Early Modern History Collections

Find out more about the early modern history resources in the collections of the IHR Wohl Library. We collect historical sources, reference works and guides to finding and using sources. This page shows examples from the collections.


The Wohl Library has many collections and sub-collections about numerous aspects of history between the late fifteenth and late eighteenth century. These primarily take the form of published primary source material, bibliographic and archive guides and reference works. Relevant titles can be found in the majority of our national collections (e.g. we have large holdings on early modern Spain both from a national and local perspective). Also the library's General Collection holds works on the European and global history of this period as well as general surveys of the historiography of this time.

Beyond Europe, works on global history, charting especially the history of European Colonialism can be found in the library's large Colonial Collections. For instance we have large collections on the history of the British and Spanish invasions of North and South America.

Below is a guide which show-cases the general scope of our collections as well as a number of case studies which highlight some specific aspects from this period.

Finding Material

Since many of our national collections have large sub-collections for the early modern period you can consult the library's collection page to get an idea of our geographic remit. Here you can also find details about our thematic collections, such as the Military and Religious History Collections, as well as subjects like Slavery of which relevant material can be found across our collections.

Our catalogue will allow you to search our collections as well as other libraries within the School of Advanced Study (the Warburg Institute has some of the finest library collections on early modern history in the world). From here you can also search the numerous collections held within Senate House Library.

Finally listed below are some useful general online finding aids that will help you locate  and download where possible relevant titles, periodicals, theses and online resources.

Library Hub Discover Archives Portal Europe EThOS (for digitised UK PhD theses
Directory of Open Access Books Directory of Open Access Journals




Finding within the Library

Collections Arrangement

Collections within the library each have a letter, followed by a numerical sequence (decimal numbers are used, arranged as if after a decimal point, so for example ER.53 comes after ER.504). Each national collection has a sequence of local and regional material following the general sequence. The main areas of early modern works and the corresponding classmarks are as follows: 

  • Austria (1556-1792): EA.292
  • Britain and England General sections with medieval material: B.0 Bibliographies/guides, B.2 Biography, B.3-4 Law and Parliament, B.6 1485-1603, B.73-78 1603-1815, BC English local history
  • Colonial History Works on Colonial history are spread over a number of sub-collections. In the General Colonial Collection are sections on the Atlantic Slave Trade (CG.155), exploration from 1492-1779 (CG.173-174) and the British Empire to 1783 (CG.42). The other collections include:
    • Colonial North American CLAA
    • Canada CLAB, (To 1867 CLAB.2)
    • The Caribbean CLAC, (Cuba to 1898 CLAC.22), (Hispaniola to 1697 CLAC.31), (Jamaica 1654-1834 CLAC.43)
    • Africa CLB
    • Asia CLC (India to 1757 CLC.312)
    • Australasia and the Pacific CLD
  • France (1483-1643): EF.4 and (1643-1789): EF.5. Additional relevant material can be found in the French Provincial collection with the shelf-mark EFP.
  • General history: E.1 Historiography and Methodology, E.2 Reference works, E.47 the Holy Roman Empire 1519-1806, E.72 Early Modern general sources and secondary works.
  • Germany (1517-1648): EG.3 and (1648-1789): EG.4. Additional relevant material can be found in the German local history collection with the shelf-mark EGL.
  • Ireland (1540-1801): BI.5. Additional relevant material can be found in the Irish local history collection with the shelf-mark BI.8.
  • Italy (1494-1796): EI.4. A lot of material can also be found in the Italian regional history sections: EI.7-9.
  • Jewish history Early Modern Historiography: EY.093 and sources and secondary works (1492-1789): EY.3
  • Latin America
    • General Works (1492-1810): LA.16
    • Mexico (1519-1821): LAB.2
    • Central America (1492-1823): LAC.2-3
    • Colombia (To 1811): LAD.612
    • Ecuador (To 1809): LAD.632
    • Venezuela (To 1811): LAD.652
    • Chile (1540-1810): LAE.412
    • Peru (1532-1810): LAE.422
    • Argentina (To 1810): LAF.512
    • Bolivia (To 1809): LAF.522
    • Paraguay (To 1811): LAF.532
    • Uruguay (To 1811): LAF.542
    • Brazil (1500-1822): LAG.2
  • Low Countries (1477-1579): EN.37-38 and (1579-1795): EN.53, The Netherlands (1579-1830): ENA.3, Belgium (1579-1830): ENB.3-5. Additional relevant material can be found in the Low Countries local history collection with the shelf-mark ENL.
  • Military: (16th century): W.42, (1603-1714): W.43 and (1714-1789): W.44.
  • Northern Europe
    • General (1523-1721): ED.3
    • Denmark (1523-1814): EDA.3
    • Finland (1150-1809): EDC.3
    • Iceland (1550-1944): EDE.4
    • Norway (1523-1814): EDF.3
    • Sweden (1523-1814): EDG.3
  • Portugal (1385-1580): EP.26, (1580-1640): EP.32 and (1640-1811): EP.34.
  • Religious history: ER. Includes sections on the Reformation (ER.1043) and the Counter-Reformation (ER.1045), Saints and Hagiography ER.4, Theology ER.4, Papacy: ER.5, Papal Letter and Registers ER.53, Church Councils ER.57, including the Council of Trent (ER.5763), Monasticism and Religious Orders ER.6-7, including the Jesuits (ER.68), Aspects of Religious life: liturgy, pilgrimage, Heresy and the Inquisition ER.8. Source material on religious establishments is also found in the relevant national collections. 
  • Scotland (1542-1707): BS.3 and (1707-1832): BS.62. Additional relevant material can be found in the Scottish local history collection with the shelf-mark BSL.
  • Spain (1479-1516): ES.27, (1516-1700): ES.4 and (1700-1808): ES.5. Additional relevant material can be found in the Spanish local history collection with the shelf-mark ESR.
  • Wales (1536-1700): BW.3. Additional relevant material can be found in the Welsh local history collection with the shelf-mark BWL.

