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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.

Term One

Week One - Introduction Session/Europe c. 1500

Welcome to the European World, in this seminar we will discuss what it was like to live in Europe at the end of the medieval period by addressing society, religion, culture and politics. Although I am not expecting any extensive preparation for this week, I would recommend that you all read at least one of the following:

Week Two - Social Relations (12 October)

In this week's seminar we will be considering social status and order in early modern Europe. Please read at least two of the following:

  1. ‘Chapter 2: Crown and Nobility’ in Robert Knecht, The French Civil Wars, 1562-1598 (2000). Ebook. An excellent and easy to read break down of the various sub-sections of the French nobility, along with a discussion of their responsibilities and wealth.
  2. P Burke, ‘The Language of Orders in Early Modern Europe’, in M.L. Bush (ed.), Social Orders and Social Classes in Europe Since 1500: Studies in Social Stratification (London, 1992), pp.1-13.
  3. A. Fletcher and J. Stevenson, eds, Order and Disorder in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 1987), pp. 92-115. Ebook.
  4. Penny Roberts, 'Marginals and Deviants' and Henry J. Cohn, ‘Jews and Muslims’, in The European World textbook.
  5. B. Pullan, 'Catholics, Protestants, and the Poor in Early Modern Europe', Journal of Interdisciplinary History 35/3 (2005), pp. 441-56

When reading consider:

  • How was social status displayed and used?
  • Why did social status matter?
  • What role did kinship play in the lives of early modern Europe?
  • Why were some groups marginalised?
  • Who was the most marginalised group?

Week Three – Gender (19 October)

This week we look at gender and ask: how secure was patriarchy? You have all been assigned a play which reflects on social order and gender constraints. Please read these and be prepared to discuss them in class.

  1. William Shakespeare, The Merry Wives of Windsor (1600) - Joe Blomefield, Abaka Debrah, Calum Harris.
  2. Thomas Heywood, The Fair Maiden of the West (Part I) (c. 1600) - Robbie Marshall, Rachael Moon, Fatima Patel.
  3. William Wycherley, The Country Wife (1675) - Isabella Pelech, Milan Reid, John Sharman.
  • (For this play, on right hand side of the page select: Drama > William Wycherley> The Country Wife)

Please also read:

When reading these sources consider:

  • What was the role of women in early modern Europe?
  • How do plays reflect social norms in early modern Europe?
  • How secure was patriarchy?
  • How far did ‘reputation’ matter in early modern gender relations?
  • ‘The domestic sphere defined gender relations in early modern Europe.’ Discuss.

Week Four – Trans-Cultural Contacts (26 October)

This week we will be thinking about the 'Age of Discovery' and its relationship with European social, cultural and economic exchange. Please read:

Then read one of the following primary sources from the list below:

1. Thomas Hariot, ‘Of the nature and manners of the people’ in A brief and true report of the new found land of Virginia, 1588.

2. Michel de Montaigne, On Cannibals, 1580.

3. Journal of the First Voyage of Vasco Da Gama, 1497-99, 'Across the Arabian Sea'.

During your readings, keep in mind:

  • Did expansion fundamentally transform European society?
  • To what extent was European expansion principally concerned with the exploitation of native resources?
  • Did contact with extra-European peoples strengthen or undermine European social order and identity?
  • How did European expansion in the Atlantic differ from that in Asia?
  • How did Europeans perceive and respond to different “Others”?

Week Five - The Early Modern Economy

This week we will look at the early modern economy. The main activity in this seminar will be a debate that concerns whether it was more profitable to live in northern Europe or southern (Mediterranean) Europe at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

The following students will argue that northern Europe was more profitable: Joe Blomefield, Abaka Debrah, Fatima Patel, Isabella Pelech, John Sharman.

The following students will argue that southern Europe was more profitable: Calum Harris, Ben Kinder, Robbie Marshall, Rachael Moon, Milan Reid.

In preparation for this seminar, please read:

  1. Steve Hindle, ‘The Early Modern Economy’ in The European World handbook
  2. Hugo Grotius, Mare Liberum (1609). Take a look of Mare Liberum and familarise yourself with Grotius's ideas.

And Either

  • Peter Musgrave, The Early Modern European Economy (1999). In particular read Chapters 5 and 6, which will form the basis of discussion this week. You can access the E-Book here.
  • Maria Fusaro, Political Economies of Empire in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Decline of Venice and the Rise of England (2015), ebook available here.

