Violence in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700

Tutor: Stuart Carroll

Module type: MA Option

Module Code: HIS00073M

Credits: 20

Violence was ubiquitous in sixteenth and seventeenth- century Europe; its control and suppression are fundamental to the very idea of early modernity. It was during this period that violence was first perceived as a constant feature of the human condition and identified as a major social and political problem, inspiring writers, painters and philosophers to address the issue. Religious division exacerbated civil conflict, but contrary to what one might expect, this period also saw a reduction in interpersonal violence, the use of torture and capital punishment. This module investigates this apparent paradox, using violence to understand the tremendous social, political and religious upheavals of the age, while at the same time exploring the possibilities for peace, co-existence and civility.

The likely seminar programme is as follows:

    • The Problem of Violence in Early Modern Europe
    • Representing Violence
    • War
    • Religious Violence
    • Honour and Interpersonal Violence
    • Justice and the Law
    • Peace and Co-Existence
    • Civility

Preliminary reading   

  • Ruff, Julius. Violence in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1800. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Carroll, Stuart. Blood and Violence in Early Modern France. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Carroll, Stuart ed. Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
  • Davies, Jonathan . Aspects of Violence in Early Modern Europe. Ashgate, 2013.


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.