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International Relations in Medieval and Early Modern Europe


Admission requirements

This course is part of the (Res)MA History Programme. It is not accessible for BA students.


This seminar explores medieval and early modern diplomatic history from a new, broader perspective. Not only relations between states, but also formal contacts between religions, private companies, and diaspora groups consisting of merchants, students, and other temporary expats will be taken into account. We will focus on connections between the northern and southern halves of Europe, including the whole Mediterranean basin. Students can choose to write their projects on subjects as diverse as the dealings of Dutch merchants or English consuls in the Mediterranean, the reports of Italian envoys from Flanders, the activities of French missionaries in Scotland or North Africa, or the German “nations” at French and Italian universities.

Course objectives

General learning objectives

The student has acquired:

  • 1) The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 2) The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;

  • 3) The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 4) The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;

  • 5) The ability to independently formulate a clear and well-argued research question, taking into account the theory and method of the field and to reduce this question to accessible and manageable sub-questions;

  • 6) The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;

  • 7) The ability to give a clear and well-founded oral and written report on research results in correct English, when required, or Dutch, meeting the criteria of the discipline;

  • 8) The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;

  • 9) The ability to provide constructive feedback to and formulate criticism of the work of others and the ability to evaluate the value of such criticism and feedback on one’s own work and incorporate it;

  • 10) (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of one of the specialisations or subspecialisations as well as of the historiography of the specialisation, focusing particularly on the following; in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: broader processes of political, social and cultural identity formation between about 1000-1800; awareness of problems of periodisation and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.

  • 12) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the theoretical, conceptual and methodological aspects of the specialisation or subspecialisation in question, with a particular focus on the following: in the specialisation Europe 1000-1800: the ability to analyse and evaluate primary sources from the period, if necessary with the aid of modern translations; ability to make use of relevant methods of quantitative and qualitative analysis to interpret sources in their textual and historical context.

Learning objectives, pertaining to this Research Seminar

The student:

  • 13) Will get a general view of historiography on medieval and early modern diplomacy, including the latest debates and developments in the field, and the main concepts used.

  • 14) Will develop the ability to conduct original research on a topic pertaining to the field on the basis of primary source material.

  • 15) (ResMA only): – ResMA students will be able to critically reflect on and engage with the more theoretical debates as well as the interdisciplinarity currently present in the field of diplomatic history. Additionally, the originality of their projects will be more central in the assessment process.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours.

  • Entry test (including preparation): 40 hours

  • Classes (attending): 24 hours

  • Classes (preparation): 36 hours

  • Preparation Literature report: 40 hours

  • Oral presentation: 40 hours

  • Preparation final paper: 100 hours

Assessment method


  • Entry test.
    measured learning objectives: 4, 13-14

  • Literature report.
    measured learning objectives: 1-3

  • Oral presentation.
    measured learning objectives: 3-7, 13-14

  • Final paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography). measured learning objectives: 1-8, 13-14; for ResMA students also 15


  • Entry test: 0%

  • Literature report: 10%

  • Oral presentation: 20 %

  • Participation: 10%

  • Final paper: 60%

The final grade for the course is established by determining the weighted average with the additional requirement that the written paper must always be sufficent.


Should the overall mark be unsatisfactory, the paper is to be revised after consultation with the instructor.

Exam review

How and when a review of the written paper will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the results at the latest.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • general communication

  • course materials

  • grades

Reading list

To read before the beginning of the course:

  • Donald Queller, The office of ambassador in the Middle Ages (Reprint, Princeton 2017).

  • Matthew S. Anderson, The rise of modern diplomacy 1450-1919 (Harlow and New York 1993).

The rest of the readings will be indicated in the course schedule.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Prof.dr. P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers Dr. L.P.F. Laborie