James Palmitessa

Photo of James Palmitessa
James R. Palmitessa
Associate Professor of History
(269) 387-4640
4428 Friedmann Hall, Mail Stop 5334
Mailing address: 
Department of History
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
  • Ph.D., History, New York University, 1995
Research interests: 
  • Transitional era of the late Middle Ages and early modern period in Europe, especially in Central Europe
  • Everyday life, cities, religion and society
  • History of Prague, c. 1527-1627

Dr. Palmitessa is Associate Professor of History. He is interested in the history of Central Europe from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, especially the lands of the Holy Roman Empire which was an important region of encounter between different languages, cultures, and societies in the late Middle Ages and early modern period. His continuing research on the cities of Prague in the first century of Habsburg rule, focuses on the central question: How did the residents of these spatially adjacent, socially and economically linked, but administratively autonomous, bilingual and multi-confessional communities respond to the dual challenges of religious reform and political centralization introduced by the new Habsburg rulers?

He conducts research and regularly presents at conferences in Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. He directs graduate students in his main areas of research and also serves on graduate committees of students in medieval and modern European history and medieval studies. He is affiliated with the Global and International Studies Program and a member of the Graduate Faculty of the Medieval Institute.

Teaching Interests:
Courses he teaches include: 


  • HIST 1000 and 1010: Early and Modern Western World
  • HIST 3000: Central Europe, Past and Present: Passau, Vienna, and Prague (Summer Study-Abroad Course)
  • HIST 3015: History and Cinema
  • HIST 3020 and 3030: World History to and since 1500
  • HIST 3612: Europe in the Age of the Thirty Years’ War, 1500-1650
  • HIST 3615: The European Witch-Hunt
  • HIST 4495: The Early European Family
  • HIST 4495: Renaissance Culture
  • HIST 4495: Reformation and Society 


  • HIST 6160: Crime, Society and the Law in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe
  • HIST 6160 and 6860: Religion and Society in Europe, c. 1400-1600, Readings and Seminar
  • HIST 6440: Material Culture

Select Publications:

  • Between Lipany and White Mountain: Essays in Late Medieval and Early Modern Bohemian History in Modern Czech Scholarship, edited with an Introduction and Bibliography by James R. Palmitessa (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2014)
  • Material Culture and Daily Life in the New City of Prague in the Age of Rudolf II(Krems: Medium Aevum Quotidianum, 1997)
  • “Das Bürgerhaus zwischen nachbarschaftlicher Interaktion und städtischer Verwaltung: Prag im 16. Jahrhundert,” Das Haus in der Geschichte Europas, Ein Handbuch, eds. Joachim Eibach and Inken Schmidt-Voges (Oldenbourg: DeGruyter, 2015), 485-501
  • “‘Sociální pamět husitské doby v kronikách raného novověku,Jan Hus 1415 a 600 let poté, eds. Jakub Smrčka & Zdeněk Vybíral (Tábor: Husitské muzeum v Táboře, 2015), 233-234
  • “The Reformation in Bohemia and Poland,” A Companion to the Reformation World, ed. R. Po-chia Hsia (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004), 185-204
  • “The Arbitration of Neighborhood Ties and Honor: Building and Property Disputes before the Six-Man Councils of Prague, 1547-1611,” The Sixteenth Century Journal XXXIV/1 (Spring 2003): 123-45
  • With Stephen T. Staggs, “The Successes and Challenges of Teaching World History in the Twentieth-First Century: Two Case Studies from Western Michigan,” World History Connected 3/1 (October 2005)