Mel asked in Education & ReferenceQuotations · 1 decade ago

Who said "History is written by the victors"?

I want to include the quote in a research paper, but I don't know who said it, or when it was said. Most sites seem to think that Winston Churchill said it, but, they never can actually prove it! It vexes me..

24 Answers

  • JMH
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer


    Your vexation is understandable. While it sounds like something Churchill might have said, no competent, authoritative quotations source unequivocally attributes this quote to him. The last word of the quote is variously phrased as "winners," "conquerors," and "victors." That alone indicates that its origin cannot be firmly established.

    The best that can be said of it is that it is idiomatic or axiomatic, that is, it has been accepted in the popular consciousness as a "truism." Contemporary U.S. historian Howard Zinn acknowledges this fact and uses the idea to write the history of the U.S. from the standpoint of those who were oppressed by and/or the victims of the exploits of the "victors."

    If you are looking to use it in a paper, you could footnote is as "attributed to Winston Churchill, but of unknown origin."

    • Albert4 years agoReport

      History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. Napoleon Bonaparte
      This is probably the closest but like quotations attributed to the little corporal, it could just as much a misquotation or mistranslation as the England and shopkeepers one.

  • 5 years ago

    Péter Esterházy, Celestial Harmonies

  • 4 years ago

    In 1532, the Italian diplomat and political theorist, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote a political treatise. The Prince. It's located somewhere in the XVIII (18th) Chapter

    • Albert4 years agoReport

      I have read Chapter XVIII of The Prince and although Aesop-like it taks about foxes and lions and wolves as metaphors for the nature of humankind; it makes no mention even approximating the quote being considered

  • 4 years ago

    Ramzi Haroun said : " History is written by the media"

    • Lotus3 years agoReport

      And the media is owned by the uber rich or winners .

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  • 4 years ago

    All human knowledge takes the form of interpretation. Walter Benjamin

    It isn't, however, the quote which would assist our querent

  • 3 years ago

    Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History, 1940

  • 4 years ago

    I understood this to mean that whomever would win the war would frame history. This would make sense in the context of Churchill.

  • 6 years ago

    History is written by the victors who have hung the heroes. "Sr.William Wallace"

    • Roger6 years agoReport

      The quote that your thinking of Calboy is "history is written by those who have hanged heroes." And that is a quote from Braveheart....but even in Braveheart it was not spoken by William Wallace. It was spoken by the Narrator which was King Robert I.

  • 4 years ago

    History is rewritten by the Internet

  • 5 years ago

    After watching episode of QI according to them the phrase was in fact said by adolph hither hitler

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