History 140 - Spring 2000

Room: Main 223
Sections 3A & 4A: 9:40a.m.-10:50a.m. & 1:00-2:10, even days


The European Experience: Europe
in the Early Modern World 1400-1800

Doug Catterall
office: 445 Main Building
work telephone: 363-5190
home telephone: (612) 788-3963
e-mail: dougc@cameron.edu

Office Hours: even days 11a.m.-12:15p.m. and by appointment

Goals and Approach:

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the history of early modern Europe. By 1400 Europeans had only begun to explore the world and by the end of our period they had mapped most of it and were living on all of its continents but Antarctica. Religious experiences were quite different with a variety of Protestant denominations joining Catholicism as mainstream faiths and atheism became a defensible position. In 1800 more Europeans lived in cities; their economies were more dependent on overseas trade; and increasingly they were dependent too on specialization, merchant capital, expensive infrastructure and a cash economy. European rulers found their powers both expanded as states grew in size, and restricted as their subjects began to demand more of a say in government and kingdoms were joined by new forms of government such as the republic. Europeís social structure became more fluid as well. Nobles had to share the stage with powerful merchant princes and professionals like lawyers and politicians. Village folk became more closely tied to cities through migration systems and less tied to the land that sustained them. Cities saw their guild-based social structure become more open.

Covering the amount of material we have to will be difficult, but our task will be made easier by focusing on particular themes. Four themes stand central in this course: 1. Europeans and their interactions with the world; 2. religious transformations ; 3. state/society relations; and 4.everyday life in cities and towns. Each of the units we cover throughout the semester will relate to one of these themes. You should approach these themes with three objectives in mind: understanding how early modern Europeans understood their world; exploring how historians have approached the same subject; and developing your own interpretation(s) of the past. Clearly, only by thinking through the issues with consideration and focus will you arrive at your own interpretations of history, which is in fact heart of the historian's craft. During the course, then, three skills will be crucial: critical thinking: which has two sides, 1. the consideration of ideas, problems and/or themes from different perspectives and 2. the construction of explanations by observing inter-connections between the ideas/themes; critical reading: the selection of important information from a text which can be used to answer a particular question; and communication: expressing your views through writing and speaking.

Ideal Environment:

The heart of the class-room environment (for me) rests in enthusiasm, respect and openness. This may sound general, so I will elaborate. Enthusiasm means a persistent willingness to tackle the problems that come up in the readings and assignments for each week. It does not mean that everyone always has to show up happy and cheerful, but readiness to make a contribution to class is a must. Respect in the classroom means valuing each person's participation, not because their ideas are the best (although you might think so), but because they are trying to make a contribution to the group. Openness lies in the freedom for people to express their thoughts and opinions, which includes scope for debate and disagreement with me or anyone else. The closer we approach this ideal environment, the more the classroom will be an effective space for clarifying, making manageable and even experimenting with the issues confronted in the course. This ideal may not always be achievable, but in my view we should always strive for it.


Course work consists of four elements: participation in discussion and class activities, occasional informal writings, formal writings, and essay-based examinations.


a. Preparation: In order to understand the lectures and participate in class discussions and other activities you will need to do the assigned readings. Please budget time to complete readings for the date in which they appear in the assignment and reading schedule. The readings are in three forms, which are listed below.


Early Modern Europe: An Oxford History, edited by Euan Cameron (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999)

Studies and Sources:

Alexandra Parma Cook and David Noble Cook, Of Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance: A Case of Transatlantic Bigamy (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1991)

Giles Milton, Nathanielís Nutmeg or the True and Incredible Adventures of the Spice Trader Who Changed the Course of History (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999)

Excerpts from: Robert Monro, Monro, His Expedition With the Worthy Scots Regiment Called Mac-Keys

The Portable Voltaire, edited by Ben Ray Redman (New York: Penguin Books U.S.A., Inc., 1977)

Additional supplemental readings as needed (indicated with Supptl. Rdng.)

For those interested there will also be a web-based reference archive, which you may (but are not required) to consult.

