Pre-civilization Debunked

 Pre-civilization Debunked

Choose one of the following questions and write a 1,250- to 1,500-word essay based only on the reading materials assigned in this course. Submit the exam by the due date listed in the course schedule.

  1. As mentioned in the Syllabus, students normally bring to even an introductory history course some preexisting view of the past, derived from earlier education, family, or popular culture (to name a few). Such views are often important components of identity and worldview, but they are just as often in conflict with “textbook” views of history like the one in this course. In a formal essay, identify one aspect of European History before 1650 about which you had a preexisting notion challenged by this course. What was your previous view, and what specific elements of our course content have conflicted with it? What lessons does this have for how history is used in the public sphere and how it should be used?
  2. Among historians, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries mark a break between the medieval and the ‘early modern’ world. They were an era of many religious, economic, scientific, and artistic revolutions that altered ideas of virtue and the “good life.” Using specific examples, identify and explain what early modern authors valued as the greatest virtue(s) (philosophical contemplation, public action, military service, religious piety, commercial enterprise, social mobility, scientific research, etc.?) and how that differed (or not) from their medieval or ancient predecessors. In your analysis, does this signal a radical break with the past or an argument for continuity in the early modern era?
  3. Natalie Zemon Davis’s book, The Return of Martin Guerre, is considered a “microhistory”, in that it deals with a very precise situation and set of events. Like Bradley’s “history from below,” this is a methodology that historians use to shed new light on overlooked aspects of the past. What insights does Davis’s work reveal about gender and gender roles in the early modern era that are absent in other historical sources? How does the microhistorical approach help her do this? What limitations does it have?

Exam Essay Guidelines

  • Your paper should be double-spaced and typed in twelve-point Times New Roman font.
  • Use only the sources assigned in this class to write your essays.
  • Make frequent and specific references to course content and materials, including primary sources. Overly broad answers will not receive full credit.
  • As always, avoid excessively long quotes. It is your analysis that counts.
  • Use parenthetical references (e.g. Chambers, 2) to cite your sources.
  • Pay close attention to grammar, style, syntax, and spelling.


This will be the main source:

Just War against Barbarians: Revisiting the Valladolid Debates between Sepulveda and Las Casas

Sepulveda, Juan Gines

Sepulveda: just war against barbarians.

Sepulveda, Juan Gines de

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European History


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