A History of European Empires: 1400–1522

Gain insights into the major events and people that shaped Europe’s first modern colonial empires.

This course is archived
Estimated 3 weeks
2–3 hours per week
Instructor-paced
Instructor-led on a course schedule

About this course

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It’s the encounters that occurred beyond European borders that shaped Europe itself.

In this course, you will explore the history of the first encounters modern Europe has had with the rest of the world. You will become familiar with the origins and nature of European interactions with the lands and people beyond its borders across the 15th and early 16th centuries. This includes investigating the discovery of a westward route to the Americas and the building of European empires in the New World.

At a glance

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

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  • Develop introductory understanding of key events in modern European history.
  • Analyse modern European imperialism through a variety of themes, including:
    • War, violence and invasion;
    • Trade, missions and empires;
    • Cultural encounters and exchanges;
    • Territorial ‘discovery’, expansion and colonisation.
  • Gain experience in analysing a variety of primary sources recorded by Europeans and First Peoples.

The course is three weeks long; each week is organised chronologically:

  • Week 1: The Rise of Europe. We trace Europe’s rise from a comparatively insular and isolated continent in the Middle Ages to the very beginnings of its colonial empires in the early modern period.
  • Week 2: Global Exploration. We take a closer look at the extensive overseas exploration of Portugal and Spain.
  • Week 3: The Conquest of Latin America. We examine in detail the invasion of the Aztec Empire. We consider the views of Europeans and First Peoples in our discussion.

About the instructors

Frequently Asked Questions

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Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone looking to improve their knowledge of European history or their historical skills.