ABSTRACT This essay looks at a set of possible genealogies for the notion of “world history” by reading histories that were written on a world scale in the sixteenth century. It argues that such works were far more widely dispersed than has been hitherto suspected, and they were by no means a strictly European phenomenon; examples from Mexico, the Mughal empire, the Ottoman domains, and Poland all find their place in the discussion. Further, such histories formed part of a sphere of circulation of textual and visual materials on the scale of the planet. Finally, the relationship between such histories and the earlier tradition of “universal histories” is explored, showing the distinctions between them.

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