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

You can also join the library and book a help session.

Highlights from the Collections: Primary Sources

Religion, War and International Relations

The library's main thematic collections are its religious and military collection as well as its collection on the history of international relations. Below is a brief selection of works you can find in these collections. See our collections page for more details on specifc collections that may interest you as well as the section later in the guide specifically on Reformation history resources.

Catholic and Protestant history

War and Peace

Africa and Asia

See our collections page for more details on specifc collections that may interest you.

Sources for African History

Sources for Asian History

Colonial North and South America

See our collections page for more details on specifc collections that may interest you.

The Spanish Invasion and Colonisation

New Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries

Colonial Peru

Colonial Brazil

The Caribbean

The British Inavasion and Colonisation of Mainland North America

New France


See our collections page for more details on specifc collections that may interest you.

Central Europe

England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales



The Low Countries

Russia and the Ottoman Empire

Spain and Portugal

Scandinavia and Switzerland

Microfilms and Fiche

The library microform collection consists mainly of films and fiche of important source collections including those from the National Archives, the British Library and Longleat House. Most items in this collection concern British history but there are some titles relevant to European history. To view these works the library has microform readers available on the first and lower ground floors.

Highlights from the Collections: Secondary Works

Bibliographies, Catalogues, Guides

Below is a selection of bibliographies and archive guides found in our general, national, religious and military history collections.


National Collections

Religious and Military Collections

Dictionaries and Reference Works

The library has substantial collections of encyclopedias, biographical dictionaries and other reference works both in print and online. Below is a selection that can be found in the General Collection as well as elsewhere in our collections, including an original edtion of the text of Diderot and d'Alembert's Encyclopedie.

General Collection

Other Collections

Historiography and Methodology

Consult the Historiography collection guide to get a general overview of our large collections on historiography and methodology. Below is a selection of titles you can find in our General Collection and elsewhere.

General Collection

Other Collections

Secondary Texts

While the vast majority of secondary monographs can be found in the collections of Senate House Library, you can find some secondary titles in the IHR library, notably editions of collected essays, secondary monographs with large primary source appendices and comprehensive histories such as the Cambridge History series. Below are a few examples you can find in our library.

