History 594:

The Military Revolution in Early Modern Europe

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Europe has been described as the "mother of revolutions". Indeed, the political revolutions in British America, France, Russia and elsewhere in the last two centuries have greatly affected politics and statecraft. Even more profoundly the industrial revolution has kept the economies, societies and cultures of the world in its thrall since the eighteenth century. However, the previous three hundred years (1450-1750) saw their share of cultural, economic, social and political revolutions that laid the foundations of the subsequent changes in later modern Europe. Traditionally, graduate seminars in early modern Europe have concentrated on the cultural revolutions of early modern Europe (Renaissance, Reformation, Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment). In other cases they have looked into the economic, social and political transformation of early modern Europe (Commercial Revolution, agricultural revolution, and the rise of the modern state). This seminar will address an area of relatively recent investigation and interpretation in the history of early modern Europe. For the past forty years, scholars have researched and debated the question of a military revolution in early modern Europe. They have discussed whether the transformation of European armies and the conduct of war in this period constitutes a historical revolution on the scale of the ones mentioned above.

This seminar will study the history of Early Modern Europe from the perspective of the growth and development of the military institutions between the 15th and the 18th century. The changes in military technology, corps or branches of service, recruitment, organization, tactics, and military theory transformed the armies of Europe in an unprecedented manner. This transformation would have a tremendous impact on the development of modern states, be they absolute monarchies, limited monarchies or commonwealths. It would also affect the economies and societies of Europe through the "total wars" of the 17th century and the "limited wars" of the 18th century. The transformation of European armies and navies would also contribute to European commercial and colonial expansion in the rest of the world. We will investigate such general problems as: the gunpowder revolution and its affect upon European and non-European states and societies; and the relationship of the modern armies to their societies, economies and cultures; the wars of religion as a crucible from which the early modern state emerged; and the question of the Military Revolution and its impact on European and World history.

    • 1) To acquaint students with the problem of the rise of the modern military, and in so doing, give them an understanding of the history of Europe from the late 15th century to the early 18th century. 
    • 2) To sharpen the students' skills in: (a) extemporaneous discussion; (b) prepared speaking; (c) historical interpretation; (d) research; and (e) writing. 
    • 1) The class schedule will consist of one assignment each week. The format of each session will consist of: (a) reading of general book-length studies of the history of war in its early phases; (b) reading of web secondary and primary web sources on specific problems and issues relating to the week's topics; and (c) the writing of two short "reaction essays" on some of those problems and issues. 
    • 2) At the end of reading each major study (usually every three or four weeks), the members of the seminar will meet in a chat room to evaluate that study. 
    • 3) Lists of readings, discussion questions, and other supplementary materials will be distributed to students on Blackboard. 
  • 1) Reading assignments: Students are expected to read text assignments and enough web assignments to participate in discusssion forums effectively. Readings from the text and supplementary sources are given on a weekly basis. Each student is expected to read general assignments and specific assignments of primary and secondary on a particular topic. The students are expected to discuss assigned text readings in the discussion forums. 
  • 2) Discussion Forums: Students are expected to participate in a discussion forum each week. On a weekly basis, the instuctor will present two or more questions based upon the web and text readings. Within the first three days of the week , students are to address these questions in the discussion forum. Students should respond to the questions in one or more paragraphs per question. They should substantiate their answers and opinions with material culled from the web and text readings. In the subsequent four days, the instructor will comment on the response in the forum. In addition, students will react to one another's responses to the questions. They can also make comments and pose questions regarding other issues brought up in the forum. At the end of each week the instructor will close and archive the previous week's discussion forum and introduce the next week's forum. If all members of the seminar agree, a week's forum can be extended. Each student's participation will be evaluated in the following manner. A student can earn up to ten points for their answers to the week's questions and ten poiints for their other comments, questions, and reactions in the forum. (20 points per week; 300 points total for the semester). 
  • 3) Four book reviews (2000 to 2500 words each). Each student will write one book review on each of the four books assigned for this course. They are called upon to analyze the author's views regarding their topic in early modern military history. Each essay will be worth 100 points for a total of 400 points. 
  • 4) Problem specialty: Each student will specialize in a particular issue or problem in early modern military history during the course and will conduct further readings into the historical investigation of those problems. The student is expected to relate discussion forum topics to the experience and issues of their special problems. The student can choose to specialize on any of the problems listed in the course outline. 
  • 5) Historiographical Essay. Each student is required to write a historiographical essay on one of the problems or issues of their specialty. The essay will cover the historiography of a particular problem of early modern military history. Each historiographical essay will include a 4000 to 5000 word text together with a bibliography. Copies of the text will be given to the other members of the seminar via email. 
  • 6) Evaluations: Students are expected to evaluate each other's book reviews and historiographical essays. Students will send evaluations to each other and to the instructor either during some of the discussion forums or individually via email. Each evaluation will be about 300 to 500 words and be worth 20 points each for a total of 100 points. 
  • 7) Course evaluation and grades. Evaluation of student performance will be based upon the following criteria: 
    • a) Discussion Forums (300 points or 30 percent of the course grade) 
    • b) Four book reviews. (400 points or 40 percent of the course grade) 
    • c) Historiographical Essay. (200 points or 20 percent of the course grade) 
    • d) Evaluations. (100 points or 10 percent of the course grade)