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Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

History 310 / MSTU 328 - The Early Middle Ages 600 - 1150

Spring 2012

The Mediaeval World… It sprung from the ruins of the Roman Empire! For a long time it was considered to be a world completely different from the political, social, cultural, religious, and economic structures of Classical Antiquity. As for the formation of European society and civilisation the Middle Ages constituted a crucial period, coming out of the darkness following the decline and fall of Rome, and leading the Western world to its full “Renaissance”. The history of the Middle Ages spans a time of approximately twelve centuries, between the 4th and the 16th century. Already towards the end of the 15th century certain scholars started to use the term “Middle Ages”, in order to distinguish the entire era between Antiquity and what they themselves saw and experienced as a revival of it. They tended to idealise the Graeco-Roman, classical civilisation, and believed they were witnessing a “rebirth”, a “Renaissance” of it. They literally regarded the centuries that separated them from their ancient forefathers as a time in which the people had walked in darkness. From the late 17th century the term “Middle Ages” became a commonplace in contemporary studies of the past. 

Geographically speaking the Mediaeval World comprises all of the Mediterranean basin, Western Europe, and all the regions North and East of the two aforementioned, which came into contact with them, or were in fact already so. Scandinavia, Middle and Eastern Europe, as well as all parts of and beyond the Mediterranean that from the 7th century onwards were conquered by the Arabs, and which previously had largely belonged to the Roman Empire.

The value of chronological periodisation is rather relative. Although this course appears to have a chronological order, its structure may also be found to be more thematic. The issue of continuity and discontinuity is essential in a better understanding of the Mediaeval world.

 

Course Abstract

The key objective of this course is to survey the history of the Middle Ages, from the time of the so-called “decline and fall” of Rome, roughly up to the year 1100. Not always an easy task, as one of the main problems concerning the studies of the Mediaeval period in general is one of evidence. We rely on biased, and often fragmented literary sources. But art history and archaeology supplement more and more the historical literary evidence. However, all has to be weighed with extreme care and consideration.

Throughout this course, a series of lectures and seminars, we shall attack some of the major issues in the study of Mediaeval society and culture. History is never a single-minded and uniform matter. The various contributions of numerous scholars, next to our main text of Barbara Rosenwein, are all intended to stimulate our own minds to ask further questions, and to start thinking into only few of all the possible directions towards possible answers – or mere hypotheses. Primary sources, as well as secondary literature from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, reveal the drama of Mediaeval history, society,  politics, and culture. All these texts together contribute to our awareness of the cultural tradition in which we ourselves also stand.

 

Procedures and Policies

The History of the Middle Ages meets twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:20pm until 1:35pm. It is expected of students to contribute in a significant way to this course. They are responsible for completing all of the assigned readings, according to the schedule attached to this syllabus. This course has no prerequisites and assumes no prior knowledge of Mediaeval history, or indeed of the Latin language. It is intended that students acquire a basic knowledge and understanding of the historical background and facts of the Middle Ages, as well as that of the working of historical mechanisms.

 

Attendance and Assessment

Attendance is mandatory. The succes of each session depends to a considerable extent on the students’ presence, as well as on their preparation and participation.

Final grade assessments will be based on the combination of two exams, one mid-term and one final, and one large essay (10-15 pages) concerning a topic of free choice and based on primary sources and secondary literature. A small percentage of the students’ grade will be derived from attendance and participation. Students opting for an Honors Contract will be given extra assignments.

It is strongly recommended to take notes, both when reading and listening. These notes are an indispensable part of studying and learning, often the best means to anchor your thoughts with true understanding, transform opinion into knowledge, and establish comprehension rooted in memory. Writing is learning – with half as much effort.

 

Exam and essay assignments

The 2 (TWO) exams will be tests of your acquired knowledge and understanding of the book by Rosenwein, as well as the topics dealt with in the additional secondary literature. The book provides a general outline of the developments of Mediaeval history, society and culture. The facts and the various backgrounds of events, both in time and throughout the Mediaeval world, are the framework of any basic historical understanding and mode of thinking.

As far as the essay is concerned, it is strongly recommended to start thinking of a suitable topic, including (some of) the appropriate material, right at the beginning of the course. In any case will you be summoned for a consult the week before mid-term, in order to establish an outline of the final essay. Essays count between 10-15 pages.

Information MUST under all circumstances be cited. Plagiarism of any sort will result in a grade of “F” for the assignment, or, depending on the level, perhaps even for the entire course.

 

Essay Grading

Written work, and to a certain extent also the final exam, meriting the grade of “A” (excellent) must:

Written work and examinations awarded the grade of “B” (good) adequately fulfill a majority of these criteria, with areas of improvement indicated by grading remarks and comments.

The grade of “C” (average) is given when written work and examinations fail to meet most criteria, therefore indicating to the student that an appointment should be made with the professor, before the next essay assignment, to discuss methods for improvement.

Finally, the grade of “D” is assigned to written work and examinations that are simply unacceptable, according to the criteria outlined above, in which case an appointment must be made with the professor and arrangements determined for re-submitting the assignments in an acceptable form.

 

            Grading Percentages:

 

            Mid-term Examination             30%

            Final Examination                    30%

            Final Essay                              30%

 

            Presence / Participation                        10%

 

Students who wish to request a review of the final course grade must provide original versions of all their graded  course assignments.

 

Literature

·                    Barbara H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages (2nd edition; Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2004).

·                    Reader.

 

Course Program

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: The Conversion of Europe – Orthodoxy and Heresy, Canons and Creeds

Primary sources

Secondary literature

Week 3: the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 4: Barbarian Successor States: Britain and the Anglo-Saxons

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 5: Barbarian Successor States: The Francs and Merovingian Gaul

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 6: Byzantium: Emperors, Christianity, and Iconoclasm

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 7: The Carolingians: the Franks as the New Israel?

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 8: Inauguration Rituals and Charlemagne’s Imperial Cornonation

Primary sources
Secondary literature

Week 9: The Papacy

Primary sources

Secondary literature

Week 10: Ascetics, Saints and Monasteries

Primary sources

Secondary literature

Week 11: The Rise of Islam

Primary sources

Secondary literature

Week 12: The Crusades

Primary sources

Secondary literature



Loyola

John Felice Rome Center · Sullivan Center for Student Services· 6339 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago, IL 60660
Mailing Address: 1032 W. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660
800.344.ROMA · rome@luc.edu

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