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Political Crimes


In this seminar, we will begin the section of the module which will consider in turn different kinds of crime in early modern Europe. This week will examine political crimes. We will divide into groups to examine assassinations, regicides, and tyrannicides; conspiracies; and riots and rebellions.

Seminar Questions

  • What were the forms and nature of political crimes in early modern Europe?
  • What were contemporary attitudes and responses to these crimes?

Required Reading

Each of you should choose and read three relevant items below for the topic you are investigating. Your choice of texts should cover more than one country.

Assassinations, Regicides, and Tyrannicides

Cogswell, Thomas, 'John Felton, Popular Political Culture, and the Assassination of the Duke of Buckingham',The Historical Journal 49/2 (2006) 357-385.

Dall'Aglio, Stefano, The Duke's Assassin: Exile and Death of Lorenzino de' MediciLink opens in a new window, trans. Donald Weinstein (New Haven, 2015), Chapter One. 1. Death in Florence.

Eisner, Manuel, 'Killing Kings. Patterns of Regicide in Europe, AD 600-1800Link opens in a new window', British Journal of Criminology 51 (2011), 556–577.

Härter, Karl, ‘Political Crime in Early Modern Europe: Assassination, Legal Responses and Popular Print MediaLink opens in a new window’, European Journal of Criminology 11/2 (2014), 142–168.

Ranum, Orest, 'The French Ritual of Tyrannicide in the Late Sixteenth CenturyLink opens in a new window', The Sixteenth
Century Journal 11/1 (1980), 63–82.


Dillinger, Johannes, 'Organized Arson as a Political Crime. The Construction of a "Terrorist" Menace in the Early Modern PeriodLink opens in a new window', Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies 10/2 (2006), 101-121

Hinds, Peter, The Horrid Popish Plot: Roger L'Estrange and the Circulation of Political Discourse in Late Seventeenth-Century LondonLink opens in a new window (Oxford, 2010), Chapter One.

Lowe, Kate, 'The Political Crime of Conspiracy in Fifteenth- and Sixteenth-Century Rome', in Trevor Dean and K. J. P. Lowe, eds, Crime, Society, and the Law in Renaissance ItalyLink opens in a new window (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 184-203.

Nicholls, Mark, 'Strategy and Motivation in the Gunpowder Plot', The Historical Journal 50/4 (2007), 787-807

Roberts, Penny, 'Arson, Conspiracy and Rumour in Early Modern EuropeLink opens in a new window', Continuity and Change 12/1 (1997), 9-29

Riots and Rebellions

Carroll, Linda L., 'Carnival Rites as Vehicles of Protest in Renaissance VeniceLink opens in a new window', The Sixteenth Century Journal 16/4 (1985), 487-502

Connolly, S. J., Contested Island: Ireland 1460-1630Link opens in a new window (Oxford, 2007)

Cressy, David, Dangerous Talk: Scandalous, Seditious, and Treasonable Speech in Pre-modern EnglandLink opens in a new window (Oxford, 2010)

Fletcher, Anthony, and Diarmaid MacCulloch, Tudor RebellionsLink opens in a new window, 7th ed. (Harlow, 2020)

Griesse, Malte, ed., From Mutual Observation to Propaganda War: Premodern Revolts in Their Transnational RepresentationsLink opens in a new window (Bielefeld, 2014)

Heijden, Manon van der, Women and Crime in Early Modern Holland, trans. David McKay (Leiden, 2016), Chapter Seven.

Hindle, Steve, 'Crime and Popular ProtestLink opens in a new window' in Barry Coward, ed., Blackwell Companions to British History: A Companion to Stuart Britain (Oxford, 2003), pp.130-47.

Hindle, Steve. 'Imagining Insurrection in Seventeenth-Century England: Representations of the Midland Rising of 1607Link opens in a new window', History Workshop Journal 58 (2008), 21-61

Kesselring, K. J., The Northern Rebellion of 1569: Faith, Politics, and Protest in Elizabethan EnglandLink opens in a new window (Basingstoke, 2007)

Kilday, Anne-Marie, Crime in Scotland 1660-1960: The Violent North?Link opens in a new window (London, 2018), Chapter Four.

Kollmann, Nancy Shields, Crime and Punishment in Early Modern Russia (Cambridge, 2015), Chapter Sixteen.

Koskinen, Ulla, Aggressive and Violent Peasant Elites in the Nordic Countries, c. 1500-1700 (Basingstoke, 2017)

Lindley, Keith, ‘Riot Prevention and Control in Early Stuart LondonLink opens in a new window’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th ser. 33 (1983), 109-126.

