The Medieval Foundations of Modern Europe and China


Spring 2017
126 Barrows
Day & Time: 
TuTh 11-12:30
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the Pre-Modern Requirement for the History Major.
  • What accounts for some of the characteristic differences today between Europe and China, including the different ways they engage with the rest of the world? This course is based on the premise that it was critical developments during the medieval period that set in place many of the patterns that still shape the values and institutions of both societies. We will begin by exploring differences in political structures. Why did China reunify after the fall of the Han dynasty, but Europe did not reunify after the fall of Rome? We will then consider a series of encounters with neighboring peoples, as a means to reconstruct both how Europeans and Chinese of the middle ages envisioned themselves, and how they imagined their place in a wider world. Lectures will be delivered by two professors, one specializing in Carolingian and post-Carolingian Europe, and one in Tang-Song China. Readings will include peace treaties and diplomatic correspondence, travelogues, frontier literature, crusader accounts, and mappae mundi.