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Final Exam Essay Questions

Below are the two essay questions that will appear on the final exam. You will be asked to respond to one of them. The final is a closed book test, but you may bring a one-page outline to the exam to consult freely. Your response should be broad and synthetic; in other words, you should draw on as many examples as possible from our readings and discussions to formulate a coherent argument which addresses the entire sweep of European history in the period we have studied.


  1. "In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the spiritual and material conditions of Europeans improved due to political, scientific, and technological advances. By 1800, these Europeans were happier, healthier, and wealthier than their ancestors had been at any time in the previous two centuries." Write an essay in which you agree or disagree with this statement. Draw on specific points from readings, lectures, and other course materials to support your argument.

  2. In 1600, Christianity was still the ultimate source of authority for almost all Europeans. During the next two centuries, however, the prestige and authority of Christianity declined. Discuss the reasons for this decline, and assess the relative importance of Christianity as a source of political and spiritual authority in Europe and its colonies circa 1800.