General Histories and Handbooks

Collected Essays and Festschriften


The library holds University of London history theses from the early 20th century to the early 21st which can be found on our online catalogue. Many titles are also increasingly available online via EThos. Below are a small selection of titles available in our collection.


The library subscribes to hundreds of periodicals. Of course relevant articles can be found in general titles such as the American Historical Review, Historische Zeitschrift and Historical Research as well as periodicals titles, listed below, specifically about aspects of early modern history.

Online Resources

Accessing Resources

You can access many of the digital resources listed here when in the building on IHR library computers or via the UoL Libraries wifi. Offsite access is mostly limited to SAS students and staff due to licence restrictions. Electronic resources in CD format are on the catalogue and can be requested.

However a growing number of resources are freely available to everyone. In the lists below any resource that is freely available will be marked as "Freely Available" and any that can only be accessed from within the library by the majority of our readers will be marked "Onsite only".

Also listed in the next section below are a number of portals and finding aids which list freely available online sources, ebooks and journals.

Research Portals and Finding Aids

Below are a number of finding aids which list the growing number of largely freely available resources open to researchers.

Africa and Asia

Below is a selection of resources both freely available and accessible from within the IHR Library. For full lists check the Free Resources portal and our list of online resources.


African Online Digital Library

AODL is an open access digital library of African cultural heritage materials created by Michigan State University in collaboration with museums, archives, scholars, and communities around the world.

Freely Available

Aurangzeb. Ruka'at-i-Alamgiri: or, letters of Aurangzebe

1908 digital English edition.

Freely Available

Chinese Texts Project

An open access collection of pre-modern Chinese texts.

Freely Available

Database of Ottoman Inscriptions

The Database of Ottoman Inscriptions (DOI) is searchable digital database comprising information about, as well as transliterations and pictures of, all the Turkish, Arabic and Persian architectural inscriptions created in the Ottoman lands during Ottoman times.

Freely Available

Digital Persian Archive

An image database of Persian historical documents from Iran and Central Asia.

Freely Available

Hyde Books Project

Judicial Notebooks of John Hyde and Sir Robert Chambers, 1774-1798, are a unique source of primary historical information for the early years of the Supreme Court and life in India.

Freely Available

Ming-Qing Women Writers

Online library of works by women in late Imperial China (1368-1911)

Freely Available

National Digital Library of India

Extensive general digital library covering all subjects including history.

Freely available but you will need to create a user account with them.

Qatar Digital Library

An extensive archive of digitised books and manuscripts covering the history of the Middle East from the pre-Islamic period to the present. 

Freely Available


North and South America

Below is a selection of resources both freely available and accessible from within the IHR Library. For full lists check the Free Resources portal and our list of online resources.

Archives of Maryland Online

Provides access to thousands of documents from Maryland's colonial and modern history.

Freely Available

Archivo de Lucas Alamán

Collection of more than 300 documents dealing with colonial Mexico from the 17th and 18th centuries and 19th century correspondence.

Freely Available

Biblioteca Digital Mexicana

The Biblioteca Digital Mexicana is a multi-institutional initiative to create a digital collection of historical documents from Mexico from 500 A.D. to 1949.

Freely Available

Dutch Caribbean Digital Platform

Free online resource from University of Curaçao.

Freely Available

Early Americas Digital Archive

The Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA) is a open access collection of electronic texts originally written in or about the Americas from 1492 to approximately 1820

Freely Available

Early Caribbean Digital Archive

The ECDA has two primary related, overarching goals: the first is to uncover and make accessible a literary history of the Caribbean written or related by black, enslaved, Creole, indigenous, and/or colonized people. Although the first step in this process is digitization, the ECDA is more than a digitization or cataloging initiative. Rather, we aim to enable users—both scholars of the Caribbean as well as students—to understand the colonial nature of the archive and to use the digital archive as a site of revision and remix for exploring ways to decolonize the archive.

