San Antonio Conference

I attended the San Antonio two-day Advanced Placement history and social science conference this weekend; it was a great meeting with a number of great teachers that turned out. I presented three sessions at this conference in which I witnessed great attendance in my sessions. Teachers were great during Q & A. I want belabor all of the details of each session, but I did list the titles below, as well as a discussion of session one. My Houston Christian students do get the benefit of my outside work. Much of what I write and research is a mere reflection of my teaching; it is a statement of what we do in the classroom — my kingdom. I am lucky!

Above: Close friends and colleagues: Eugene Chase, Barbra Ozuna, Marsha Gray, and Carson. We tend to always cross paths at conferences. When we do, there is usually time to chat over a nice dinner. Ozuna has become a great friend to me over the past few years. Last summer while at TCU for a conference, she treated me to dinner in return for me treating her to the Onion Creek.


Above: My friend and colleague Jim Brown who has written for The Professor and who teaches in Houston at the Second Baptist School.

Jim is teaching our (HCHS) World History course during summer session. He will do a great job. His wife teaches in our math department.

Session One: Looking at the French Revolution and the Thirty Years’ War as Shapers of Modern European History

Session Two: The Transatlantic and Its Impact on the AP European History Course

Session Three: Review of the 2008 European History Exam

During session One, I started the session off by showing a slide of Europe circa 1648. I asked members of the audience to share their thoughts on how we have approached the teaching and scholarship of the Thirty Years’ war in our classes. We engaged in what I thought was a productive conversation on the conceptualization of the periodization ca. 1450 to 1648. As you can see from the map below, the concept of borders and national identity were paramount in the structural organization of Europe; still we failed to fully launch into a conversation about the nature of Europe and Europeans’ understanding of identity. However, this concept allowed me to address one of the major premises of my talk: Identity and change.

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Some historians like to teach the Thirty Years’ War as the point in which Europe gave rise to nationalism; hence Europe’s states formulated thus marking the dawn of the nation-state. As I mentioned in my presentation, I cannot nor do I teach this in my European history course. I noted in my talk the emergence of the following due to the Thirty Years’ War:

* Concept of sovereignty
* Establishment of international relations, hence international law
* Actors shared the same legal responsibilities
* Creation of rules and hierarchy for all actors to model
* Negotiate treaties and settle disputes

Furthermore, I spoke on how this transitional point showcased Europe’s sense of change from its traditional past to the dawn of a new age. Technology best represented the change. With the Ottomans siege of Constantinople circa 1453, Europe’s feudal past was clearly in jeopardy of sustaining its place amongst political and military conflict. Feudal lords were forced to rethink modern conflict with the use of cannons and munitions.

Below is a slide of a castle noting its ineffectiveness with the changes that were taking place during the Thirty Years War.


Guns also marked a change in conflict; however, many soldiers who belonged to a professional guard opted the use of feudal techniques because guns often jammed.

<The Taking of Brisach by the Duc de Feria> by Jusepe Leonardo, © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS, RM, <i>The Taking of Brisach by the Duc de Feria</i> by Jusepe Leonardo, Adults, Animal riding, Architectural theme, Armor, Baroque (period or style), Beards, Body armor, Boots, Breeches, Carrying, City wall, Cityscape, Clothing, Collar, Control, Duc de Feria, Duke, European (period or style), European historical event, European historical theme, Europeans, Facial hair, Fine art, Footwear, Fortification, Full-length portrait, German historical event, Gesturing, Gun, Hat, Headgear, Helmet, Hill, Historic event, Historical theme, Holding, Horse, Horse riding, Hosiery, Jacket, Jusepe Leonardo, Kingdom of Spain, Knickers, Knight, Lace, Lance , Leadership, Located in: Museo del Prado, Males, Mammal, Marching, Men, Military, Military personnel, Mustache, Neuf-Brisach, Nobles, Outerwear, Paintings, Pants, People, Plant motif, Pointing, Protective clothing, Riding, Rifle, Sash, Shadow, Shirts, Soldier, Spaniards, Spanish (period or style), Spanish armed forces, Spear, Sword, Thirty Years' War, 1618-1648, Tights, Tower, Valley, Visual arts, Walking, War, Weapon, Western European (period or style)

I spoke about the impact of the Thirty Years’ War on agrarian society – particularly peasants who were bound by the land. The change in conflict also marked a change in social structure. Many peasants watched their fields and villages turn into a wasteland. A concept often missed in the European history survey course is that of push migration during the Thirty Years’ War. Due to the devastation of fields, many peasants migrated to nearby cities in search of breaking from their bonds of serfdom. Enclosure also contributed to migrational trends after the conflict; yet, as one teacher noted during my presentation, we cannot forget about the impact of religion and its impact on demographical trends. The number of peasants killed by professional troops and feudal lords further notes the conflict of change as seen in the Thirty Years’ War. People often link the French Revolution as a mark in which we teach that Europe underwent a change in its Feudal development, but it was really that of the Thirty Years’ War. I used this concept to discuss both Marxist and Revisionist views of the French Revolution. Moreover, as I discuss in my classes with my students, the French Revolution was less a conflict of class conflict as noted by Marxist scholars, and one of fluid change in which the 2nd and 3rd estates (middle class) wanted a break from tradition in order to expand their wealth. I have used this concept to expand upon the importance of the Atlantic in my Atlantic Market Thesis.

Below is the Hanging Tree; it is a morbid depiction of the reality of religious, economic, and political conflict thousands of peasants faced. Roughly 40% of the German population was killed during this war.

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I did address the concept of war and religion with a particular focus on Baroque. Below is Peter Paul Reuben’s Horrors of War. In this piece, the principle figure is Mars [the god of war], who… rushes forth with shield and blood-stained sword, threatening the people with great disaster. He pays little heed to Venus, his mistress, who …strives with caresses and embraces to hold him…. On the ground, turning her back lays a woman with a broken lute, representing Harmony, which is incompatible with the discord of War…. That Grief-stricken woman, clothed in black… is the unfortunate Europe, who, for so many years now, has suffered plunder, outrage and misery, which are so injurious to everyone that it is not necessary to go detail.


One thought on “San Antonio Conference

  1. Your session was great. Your knowledge and energy continues to impress me, though I dont know why. Did you intend on linking your two sessions together? Your Atlantic one made much sense since I went to your earlier session. You are right, I was really impressed with the Q and A. Great questions asked.

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