nl en

Administrative revolution in The Netherlands (1300-1600)


Admission requirements

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

(Passive) knowledge of the Dutch language is required.


During the so-called ‘Renaissance of the twelfth century’ a series of fundamental changes took place in Western and Central Europe. The rediscovery of classical texts; the renewed application of Roman law concepts and procedures formed the basis for new social relationships. At the same time, urban societies became increasingly important and the role of money increased. In a series of monumental studies, Richard Southern, Robert Moore, Michael Clanchy, Thomas Bisson and John Sabapathy pointed out that in the "long twelfth century" the administrative relationships also shifted. The administrative outcome of the twelfth-century Renaissance can be summarized as follows: in substitution of a failing system or fidelitarian management a concept of accountable functional competence was generated that became characteristic of the new Europe. More and more often 'new men' took a place alongside the old feudal counselors: a sort of civil servant-avant-la-lettre: salarized, of non-noble descent, townspeople or ministerials, and they almost always had learned.

Existing research focuses in particular on the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In this course we will focus more on the later period of the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when the inventions of the twelfth century trickled down in society and caused an administrative revolution: what were the political and social causes? What were the administrative consequences in the longer term? To what extent did the citizen experience this? We will use archival sources in the National Archive in The Hague and in several town archives.

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

The student has acquired:

  • 11) Thorough knowledge and comprehension of the specialisation or subspecialisation as well as of the historiography of the specialisation Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on the 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 Europe 1000-1800, with a particular focus on 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 acquire a general overview of historiography on medieval en early modern administration.

  • 14) Will develop the ability to conduct original research based on primary source material.

  • 15) (ResMA only): – ResMA students will learn to work with different genres of primary sources efficiently.

  • 16) Will learn the problematics and methodologies of conducting research from a transnational perspective.


The timetable is available on the MA History website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar (compulsory attendance)
    This means that students have to attend every session of the course. If a student is not able to attend, he is required to notify the teacher beforehand. The teacher will determine if and how the missed session can be compensated by an additional assignment. If specific restrictions apply to a particular course, the teacher will notify the students at the beginning of the semester. If a student does not comply with the aforementioned requirements, he will be excluded from the seminar.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Seminars: 13x2 hours = 26 hours

  • Study of literature and archival sources: 134 hours

  • Preparing presentation and writing paper: 120 hours

Assessment method


  • Essay
    measured learning objectives: 1-2, 4-8, 11-16 (15 for ResMA students only)

  • Oral presentation
    measured learning objectives: 4-6, 9

  • Participation in class:
    measured learning objectives: 6- 9 (10 for ResMA students only)


  • Written paper: 75 %

  • Oral presentation: 15 %

  • Participation in class: 10 %

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.


Assignments and written papers should be handed in within the deadline as provided in the relevant course outline on Blackboard.


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

Inspection and feedback

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. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the results, a review of the written paper will have to be organised.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines

Reading list

To be announced through Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. R. Stein