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Historians define the “early modern period” as the period between 1500 and 1815, a period which, in many respects, brought forward continuities from the Late Middle Ages but, at the same time, is characterised by significant upheavals and long term processes of change. In particular, large-scale book printing, journeys of discovery taken by Europeans, the emergence of the European overseas empire, the reformation and the resulting division in Western Christianity all illustrate the divisive nature of the early modern period. Moreover, the period is characterised by a war, which contributed significantly to the development of the modern system of nations. In each state, a notably early modern conception of statehood developed, forming ever more complex state apparatuses and authorities. Renaissance, humanism and the Enlightenment accelerated a new world-view, a notion of science based on empiricism and a new view of the individual and society. The large-scale revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789) can be interpreted as a result of this and other developments.

Lectures in the field of the early modern period are fully integrated in the teacher training, B.A. And M.A. courses of study. All lectures on early modern history apply as lectures on modern history for the basic modules. Early modern modules are offered as independent focus from the specialisation modules onwards.

The spectrum of the lectures on the early modern period offered in Marburg covers the entire period from the reform of the Empire (1495) and the early reformation period up to the Napoleon era and the Congress of Vienna (1815). The geographic focus is on Hesse, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Western Europe (primarily Great Britain and France) and the North-American colonies and Northern Europe (primarily Sweden). In terms of topics, the focus is on the history of the intergovernmental relationships and the formation of the European state systems, reformation history, constitutional history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, the revolutions in England in the 17th century, migration and minority history and the history of political ideas. A special feature of Marburg is the regular lectures from employees of the Hessian regional authorities for historical regional studies and the Hessian State Archive which enhances the range of courses in the early modern field through seminars and tutorials on Hessian history as well as archival science. Courses on the subject-specific computer application round off the range of courses. Marburg is also the headquarters of the Institute for Archival Sciences/University of Applied Sciences for Archiving (Archiving School of Marburg).