All of the above readings will be required for the course and (with the exception of the supplemental readings) are available at the CSB bookstore. The volume edited by Euan Cameron provides an overview of the subjects we will cover. The studies by Alexandra Parma and David Noble Cook and Giles Milton as well as the extended source readings by Monro and Voltaire will be important to our in-class discussions and provide material for the papers required in the course. Apart from the hand-outs, copies of all the required readings will be on reserve at the Clemens Library. With a few exceptions all handouts will be available at the following web-site: www.fordham.edu/halsall/, an internet site that provides medieval and modern source-books. Copies of the handouts will be made for you for in-class use (for which you will be charged at the end of the term), but if you should miss a class the documents handed out will be available at this site. Feel free to explore the site if you wish.

b. Discussion: This may seem like a small thing and something unrelated to the real stuff (passing the exams e.g.). I want to stress, though, that participation in discussion will count in your grade. I will gauge participation on a daily basis with a check, check+, check- system.

c. Informal Writings: Occasionally I may assign short writing exercises to help focus our discussions. Informal writing will also be graded with a check, check-plus, check-minus system and include comments.

d. Movies: We will watch a number of films this term and in each case I will expect everyone to attend or arrange to see the film with enough time for the in-class discussions that we will have of the films. The films include Aguirre, the Wrath of God, The Return of Martin Guerre and, time permitting Moll Flanders Some of the viewings will need to be outside of class and if you cannot make these you must hand in a one-page single-spaced summary by the day we discuss the film.

e. Reading Questions: Every other week one half of the class will be responsible for submitting 2 questions to me via e-mail at the beginning of the week. These questions should be based on the readings for that week and I will then structure our class time around them.  If you want to know what group you are in for submitting questions or what weeks you are meant to submit questions click on the hypertext here.

f. Credit for Participation: Informal writing(s) and class discussion will be worth 20% of the final grade.

Reaction Papers: You will have to write three reaction papers in this course on the following works: Of Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance; Nathanielís Nutmeg; and Candide. Each of these papers will count for 15% of your grade for a total of 45%.

Examinations: There will be two examinations, a midterm worth 15% and a final examination worth 20% of the total grade. The mid-term examination will be a mixture of essays, matching questions and a map exercise. The final examination will be a take-home.


Guidelines for Academic Work:

Late Papers: Late work will lose a grade per day after the set due date. Barring a serious illness or other extenuating circumstance which can be documented, there will be no exceptions to this rule.

Plagiarism: Plagiarism is the representation of the work of another as your own. In all of the writing you do for this course you must make clear to me which ideas in a paper are your own and which come from someone else. This is especially important for any formal essays you write. In these such essays you must cite all primary and secondary sources you use in accordance with the proper conventions. I will hand out a sheet explaining the basics of citation before any formal essays come due. If for some reason you do not receive a copy of this hand-out, do not assume you will be exempt from following its guidelines. In cases of plagiarism, the Department of History at the College of St. Benedict and St. Johnís University follows the plagiarism policy agreed by students and faculty Spring Semester 1998. Consult a current Academic Catalog or an on-line student hand-book for details.

Schedule of Readings, Lecture Topics, Assignments and Activities

Week 1 Defining Europe c. 1450

(2/1) Introduction: Early Modern History in our Everyday Lives

(2/3) How Should We Define Europe?

Read: Cameron et al., xvii-xxxi, 1-14

Turn-in: Map exercise

Week 2 Europe and the World Beyond

Thematic Outline 2

(2/7) What Europeans Knew about the World, c. 1450-1500

Read: Cameron et al., 14-28

Supptl. Rdng.

Watch: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, part 1

(2/9) The Portuguese and the Spanish Search for Empire in the Indies

Read: Supptl. Rdng.

Watch: Aguirre, the Wrath of God, part 2 (Evening viewing at 7:30 p.m. in 223 Main on CSB Campus)

(2/11) Life in Peru, 1520-1555

No Class

Read: Cook & Cook, 1-41

Week 3 Everyday Life in Europe, 1450-1600

Thematic Outline 3

(2/15) Society, Economy and Daily Life in Rural Europe, 1450-1600

Read: Cameron et al., 31-55

Watch: The Return of Martin Guerre, part 1

(2/17) Society, Economy and Daily Life in Urban Europe, 1450-1600

Read: Cameron et al., 55-62

Supptl. Rdng.

Watch: The Return of Martin Guerre, part 2

Week 4 Religious and Political Change in Europe

Thematic Outline 4

(2/21) Late Medieval Piety and Humanism

Read: Cameron et al., 63-80

Supptl. Rdng.

