Fall Term 1995
Laszlo Kontler
Department of History

Course Description

Rebellion, revolt, civil war, revolution -these terms have been variously applied to a number of decisive upheavals in Europe and its overseas extensions during the 16th to 18th centuries. The course attempts to introduce students into the theoretical literature of the subject (i. e., the debates on the meaning of the above-mentioned categories and the boundaries between the phenomena they describe), but its main emphasis is on the social and political history of four major events that have all been called "revolutions" in early modern times: the Huguenot wars in France, the Dutch war of independence, the English Civil War (or, "Great Rebellion"? or, "Puritan Revolution?") and the American War of Independence. Much of recent historiography is concerned with a radical revision of erlier interpretations of these movements. While surveying these controversies, the course also reexamines some familiar questions. To wbat extent were-these "revolutions" triggered off by processes like "the rise of the middle class" or "the growth of state centralization"? What was the proportion between "the modern" and "the traditional" in them? How far were they animated by factors of religion and patriotism?

The final grade for the course will arise from the combination of class activity, oral presentations and a closed book written exam at the end of the term. (There will be no home essays.) Each participant of the course is required to give at least one oral presentation in class on a specific issue related to the subjects discussed. (The topics and readings suggested below may be supplemented by others, according to the interests of students and depending on the availability of literature. The presentation may consist of a discussion of a major upheaval not listed in the syllabus, especially from the history of Central or Eastern Europe, such as the Pugachev uprising, anti-Habsburg movements in Hungary etc.)

(non-mandatory and non-exclusive)

From the Fontana History of Europe:
J. H. Elliott: Europe Divided 1559-1598
Geoffrey Parker: Europe in Crisis 1598-1648
John Stoye: Europe Unfolding 1648-1688
Thomas Munck: Seventeenth Century Europe. MacMillan ,1990 .(esp. ch. 7.)
Perez Zagorin: Rebels and Rulers 1500-1650. 2 vols. Cambridge, 1982.

General readings fior the first three meetings (6, 20 and 27 October):
Charles Tilly: European Revolutions 1492-1992 (not included in the syllabus, but available in the library) Ch. 1-2 (pp. 1-51.)
Elliott: Europe Divided, pp. 11-144, 201-227, 283-366.
Parker: Europe in Crisis, pp. 13-75,131-144.
Munck: Seventeenth Century Europe, pp. 199-236.
Briggs: Early Modern France (relevant chapters).

Suggested topics and readings for presentations (roughly in the order of succession):

1. The legitimation and mechanism of political violence in early modern Europe.
Berce: Revolt and Revolution, Ch. 1, 4 (pp. 4-33, 91-126).

2. The debate on the "crisis of the 7th century".
T. K. Rabb: Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe, Ch. 1-4 (pp. 3-34).

3. The beginnings of the Reformation and religious persecution in France.
Sutherland: Huguenot Struggle, Ch. 1-2 (pp. 10-61).

4. The international context of the Huguenot wars: the Huguenots and the Dutch independence fighters.
Sutherland: Huguenot Struggle, Ch. 6 (pp. 178-210).

5. The political theory of the Dutch war of independence.
The Dutch Revolt, Introduction and "Defence and Declaration" (pp. ix-xxxiii, 1-78).

6. Overview of the 20th century histriograpy of the English Revolution: social and political history.
R. C. Richardson: The English Revolution Revisited, Ch. 7, 9 (pp. 98133, 150-173).

7. An example of the "social history" approach.
L.Stone: The Crisis of the Aristocracy, or "The Results of the English Revolutions of the Seventeenth Century", in: Three British Revolutions, Ch. I (pp. 23-103).

8. An example of "revisionist" historiography.
C. Russell: The Causes of the English Civil War, Ch. l, 6 (pp l-26, 131-160).

9. The American Revolution as an event in English history.
D. Lovejoy: "Two American Revolutions" and J. G. A. Pocock: "The Revolution against Parliament", in: Three British Revolutions, Ch. 7-8 (pp. 244-288).

10. A test case: Dutch revolutions in the 18th century.
Jacob-Mijnhart (ed.): The Dutch Republic in the 18th Century, Ch 1-4 (pp. 19-119).

CRC-Curriculum Resource Center
CEU Budapest, Hungary
Modified: May, 1996


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