces some fundamental challenges regard- ing the use of military history in officer education. Inspired by the Ger- man historian Reinhart Koselleck, the article argues that developments within academic history since the 1970s might have alleviated the con- flict between academic military history and the military history used in officer education. Certainly, these new developments have opened up new approaches to military history.

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Kirjastaja / Published by:

ISSN 2228-0669 (trükis / print)