When preparing for the seminar, please consider:

  • Was there an economic divide between northern and southern Europe? And if so why?
  • What was the role of the state in the development of the early modern economy?
  • What can national coinage tell us about the variances in early modern European state economies?
  • What were the most significant changes in the European economy between 1500-1750?
  • Can we talk of a ‘global economy’ in the early modern period?

Week Seven – The Medieval Legacy (16 November)

For the remainder of this term our attention turns to religion. This week is about familiarising ourselves with the pre-reformation religious landscape, and the pressures that the Church faced prior to the reformation. Please read any two of the following:

  • B. Kümin and P. Marshall, 'Church and People at the Close of the Middle Ages', in The European World textbook.
  • Lawrence Duggan's 'The Unresponsiveness of the Late Medieval Church: a Reconsideration', The Sixteenth Century Journal, 9 (1978), 3-26.
  • Desiderius Erasmus, The Praise of Folly (1509). Especially chapters on 'Great Illuminated Divines' and 'Monks'.
  • The first part of Eamonn Duffy's The Stripping of the Altars (2nd edn, 2005).
  • The first two chapters of Diarmaid MacCulloch's Reformation: Europe's House Divided (2003).
  • Bob Swanson's Religion and Devotion in Europe (1994).
  • 'Christianity in the Middle Ages' in Alister E. McGrath's, Reformation Thought (fourth ed., Oxford, 2012) - available as an e-book.
  • Andrew Pettegree (ed.), The Reformation World (2004), especially Part 1 on 'The Church Before the Reformation', also available as an e-book.

Finally, can I draw your attention to the glossary of religious terms found on the module website's further resources page, which may assist you with any unfamiliar words.

Week Eight - the Reformation and Religious Change (23 November)

This week we will be considering the role of Martin Luther in developing the Reformation in Germany and the wider European world. Please read:

Two of the following:

1. Gerald Strauss, 'Success and Failure in the German Reformation', Past & Present, 67 (1975), pp. 30-63.

2. M. Kolb, 'Chapter Three: Martin Luther and the German Nation' in Hsia (ed.), A Companion to the Reformation World (2002), pp. 39-55. (Available here).

3. L. Roper, 'Introduction' in L. Roper, Martin Luther: renegade and prophet (2016), pp.1-16. (Available here).

Then read one of the following primary sources:

1. Luther's Ninety-five Theses (1517). (Available here).

2. The Twelve Articles of the German Peasants (1525). (Available here).

3. Exsurge Domine (Condemning the errors of Martin Luther (1520). (Available here).

During your reading you should ask:

  • Why did the reformation commence in the early-sixteenth century?
  • What changed between the late medieval era and Luther's Ninety-Five Theses to make the reformation possible?
  • Why did Luther's ideas find such a receptive audience in Germany in the early years of his protest against Rome?
  • Should the Lutheran Reformation in Germany be regarded as a success or a failure?
  • The German Reformation had more to do with politics than principles.' Discuss.
Week Nine – Calvinism and Religious Minorities (30 November)

This week we will be continuing with the Reformation by considering how the Reformation diverged as it spread. We will consider whether Calvinism was indeed the most successful form of Protestantism and will also ask whether radical religious groups posed a serious threat to established authority.

First read either:

Then read one of the following:

Finally, take a look at one of the following primary sources:

Week Ten – Christianity and its Encounters with the Wider World

In our final week of term, we will be discussing the Catholic Reformation (also known as the Counter-Reformation). We will also discuss whether the Reformation was the result of Catholic repression against reform, rather than being led by radical policy.

We will spend 10 minutes at the start of the seminar doing module feedback. Please remember to bring an internet-capable device to access the feedback form.

In preparation please read:

  1. the Gerritsen, Gould and Marshall 'Long Reformation: Catholic' chapter in the European World handbook
  2. and this extract from St. Ignatius of Loyola's Spiritual Exercises

And then have a look at one or more of the following:

In your reading also consider:

  • To what extent did the religion practised by the Catholic laity change in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?
  • Are the Reformation and Counter-Reformation better seen as competing or complementary forces?
  • How did Catholicism fare in Asia?
  • What were the principal challenges in establishing Catholicism as a ‘global’ religion?

Christmas Holidays

Enjoy the Christmas holidays, but remember to keep reading on early modern European history. Some good survey books which discuss the content covered this term include:

Next term will begin by considering early modern politics, why not get a headstart by looking at one of the following:

Reading for the first week of term will be on the seminar webpage after Christmas. Have a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year!