History 309

HIST 309
Medieval Civilization

Catalog Entry

HIST 309
Medieval Civilization
Three hours lecture: (3)

Prerequisite: Three hours of History at the 100 level.

A study of the political, socio-economic, and cultural development of Europe from 300 to 1500 with an emphasis on the achievements of the eleventh through thirteenth centuries.

Detailed Description of Content of Course

I.  Introduction: The Significance of the Middle Ages

II. The Ancient Context
    A. Greco-Roman Civilization
    B. Christian Religion
    C. Germanic Culture    

III. Rome's Successors in the East and West
    A. Byzantium
    B. Barbarian Kingdoms
    B. Dar al-Islam        

IV. The Early Medieval Synthesis: Latin Christendom
    A. The Roman Church
    B. The Carolingian World
    C. Anglo-Saxon Britain

V. Latin Christendom Transformed
    A. Europe Besieged: Vikings, Magyars, Muslims
    B. Regional Political Developments

VI. The High Middle Ages: Socio-Economic Developments
    A. Rural Society             
    B. Economic Take-Off            
    C. Urban Society

VII. Church and State in the High Middle Ages
    A. Empire and Ecclesiastical Reform
    B. Norman Conquest and Angevin England            
    C. Royal Government on the Continent                

VIII. Expansion of Latin Christendom
    A. Internal Expansion
    B. Normans
    C. Reconquista
    D. Crusades
    E. Eastward Expansion

IX. High Medieval Culture    
    A. Renaissance of the Twelfth Century
    B. Schools and Universities
    C. Academic Disciplines
    D. Art and Architecture
    E. Language and Literature                

X. Socio-Economic Structures in the High Middle Ages         

XI. Latin Christendom in the Twelfth and Thirteenth-Centuries
    A. Papal Monarchy and the Decline of the Imperial Ideal        
    B. Monarchy in France, England, and Spain            
    C. Religious Trends in Western Christendom    
    D. The Eastern Frontier and the Mongols

XII. The Later Middle Ages
    A. Socio-Economic Decline
    B. Demographic Disaster            
    C. National Monarchies            
    D. Crisis in the Church            
    E. Cultural Developments

XIII. The Fifteenth Century: Setting the Stage for a New Era

Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The class meets three hours per week.  The course is taught primarily using a lecture format and includes time dedicated to the discussion of sources and concepts from lectures and readings.  Students are required to read extensively from textbooks and material distributed in class. Class discussion of assigned material is an important element of the course.

Goals and Objectives of the Course

a. Students will practice thinking critically and analytically about historical issues, acquire a broader knowledge and deeper understanding of pertinent historical events and processes, and cultivate a familiarity with the concepts of historical argument and interpretation.

b. Students will develop disciplinary research skills by designing strategies to locate and analyze primary and secondary source evidence, processing and organizing the resultant data, and composing proper citation and bibliographical entries.

c. Students will apply their critical thinking, research, and compositional skills to the creation and presentation of thesis driven essays that discuss, for example, historical social, economic, political, and/or cultural developments and that address issues such as the causes and consequences of historical change and continuity.

d. Students will describe the physical and cultural geography of the medieval world.  Students will study medieval cultures and develop an awareness of the complexity of cultural interaction and change over historical time.  In particular, students will demonstrate an understanding of the multicultural nature of western Eurasia during the medieval period and the role of Latin Christendom in defining Europe and the “West” between the decline of ancient civilization and the advent of the modern period.

Assessment Measures

Knowledge and understanding of the material covered in this course will be measured using an array of assessment tools that may include, among other things, class attendance and participation, written examinations, formal writing assignments of various types, and informal writing assignments. All exercises are designed to expand the student's ability to evaluate historical events and to develop his or her ability to compose persuasive arguments.

Other Course Information


Review and Approval
Date Action Reviewed by
October 2010 Reviewed and Approved by Sharon Roger Hepburn