Forgotten Empires of Europe : Footnotes to History | Osher Lifelong Learning Institute | University of Miami

Forgotten Empires of Europe : Footnotes to History

OSH 114 / Non Credit
Course taught in: English
Locations: TBA
Instructor: Marsha Cohen

Course Description

This course will explore some of the "forgotten" empires of Europe, how they have shaped the modern world. Conventional European history revolves around the great empires of Greece and Rome in the ancient world and the empires of Spain, France, and Great Britain in the medieval and modern world. In recovering some lost footnotes to European history, we will endeavor to understand better how the European geopolitical world came to be, why most European states abandoned their colonial ambitions, and the dynamics that shape the relations between Europe and the rest of the world.

Week 1 Goths: Goths were an ancient Teutonic people from Sweden across the Baltic Sea. By the 3rd century, they reached the lower Danube, ravaging Athens and threatening Italy. In the 4th century, the Goths subdivided into two main groups, the Ostrogoths, and Visigoths, that would culturally dominate much of Europe for centuries.
Week 2 Portuguese Empire: The Portuguese overseas empire was the largest and longest-lived empire in world history. Taking advantage of the latest development in navigation and cartography, Portugal became the first colonial empire of the Renaissance. It would span six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to Macau's return to China in 1999.
Week 3 Habsburg Empire: The first Habsburg of note, Rudolf, was crowned emperor of Rome in 1273. Through dynastic marriages, alliances and conquests, the Habsburg family's territories in the 16th century extended to Austria, Bohemia, and Spain into Africa, Mexico, and Peru, with its major role in European interstate politics continuing until its defeat in World War I.
Week 4 Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth: Not strictly speaking an empire, the Commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania was, at its peak, the largest political entity in Europe. Its political system was a precursor of modern concepts of constitutional monarchy and federation and noted its national constitution and relative religious tolerance.
Week 5 Swedish Empire: During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden emerged as a great power by taking direct control of the Baltic region. Sweden's role in the Thirty Years' War determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe.
Week 6 Dutch Empire: After the Netherlands attained independence from Spain, Dutch naval power rose rapidly as a major force in the late sixteenth century, and dominating global commerce during the second half of the 17th century. Colonies and trade missions were established in Africa, East Asia, and North and South America.

Dr. Marsha B. Cohen, Ph.D., is a scholar, lecturer and news analyst who specializes in Middle Eastern social history and politics and the role of religion in world affairs. She taught International Relations at Florida International University for over a decade and worked with the UM Master of Arts in the International Administration (MAIA) program from 2009-2011, as well as teaching adult education courses and lecturing in a variety of venues locally and nationally.

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