HIS 4B History of Western Civilization (Renaissance to the 18th Century)
We study European society, politics and culture from the late Middle Ages through the early modern centuries, from the Black Death to the eve of the French Revolution. From 1348 to 1789, Europe experienced mass pandemics, the spread of world-changing new technologies including gunpowder and the printing press, the development of the early modern state, the fracturing of the "universal Christendom," the emergence of competing religious confessions, religious wars and wars of expansion, the rise of colonial empires and international trade, the rise of science, the Age of Enlightenment and secularization. These were centuries of enormous contradiction: the "Scientific Revolution" was contemporaneous to the European witch-hunt that led to the execution of tens of thousands for the crime of "harmful magic." In 1685 the French King Louis XIV outlawed witch-hunting, and yet he continued to practice the "King's touch," a miraculous healing ritual in which French and English Kings cured people through the laying on of hands. These are just some of the crosscurrents and paradoxes of the early modern centuries that we explore in this course.