Freely Available

Georgetown Slavery Archives

A repository of materials relating to the Maryland Jesuits, Georgetown University, and slavery.

Freely Available

Le Marronage dans le Monde Atlantique

Resources charting the history of former slave communities which had attained their own freedom.

Freely Available

The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

Freely available resources on the early history of Plymouth and colonial Massachusetts

Freely Available

Slave Voyages

Comprises of a number of databases concerning the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Freely Available

Thomas Thistlewood Collection

Digitised collection of 61 items from the papers of the 18th century Jamaican slave-holder Thomas Thistlewood, now held in the Beinecke Library, Yale University.

Freely Available


Britain and Ireland

Below is a selection of resources both freely available and accessible from within the IHR Library. For full lists check the Free Resources portal and our list of online resources.

1641 Irish Depositions

Fully searchable digital edition of the 1641 Depositions at Trinity College Dublin Library.

Freely Available

17th-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers

Newspaper Collection.

Onsite Only

Anglo-American Legal Tradition

Over 9 million images of manuscripts held at the National Archives UK, spanning 1176 to the end of Queen Victoria's reign; of broader interest than purely legal history

Freely Available

Bess of Harwick’s Letters

Bess of Harwick’s correspondence from c. 1550-1608.

Freely Available

British and Irish Furniture Makers Online

The mission of the BIFMO Project is to serve as the one-stop definitive resource for British and Irish furniture makers from the beginning of the 16th century to the onset of the Great War, by providing the details of furniture manufacturers and suppliers: their organising structures, their clientele, the material they produced and the services they provided.

Freely Available

British History Online

British History Online is a collection of nearly 1300 volumes of primary and secondary content relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world.

80 percent of the content freely available

British Newspapers 1600-1900

Online newspaper collection.

Onsite Only

British Printed Images

This website, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, makes available a database of thousands of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain in fully-searchable form.

Freely Available

Broadside Ballads Online

Broadside Ballads Online presents a digital collection of English printed ballad-sheets from between the 16th and 20th centuries.

Freely Available

Casebooks Project (Simon Forman and Richard Napier)

Digitised casebooks of two late Tudor/early Stuart physician-astrologers.

Freely Available

Cecil Papers

Digitised collections of the papers of William and Robert Cecil.

Onsite Only

Civil War Petitions

Database containing petitions to the state from veterans and their families for welfare payments as a result of injuries and bereavement sustained during the English Civil Wars.

Freely Available

Digital Cavendish

Provides digital editions of the works of Margaret Cavendish.

Freely Available

Early Modern Manuscripts Online

Database provides transcriptions, metadata and images of manuscripts from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Freely Available

Early Modern Women Research Network

The digital archive of the EMWRN presents online editions of women’s writing that circulated in a variety of forms in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Freely Available

Electronic Enlightenment

Searchable and browseable database offering extensive access to the web of correspondence between the greatest thinkers and writers of the long eighteenth century and their families and friends, bankers and booksellers, patrons and publishers.  Coverage includes letters and documents, document sources such as manuscripts and early printed editions, scholarly annotations, and links to biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, and other online resources.

Onsite Only

Historical Texts

Incorporates the resources that were found in Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).

Onsite Only

Horace Walpole Correspondence

Searchable transcripts of 48 volumes of Horace Walpole's correspondence, plus other items related to the Walpole family.

Freely Available

Letters of Elizabeth Montagu

The letters can be downloaded as txt and xml files, and they can be browsed and read on this site.

Freely Available

London Lives 1690-1800: crime, poverty and social policy in the metropolis

A fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names. 

Freely Available

The Newton Project

The Newton Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing in full an online edition of all of Sir Isaac Newton’s (1642–1727) writings - whether they were printed or not.

Freely Available

Plantations in Ulster, 1600-41: a collection of documents

A colection of documents edited by R. J. Hunter

Freely Available

Proceedings of the Old Bailey online, 1674-1913

A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court.

Freely Available

Records of London’s Livery Companies online: apprentices and freemen 1400-1900

The aim of ROLLCO is to provide a fully searchable database of Livery Company membership over time.

