Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism: Late Medieval to Early Modern Economic History

LEVEL 03 - Years 2, 3, 4 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION The seminar is designed to raise an awareness of the problems and opportunities created in Western Europe and the Mediterranean world by the fundamental social, economic and political changes which occurred in the five hundred years or so before the Industrial Revolution; what is being termed here, the transition from feudalism to capitalism. The broad time-span of the seminar, as well as the variety of social, economic, political and cultural issues discussed, will enable participants to view major issues such as the development of a money economy in the West, or the late medieval crisis, in a wider context. It is the intention of the convenors to encourage discussions across the late medieval-early modern divide, in a framework of multidisciplinarity. Themes submitted for discussion include: the Commercial Revolution, high medieval urban expansion, the late medieval crisis, the demise of manorialism in the west, the consequences of the Atlantic world economy for the Mediterranean world.


- To raise an awareness of some of the main issues created in Western Europe and the Mediterranean world by the fundamental changes occurring in the transition from feudalism to capitalism;
- To make students analyze critically the conceptual frameworks used to explain the key historical changes;
- To make students aware about different historical approaches to the subject;
- To emphasize the interaction between different factors in the transformation of Western Europe and the Mediterranean world from medieval to modern times;
- To alert students to the different theoretical positions supporting varying historical interpretations of the transition to capitalism.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Explain what the key conceptual debates concerning the transition from feudalism to capitalism are;
- Demonstrate how this subject has evolved in relation to different modern theoretical approaches;
- Describe the main developments in Western Europe and the Mediterranean which mark the transition to capitalism;
- Analyze critically the main historical debates in this field of study.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- Read critically and selectively and make use of a range of historical sources;
- Write advanced historical essays with a clear structure and logical presentation of arguments;
- Demonstrate an awareness of the role played by theoretical approaches in the interpretation of historical facts and the formulation of historical knowledge.

Reading List:

The following books are recommended as general texts.

• T.H. Aston & C.H.E. Philpin, The Brenner Debate (Cambridge University Press,1985)
• F. Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, (University of California Press, 1982)
• C. Cipolla., Before the Industrial Revolution, (Routledge 1993).
• G. Duby, The Early Growth of the European Economy, (Cornell, 1974)
• C. Hill, Reformation to Industrial Revolution: A Social and Economic History of Britain, 1530-1780, (Penguin, 1978)
• R. Hilton, Ed, Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, (Aakar, 2006)
• M.M.Postan, The Medieval Economy and Society, (University of California Press, 1973)
• I. Wallerstein, The Modern World System (4 vols, University of California Press, 2011)

ADDITIONAL NOTES Offered only to History students.


Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Examination (2 Hours) Yes 100%

LECTURER/S John Chircop
Charles Dalli

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.