The University of Southampton

HIST3186 Alternative Conquests: Comparisons and Contrasts

Module Overview

Conquests are usually given great historical and historiographical prominence; the experience of conquest, whether as conqueror or conquered, has repeatedly been presented as a definitive event for nations and political classes. Those events which have been characterised as conquests are very diverse, though, and had effects of the greatest variety. This module will be based around a series of case-studies, in which different conquests will be examined. The aim in so doing is to try to understand what are the most important components of conquest, and how their interplay determines the short-term and long-term outcomes of the events in question; our aim will be to try to understand how conquests are structured, why some events have such outcomes and others do not, how conquests are remembered or forgotten, and what are the definitive elements of conquest. We will look at the military phases of conquest, and then examine how collaboration, assimilation and cultural appropriation and revival occurred. This will also involve some investigation of the methods appropriate for comparative history. Three conquests will be studied for this module; one modern European, one colonial, and one medieval European; and one each of short-term, medium-term and long-term duration. It is also intended that you will explore further instances of conquest as a self-directed exercise.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• Introduce the significance of conquest as an historical event • Examine how conquests impact on cultural, political, religious and social institutions and behaviours • Understand how conquests bring about change • Investigate the long and short-term consequences of the three conquests to be studied in detail

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Specific instances of conquests and their consequences across a range of cultural, political, religious and social institutions and behaviours
  • How conquests interact with existing societies and cultures
  • How conquests bring about change
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Elaborate and express your ideas and critical reflections in essays, using primary and secondary sources.
  • Gather and digest relevant primary and secondary source materials including via electronic and web resources
  • Give oral presentations and actively take part in discussion.
  • Engage in independent study and research.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Evaluate and compare different genres of source text (e.g. chronicle, ethnography, romance)
  • Understand how to identify common themes through different kinds of discourses
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Assess the impact of conquest on existing societies and cultures
  • Analyse the experience of conquest as conqueror and conquered
  • Make connections between different conquests
  • Critically analyse why some conquests are remembered and others are forgotten
  • Understand how to conduct comparative historical study and how to assess its value


Themes for study might typically include: • Conquest: Themes and Concepts • The Normans in England • The British in Bengal: The East India Company and British India • Napoleonic Conquest

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

• Introductory seminar on vocabulary and the historiography of conquest • Weekly seminars (weeks 2-10) examining themes of conquest, collaboration and assimilation • Student presentations in which groups will analyse other examples of conquest in line with the terms explored in the weekly seminars

Independent Study276
Total study time300

Resources & Reading list

M. Broers (1996). Europe Under Napoleon, 1799-1815. 

B. Golding (2001). Conquest and Colonisation: the Norman Conquest of Britain, 1066–1100. 

J. Gillingham (1995). Henry of Huntingdon and the Twelfth–Century Revival of the English Nation. Concepts of National Identity in the Middle Ages. ,0 , pp. 75–101.

Norman Davies (2011). Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half-Forgotten Europe. 

M. Rowe (ed.) (2003). ollaboration and Resistance in Napoleonic Europe: State Formation in an Age of Upheaval, c.1800-1815. 

M. Chibnall (1999). The Debate on the Norman Conquest. 

C. Esdaile (2007). Napoleon’s Wars. 

A. Farrington (2002). Trading Places: The East India Company and Asia, 1600–1834. 

A Williams (1995). The English and the Norman Conquest. 

J. Keay (1993). The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company. 

H. V. Bowen (2005). The Business of Empire: The East India Company and Imperial Britain, 1756–1833. 

William of Poitiers (1998). Gesta Guillelmi, ed. and trans. R. H. C. Davis and Marjorie Chibnall. 

A. Grab (2003). Napoleon and the Transformation of Europe. 

C. A. Bayly (1988). Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire. 

R. Travers (2007). Ideology and Empire in Eighteenth-Century India: The British in Bengal. 

P. J. Marshall (1987). Bengal, the British Bridgehead: Eastern India, 1740–1828. 

H.M. Thomas (2003). The English and the Normans: Ethnic Hostility, Assimilation and Identity 1066–c. 1220. 

J. Campbell (1986). 'Some Twelfth-Century Views of the Anglo-Saxon Past. Essays in Anglo-Saxon History. ,0 , pp. 209–28.

B Harlow and Mia Carter (eds) (2003). Archives of Empire, Volume 1: From the East India Company to the Suez Canal. 

C. Esdaile (ed) (2004). Popular Resistance in the French Wars: Patriots, Partisans and Land Pirates. 

P. Schroeder (1994). The Transformation of European Politics, 1762-1848. 

P. J. Marshall (1968). Problems of Empire: Britain and India, 1757–1813. 

R. H. C. Davis (1981). 'William of Poitiers and his History of William the Conqueror. The Writing of History in the Middle Ages. ,0 , pp. 71– 100.

S. Schama (1998). Patriots and Liberators: Revolution in the Netherlands, 1780-1813. 

H. V. Bowen (2002). Revenue and Reform: The Indian Problem in British Politics 1757–1773. 

H. V. Bowen, J. McAleer, and R. J. Blyth (2011). Monsoon Traders: The Maritime World of the East India Company. 

D. Judd (2005). The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Raj, 1600–1947. 

P. J. Marshall (1975). British expansion in India: A historical revision. History. ,60 , pp. 28–43.

P. J. Marshall (2005). The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America c.1750–1783. 

E. Albu (2001). The Normans in their Histories: Propaganda, Myth and Subversion. 

H. Furber (1948). John Company at Work: A Study of European Expansion in India in the Late Eighteenth Century. 

P. Dwyer (ed.) (2001). Napoleon and Europe. 

C. Esdaile (2004). Fighting Napoleon: Guerrillas, Bandits and Adventures in Spain 1808-1814. 

N. Aston (2003). Christianity and Revolutionary Europe, 1750-1830. 


Assessment Strategy

Formative assessments • Oral feedback in weekly seminars • Individual tutorials concerning final essay • Student presentations and discussion • Feedback from tutors and fellow students on presentations • 2,000 word non-assessed essay The seminars will introduce you to the key aspects in the critical study of conquests in history. As a result of the unit being team-taught, you will be introduced to case studies from a wide range of historical and cultural contexts and to different interdisciplinary approaches. The seminars will provide a forum to discuss a range of perspectives on the theme of the social and cultural significance of conquest through history. They will also allow for the development of interpersonal skills; through the use of class presentations you will be able to develop your knowledge and understanding of particular subject areas and to enhance your oral communication skills. The 2,000 word, formative assignment will contribute to the development of writing and analytical skills and will help to prepare you for the longer, 4,000 word assessed essay. The essay and exam will test your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, your capacity to deploy interdisciplinary approaches and to develop a coherent written argument.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (4000 words) 50%
Examination  (2 hours) 50%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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