Freely Available

Records of the Scottish Parliament A fully searchable database containing the proceedings of the Scottish parliament from the first surviving act of 1235 to the union of 1707. Freely Available
Runaway Slaves in Britain The Runaway Slaves in Eighteenth-Century Britain project has created a searchable database of well over eight hundred newspaper advertisements placed by masters and owners seeking the capture and return of enslaved and bound people who had escaped. Freely Available

Sancho, Ignatius. Letters of the late Ignatius Sancho (1784)

Site provides an introduction and digital copy of the 1784 editions of Sancho's published letters.

Freely Available

Slave Voyages

Comprises of a number of databases concerning the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries.

Freely Available

The Work Diaries of Robert Boyle From this site you can view images and transcripts of the work diaries, search the workdiary texts, and access reference resources on places, people and books. Freely Available


Rest of Europe

Below is a selection of resources both freely available and accessible from within the IHR Library. For full lists check the Free Resources portal and our list of online resources.

Bibliothèque Bleue de Troyes

Online collection of 252 chapbooks from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Freely Available

Briefwisseling van Willem van Oranje

Searchable database of William of Orange’s correspondence with pdf images of the manuscript letters.

Freely Available

Circulation of knowledge and learned practices in the 17th century Dutch Republic

The CKCC project built a web application called ePistolarium. With this researchers can browse and analyze around 20,000 letters that were written by and sent to 17th century scholars who lived in the Dutch Republic.  

Freely Available


Online archive of Dutch and Indonesian newspapers and periodicals from the 17th to the 20th century.

Freely Available

Electronic Enlightenment

Searchable and browseable database offering extensive access to the web of correspondence between the greatest thinkers and writers of the long eighteenth century and their families and friends, bankers and booksellers, patrons and publishers.  Coverage includes letters and documents, document sources such as manuscripts and early printed editions, scholarly annotations, and links to biographies, dictionaries, encyclopedias, newspapers, and other online resources.

Onsite Only

Letters of Philip II, 1592-97

Online collection of letters from the last decade of Philip II’s reign.

Freely Available

The Montaigne Project

Digital edition of Montaigne’s Essays.

Freely Available

The Post-Reformation Digital Archive

PRDL is a select database of digital books relating to the development of theology and philosophy during the Reformation and Post-Reformation/Early Modern Era.

Freely Available

Rousseau Online

A full-text, fully-searchable online edition of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's writings. Included are all of Rousseau's works as published in the Collection complète des Œuvres de Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Du Peyrou and Moultou in Geneva (1782-1789).

Freely Available


Theses and Periodicals

Below are listed two crucial finding aids for OA (open access) journals and theses.

  • Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ)
    DOAJ is a community-curated online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • Ethos
    EThOS is the UK’s national thesis service which aims to maximise the visibility and availability of the UK’s doctoral research theses.

Some specifc open access journals include:

Government and Politics in Early Modern Europe

Political Philosophy

Although not one of the main foci of the our collection policy, the library has acquired a number of works on political philosophy as well as some of the  well-known texts from the period. Below is a selection you can find in our collections.

Astell, Mary
   Political writings

Bacon, Francis
   The works of Francis Bacon

Bodin, Jean
  De Republica libri sex

Burke, Edmund
   The writings and speeches of Edmund Burke (Vol. 1 - Vol. 9)

Cavendish, Margaret
   Political writings

Court, Johan de la
   Consideratien van staat : ofte polityke weeg-schaal

Eliot, John
   De jure maiestatis : or, Political treatise of government

Elyot, Thomas
   The boke named The gouernour

Filmer, Robert
   Patriarcha and other political works of Sir Robert Filmer

Forsskål, Peter
   Tankar om borgerliga friheten

Grotius, Hugo
   Commentarius in Theses XI

Guicciardini, Francesco

Harrington, James
   The political works of James Harrington

Hobbes, Thomas
   Three-text edition of Thomas Hobbes's political theory

Languet, Hubert
   Vindiciae contra tyrannos

Locke, John
   Political essays
   Two treatises of government : a critical edition

