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Violence in Early Modern Europe, 1500-1700 - HIS00073M

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  • Department: History
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Stuart Carroll
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20
    • See module specification for other years: 2018-19

Module summary

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.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Develop skills of source analysis and interpretation;
  • Assess a range of source material and relevant secondary works; and
  • Develop students’ powers of evidence-based historical argument, both orally and in writing.

Module learning outcomes

Students who complete this module successfully should:

  • Be able to identify and evaluate sources (archival, literary, statistical and visual) for the study of violence.
  • Be familiar with the differing aspects of and the role played by violence in early modern society.
  • Be familiar with the role of the law, community and civility in regulating violence.
  • Analyse and evaluate the contributions made by existing interdisciplinary scholarship on violence.
  • Develop the ability to contextualise violence as a subject of historical enquiry.

Module content

Teaching Programme:
Students will attend eight weekly two-hour seminars in weeks 2-9.

The likely seminar programme is as follows:

  1. The Problem of Violence in Early Modern Europe
  2. Representing Violence
  3. War
  4. Religious Violence
  5. Honour and Interpersonal Violence
  6. Justice and the Law
  7. Peace and Co-Existence
  8. Civility


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Students will complete a 2,000 word procedural essay for formative assessment, due in week 6 of the spring term. They will then submit a 4,000 word assessed essay in week 1 of the summer term.

For further details about assessed work, students should refer to the Taught Masters Degrees Statement of Assessment.


Task Length % of module mark
4000 word essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Following their formative assessment task, students will receive written feedback consisting of comments and a mark within 10 working days of submission. All students are encouraged, if they wish, to discuss the feedback on their procedural work during their tutor’s student hours. For more information, see the Statement on Feedback.

For the summative assessment task, students will receive their provisional mark and written feedback within 20 working days of the submission deadline. The tutor will then be available during student hours for follow-up guidance if required. For more information, see the Statement of Assessment.

Indicative reading

For term time reading, please refer to the module VLE site. Before the course starts, we encourage you to look at the following items of 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.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.