HIST 1161: Modern European History 1: 1450-1800

This course surveys the world of early modern Europe from the flowering of the Renaissance in Italy and northern Europe, through the age of the religious wars in the seventeenth century, the eighteenth-century Age of Enlightenment, and developments in Eastern Europe and Russia, culminating in the great watershed of the French Revolution. In addition to covering military and political developments, the course also describes the changes wrought in the social and economic lives of the people of the emerging nation states of Europe.


After successfully completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the emergence of the early modern state system.
  • Assess the changing role of religion in early modern society.
  • Describe the positions of men and women in early modern society.
  • Analyse the structure of society in the early modern period.
  • Analyse the strength of the principal status groups at various times during the early modern period.
  • Explain the impact intellectual developments (for example, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment) had on early modern society.
  • Trace the economic history of early modern Europe.
  • Describe differences (where they exist) between eastern and western Europe between 1450 and 1800.
  • Account for the French Revolution.

Course outline

Unit 1: Early Modern Europe

Unit 2: The Emergence of the Renaissance

Unit 3: The Early Modern State

Unit 4: Religious Revolution and Catholic Reformation

Unit 5: The Age of Religious Wars 1560-1648

Unit 6: The Structure of Early Modern Society

Unit 7: Movement and Communication

Unit 8: The Mid-Century Crisis in Politics and Ideas

Unit 9: State Building and Serfdom

Unit 10: Foundations of the Eighteenth-Century State System and Society

Unit 11: Economic Change, Public Order, and Culture in the Eighteenth Century

Unit 12: The Enlightenment

Unit 13: Europe and the French Revolution

Required text and materials

Students will receive all course materials including the textbooks in their course package.

  1. Rice, Eugene F. and Anthony Grafton. The Foundations of Early Modern Europe, 1460-1559. 2nd Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1994.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 0393963047
  1. Woloch, Isser. Eighteenth-Century Europe: Tradition and Progress, 1715--1789. New York: W. W. Norton, 2nd edition 2012.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 9780393929874

Students will need to source their own copy of the following textbooks:

  1. Hampson, Norman. The First European Revolution 1776--1815. New York: W. W. Norton, 1979.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 9780393950960
  1. Kamen, Henry. Early Modern European Society. 1st edition. 2000.
    Type: Textbook, ISBN: 0415158656


Please be aware that due to COVID-19 safety guidelines all in-person exams have been suspended. As such, all final exams are currently being delivered through ProctorU, which has an approximate fee of $35 involved. There will be more information in your course shell, on how to apply, if your course has a final exam.

In order to successfully complete this course, you must obtain at least 50% on the final mandatory examination and 50 % overall. It is strongly recommended that students complete all assignments in order to achieve the learning objectives of the course. The total mark will be determined on the following basis:

Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 15%
Assignment 3 15%
Assignment 4 15%
Final exam * 40%
Total 100%


Open Learning Faculty Member

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students throughout the course. Primary communication is by phone or by email. You will receive the necessary contact information when you start your course.

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