Machiavelli, Niccolò
   Florentine histories
   Il principe

Milton, John
   Areopagitica, and other political writings of John Milton

Montagu, Edward Wortley
   Reflections on the rise and fall of the ancient republicks

   De l'esprit des lois
   Lettres persannes

More, Thomas

Nedham, Marchamont
   The excellencie of a free-state

Paine, Thomas
   Political writings

Seyssel, Claude de
   La monarchie de France et deux autres fragments politiques

Smith, Thomas
   De republica Anglorum : a discourse on the Commonwealth of England

Suárez, Francisco
   De legibus, ac Deo legislatore

   Histoire du parlement de Paris

Winstanley, Gerrard
   The complete works of Gerrard Winstanley

Central Europe

The library is particularly strong in German language material. We have a large German history collection which covers both the general history of the region (including its political history) as well as the political history of individual states such as Prussia, Saxony and Bavaria. We also have a growing collection on the Holy Roman Empire and Austria as well as small collections on Hungary and Poland-Lithuania (to date our focus has not been to collect much material on Eastern Europe, for more extensive holdings see the library of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies)

The German States

Habsburg Central Europe

The Kingdom of Hungary



England, Ireland and Scotland

The library has extensive collections of of published governmental records from England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. These include records from the English, Scottish and Irish parliaments as well as a large number of calendars from various administrative and governmental bodies such as the Star Chamber and the English and Scottish Privy Council.

England and Wales





In the library's large collection of French history titles you will find sources relevant to French governmental bodies such as the Parlements, especially the Paris Parlement, as well as royal letters and letters and memoirs of prominent ministers through this period such as Richelieu, Mazarin and Colbert. Below is a selection of the titles in our collection. To find out more about the IHR's French history collections see our collection guide.




The Italian States

Below is a selection of titles from major Italian state from the mid-fifteenth century to the eighteenth. See our collection guide to find out more about the library's large Italian history collection.

Florence and Tuscany

Milan and Lombardy

Rome and the Papal States

Naples and Southern Italy

The Venetian Republic

The Low Countries

The IHR Library is lucky to have one of the best collections of published sources outside the Netherlands and Belgium. And within the collection, our holdings on the history of the region from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century is particularly rich. Listed below are some of the published sources on the political history from this period. To find out more about the Low Countries Collection see our collection guide.


The Netherlands

Spain and Portugal

The library's Spanish and Portuguese collections holds a range of sources relevant to political history including editions of letters from monarchs and prominent ministers as well as records of political bodies such as the Cortes of Castille. See our collections guides to found out more about our holdings in Spanish and Portuguese history.



Search Within the Sources : Diplomatic Sources

Diplomatic papers, the correspondence of ambassadors and consuls as well as reports of specific diplomatic missions often glean useful insights into the workings of government of various early modern states.

The library has a number of these kinds of sources; the Calendars of State Papers Venetian, Spanish and Rome will be familiar to many researchers of Tudor government, while works on the inter-state relations in Northern Italy can be found, surprisingly, in the Italian collection. In addition there are a number of similar works in the library’s International Relations collection which document relations between states during a specific period (see for example Cartas de el-rei D. João IV ao conde da Vidigueira (marques de Niza) embaixador em França or Correspondencia de Gutierre Gomez de Fuensalida, embajador en Alemania, Flandes é Inglaterra (1496-1509) or detail relations at a specific moment of crisis or war (for example Preussische und österreichische Acten zur Vorgeschichte des Siebenjährigen Krieges or Relação da embaixada do Padre Mestre Inácio Mascarenhas á Catalunha em 1641).

Also found in the International relations collection are a number of published works about diplomatic missions both to and from Eastern Europe and beyond. Selected titles include:

China, Japan and Thailand

Russia and Poland-Lithuania

The European Reformations

The Late Medieval and Early 16th Century Catholic Church and Spirituality

Below is a small selection of titles about late medieval religious history including works on popular devotion, fifteenth century religious literature and heretical movements such as the Lollards and Hussites. See also the Medieval and Religious History collection guides for more information.

