Langara College


History 1114 – Summer 2015 (3 credits)


Renaissance and Reformation


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Course Outline


Instructor:                             Niall Christie

                        Office:                                                B247d

                        Telephone:                            (604) 323-5832


                        Office Hours:                                    Monday, 11:30 am-2:30 pm; Tuesday and

Thursday, 2:30-3:30 pm; or by


Class Time:                           Tuesday and Thursday, 10:30-12:20 a.m.

Class Location:                     A122A

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 (11th June)                                                               20%


Title: Would the Protestant Reformation have happened if Martin Luther had not existed?


Term Paper: (proposal due 2nd July,                                                            35%

paper due 21st July)

(1500 words. This word limit includes citations of your sources [e.g. as footnotes or endnotes] 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 June 11th, you will be required to spend the class hours writing an essay answering the question given above. How essential was Martin Luther to the Protestant Reformation? Would it have happened even if he had not existed? Be sure to provide sufficient evidence to support your answer. You will be assessed on the quality of your arguments, the clarity and effectiveness of your writing, and your use of the sources.


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). 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 format of your essay should follow the guidelines for the term paper; see “Presentation,” below.


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 2nd July 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 21st July, as noted above. Note that if you have not submitted a proposal to me by 2nd July, 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. 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 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 or endnotes) 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: Remember that your citations count towards your word limit, but your bibliography does not.


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 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 topic is an unusual one). In addition to doing research at libraries with print resources, you may find it useful to consult on-line 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:


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.




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)


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.


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). 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.


N.B. I expect cellphones and pagers 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 below, I will be providing you with lecture outlines that you may print off in advance and use as a basis for handwritten notes.


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.


The college requires you to be particularly aware of the following policies:


Š      E2011 – Withdrawal from a Course:

Š      F1004 – Code of Academic Conduct:

Š      F1005 – Assessment of Academic Progress:

Š      F1007 – Final Examinations:




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.



5th May                      Introduction: What Has Gone Before (download slides)

7th May                      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 2                     

12th May                    The Italian Renaissance 1 (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 44-62

Petrarch (d. 1374), Selected Letters:


14th May                    The Italian Renaissance 2 (download slides. Was the Italian Renaissance really a thing?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 62-79

Writings of Niccolė Machiavelli (d. 1527):



19th May                    The Reformation in Germany (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 80-103

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



21st May                    Spread and Response (download slides. Here is one account of Henry VIII and his wives.)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 103-25

Catholic Responses to Protestant Reform:




26th May                    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

28th May                    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,




2nd June                      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:


4th June                      The Rise of England (download slides. How would you react to the discovery of tobacco?)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 179-207

Religion in 16th-Century England:




9th June                      Conflict in England (download slides. You'd better not upset Charles I...)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 208-31

Monarchs vs. Parliament in England:


11th June                    IN-CLASS ESSAY



16th June                    The Dutch Republic (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 231-41

The Dutch Republic:


18th June                    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:




23rd June                    Rising Powers (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 261-83

Louis XIV (r. 1643-1715):


25th June                    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:


27th June                    LAST DAY TO WITHDRAW FROM COURSE



30th June                    Scientific Thought and Culture (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 298-311

Descartes and Newton:


2nd July                      PROPOSAL DUE

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

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 312-36

Voltaire and Rousseau:




7th July                       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

9th July                       Eighteenth-Century Society 1 (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 349-75

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





14th July                     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:


16th July                     Eighteenth-Century Conflicts (download slides)

                                    Reading:        Merriman, 386-404

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




21st July                     TERM PAPER DUE

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:

23rd July                     Meanwhile, in the rest of the world… (download slides)

                                    Reading:        None



28th July                     Modern Legacy in Fact and Fiction (download slides. Here is another legacy from the period.)

                                    Reading:        None


30th July                     Final Discussion



4th August                  START OF EXAMS - GOOD LUCK!



14th August                END OF EXAMS


Copyright © Niall Christie 2015

Last updated 30th August 2015