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Seminar Group 13

Seminar Tutor: Ben Redding


Office: H3.06

Office hours: Monday 11-12; Tuesday 3-4

Seminar Time and location: Fridays 9-10, H3.47

Students: Abaka Debrah, Francesca Gordon, Calum Harris, Ben Kinder, Robbie Marshall, Rachael Moon, Fatima Patel, Milan Reid, John Sharman.

Click here for term one readings

Term 2

Week 1 - The Political Landscape

Welcome back! This week we begin to look at politics in early modern Europe by considering the political landscape of early modern states. For this week, you have two assigned tasks. First, everyone is to read:

  • Steve Hindle and Beat Kumin, 'Centre and Periphery' in the European World handbook.
  • Stéphane van Damme and Janet Dickinson, 'Courts and Centres', ibid.

Following this, we will discuss and compare the differences in state political constructs. Please research your assigned state (below), and try to uncover to the best of your abilities how the state’s political framework operated. I have recommended sources for your use, but feel free to use the wider reading list if you prefer:

1) Valois France: Abaka Debrah, Francesca Gordon, Calum Harris.

2) The Habsburg Empire: Ben Kinder, Robbie Marshall, Rachael Moon.

  • Henry Kamen, Spain’s Road to Empire: The Making of a World Power 1492-1763 (2002).
  • J. H. Elliot, Spain and its World, 1500-1700 (1989), chapters 4 and 7.
  • Geoffrey Parker, The Grand Strategy of Philip II (1998).
  • H. G. Koenigsberger, ‘The Statecraft of Philip II’, EHQ, 1 (1971).

3) The Dutch Republic: Fatima Patel, Milan Reid, John Sharman.

For those of you interested in early modern British history, you may be interested in comparing these styles of governance with Britain at the time. For example, see the following debate:

When preparing for the seminar, please consider:

  • What were the defining characteristics of early modern politics?
  • What were the driving forces and main instruments of European state formation?
  • How did Republican regimes differ from other forms of government?
  • What was the role of the nobility in the operation of early modern states?
  • Can political infrastructure account for the rise or decline of states?
Term 2 Week 2 - The People and Politics

This week we will be considering whether ordinary people were able to play any role in politics. Please read:

  1. Bernard Capp, 'Riot and Rebellion', in The European World coursebook.
  2. 'Breaking and Entering' in Wayne Te Brake's Shaping History: Ordinary People in European Politics (1998).

Finally, research your assigned rebellion, and come prepared to discuss the causes, events and consequences of your rebellion:

  • Wyatt’s Rebellion (1554) – Abaka
  • The Pilgrimage of Grace (1536-37) – Francesca
  • The Catalan Revolt (1640-59) – Calum
  • The Revolt of the Comuneros (1520-21) – Ben
  • The Defenestration of Prague (1618) – Robbie
  • The Naples Revolt (1647) – Rachael
  • The Portuguese Revolution (1640) - Fatima
  • Danzig Rebellion (1575-77) - Milan
  • Revolt of Ghent (1539) - John

For those of you who have been assigned an English rebellion, I strongly recommend looking at Fletcher & MacCulloch's Tudor Rebellions.

With your readings, consider:

  • What were the points of contact between rulers and ruled in the early modern period?
  • Would you characterize the relationship between centres and periphery as one of co-operation or conflict?
  • Was there a right of resistance, and what forms of popular protest were there?
  • What is a rebellion?
  • How much of an obstruction was religion to state reform?
  • How radical was popular protest?
  • How successful was popular revolt?

Week 3 - Early Modern Empires

In this new addition to the module, this week will explore the characteristics of early modern empires both within Europe, and globally. We will consider the extent to which aspiring early modern European states were influenced by non-European empires. In preparation for this seminar, please read:

  1. S. Subrahmanyam, ‘A Tale of Three Empires: Mughals, Ottomans, and Habsburgs in a Comparative Context’, Common Knowledge 12.1 (2006): 66-92.
  2. C.K. Woodworth, ‘Ocean and Steppe: Early Modern World Empires’, Journal of Early Modern History 11.6 (2007): 501-518

Then listen to BBC Radio 4 'In Our Time' podcast: 'The Siege of Vienna'

Also Ben and Milan will each prepare a short (five minute) talk on a reading of their choice relating to this theme.

With your readings, consider:

  • What were the characteristics of early modern empires?
  • How different were early modern empires?
  • What challenges did early modern empires pose to their metropoles?
  • What effect did early modern empires have on the colonised?
  • How did European empires compare to Asian empires?
  • What were the challenges facing rulers of early modern empires?
  • Which factors contributed to the rise and decline of empires?