J.P.SOMMERVILLE

 

HISTORY 351:
SEVENTEENTH CENTURY EUROPE

SPRING 2014

 

 

 

This course is about Europe in the seventeenth century - probably the most important century in the making of the modern world. It was during the 1600s that Galileo and Newton founded modern science; that Descartes began modern philosophy; that Hugo Grotius initiated international law; and that Thomas Hobbes and John Locke started modern political theory. In the same century strong centralized European states entered into worldwide international competition for wealth and power, accelerating the pace of colonization in America and Asia. The Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and others, all struggled to maintain and extend colonies and trading-posts in distant corners of the globe, with profound and permanent consequences for the whole world. They also fought one another in Europe, where warfare grew increasingly complex and expensive. To gain an edge against other powers in war, European governments invested in research in military technology, and the seventeenth century was consequently an age of military revolution, enabling Europeans from then on to defeat most non-European peoples relatively easily in battle.

 

 

The course will examine the main social, economic, intellectual, religious, cultural and political developments that occurred in the seventeenth century. It will begin by exploring European religious divisions at the opening of the seventeenth century - divisions that led to assassinations and to widespread warfare, especially in the Thirty Years War of 1618-48. This war devastated much of Germany, and for a while made Sweden a great power. It also profoundly affected France, Spain and the Netherlands. In France, Cardinal Richelieu and Jules Mazarin strengthened and centralized state power, though at times their policies came perilously close to disaster. In Spain, disaster struck, and the Spaniards lost their long war with the Dutch, who formed a prosperous independent republic. Spain also lost control of Portugal, and for a while it seemed that Catalonia too would break free from Spanish control.

 

 

In the seventeenth century, Spain declined but France rose to become the greatest power in Europe. In the second half of the century Louis XIV increased royal power at home and French power abroad, but at a very high cost in lives and cash. The France of Louis XIV threatened to dominate Europe, and to oppose him other powers laid aside their religious differences (which were becoming less important in the increasingly secularized and scientific atmosphere of the late 1600s) and joined forces against France. By the end of the century two powers in particular were rivaling France, namely Holland and England. Both benefited from the shift of Europe's economic center of gravity from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. In both, agricultural and commercial changes were taking place which would soon pave the way for the Industrial Revolution.

Course Requirement details

Optional Readings

 

 

Schedule of Topics

JANUARY/ FEBRUARY

Introduction:
An age of revolution 
Geography, climate and economy
The balance of power
Government religion and ideas

The Thirty Years' War 1618-48:  

                             

The Thirty Years' War: Onset

The Bohemian phase
The Danish interval
Swedish invasion
The final French phase
Europe and the aftermath of the Thirty Years War

 

Spain in the seventeenth century:
A nation in decline
Olivares and crisis

                                

Early seventeenth-century France:                                             Henry, Louis, and Richelieu
 

The Maritime Powers to c. 1660:

the Dutch and the English

The Netherlands in the early seventeenth century
Dutch Religious and intellectual history
The Netherlands, 1600-1650

MARCH  

EXAM 3/3

                                    Early Stuart England

 Russia:
The Time of Troubles
The first Romanovs

Poland:
Society and Government
The Deluge

 

Peasant Revolts,
 the Fronde

SPRING BREAK: MARCH 15 TO 23

 

 

 

APRIL

TERM PAPER DUE IN CLASS: 4/4

 

and the English Civil War
The "General Crisis" of the seventeenth century 

                           France under Mazarin and Louis XIV

                                      Louis and the French Church

 

              France against Europe: the wars of Louis XIV

                                      - to 1678

                                      - to 1697

                                      - to 1713

EXAM 4/16

 Europe in the later-seventeenth century:
Austria,
the rise of Prussia, Russia,
Sweden, Britain & the Netherlands

                             

The Military Revolution:
Arms & tactics,
Ships & navies,
Soldiers & government

MAY

The Intellectual Revolution:
Intellectual trends,
Absolutism and the divine right of kings,
Contractarians, republicans & skeptics.

The Scientific revolution:
Copernicus to Kepler,
Galileo,
Newton and other advances.

Scientific & philosophical method
Mechanical philosophy
 

Beliefs and culture:
Doubts & Deism
Witchcraft

HONORS PAPERS DUE IN CLASS, 5/9

FINAL EXAM:

5/12, 5:05PM

PLACE TO BE ANNOUNCED.