HI6042 - How to Kill a King: Monarchies in Crisis, 1547-1689

What will I learn on this module?

Being an early modern king could be dangerous. Over the course of the period, monarchs were executed, assassinated, and deposed. While Mary Queen of Scots and Charles I lost their heads, boy-king Louis XIV pretended to be asleep as the angry Parisian mob entered his bedroom during the Fronde and James I narrowly escaped being blown up by the Gunpowder Plot. Even if not resolved in loss of life or deposition, monarchical crises that gripped early modern Europe posed a significant challenge to royal authority and legitimacy. These moments of crisis were connected to the changing nature of royal power, redefined in clashes between monarchs and their subjects exacerbated by the Reformation, dynastic politics, the changing relationship between monarchs and nobles, the emerging concept of the state and new ideas about how it should be governed. Over the course of this module you will examine monarchical crises through case studies including the executions of Jane Grey and Mary Stuart, assassinations of Henri III and Henri IV, the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution, the Fronde, and the Defenestration of Prague and deposition of the Winter King, Frederick V. We will consider the causes, outcomes, and representations of these crises through a variety of sources, including pamphlets, chronicles, letters, and images. We will also consider the representation of these events in the modern media such as film, television, and fiction writing.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on this module by attending lectures and seminars. The lectures will introduce you to the module’s core case studies and key historiographical debates related to the subject area. You will be expected to prepare for the weekly seminars by undertaking the set reading (available via the electronic reading list) and will build on your independent reading by presenting your ideas and arguments in seminar discussions with your peers. Each week's class will involve both small group work and large group discussion, built around focused questions on themes and topics. Carefully selected primary sources will feed into these discussions. You will receive formative feedback throughout the learning process and summative assessment will match your learning against the learning outcomes for the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Your academic development will be supported through your module tutor, engagement with your peers, and through the programme leader. The module tutor will be accessible within publicised Feedback and Consultation hours and via email. Your peers will provide you with a collaborative learning environment, and your programme leader will guide you through the requirements and expectations of your degree programme, of which this module is part. You will also be supported through individual engagement with the academic literature, lectures, and resources available on the eLP. Formative feedback will be on-going through seminar activities and assessment tasks.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key early modern monarchical crises
2. Understanding of a variety of methods for studying early modern monarchical crises

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. Demonstrate reflective practice and develop the ability to communicate ideas effectively and fluently
4. Display an ability to analyse and evaluate different kind of sources.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. Curiosity about the nature of evidence on which our knowledge of the past, and therefore our understandings of the present, depend.

How will I be assessed?

2 x 3,000-word essays (MLOs 1–5)
These essays will be written in response to questions chosen from two lists provided by the module tutor.

Formative feedback for each assessment will be provided in seminars. Verbal and written feedback will be given on all summative assessed work. Feedback on initial summative assessments will enable you to improve on later ones.





Module abstract

Being an early modern king could be dangerous. Over the course of the period, monarchs were executed, assassinated, and deposed. ‘How to Kill a King: Monarchies in Crisis, 1547-1689’ explores the crises of early modern European monarchies which led to these extreme events. Students will use a wide variety of sources including pamphlets, chronicles, letters, and images to examine the causes and outcomes of these crises as well as considering how the representations of monarchs and their power were impacted by these crises. We will consider a selection of case studies including English Civil War, the execution of Mary Stuart, assassinations of Henri III and Henri IV, the Fronde, and the Defenestration of Prague and deposition of the Winter King, Frederick V. These events will be considered in the context of the broader political, social, and intellectual changes which took place over the course of the early modern period and contributed to the redefining of the relationship between monarchs and subjects.

Course info

UCAS Code T720

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Humanities

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

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