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Dynasties in the Medieval and Early Modern World


Admission requirements

There are no specific admission requirements.


For thousands of years, societies have fallen under the reign of a single leader, ruling as chief, king, or emperor. These rulers tried to transfer their power to their kin: families of rulers emerged: as dynasties. In this research seminar we will examine patterns of dynastic power across the globe, in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Age.
What were the ideals of rulership and how did they influence the lives of individual rulers? Which forms of succession to the throne can be found, and how did women fit into the practice of predominantly male paramount rule? In addition to these questions the households and administrations waxing around the ruler will be discussed, as well as the position of these centres in the realms under their authority.
Students will be asked to define a theme for their individual research, which should in part be based on primary sources (travel descriptions, diplomatic reports, diaries, memoirs, histories, chronicles). Research can focus on one area, but comparative efforts will be welcomed. Diachronic (change over time) and synchronic (different regions at one point in time) comparative methods can be used.

Course objectives

General learning objectives
The student has acquired:

    1. The ability to independently identify and select literature, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to independently identify and select sources, using traditional and modern techniques;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate a corpus of sources with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. The ability to analyse and evaluate literature with a view to addressing a particular historical problem;
    1. 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;
    1. The ability to independently set up and carry out an original research project that can make a contribution to existing scholarly debates;
    1. 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;
    1. The ability to participate in current debates in the specialisation;
    1. (ResMA only:) The ability to participate in a discussion of the theoretical foundations of the discipline.

Learning objectives, pertaining to the specialisation

    1. 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 periodization and impact of ‘national’ historiographical traditions on the field.
    1. 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 aqcuires:

    1. Understanding of the comparative method, particularly in a global context.
    1. Understanding of the specific problems of global comparison related to finding and interpreting sources with regional biases.
    1. Ability to integrate specialised literature in a wider comparative perspective.
    1. (ResMA only) Understanding of the current debates on connected and comparative approaches to global history; the ability use these perspectives in individual research; contributing to the comparative and global history research paradigms.


See Timetable and deadlines History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar
    h3. Course Load
    Total course load: 10 EC x 28 hrs = 280 hours

  • 12 × 2 hours lectures: 24 hours;

  • Reading and assignments on the basis of literature in the first six weeks: 6 × 12 hours: 72 hours;

  • Preparation research proposal and bibliographical survey (discussion paper): 40 hours;

  • At least 4 individual meetings: 2 hours;

  • Preparing individual presentation: 40 hours;

  • Preparing and writing final paper: 100 hours.

Assessment method


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)
    Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 12-14 (ResMa also: 9 and 15)

  • Entry test
    Measured learning objectives: 10-13

  • Oral presentation
    Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 12-14

  • Assignment 1 (For the introductory phase of this seminar students will write a QUARP on the basis of the literature. This combination of a Quote-Argument-Relation-Problem from the text will be explained at length in the first seminar meeting.)
    Measured learning objectives: 10-14 (ResMA also 15)

Written paper: 70 % (including research proposal and final paper)
Oral presentation: 15%
Weekly Assignments first six weeks: 15%

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

All assignment should be handed in within the agreed deadlines

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


Blackboard will be used for course information (announcements), for documents, and possibly for peer review.

Reading list

  • Jeroen Duindam, Dynasties. A Global History of Power 1300-1800 (Cambridge 2015)

  • A set of materials available online or in the library, to be announced.


Via uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not appicable.


Prof. dr. Jeroen Duindam