Description: 704vitruvianHIST 1114: Renaissance and Reformation



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

Semester and Year: Spring 2017


Course Format: Lecture 2.0 h + Seminar 1.0 h


Class Time and Location: Friday, 0930-1220, in A122A


Credits: 3.0

Transfer Credit: For information, visit



Course Description, Prerequisites, and Corequisites:


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.


This course has no pre-requisites or co-requisites, and no prior knowledge of European history is required from students taking this course.


Learning Outcomes:


Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to


Š      Describe, explain and analyze the major political, religious and cultural developments that took place during the period covered by the course, as well as the causes of these developments.

Š      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      Discuss and analyze these shared features for possible causes or origins, as well as their influence in shaping modern society.

Š      Evaluate texts critically, analyzing them for authorial motives, influence of genre or patrons, or other factors that might affect the information presented in their pages.

Š      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.



Instructor: Niall Christie      


Office: B247b               Phone: 604-323-5832                    Email:


Office Hours: Monday and Wednesday, 1330-1420; and Tuesday, 1130-1430


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).



Textbook and Course Materials:


Š      John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, Volume 1: From the Renaissance to the Age of Napoleon (Third Edition, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009, ISBN: 0-393-93384-0)


You are also required to download and read the primary source materials found at the URLs listed in the Detailed Class Schedule, below. I will also provide you with further material if I deem it appropriate. 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.

Note: This course may use an electronic (online) instructional resource that is located outside of Canada for mandatory graded class work. You may be required to enter personal information, such as your name and email address, to log in to this resource. This means that your personal information could be stored on servers located outside of Canada and may be accessed by U.S. authorities, subject to federal laws. Where possible, you may log in with an email pseudonym as long as you provide the pseudonym to me so I can identify you when reviewing your class work.



Assessments and Weighting (see also the Library's Assignment Guide):

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 (3rd February (cancelled due to snow. 1000-word essay due February 10th))                                                                      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%

term paper due 17th March)


(1500 words. This word limit includes citations of your sources [as 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) 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 section 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. This section will be worth 60 marks.

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




Guidelines for In-Class Essay:

On February 3rd, you will be required to spend the first two hours of class 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, and you should make use of both primary and secondary sources in your work. You will be assessed on the quality of your analysis and arguments, and the clarity and effectiveness of your writing.


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 in parentheses; e.g. Merriman, 2009, p. 124) and provide a list of sources at the end of your essay (which you may word-process in advance and slip into the examination booklet). On the day 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.


Option: Should you prefer not to write the essay in class on the day, you may instead submit your answer in advance as a 1000-word, word-processed academic essay. The presentation of your essay should follow the guidelines listed for the term paper; see “Presentation,” below.


Guidelines for Term Paper (incl. Proposal):


For this assignment 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 February 24th 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 assignment 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 assignment and submit it by March 17th, as noted above. Note that if you have not submitted a proposal to me by February 24th, you will receive a mark of 0 in this assignment, even if you submit the final piece of work on time.

Again, your work will be assessed for the quality of your arguments, the clarity and effectiveness of your writing, and your use of sources.



  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. Note that I will not accept hand-written proposals or papers, nor will I accept work submitted by email, so make sure that you have left time to print your work in advance. Printers invariably break down on the days that work is due.
  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 assignment 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, both created in Chicago format. 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: For more information on Chicago format, see: Remember that your citations count towards your word limit, but your bibliography does not.



Further Guidelines for the In-Class Essay and Term Paper:


I expect you to conduct additional, relevant research when writing your proposal and papers, and in each case I expect to find at least five sources in your bibliography, of which at least two should be academic books and at least another two should be either books or academic articles (these numbers may be altered in consultation with me if your second assignment topic is an unusual one). Note that your textbook and downloadable readings do not count towards this number, nor do my lectures, though you should still include them in your bibliography if they have been helpful in preparing your work. In addition to doing research at libraries with print resources, you may find it useful to consult online journal archives such as JSTOR, Academic Search Premier and Proquest, though the articles that they contain 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. To assist yourself in dealing with this issue, you should only use internet resources that you link to through the Langara Library Catalogue. Do not simply google the topic of your essay. Likewise, do not use Wikipedia! Additional guidelines on assessing the academic reliability of internet sources may be found on the internet at:


Please proofread your work before handing it in. I would recommend that you allow at least a day between finishing an assignment 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 are returned to you, they will have been given both a percentage mark and a letter grade. Percentage marks correspond to the following grades:























F (fail)


Your mark and grade will be written at the top of the second page of your work. The grammar on the first page will also be corrected, to assist you with developing your communication skills. In addition, I will write comments on the back pages of your assignments; you should read these carefully and use them to help you improve future work.

