nl en

Dynasties in the Medieval and Early Modern World


Admission requirements

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


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. Earlier and later examples of dynastic power can be included in a comparative perspective.

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 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 aqcuires:

  • 13) Understanding of the comparative method, particularly in a global context.

  • 14) Understanding of the specific problems of global comparison related to finding and interpreting sources with regional biases.

  • 15) Ability to integrate specialised literature in a wider comparative perspective.

  • 16) (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.


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

  • Lectures 13 x 2 = 26

  • individual consultations : 4

  • Study of literature; for course as well as for individual research and peer review: 125#

  • Preparation/writing assignment(s), including the final paper: 125#

time spent on reading-writing-preparation will differ per student

Week programme:


  • Written paper (ca. 7500 words, based on research in primary sources, including footnotes and bibliography)

  • Measured learning objectives: 1-8, 12-15 (ResMa also: 9 and 16)*

  • Oral presentation

  • Measured learning objectives: 3-7, 12-15*

  • Weekly Assignment (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: 10-15 (ResMA also 16)*
    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


  • Weekly assignments (quarps) each Monday before seminar at 12.00 noon via email

  • Synopsis for paper Friday 5 October at 12 (noon)

  • First draft of paper Friday 23 November at 12 (noon). NB drafts can be handed in earlier!

  • Final version paper Friday 14 December at 12 (noon)

These dates are subject to change; up-to-date information will be provided in the first week and will be put on Blackboard.

Weekly seminar schedule:
Students will be asked to outline their research interests and language abilities. A full week programme will be made on the basis of these data. Our preliminary schedule is as follows:

  • Week 1-4 will be used to discuss the general literature on the basis of Dynasties and additional texts;

  • Week 5-7 will be devoted to more concentrated readings of primary and secondary sources;
    Week Weeks 8-13 presentations and discussion with limited additional sources or literature.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • publication course outline

  • communication of deadlines and news

  • sharing texts

  • peer review

Reading list

Jeroen Duindam, *Dynasties. A Global History of Power 1300-1800 (Cambridge 2015); or alternatively a draft typescript of a ‘Very Short Introduction’ to be written for Oxford University Press in the second semester of 2017-2018.
Literature will be listed on Blackboard and will mostly be available via Leiden UB digital resources.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Jeroen Duindam