Murdock, Graeme, Penny Roberts and Andrew Spicer, 'Ritual and ViolenceLink opens in a new window', Past & Present 214/7 (2012)

Nussdorfer, Laurie, 'The Vacant See: Ritual and Protest in Early Modern RomeLink opens in a new window', The Sixteenth Century Journal 18/2 (1987), 173-189

Perrie, Maureen, 'Recent Western Historiography of the Time of Troubles in RussiaLink opens in a new window', Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo Universiteta, Istoriya 63 (2018), 244-261

Rapple, Rory, 'Writing about Violence in the Tudor KingdomsLink opens in a new window', The Historical Journal 54/3 (2011), 829-54.

Roberts, Penny, 'Urban Conflict and Royal Authority: Popular Revolts in Sixteenth-Century TroyesLink opens in a new window', Urban History 34 (2007), 189-207

Schindler, Norbert, Rebellion, Community and Custom in Early Modern GermanyLink opens in a new window, trans. Pamela E. Selwyn (Cambridge, 2002)

Scott, Tom, and Bob Scribner, eds and trans, The German Peasants' War: A History in DocumentsLink opens in a new window (Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1991)

Sharp, Buchanan, ‘Popular Protest in Seventeenth-Century England’, in Barry Reay, ed., Popular Culture in Seventeenth-Century England Link opens in a new window(London, 1985), pp.271-308.

Thompson, E. P., 'The Moral Economy of the Crowd in the Eighteenth CenturyLink opens in a new window', Past and Present 50 (1971), 76-136.

Tyacke, Nicholas, ed., The English Revolution c.1590-1720: Politics, Religion and CommunitiesLink opens in a new window (Manchester, 2007)

Walter, John, Crowds and Popular Politics in Early Modern EnglandLink opens in a new window (Manchester, 2006)

Walter, John, ‘Faces in the Crowd: Gender, Youth and Age in Early Modern Protest’, in Helen Berry and Elizabeth Foyster, eds, The Family in Early Modern England Link opens in a new window(Cambridge, 2007), pp. 96-125.

Walter, John, 'Politicising the popular? The "tradition of riot" and popular political culture in the English Revolution,' in Nicholas Tyacke, ed., The English Revolution c.1590-1720: politics, religion and communities Link opens in a new window(Manchester, 2007), pp. 95-110

Walter, John, Understanding Popular Violence in the English Revolution: The Colchester PlunderersLink opens in a new window (Cambridge, 1999)

Wood, Andy, The 1549 Rebellions and the Making of Early Modern EnglandLink opens in a new window (Cambridge, 2007)

Wood, Andy, Riot, Rebellion and Popular Politics in Early Modern EnglandLink opens in a new window (Houndmills, 2002)

Further Reading

Barkey, Karen, Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization (Ithaca, NY, 1994)

Beik, William, Urban Protest in Seventeenth-Century France: The Culture of Retribution (Cambridge, 1997)

Bercé, Yves-Marie, History of Peasant Revolts: The Social Origins of Rebellion in Early Modern France, trans. Amanda Whitmore (Cambridge, 1990)

Bercé, Yves-Marie, Revolt and Revolution in Early Modern Europe, trans. Joseph Bergin (Manchester, 1987)

Clifton, Robin, The Last Popular Rebellion: The Western Rising of 1685 (Hounslow, 1984)

Coward, Barry, and Julian Swann, eds, Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theory in Early Modern Europe: From the Waldensians to the French Revolution (Aldershot, 2004)

Dunning, Chester S. L., Russia's First Civil War: The Time of Troubles and the Founding of the Romanov Dynasty (University Park, PA, 2001) [For the Bolotnikov Rebellion]

Haliczer, Stephen, The Comuneros of Castile: The Forging of a Revolution, 1475-1521 (Madison, WI, 1981)

Howard, Sharon, Law and Disorder in Early Modern Wales: Crime and Authority in the Denbighshire Courts, c.1660-1730 (Cardiff, 2008), Chapter Four.

Manning, Roger B., Village Revolts: Social Protest and Popular Disturbances in England 1509-1640 (Oxford, 1988)

Medici, Lorenzino de', Apology for a Murder, trans. Andrew Brown (London, 2004)

Mousnier, Roland, The Assassination of Henry IV, trans. Joan Spencer (London, 1973)

Peacey, Jason, ed., The Regicides and the Execution of Charles I (Houndmills, 2001)

Sánchez León, Pablo, Absolutismo y comunidad: los orígenes sociales de la guerra de los comuneros de Castilla (Madrid, 1998)