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Early Modern History

The modern world was born in the era between the Renaissance and the French Revolution.

Nieuwe geschiedenis
Rembrandt: The Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp, 1632.

Radical changes were bought about by the voyages of discovery, the Reformation(s), the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. A lot of groundbreaking historical research focuses on this dynamic period, which is known as the modern or early modern period (1500 – 1800).
The research and teaching programme Early Modern History is comprised of the following core aspects:

  • an interdisciplinary approach of the Golden Age, including the Dutch Revolt;
  • the political culture of republics and monarchies in comparative international perspective;
  • the interaction between (Christian) Europe and the Islamic world, Asia and the Atlantic region.

Researchers and students at the UvA make ample use of Amsterdam’s world-renowned archives, libraries and museums. The University Library houses the world’s biggest collection of books printed in the Golden Age. The records of the Amsterdam City Archives not only have bearing on the history of Amsterdam, but also on the Dutch Republic and her colonies in East and West.


Early Modern History at the UvA focuses on the Dutch Revolt, the emergence of the Golden Age, the development of Amsterdam, and eighteenth-century political thought. Themes include:

  • new and early modern media;
  • political culture;
  • theory and practice of early modern diplomacy;
  • ideas about republicanism.

Research transcends former national borders, e.g. research into the Mediterranean Basin and the European expansion into Asia and the Atlantic region. Some of the issues dealt with include the slave trade, the public image of Indians and Muslims, and the relationship between Christian and Islamic states. Another research theme is the perception of the Golden Age (and antiquity) during other time periods.


  • Early Modern History manages lectures in all phases of history education, and partners with both Dutch Language and Culture and Art History in interdisciplinary education about the Golden Age.
  • Both the propaedeutic year and the Bachelor’s provide students with an overview of the most important themes in Early Modern History.
  • Within the Master’s programme Early Modern History (a specialisation of the Master’s in History), students work in small study groups where they are inducted into staff members’ research areas and the research traditions within early modern history.