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Constitutional theory and practice in early modern Europe


Admission requirements

Both BA werkcolleges.


In this seminar, we will explore a wide array of pre-modern constitutional theories and practices. Our discussions will incorporate famous cases, such as Venice or seventeenth-century England, as well as less known instances of constitution-based polities, such as the elective monarchies in East Central Europe. We will discuss the right of resistance stipulated by the laws (or legends) of Aragon, Brabant, Transylvania, and Poland-Lithuania, as well as non-implemented ideas such as those put forth by Huguenot authors in sixteenth-century France. For theoretical background, we will survey the Greek and Roman origins of early modern legalism, constitutionalism and republicanism.
The ultimate goal of this course is to make you aware of the diversity of political life in early modern Europe, as well as the usefulness and limitations of historical categorization.
The readings selected for this course are a combination of secondary and primary sources. Students will be expected to use both kinds of sources in their final papers.

Course objectives

  • To get acquainted with the theoretical and practical implications of early modern European constitutionalism.

  • To expand your research skills by investigating a topic of your choice.

  • To develop your critical thinking and writing skills by producing a) a clear and concise review of a scholarly work on the topic; and b) by analyzing a few primary sources and the available scholarship related to your chosen topic in a final paper.

  • To practice your oral skills by participating in weekly class discussions and giving an oral presentation.


See timetable History.

Mode of instruction


Course Load

  • Total course load for the course = 280 hours.

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and seminars = 24 hours.

Assessment method

  • Attendance & participation in class discussions (10%).

  • Review of a scholarly work (you may choose your piece from the lists of bibliographic recommendations available on Blackboard/Dropbox, or in consultation with me) (ca. 1000 words, 15%).

  • Paper topic, outline, and related bibliography submitted in advance (after consultation with me) (10%).

  • Oral presentation of your chosen topic (15%).

  • Final paper (ca. 8000 words, 50%).



Reading list

Readings will be made available online and on a shelf in the library. A course schedule will be emailed to students before the beginning of the course, containing the reading requirements for each week and other details.


Via uSis.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs



Email: Dr. F. Roșu.