From Feudalism to Capitalism: Trade and Exchange in the Medieval and Early Modern Period


Course Objective

After this module the student
- has knowledge of the development of exchange systems during the middle
ages and early modern period in western Europe
- recognizes the main areas of research within the field
- has the competence to formulate research questions

Course Content

The study of consumption, production, and demand has always been at the
heart of medieval and early modern archaeology. In this module we will
evaluate a range of exchange mechanisms by which objects and commodities
changed hands throughout these periods. We will not only look at a
number of concrete examples, but also study some general theories behind
exchange systems in the past. We will make a journey through time as we
start in post-Roman Europe, after which attention moves to the world of
large trading settlements in north-western Europe and the collapse of
this system. Closely linked to the study of exchange is the emergence of
towns and markets, which come to play an important role in the
post-Carolingian world and later Middle Ages. The course will go on to
explore the archaeology of the Hanseatic League, and the growth of
mercantile capitalism, and will conclude with an examination of world
systems theory, the expansion of European trade, and global interactions
in the early modern period.

Teaching Methods

Seminar, 2 x 2 hours per week

Method of Assessment

Essays, presentations and final paper


A reading list and selective literature will be made available on Canvas

Target Audience

Students admitted to one of the following Master’s programmes can take
this course: Archaeology (all three programmes) or Classics and Ancient
Civilizations (all three programmes)

Custom Course Registration

This module is taught at the UvA by prof.dr. J. Symonds (UvA) and dr. A.A.A. Verhoeven (UvA) (UvA subject code 140412256Y). Module registration with a UvaNetID at the UvA is required. Please note that course registration periods at the UvA and VU differ. For a ‘step-by-step guide to course and exam registration’ and the ‘dates for course and exam registration’ please consult the ‘course and exam registration’-page via the ‘A-Z list’ of your MA programme on

General Information

Course Code L_AAMAARC018
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. J. Symonds
Teaching Staff prof. dr. J. Symonds

Practical Information

You cannot register for this course yourself; your faculty's education office carries out registration

Teaching Methods Seminar
Target audiences

This course is also available as: