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Unit information: The Origins of the Old Regime, 1550-1750 (Level M Lecture Response Unit) in 2015/16

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Unit name The Origins of the Old Regime, 1550-1750 (Level M Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HISTM0064
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Noah Millstone
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

During the early modern era, a series of semi-feudal kingdoms on the western edge of the Eurasia were transformed into well-financed, militarized states with global ambitions. This Lecture Response unit addresses the problem of state formation, and equips students to ask questions about origins and character of Europe’s anciens régimes. We will study the emergence of centralized administrative bodies; the new sciences of ‘reason of state’, political economy and cameralism; and the mixing of church and state that produced new forms of collaboration, mobilization and loyalty. We will ask: what caused the emergence of the ‘absolutist’ state? How did old regime states function? How can we understand the relationships between religious wars, socioeconomic changes, and imperial competition? Major themes include the practice of comparative history, social scientific accounts of state formation, the ‘social collaboration’ model of absolutism, and the so-called ‘military-fiscal state’. Students will learn to see the state as an historical product, and will be equipped to pursue research questions about state formation in a variety of contexts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have developed:

  1. a broad understanding of the development of European states in the early modern period;
  2. the ability to analyse and generalise about how and why different states developed in the way that they did;
  3. the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate more general issues and arguments;
  4. the ability to identify a particular academic interpretation, evaluate it critically, and form an individual viewpoint.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour interactive lecture per week.

Assessment Information

One summative coursework essay of 5000 words (100%) will assess ILOs 1-4

Reading and References

W. Beik, Absolutism and Society in Seventeenth-Century France (1985)

J. Brewer, Sinews of Power (1989) S. Hindle, The State and Social Change in Early Modern England (2000)

J.C. Scott, Seeing Like a State (1998) A. Wakefield, The Disordered Police State (2009)