HIS 72. Northern European Economic History, 12th to 16th c.: Trends and Turns in the Age of Towns

Course content

Northern European Economic History, 12th to 16th c.: Trends and Turns in the Age of Towns
Most of Europe’s population lives in towns; they are the nuclei of our society and economy. This course will deal with towns as the driving force behind Europe’s economic development before the modern age. Urban markets are the most conspicuous feature of the economic development of northern Europe between the 13th and 16th c. In the 12th and 13th c., old towns revived and transformed and new towns were founded at a historically unparalleled rate. Economic activity concentrated on urban markets in the following centuries. Since the second half of the 14th century, commerce expanded continuously to meet the demands of a commercializing society. The course will explore continuity and change in the economy of northern Europe until the late 16th century, when princes seriously begun challenging urban independence, and the political upheaval and financial pressure on the towns increased and eventually ended the Age of Towns.

We will discuss the models explaining and the factors underlying the long term development of Europe’s economy, using a number of recent handbooks on the topic. Articles and papers on selected aspects will enable us to contrast the overall development with local or regional differences and to zoom in on on-going discussions in the field. The course is furthermore dedicated to developing relevant competences for the study of economic history. Article and paper discussions introduce different methods, theories and material for the study of pre-modern economic history; they will furthermore establish a general familiarity with the genre. The course introduces participants to working with the main types of sources and methods available for both qualitative and quantitative studies in economic history. The course will also address the appropriate analysis and presentation of data, e.g. in graphs and tables. Last but not least, we will deal with some of the most prominent and much discussed concepts and theories in economic history, such as e.g. trust, institutions, and networks.

Course objectives (clarification of some of the academic targets stipulated in the curriculum):
After the course students will be able to:

Historical core area 1: Academic writing with focus on research discussion
● demonstrate a good knowledge of the major trends in pre-modern economic development
● discuss the state of research of a chosen area within the field of pre-modern economic history, based on a relevant selection of literature
● under supervision formulate a research question and work on a written assignment, approaching the academic article, embedded in and contributes to scientific discussions in economic history
● select and analyse the relevant empirical data, demonstrating methodological and theoretical proficiency

Methodological and analytical tools
● explain the main features of selected methodological and theoretical approaches in economic history
● exemplify how and with which consequences those approaches can be applied in a historical study


Module 1: Historical research discussion and academic writing (30 ECTS):
- Historical core area 1: Academic writing with focus on research discussion (HHIK03721E) [15 ECTS]
- Methodological and analytical tools (HHIK03731E) [15 ECTS]
[Curriculum for Master´s Programme in History, 2015-Curriculum]

For studerende, hvis centrale fag hører under et andet hovedområde end humaniora, forlænges kandidatsidefaget med 30 ECTS-point, der skal udgøres af fagelementerne Historisk kerneområde 1: Akademisk skriftlighed med fokus på forskningsdiskussion (HHIK03721E) og Metodiske og analytiske redskaber (HHIK03731E) (se 2015-studieordningen for det centrale fag på kandidat-niveau i Historie).

Group instruction / Seminar

To get the course up and running quickly and to introduce the course participants to the literature, it is highly recommended to read reviews if not (one of) the handbooks before the start of the semester. These handbooks will probably provide the foundation for the course. However, as preparations are on-going, participants should check Absalon for updated information. Additional literature and material will be provided at the beginning of the course.

- Carlo M. Cipolla: Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000-1700. 1993.
- Stevel A. Epstein: An economic and social history of later medieval Europe, 1000-1500. 2009.
- Robert S. Lopez: The commercial revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350. 1976 [KB online resource].
- Gunnar Persson & Paul Sharp: An economic history of Europe, knowledge, institutions and growth, 600 to the present. 2015 [PDF available online].
- Jan L. van Zanden: The Long Road to the Industrial Revolution: The European Economy in a Global Perspective, 1000-1800. 2009 [KB online resource].

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 112
  • Preparation
  • 406
  • Exam Preparation
  • 259
  • English
  • 777