Medieval Europe

History 4B

Spring 2015
Day & Time: 
TuTh 2-330P

As a period, the middle ages is puzzling, contradictory, difficult, and endlessly fascinating. It is also profoundly important, because its 1000 years saw the development of principles and institutions fundamental to later European, American, Latin American, and even East Asian societies. The first half of the course begins with the fall of the Roman Empire and the church's role in stabilizing the chaos of the period. We will then turns to the conversion to Christianity of northern pagan society, the evolution of kingship in Anglo-Saxon society, and the creation of a Frankish empire on the continent that gave Europe a lasting belief in its historical destiny. In the second half of the course we will discuss the First Crusade, changing expressions of religious belief and practice (including heresy and the church's responses to it), the rise of states, the appearance of popular rebellion, and the literary culture of the aristocracy. A good deal of attention is also given to the position of women in society and the distinctive social values and religious piety that grew out of women's piety. With the exception of a fairly straightforward textbook, readings are entirely translated primary sources — generally whole works rather than excerpted snippets. Students should note that this year's syllabus is substantially revised from that of 2014, with a different, simpler textbook, the return of Beowulf, and the deletion of some excessively difficult readings.

Course Books

The Black Death by Horrox, Rosemary Manchester University Press. ISBN: 978-0719034985 Required
The Book of Margery Kempe by Staley, Lynn Penguin Classics. ISBN: 0393976394 Required
The Lais of Marie de France by Ferrante, Joan M. and Hanning, Robert W. Baker Books. ISBN: 978-0801020315 Required
Carolingian Chronicles by Scholz, Bernhard, and Rogers, Barbara University of Michigan. ISBN: 978-0472061860 Required
Beowulf by Liuzza, R. M. Broadview Press. ISBN: 978-1554810642 Required
A Short History of the Middle Ages by Rosenwein, Barbara University of Toronto Press. ISBN: 978-1442606111 Required