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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Catholic Christendom, 1450-1650 (HIST10170)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryDenounced by one polemical Protestant writer in the sixteenth century as a 'Synagogue of Satan' the Catholic church has frequently had a bad press from those who have sought to challenge the predominance of the first truly world religion. It is often forgotten that the Catholic Church's severest critics actually came from within its own ranks, and that most of the population of Europe remained Catholic by 1650. This course examines some of the reasons for this success, and addresses the dynamism and energy, as well as the corruption and chicanery, that characterised Catholicism in an era of unprecedented expansion and conflict. Topics covered include: the Inquisition and the prosecution of 'superstition'; ritual brotherhood; false saints and visionaries; art and music; and the Renaissance papacy.
Course description This course aims to introduce students to some of the major themes in the history of the Roman Catholic church during one of the most critical and turbulent periods of its existence. The course challenges received views of Catholic inertia in the century or so before the Reformation and Counter-Reformation and it highlights continuities as well as discontinuities in the nature of church governance, as well as in the relationship between ecclesiastical bodies and lay society. The course is designed to build on the general surveys of European history in Years One and Two, and to complement the 'Renaissance Italians' honours module and other modules on European and British society, religion, culture and belief in this period. Students should be seeking to understand, and to evaluate, the various historical interpretations of early modern Catholicism, while developing a critical awareness of the geographical and political diversity, which characterised Europe during the period. The course requires students to study a range of printed and visual sources in conjunction with secondary texts. This will enable students to examine and understand early modern Catholics through what they produced. In so doing, they will have the chance to consider the distinctive methodological features of religious history and to consider how conceptual abstraction can be related to people doing things in the past. Among the topics covered are: clerical and lay religious lives, including Jews, before the Reformation (c.1450-c.1530); the impact of the discovery of new lands, new religious orders, and new institutions (such as the revived Roman Inquisition) on Catholic life after c.1530; and finally an overview of culture and belief in early modern Europe, including artistic production.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent.
Before enrolling students on this course, Personal Tutors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503767).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge fundamental to the history of early modern Catholicism considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship about the history of early modern Catholicism;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material, both textual and non-textual;
  4. demonstrate, by way of seminar contribution, coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Primary Sources:
Erasmus of Rotterdam (attributed), Julius Excluded from Heaven (c. 1517)
Gasparo Contarini, The Office of the Bishop (1517)
Ignatius Loyola, Autobiography (1555)
Bernal Díaz, The Conquest of New Spain (c. 1570)
Michel de Montaigne, Essays (c. 1580)

Secondary Reading:
John Bossy, Christianity in the West, 1400-1700 (1985)
E. Duffy, Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes (1997)
R. Po-chia Hsia, The World of Catholic Renewal, 1540-1770 (1998)
Edward Muir, Ritual in Early Modern Europe (1997)
Michael Mullett, The Catholic Reformation (1998)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserProf Stephen Bowd
Tel: (0131 6)50 3758
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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