Langara College


History 1114 – Spring 2014


Renaissance and Reformation


NOTE: If you are a student looking for a current course web page,
you are in the wrong place!



Course Outline


Instructor:                             Niall Christie

                        Office:                                                B247d

                        Telephone:                            (604) 323-5832


                        Office Hours:                                    Mon/Wed, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; Tue/Thu,

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; and by appointment

Class Time:                           Mon/Wed, 8:30-10:20 a.m.

Class Location:                     A136A

Course Description


This course surveys the history of western Europe from the Italian Renaissance to the mid-eighteenth century, thus providing students with a solid foundation for study of modern history. We will examine developments in political thought, religion, science, economics, and culture. It has been suggested that in all fields, this period in the history of Europe was characterised by greater secularisation, and this question will form one of the major themes of this course. We will also look at the interactions of politics, religion, and philosophy, discussing how they influenced and conflicted with each other.


Learning Outcomes


By taking this course, students will have the opportunity to gain the following:


Š      Knowledge of the period under discussion, so that they are able to describe, explain and analyse the major political, religious and cultural developments that took place, as well as the causes of these developments.

Š      The ability to compare developments in various parts of Europe, as well as in Europe and regions outside Europe, in order to identify shared political, religious and cultural tendencies.

Š      The ability to discuss and analyse these shared features for possible causes or origins, as well as their influence in shaping modern society.

Š      An enhanced ability to evaluate texts critically, analysing them for authorial motives, influence of genre or patrons, or other factors that might affect the information presented in their pages.

Š      An improved ability to construct and express arguments in speech and writing, including enhanced skills in academic research and formal writing, which will be essential for their continued college, university and subsequent careers.


Required Reading


You should obtain the following course text, available from the Langara College Bookstore:



You are also required to download and read the primary source materials found at the URLs listed in the Provisional Class Schedule, below. I will also provide you with further material if I deem it appropriate (two examples are noted in the Provisional Class Schedule). You should also aim to read more widely around the subject, especially when preparing your written work. You should consult the “Further Readings” section of A History of Modern Europe for relevant works, as well as conducting appropriate keyword searches in the Langara College library catalogue. Printed resources on this historical period in the Langara College Library are scant, but remember that your Langara ID also gives you access to the library resources of other libraries, including UBC; see the information about this on the college library website, which you will find at: I am of course also available to provide you with further guidance.




Assessment for the course is based on an in-class essay, a term paper, a final examination and class participation, as follows:


In-Class Essay (5th February)                                                                      20%


Title: Why did the Protestant and Catholic Reformations have such a great impact on the politics and society of Europe?


Term Paper: (proposal due 24th February,                                                  35%

paper due 19th March)

(1500 words. This word limit includes any footnotes but excludes your bibliography)


Title: To be chosen by you! See the additional guidelines below.


Final Examination:                                                                                          35%


Class Participation:                                                                                         10%


Final Examination Format


1.     The examination will be one hour and 45 minutes long. It will be divided into two sections.

2.     In the first section I will give you 2 passages from the primary source readings (extracts from the downloadable documents or handouts) from the course. You will be required to pick one of these and write a commentary on it. In each case I will provide a question (or questions) for you to respond to. This question will be worth 40 marks.

3.     In the second section I will give you two essay questions, of which you must answer one. The two essay questions will be chosen from a set of three questions that I will have provided you with in the last class of the term. The essay question will be worth 60 marks.

4.     Examinations should be written in English, in pen.


In-Class Essay Guidelines


On February 5th, you will be required to spend the class hours writing an essay answering the question given above. Why were the two reformations such influential factors in the political and social development of Europe? Be sure to provide sufficient evidence to support your answer. You will be assessed on your grasp of the historical facts of the time and the quality and clarity of your arguments.


As with the final exam, you should write your essay in English, in pen. I expect this to be a fully-researched, academically-rigorous answer to the essay question, so you should both cite your sources using in-text citations (e.g. Merriman, 2009, p. 124) and provide a list of sources at the end of your essay. You may bring with you any books, notes or essay outlines that will be of assistance.


Note that if you miss this class, you will not be given another opportunity to write this essay. You should therefore ensure that you are available for the class and arrive in good time, so that you can make full use of the time available.


