HI5038 - Early Modern Monarchies: Power and Representation, 1500-1750

What will I learn on this module?

This module will familiarise you with different aspects of monarchical rule in the early modern period. In particular, it will explore the history of royal courts between c. 1500 and 1750, ranging from England to Poland-Lithuania and covering dynasties such as the Valois and Bourbons, Habsburgs, Tudors and Stuarts, Jagiellonians, Vasas and Wettins. We will look at court intrigue, favourites and faction politics, gender, representation and political agency, ceremony, entertainments, fashion and royal palaces, and diplomacy as means of transnational contacts between royal courts. We will study various European concepts – including kingship and queenship, chivalry, divine right, ritual, and patronage – and consider how these were adapted to suit different styles of monarchies and courts. We will also think about the ways in which European royal houses were a connected network of cultural and political exchange.

You will learn about how early modern royal courts accommodated the needs of different political systems, for example absolute, elective, and parliamentary monarchy, while retaining key characteristics of European royal culture. We will tackle questions about representation in early modern politics and the day-to-day life at these centres of power by applying the most recent approaches from social, political and cultural history, including elements of archaeology, art history, gender history, and history of emotions. The module is organised thematically, but we will think about the degree of change between c. 1500 and 1750, as royal courts adapted to dynastic change and adopted emerging trends, such as the Renaissance, the Baroque and the Enlightenment.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce you to the module’s core themes and key historiographical debates related to the subject area. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking the set reading (available via the electronic reading list), and will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. Each week's class will involve both small group work and large group discussion, built around focused questions on themes and topics. Carefully selected primary sources will feed into these discussions. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process and summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your module tutor, engagement with your peers, and through the programme leader. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your degree programme, of which this module is part. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLP. Formative feedback will be on-going through seminar activities and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Knowledge and understanding of the history of early modern courts.
2. Understanding of a variety of methods for studying early modern royal courts.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate a range of transferable skills, including the ability to make independent critical judgements, to critically evaluate sources, to summarise the research of others, and to present arguments in a cogent and persuasive way.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
4. Curiosity about the nature of evidence on which our knowledge of the past, and therefore our understandings of the present, depend.

How will I be assessed?

2 x 2,500-word essays (MLOs 1–5)
These essays will be written in response to questions chosen from two thematic lists provided by the module tutor.

Formative feedback for each assessment will be provided in seminars. Verbal and written feedback will be given on all summative assessed work. Feedback on initial summative assessments will enable you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

This module comparatively explores the history of early modern monarchies between c. 1500 and 1750, including Louis XIV’s Versailles, the Jagiellonian court in Cracow and the Stuart court, among others. We will think about the day-to-day life at court, its politics, and the ways in which it was used as a vehicle for the monarch’s propaganda and representation. We will look at court intrigue, favourites and faction politics, gender and political agency, ceremony, entertainments, fashion and royal palaces, and diplomacy. We will think both about how elements of European royal culture were adapted to different styles of monarchy and court as well as looking at European royal houses as a connected network for transfer of people and ideas. Through reading and discussing a variety of texts – for example festival books, letters, chronicles, and household accounts – you will develop a range of transferrable skills such as building and supporting arguments, research and analytical skills.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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