Lollards and Hussites

The Protestant Reformations

Listed below is a small sample of the works you can find in the library. While general works on the Reformation can be found in our general Religious and Ecclesiastical history collection, significant additional holdings can be found in our German, Swiss, British, Low Countries and French collections.

General Sources, Reference Works and Books of Essays

Reformers' Works and Letters

Other Sources

Early Modern Catholicism and the Counter Reformation

The resources on the Catholic Church from 1500 to the French Revolution can be found in a number of our collections. General titles can be found in the Ecclesiastical collection, including resources on the Council of Trent and the general history of the Jesuits. The national and regional history collections have a great deal of material on the history of the Catholic Church in their respective areas. See especially Spain, Italy, Portugal, France and Latin America.

The Council of Trent

The Jesuits

Early Modern Women

General Works

The library has amassed a growing number of works about the women in the early modern world. Concentrating mainly on Europe, the library has not only primary works but also some secondary monographs, especially books of essays. And works on women's history in colonial North and South America can be found in found in the respective Colonial and Latin American collections. Below are some of the titles currently available in the library.

Politics and Governance

Below is listed a number of titles show-casing the types of works available in our collections. As well as works by and about specific queens and empresses we also have titles about those women who were politically engaged such as Olympe de Gouges and the Duchess of Devonshire, as well as those who exercised political power on a local level.

Learning and the Arts

Below are works by women authors, scientists and philosophers during the early modern period. Also included are works on the education of women.

Family and Marriage

Below is a selection of titles on marriage and family history in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, including published marriage records, theoretical works on the institution of marriage and a number of books of essays.

Violence and Persecution

Below are a number of titles which highlight the various forms of violence inflicted upon women in this period. The list show-cases some of the works on witchcraft trials that can be found in the library as well as a couple of titles specifically on domestic violence (for more information where to find sources for the history of domestic violence in this period see the section below).

Witchcraft Trials and Texts

Search Within the Sources : Domestic Violence in Early Modern England

The library does have a handful of published primary source titles that are highlighted in the list above. However, more information can be found on this subject in a number of other titles that can be found or accessed within the IHR.

Some material can be found in general anthologies of sources such as Women in the eighteenth century, while relevant stories from the newspapers of the period can be accessed within the library in the 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection. A general overview of the law can be found in William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the laws of England while Sarah Kirkham Chapone’s work The hardships of the English Laws in relation to Wives can be found in Legal treatises edited by Lynne Greenberg. Also the library has several sources which highlight how the law was administered, including disputes between wives and husbands; some that can be found or accessed within the library are The justicing notebook of William Hunt, 1744–49, Justice in eighteenth-century Hackney: the justicing notebooks of Henry Norris and the Hackney Petty Sessions Book [also available on British History Online], and The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913.

Many works on the conduct of wives – and what was deemed permissible punishment if they transgressed this patriarchal ideal - can be found in online resources accessible within the library such as JISC Historical Texts, which includes what was formerly covered by EEBO (Early English Books Online) and ECCO (Eighteenth-Century Collections Online).

Testimony from wives themselves can be found in both electronic and physical formats within the library. As well as the title about Mary Hampson already listed above, the memoirs of Catherine Jemmat can be found again within JISC Historical Texts while Elizabeth Freke’s Remembrances can be found on the library shelves.

Europeans beyond Europe: Invasion, Colonisation and Resistance


Below is a list highlighting the range of primary sources you can find in the library about European early modern exploration. The library also has extensive holdings of two important series. The first is the Hakluyt Society who have been publishing travel accounts for over a century; in the library these have the shelf-mark CG.171/Hak. The other is the Linschoten Vereeniging who have similarly published travel accounts but concentrating on Dutch exploration and the Dutch Empire; these can be found in the library's Low Countries collection.

Colonisation, Conversion and Control

Here is a list of titles available in the library outlining the various means by which colonial occupying forces exercised control, whether political, economic or spiritual.

