Corruption in Early Modern Europe and the World

History 103B.005

Fall 2014
Day & Time: 
W 12-2P
This seminar will examine “corruption” in early modern Europe and the wider world (from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century). Drawing upon primary and secondary sources, we will question how understandings of corruption and anti-corruption related to major historical trends, including the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, the rise of the modern state, the birth of financial institutions, and Europe’s colonial empires. We will also investigate changing ideas of governance, political transparency, financial accountability, religious reform, textual criticism, sexuality and the body, medicine and disease, commerce and empire, the environment, and the role of the press.
Specifically, our subjects will include the city-states of Renaissance Italy, Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers on abuses in the sixteenth-century church, Renaissance humanist scholars on textual corruption and the recovery of classical and biblical sources, Thomas Cromwell and the court of Henry VIII, commercial accountability and economic crisis in the early modern Dutch Republic, heresy and religious persecution, early modern medical thought, political philosophy during the English Civil War and the French Revolution, and corruption scandals in eighteenth-century British India.