You have reckoned that history ought to judge the past and to instruct the contemporary world as to the future. The present attempt does not yield to that high office. It will merely tell it as it actually was.
- Leopold von Ranke
German historian (1795-1886). One of the principal founders of History as a modern academic discipline, von Ranke helped codify a rigorous historical research methodology that would endure for generations. Von Ranke's insistence upon total objectivity in conducting historical research (and by extention, the very idea, now hotly contested, that a historian can be truly objective) found lasting appeal among historians of the western world, and profoundly shaped historical discourse in the 20th century. Contemporary historians, at least insofar as they debate the possibility of historical objectivity and promote rigorous research standards, still work in von Ranke's long shadow. A phenominally prolific writer and scholar, von Ranke's two most famous works are History of the Popes (1834-1836) and History of Reformation Germany (1839-1847).