Note that I will not discuss your paper with you within 24 hours of handing it back. This is to give you time to read and consider the comments that I have made on your work. I will then be willing to discuss your paper after you have mulled over the comments. The only exception to this rule that I will make is if you are having trouble reading my handwriting, in which case I am willing to interpret for you!

Detailed Course 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 online 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.


Note that references to the course textbook are given as page numbers, while references to the downloadable readings are by title.



6th January                 Introduction to the Course: What Has Gone Before

                                    Transformation in Europe (download slides. Here is one account of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 3-43


WEEK 2                     

13th January               The Italian Renaissance (download slides. Was the Italian Renaissance really a thing?)

Reading:        Merriman, 44-79

                        Writings of Niccolė Machiavelli (d. 1527):



20th January               The Reformation (download slides. Here is one account of Henry VIII and his wives.)

Reading:        Merriman, 80-125

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




27th January               Wars of Religion (download slides. Here is one account of the negotiation of the Treaty of Westphalia.)                    

Reading:        Merriman, 126-61

                                    The Wars of Religion:



3rd February               IN-CLASS ESSAY

The Rise of Spain (download slides. Of course you were expecting this...)

Reading:        Merriman, 163-78



10th February               REVISED DEADLINE FOR IN-CLASS ESSAY

England (download slides. How would you react to the discovery of tobacco?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 179-231

                                                            Monarchs vs. Parliament in England:



13th-18th February    SPRING BREAK – NO CLASSES    



24th February             TERM PAPER PROPOSAL DUE

Republicans and Absolutists (download slides. This is how some of the people at the court of Louis XIV would have kept themselves occupied.)                         

Reading:        Merriman, 231-61

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



3rd March                   Changing States, Changing Universe (download slides. Here is a video of the geocentric and heliocentric models of the universe.)

Reading:        Merriman, 261-98

                        Copernicus and Galileo:

4th March                   LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM COURSE



10th March                 Science and Enlightenment (download slides. What does John Locke say?)

Reading:        Merriman, 298-336

                        Descartes and Voltaire:



17th March                 TERM PAPER DUE

Government and Society (download slides. Catherine the Great goes Gaga...)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 336-75

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



24th March                 Culture and Conflict (download slides. Learn more about Hogarth and his work here.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 375-404

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



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

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 404-31



7th April                     START OF EXAMS - GOOD LUCK!



21st April                   END OF EXAMS



College Policies:

I respect and uphold all college policies and regulations. All students are encouraged to bring any concerns or questions to my attention.


As a student at Langara, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself and complying with the
following policies:

E1003 - Student Code of Conduct  


F1004 - Code of Academic Conduct


E2008 - Academic Standing - Academic Probation and Academic Suspension


E2006 - Appeal of Final Grade


F1002 - Concerns about Instruction


E2011 - Withdrawal from Courses


A Note on Plagiarism:

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: Note that I will report all cases of plagiarism that I discover.



Departmental/Course Policies:




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 subtract 20% from your grade for each day that your work is late, including weekends and holidays; for example, a paper that earned a grade of 80%, but was two days late, would receive a grade of 80 - (20 x 2) = 40%. I will also not write comments or corrections on late papers, but only write on them the grade earned, including any penalties.


Class Participation and Attendance:


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). Bear in mind that it is your responsibility to get a copy of the notes from any classes that you miss from one of your colleagues. Any written work that is due must still be handed in on time, 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.


Electronic Devices:


I expect cellphones and other electronic devices to be turned off in class, unless a special arrangement has been made with me prior to the class. In addition, you may not use computers to take notes in class unless you have specific permission to do so from the college. As indicated above, I will be providing you with lecture outlines that you may print off in advance and use as a basis for handwritten notes.



Copyright © Niall Christie 2017

Last updated 14th August 2017