HIS31250 Dynastic Politics, Culture & Diplomacy in Post-Westphalian Germany

Academic Year 2020/2021

It is not without significance that after 1945 the founding fathers of the movement for European Union looked to the supra-national federative structures and institutions of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation for inspiration as a role model or precursor. This module will examine the constitutional, political and cultural natures of the Empire and the historiographical debates concerning its viability. Within this context, the module will analyse the rise of ‘imperial patriotism’ and early German national consciousness, the emergence of the ‘balance of power‘ in International Relations after 1648, the German Enlightenment and Cultural Renaissance in the princely courts, the rise of Brandenburg-Prussia, the evolution of Austro-Prussian Dualism and the bi-polarisation of the German world between Vienna and Berlin.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate knowledge and critical understanding of the History of Habsburg dynastic power and strategy in early modern Europe with specific reference to Austria, Spain, Flanders and Germany.

Assess individual aspects of Habsburg European History and Culture in their broader context

Present aspects of the historical debates on the political, cultural and military-strategic aspirations of the Austrian and Spanish branches of the Habsburg dynasty and their mutual vision for mastery of Europe and for universal monarchy.

Write a scholarly essay appropriate for a Third -Year student of History

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture I: Allia Bella Gerant. Tu Felix Austria, Nube ! : Habsburg Europe by Inheritance

Seminar I: Unter dem Doppeladler : Charles V & the Imperial Ideal

Lecture II: The Peace of Augsburg & The Habsburg Family Compact of 1555

Seminar II: Holding the Centre in Germany: Ferdinand I, Maximilian II, Rudolf II & the art of compromise

Lecture III: Rudolphine Prague: Alchemy, Occultism & the Pursuit of the Fabulous

Seminar III: Resolution & Determination : Philip II a much maligned monarch ? & World Dominion & Golden Age: Habsburg Spain, Austria & Flanders

Lecture IV: Contra Turcam et Haereticorum : From Lepanto (1571), to Nördlingen (1634).

Seminar IV: Ferdinand III , Leopold I & the Rise of Reichspatriotismus : Facing down the French, the Swedes and the Turks from the Peace of Prague (1635), to the Peace of Karlowitz (1699)

Lecture V: The Westphalian Peace & the Balance of Power (1648)

Seminar V: The Rise of Territorial Autocracy: Documentary discussion of Veit Ludwig von Seckendorff, Der Teutscher Fürstenstaat : The German Princely-State (1656) & Leopold I’s Wahlkapitulation: Electoral Concession (1658)

Lecture VI: The Court, Nobility & Estates of Empire

Seminar VI: The Flourishing of Art, Music, Philosophy and Culture: The German Enlightenment

Lecture VII: Frederick William the Great Elector of Brandenburg & the creation of
‘The Northern Sparta’

Seminar VII: Oral Presentations by Students

Lecture VIII: The Challenge from the North: Frederick the Great and the consolidation of Brandenburg-Prussia

Seminar VIII: Austro-Prussian Dualism, Cameralism & Reform: Documentary discussion of Kaunitz’s Critique, Maria Theresa’s Political Testament (1749-1750), and Von Fritsch’s Saxon Restoration Commission 1762-’63

Lecture IX: The Austrian Achievement: Maria Theresa, Joseph I & the re-consolidation of the Austrian Hausmacht

Seminar IX: The Irish Contribution to the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy

Lecture X: Götterdämmerung: The Twilight of the Holy Roman Empire – the Napoleonic Challenge from Jena to Waterloo

Seminar X: The Congress of Vienna & The Metternich System
& Revision of the Course

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Seminar (or Webinar)


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
This is a small-group, seminar-based module. It is taught through a one-hour weekly lecture and a two-hour seminar. The weekly lecture provides an overview of the week’s topic, focusing upon key historical trends, debates and events. The weekly seminar is focused upon individual active / task-based learning by means of class debates, discussion and student presentations. Advanced research, writing and citation skills are developed through in-term assessments and a semester-long 4,000 word research project. Autonomous learning is advanced through student-led debate and discussion of set primary sources and / or student presentations each week. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Additional Information:
Students should have completed one of the pre-requisite modules listed

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Continuous Assessment: Active participation in seminars, Essay Report and Learning Diary and Seminar presentation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Essay: Major essay project (4,000 words) Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the in-semester assessments will be given in writing by e-mail, and by individual meetings on Zoom. Feedback will be provided on an ongoing basis on preparatory plans and primary and secondary sources for end-of-semester Research Project Assignments. Feedback on the end-of-semester Research Project Assignment will be given by appointment in one-to-one meetings on Zoom, or by arrangement in face-to face meetings in accordance with Covid-19 protocols, safety measures and maintenance of social distance..

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.

Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Thurs 09:00 - 10:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 Wed 15:00 - 15:50