(2/23) Europeís Reformations

Read: Cameron et al., 80-101Supptl. Rdng.

(2/25) Rulers and Subjects

Read: Cameron et al., 102-133

Week 5 State and Society in the 16th Century

Thematic Outline 5

(2/29) Family and Marriage during the Reformations 1

Read: Cook & Cook, 41-91

(3/2) Family and Marriage during the Reformations 2

Read: Cook & Cook, 91-153

Week 6 European Society at the Dawn of the 17th Century

Thematic Outline 6

(3/6) Daily Life in the Countryside and the Towns

Read: Cameron et al., 136-156

Discuss: The Return of Martin Guerre

(3/8) Migration and Economic Life

Read: Cameron et al., 157-170

Turn In: Reaction Paper Number 1

(3/10) The Early Explorations of the English and the Dutch for a Northwest Passage to the Indies

Read: Milton, 9-20, 29-65, 162-190

Week 7 Northern Europe Enters the Race for Empire

(3/14) The Beginnings of the Dutch and English East India Companies

Read: Milton, 66-134

(3/16) Take Midterm Examination

Week 9 The Anglo-Dutch Rivalry for Trade and Empire

Review Outline 1

(3/27) The Anglo-Dutch Rivalry for Empire 1

Read: Milton, 134-161, 190-244

(3/29) The Anglo-Dutch Rivalry for Empire 2

Read: Milton, 245-308

(3/31) The Thirty Yearís War and the Dutch Revolt

Read: Cameron et al., 206-217

Selections from Monro

Week 10 The Thirty Yearsí War and Religious Change in Europe

Review Outline 2

(4/4) Absolutism, Revolt and Revolution

Read: Cameron, et al., 217-230

Milton, 343-365

(4/6) Confessionalization in Europe

Read: Cameron et al., 171-187

Week 11 Statebuilders, Free-Thinkers and Scientists

(4/10) Statebuilding in the 17th Century I

(4/12)  Statebuilding in the 17th Century II

(4/14) Sceptics and Scientists I

Read: Cameron et al., 187-205

Week 12  More Sceptics, More Scientists

Review Outline 3

(4/18) Sceptics and Scientists II

Read: Supptl. Rdng.

Turn in: Reaction Paper 2

(4/20)  Everyday life in 18th-century Europe I

Read: Cameron et al., 233-264

Week 13 The Emergence of a Consumer Society & the Enlightenment I

Review Outline 4

(4/26) Everyday life in 18th-century Europe II

Watch: Moll Flanders

(4/28) Everyday life in 18th-century Europe III and Enlightenment I: Morality and the Church

Review: Cameron et al., 233-264

Read: Cameron et al., 265-276

Selections from Voltaireís Philosophical Dictionary: 53-54, 58-60, 73-76, 88-90, 96-99, 109-122, 128, 132-134, 134-136, 144-148, 178-79, 187-199, 200-202, 205-208, & 212-215

Week 14 The Enlightenment II: The Republic of Letters

Review Outline 5

(5/2) Worldly Philosophers and Enlightened Monarchs?

Read: Cameron et al., 276-293

Selections from Selections from Voltaireís Philosophical Dictionary: 77-78, 102-103, 112-116, 141-144, 148-155, 160-161, 166-169, 173-178, 202-205 & 217-218; Voltaireís Letters

(5/4) Voltaire's Candide and the Enlightenment I

Read: Cameron et al., 298-344

Voltaireís Candide, 229-281; Selections from Voltaireís Philosophical Dictionary: 124-127, 128-132, 163-164, & 179-187

Week 15 Politics in the 18th Century and the Decline of the Ancien Regime

Review Outline 6

(5/8)  Voltaire's Candide and the Enlightenment II

Read: Voltaireís Candide, 281-328

(5/10) The Outbreak of Revolution in Europe

Read: Cameron et al., 345-374  Supptl. Rdng. (5/12) Conclusion and Review Session

Week 16 Examination Week

(5/19 )

Turn In: Reaction Paper 3 & Final Examination

N.B. All Examinations And Papers Due In By Midnight On This Date!  You may: mail your examination and paper to my home address (2605 Johnson Street N.E., Minneapolis, MN 55418); e-mail them to me as an attachment; or hand deliver them to my office in Main Bldg. on the CSB campus.  Thanks!

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