The European Slave Trades

The library has rapidly growing collections of resources and titles on the European slaves trades from the fifteenth century. To explore our collections about this subject see our Slave History collection guide. Below is a selection of titles available in the library about the slaves trades from the fifteenth to the late eighteenth centuries.


Below is a selection of titles that present how indigenous peoples and slave populations resisted the European invasions and occupying forces during this period. Most concentrate on the histories of North and South America, although relevant source material for other parts of the world (e.g. the Pacific in the 18th century) can be found in general primary sources on exploration. Works on Toussaint L'Overture and the Haitian Republic can be found in the Modern History Collection guide.

Search Within the Sources : Tacky's Revolt of 1760

Sources on the insurrection of enslaved people in Jamaica known as Tacky’s Revolt (named after one of its leaders in the early months of the uprising) can be found throughout the library. There are a number of sources which devote quite a considerable amount to the events of 1760; Edward Long’s The history of Jamaica, the diary of the plantation overseer, Thomas Thistlewood (an online version is also available from Yale University Library), and Bryan Edwards The history…of the British colonies in the West Indies all give accounts of the revolt and with Long’s case, infamously informed his beliefs, helping to cement the History as a ur-text of English racism.

Delving into some more general sources, mentions of the revolt can be found in works such as The Gentleman’s Magazine (vol. 30, 1760, page 306–7), the Journal of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations (Jan. 1759–Dec. 1763, pages 136, 166 and 182) as well as within the House of Commons Session Papers  (vol. 69, page 217-21 and vol. 82, page 56). Also mention of the revolt can be found in later works published in the nineteenth century such as George Wilson Bridges’s The annals of Jamaica (vol. 2, page 91–102).

Obviously these narratives give a very flawed account given the absence of sources from the enslaved. Thankfully historians such as Vincent Brown have produced works which not only question these white, planter-colonist narratives but set the events of 1760 in the wider context of the 18th century Atlantic world. A copy of Prof Brown’s work can be found in the Senate House Library.

Early Modern Information Cultures

The Printed Word

The library has substantial holdings on the history of early modern printing in Europe and North and South America. Also listed are works on early modern broadsides and newspapers.

Broadsides and Newspapers

Image and Form

Below are a selection of titles available in the library on the history of art, architecture and fashion during this period. For more information of what we hold on these subjects see the respective guides: Art, Architecture, Fashion.

Art and Illustration

Architecture and Interiors

Fashion and Clothing

Search Within the Sources : Rumour and Gossip in Early Modern Europe

The history of gossip and rumour is a vast subject that can be explored in a number of diverse settings. Rumour was a feature of witchcraft scare and trials, and some of the titles you can find in the library have already been listed in the section on Persection and Violence against women. Impending or actual disasters were also a fertile catalyst for rumour to spread; there are famous examples in Samuel Pepys’s Diary where he notes the rumour that the fire of 1666 had been started by either French or Dutch residents in London. Similarly rumour was whipped up during an earlier fire at St Pauls noted in the pamphlet, ‘The true report of the burning of the steeple and church of Paul’s in London’ and during a devastating fire in Warwick in 1694.

Considering a very different environment, the royal courts of the period, as one might imagine, were fertile grounds for gossip. Letters and diaries are often rich seams for this type of information and the library has extensive holdings for this genre. Insights as to how information (or dis-information) spread within the French court at various points in its history can be found in Mémoires de messire Michel de Castelnau, seigneur de MaussièreLettres de madame de Maintenon and Lettres de Madame de Pompadour : portrait d'une favorite royale, for example. Also, insights into the scandals and rumours surrounding Marie Antoinette during the 1770s and 1780s can be found in a number of diaries, memoirs and letter collections, often sympathetic to her position, including the Mémoires sur la vie privée de Marie-Antoinette, reine de France et de Navarre by Jeane-Louise-Henriette Campan, Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette et Madame Élisabeth : lettres et documents by her sister-in-law and memoirs of the court historian Jacob Nicolas Moreau. To see how she confronted the various scandals at court (or how she wished them to be portrayed), we also have various editions of Marie Antoinette’s correspondences (1864, 2004 and 2005)