Walter Hinteler wrote:
"It is the victor who writes the history and counts the dead."
I don't doubt at all that the winner writes the history books, at least quite often.
Historiography is often a lie.
The winners set the tone, they decide what ends up in the textbooks. The losers, however, have to live with the consequences, they cannot justify themselves.
But what is the actual situation with the historiography of the winners? Are the losers really demonised throughout?
As is so often the case, the answer is a resounding yes. This becomes particularly clear with the example of two battles - the Battle of Cortenouva and the Battle of the Marchfeld - and four of their sources. In both, two medieval sources were analysed by sympathisers of the winners. In both, the portrayal of the losers differs drastically. Thus the Lombards - the losers of Cortenuova - are described in one source as an unlawful cooperative, cowardly and military cannon fodder, in the other as courageous, if misguided, competent fighters. Ottokar - the defeated of the Marchfeld - is characterised on the one hand as a brave and noble tragic hero, and on the other hand as a largely disloyal and diabolical general who is not above using poison and witchcraft.
All these authors, however, were unmistakably actually on the side of the victors. Nevertheless, the differences could hardly be more drastic. Only one question remains: why?
The authors' actual motivation can only be guessed at today. Literary scholars speak of the so-called "intentional fallacy": what was going on in the minds of the writers is actually known only to them - unless it has been handed down to us.
But one thing is obvious: the division of history into victors and vanquished is too simplistic.
Walter Hinteler wrote:
But the facts of the history can't be changed - thanks to the axiliary sciences of history even trying is noticed.
The auxiliary sciences of history encompass medieval and modern paleography, diplomatics, archival studies, archaeology, codicology, sigillography, heraldry, numismatics, epigraphy, chronology, genealogy. (Some universities even teach more subjects.)
For those interested in history: Virtual Library: Historical Auxiliary Sciences
(website only partly in English)