HIST 3902C:  Topics in European History: “The Politics of Religious Conflict in Europe, 1559-1609”
Winter 2021

Instructor: Prof. P. Fitzgerald

The Protestant Reformation began in Germany and Switzerland, where the intensity of religious upheaval soon gave rise to fighting. But these conflicts were short and limited in scale, and they ended with political settlements that introduced long periods of peace. The Reformation’s second phase was different. It centered on France and the Netherlands, where religious discord led to wars that were long, destructive and interminable:  wars that created a vortex of violence that drew in Spain, the hegemonic power of the day, as well as England. Religious engagement added a transnational ideological dimension to the national and international politics of this struggle between ‘Protestant Europe’ and ‘Catholic Europe’.

While military and naval aspects of these conflicts will be considered, emphasis falls on the politics and economics of the ‘wars of religion’, the mixture of ideology and political expediency that motivated the participants, and the eventual acceptance of religious pluralism as the basis for peace.

Text:  J. H. Elliott, Europe Divided, 1559-1598 (Wiley-Blackwell, 2nd edition, 2000). Inexpensive copies of the first edition, readily available on the Internet, are also acceptable.

Format:  Two lectures will stream live each week on cuLearn. Online quizzes and exercises that require responses in real time are an important component of evaluation, so regular ‘attendance’ at the scheduled class times is essential.

Evaluation:  In-class quizzes and participation exercises (30%); a mid-term examination covering the first six weeks (30%); and a final examination covering the last six weeks plus the main themes of the course (40%).

Caveat:  This course deals with the national and international politics of the era. Students interested in the theology and apologetics of the Reformation should take HIST 3708 instead.