Guidelines for Term Paper (incl. Proposal)


For your term paper I require you to think of an aspect of the course content that interests you and that you would like to investigate further. Topics should be argumentative and analytical rather than descriptive; you should be thinking about why something took place (such as the condemnation of the astronomical theories of Galileo) or took a particular form (such as the English Commonwealth in the wake of the English Civil War), rather than simply looking at what happened. In addition, your topic should include an element of primary source analysis as part of your argument. Having thought of a topic, you should then submit a written proposal to me by 24th February for approval. Your proposal should include:


1.     A short description of your proposed topic, including an outline of the main points that you expect to focus on (max. 300 words). Be aware that the form of your final paper is likely to differ significantly from this, so we will consider this to be a tentative outline.

2.     A draft bibliography.


Once I have approved and returned this proposal, you should proceed with your work on your paper and submit it by 19th March, as noted above. Note that if you have not submitted a proposal to me by 24th February, you will receive a mark of 0 in this paper, even if you submit the final piece of work on time.




  1. Your work should be in English, word processed or typed in a 12 point, Times or equivalent-sized (no larger than this) font. I require hard copy, typed or printed on only one side of each sheet of paper.
  2. Text should be double-spaced, with a 1-inch margin all around.
  3. Pages should be numbered consecutively. The first page should begin with the paper title, your name and the due date.
  4. Pages should be stapled in the upper left corner.
  5. Your work should include both citations of your sources (as footnotes) and a bibliography. Information on these, as well as further guidelines on essay writing, may be found in a downloadable booklet produced by the department, which you will find at: A second version of this, divided into sections, may be found on the department’s web site at the following URL: (click on “Essay Guidelines” for a pull-down menu).


I expect you to conduct additional, relevant research when writing your term paper, and I expect to find at least five sources in your bibliography, of which at least three should be non-internet, scholarly sources (these numbers may be altered in consultation with me if your topic is an unusual one). Note that on-line journal archives such as JSTOR, Academic Search Premier and Proquest count as non-internet sources, as the articles that they collect were originally published in regular print format. However, the articles collected in such archives can sometimes be a bit dated.


Naturally you should read all your sources, both pre-modern and modern, carefully, trying to make yourself aware of any biases or agendas that the authors might have. This particularly applies to internet resources, because anyone can post anything on the internet. Thus you should not automatically consider the resources that you find there to be academically reliable; in particular, do not use Wikipedia! Additional guidelines on assessing the academic reliability of internet sources may be found on the internet at:


Note that there will be no extensions to deadlines unless they are agreed with me before the deadline. Extensions will only be given for legitimate reasons. If you have not negotiated an extension with me, I will reduce your mark by 5% for each day that your work is late, including weekends and holidays.




Please proofread your work before handing it in. I would recommend that you allow at least a day between finishing your work and proofreading it (so do not leave it until the night before it is due!). Read your work aloud, as this will help you to spot any errors and awkward constructions.




When your papers returned to you, they will have been given both a percentage mark and a letter grade. Percentage marks correspond to the following grades:


                                    90-100                                     A+

                                    85-89                                       A

                                    80-84                                       A-

                                    76-79                                       B+

                                    72-75                                       B

                                    68-71                                       B-

                                    64-67                                       C+

                                    60-63                                       C

                                    55-59                                       C-

                                    50-54                                       D

                                    0-49                                         F (fail)


Class Participation


Class participation marks the level of your attention and participation in class activities, not merely your attendance; I expect full attendance for this course. You should arrive on time to every class, having done the reading and bringing any required written work and primary source readings with you. Repeated lack of punctuality or preparedness for class may result in a lowered final grade.


If you must be absent from a class, you should let me know in advance if at all possible (a simple e-mail will suffice). Any work that is due at that class must still be handed in on that day, unless I have agreed an extension with you beforehand. Naturally I will understand prolonged absences as a result of illness or emergencies. You should let me know and give me appropriate documentation as soon as possible.


N.B. I expect mobile ‘phones and pagers to be turned off in class, unless a special arrangement has been made with me prior to the class. If you wish to use a computer in the classroom, you may only do so to take notes; use of MSN or other IM programs, along with using your computer for purposes unrelated to the class, is disrespectful to your instructor and distracts the other students.


