Universiteit Leiden

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Research programme

Medieval and Early Modern History: Europe in its Global Context

Leiden’s Institute for History has an exceptionally strong expertise in premodern European history in its global context, with specialists whose interests cover virtually the whole continent. We have a strong track record in leading larger research teams and work together with colleagues across Europe and beyond. We study sources in a wide range of languages, and contribute to the development and curating of new digital data collections and open science initiatives.

Judith Pollmann

Our group consists of both medievalists and early modernists, who pursue three complementary approaches to thinking about the European past and its global connections. The first is strongly comparative, drawing inspiration from anthropology to explore big global themes such as dynastic rule and religious war. With this approach we seek to establish larger patterns and to put existing explanations for long-term change to the test. The second approach explores networks crisscrossing Europe – politics, religion, war, learning and commerce all encouraged the constant mobility of people, goods, practices and ideas. Studying such mobile networks allows us, on the one hand, to better explain how changes could sweep across the continent, and on the other, to understand why similar processes could yield vastly different outcomes. The third approach uses fine-grained case-studies as well as new digital humanities approaches to rethink the lived experiences of people across the social spectrum. We explore gender, human attitudes to health and the environment and local knowledge practices, as well as familial and local power structures.

We publish in a range of languages, and supervise graduates working on many different parts of Europe and on global comparisons. We are also very active in public history, advising museums, contributing to exhibitions, radio and television programmes and podcasts, and present our work to general audiences across the Netherlands and beyond. Wherever possible, we try and do so together with our students.

Related research

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