Early Modern Europe

About the Field:

The UCSB program in early modern European history combines an emphasis on detailed analysis and archival research into particular questions of interest to students with a broad training in early modern Europe and the pre-modern world. Major themes emphasized in the program include the interrelationship of religion, politics, science, and culture, the interplay between center and periphery of early modern Europe, and the intellectual, cultural and political process of identity-formation in early modern societies.

Graduate students who specialize in early modern European history are encouraged to do comparative coursework in related fields, including medieval or modern Europe, the early modern Islamic world, colonial Latin America, colonial US, Tokugawa Japan, or Renaissance/early modern history of art.

We are very pleased to welcome our new colleague, Brad Bouley to the department. Prof. Bouley will begin teaching in 2018-2019.

CORE Courses / Requirements:

There are no requirements in this field beyond the departmental requirements for the graduate program in history. Students design individual programs of study that combine regularly offered seminars with independent readings course with faculty members.

Courses in the field:

  • History 200E: Historical Literature: Europe
  • History 201AW: Advanced Historical Literature, Atlantic World
  • History 201E: Advanced Historical Literature, Europe
    • Recent Topics Include: “Gender in Pre-modern Medical, Legal, and Religious Discourse;” “Memory and Its Practices, c. 1400-1700;” “Cultural and Artistic Exchange in Europe, Late Middle Ages-Nineteenth Century;” “Urban Space in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe.”
  • Hist 215E-F: Research Seminar in Medieval and Early Modern Europe
  • History 220A-B: Seminar in Renaissance-Reformation
  • Additionally, students enroll in independent readings courses (Hist 596).

Recent Activity in the Field:

  1. Brad Bouley, Pious Postmortems: Anatomy and the Creation of Early Modern Saints (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press,  2017).
  2. Hilary Bernstein, “Reading Municipal Lists, Interpreting Civic Practice from the Insights of Robert Descimon to Seventeenth-Century Bourges,” in Social Relations, Politics, and Power in Early Modern France, ed. Barbara B. Diefendorf (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2016), 134-57.
  3. Paul Sonnino, The Search for the Man in the Iron Mask: an Historical Detective Story (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).
  4. Sears McGee, An Industrious Mind: the Worlds of Sir Simonds D’Ewes (Stanford University Press, 2015).
  5. Manuel Covo, “Baltimore and the French Atlantic: Empires, Commerce, and Identity in a Revolutionary Age,” in The Caribbean and the Atlantic World Economy: Circuits of Trade, Money and Knowledge, 1650-1914, ed. Adrian Leonard and David Pretel (Basingstoke, 2015), 87-107.
  6. Debra Blumenthal, “Domestic medicine: slaves, servants, and female medical expertise in late medieval Valencia,”  Renaissance Studies 28, no. 4 (September, 2014).  *Winner of the Best Essay Prize given annually by the Society for Renaissance Studies.
  7. Juan Cobo Betancourt, “Colonialism in the periphery: Spanish linguistic policy in the New Kingdom of Granada, c. 1574-1625,” Colonial Latin American Review 23, no. 2 (June 2014): 118-142. [Available here]

In the Field


  • Hilary Bernstein, is an historian of early modern France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who focuses on urban political culture, history writing, and the interrelations between religion, politics and society in France and early modern Europe.
  • Debra Blumenthal is an historian of medieval and early modern Spain, whose research and teaching interests include cross-cultural relations in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean, the history of slavery and slave claims-making, gender history and the history of medicine.
  • Brad Bouley focuses on the intersection of the history of religion and science in early modern Italy.
  • Juan Cobo focuses on colonial Latin America, but also on the history of early modern Catholicism and of the Spanish empire more broadly.
  • Manuel Covo works on the transition from early modern to modern European colonialism in the long eighteenth century.  He specializes on French
    imperialism, political economy and Atlantic revolutions.
  • Sears McGee specializes on the religious and political history of Stuart Britain.
  • Paul Sonnino works on the diplomatic and intellectual history of Old Regime France.


  • Michael North (University of Greifswald, Germany), is an expert in European economic history, the history of early modern Germany, and the Balkan borderlands.

Recent Alumni/ae

  • Timothy Daniels, Assistant professor, Ferrum College (VA). Dissertation completed at UCSB: “‘The Brazen Walles of this Kingdome:’ The History of the First Year of the     English Parliamentary Navy, 1642-1643.”
  • Patrick Ludolph, Assistant professor, Georgia Gwinnett College (GA). Dissertation completed at UCSB: ““Fitt for Many Imployments:” Gilbert Mabbott, the News, the Press, and the Working of Westminster.”
  • Nathan Perry, Lecturer, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (CA). Dissertation completed at UCSB: “The Politics of Spectacle: Ideology and Ambition in Jacobean Court Ceremonies.”
  • Monique Vallance, Professor, Modesto Junior College (CA). Dissertation completed at UCSB: “D. Luisa de Gusmao: Gender and Power in Seventeenth Century Portugal.”


Do faculty members welcome contact from possible applicants?

Yes! If you are thinking of applying to UCSB to study early modern European history, please get in touch by email with the faculty member(s) with whom you hope to work the most closely.

How much language training do I need to apply?

At the time of application, you should have a basic reading knowledge of the language (or languages) in which your main research materials will be written. You will have the opportunity to hone your language skills and possibly add additional languages once you join the program.

Page last modified: September 23, 2019