Office Hours


I am available for meetings at the times indicated above. If you wish to see me, but are unable to come to my office hours, I will be happy to make an appointment for another time. Please see me after class, ‘phone me or send me an e-mail (the most reliable option).


College Policies


I respect and uphold all college policies and regulations. All students are advised to become familiar with the college’s regulations and are encouraged to bring any concerns or questions to my attention.




Plagiarism is an academic offense and simply unacceptable in the academic culture. Severe penalties may result. It is your responsibility to make yourself familiar with the appropriate literature on plagiarism and its avoidance; a good starting point is the Langara College library’s web site on this topic, which you will find at:


Provisional Class Schedule


Please note that this may be subject to change. I will attempt to inform you of any changes at least a week before they come into effect.


I will be posting Powerpoint shows on the on-line version of this course outline for you to download ahead of each class. These will include topic outlines and word-lists that will assist you with your note-taking.



6th January                 Introduction: What Has Gone Before (download slides)

8th January                 Transformation in Europe; Working with Sources (download slides. Here is one account of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 3-43

Geoffrey Chaucer (d. 1400), from the Prologue to

the Canterbury Tales:



WEEK 3                     

13th January               The Italian Renaissance 1 (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 44-62

Petrarch (d. 1374), Selected Letters:


15th January               The Italian Renaissance 2 (download slides. Was the Italian Renaissance really a thing?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 62-79

Writings of Niccolė Machiavelli (d. 1527):



20th January               The Reformation in Germany (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 80-103

Martin Luther (d. 1546), from On the Freedom of a



22nd January              Spread and Response (download slides. Here is one account of Henry VIII and his wives.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 103-25

Catholic Responses to Protestant Reform:




27th January               Wars of Religion (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 126-45

De Thou (d. 1617): The Saint Bartholomew’s Day



                                                            Edict of Nantes (1598) – to be provided

29th January               The Thirty-Years’ War (download slides. Here is one account of the negotiation of the Treaty of Westphalia.)                                  

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 145-61

Otto von Guericke: The Destruction of Magdeburg,




3rd February               The Rise of Spain (download slides. Of course, you weren’t expecting this...)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 163-78

The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, 1492:


5th February               IN-CLASS ESSAY



10th-14th February    SPRING BREAK – NO CLASSES



17th February             The Rise of England (download slides. How would you react to the discovery of tobacco?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 179-207

Religion in 16th-Century England:


19th February                         Conflict in England (download slides. Here is one depiction of the execution of Charles I.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 208-31

Monarchs vs. Parliament in England:




24th February             PROPOSAL DUE

                                    The Dutch Republic (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 231-41

The Dutch Republic:


26th February                         Absolutism (download slides. This is how some of the people at the court of Louis XIV would have kept themselves occupied.)                            

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 242-61

Thomas Hobbes (d. 1679): Extracts from Leviathan:




3rd March                   Rising Powers (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 261-83

Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715):


5th March                   Changing Views of the Universe (download slides. Here is a video of the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe.)        

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 285-98

Copernicus and Galileo:




10th March                 Scientific Thought and Culture (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 298-311

Descartes and Newton:


12th March                 Enlightened Thought (download slides. What does John Locke say?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 312-36

Voltaire and Rousseau:




17th March                 The Enlightenment and Government (download slides. Catherine the Great goes Gaga...)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 336-48

Cesare Beccaria (d. 1794): Essay on Crimes and Punishments, 1764:

Frederick the Great (r. 1740-86) on Forms of

Government – to be provided

19th March                 TERM PAPER DUE

                                    Eighteenth-Century Society 1 (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 349-75

Adam Smith (d. 1790): The Wealth of Nations,





24th March                 Eighteenth-Century Society 2 (download slides. Learn more about Hogarth and his work here.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 375-85

Jonathan Swift (d. 1745), A Modest Proposal, 1729:


26th March                 Eighteenth-Century Conflicts (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 386-404

                                                            George III (r. 1760-1820): The Royal Proclamation,




31st March                 Changes and Challenges (download slides. Here is a brief discussion of the American Revolution.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 404-31

Thomas Paine (d. 1809), Common Sense, 1776:

2nd April                    Final Discussion (no slides)



7th April                     START OF EXAMS - GOOD LUCK!



17th April                   END OF EXAMS


Copyright (C) Niall Christie 2014

Last updated 17th April 2014