The Middle Ages
He who swears fealty to his lord ought always to have these six things
in memory: what is harmless, safe, honorable, useful, easy, practical.
--Fulbert of Chartres
Two there are, august emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled,
the sacred authority of the priesthood and the royal power.
Neither kings nor princes nor any rank of men enjoy as much reputation
or credit as a good merchant.
--Italian Merchant, 1458
1. C. Warren Hollister, Medieval Europe, A Short History.
2. Joseph Strayer, On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State;
3. Brian Tierney, ed., The Crisis of Church and State, 1050-1300;
4. Brian Tierney, ed., The Middle Ages, 2 vols.
How to Read Primary
and Secondary Sources
On Citing Internet
under "Intellectual Perspectives" (Humanities and Cultures):
To obtain a solid grasp of the events, personages and major social and
cultural themes of the period between the fall of Rome in the fifth century
to the dawn of the Renaissance in the mid-fourteenth century.
To make broad comparisons and contrasts between the major cultural trends
in Western European society, including religion, economy, politics, family
life and letters in this period.
To become acquainted with the great theories and theoreticians of political
and theological thought in the middle ages and to connect these ideas to
the cultural trends emerging and evolving over these centuries.
To see the history of a culture as being told in more than just documents
(letters, chronicles, edicts, etc.—the traditional tools of the historian’s
craft), but also in architecture, art and artifacts.
To provide a stimulating intellectual environment where unbridled curiosity
is rewarded and connections with other courses in other fields is strongly
To provide students with the opportunity to hone their writing and speaking
skills, to further develop their critical thinking and argumentation skills,
and to provide them with the chance to voice their own views and impressions
of the course material openly and freely.
To instill a love of learning and a respect for past and foreign cultures.
Assignments and Expectations:
1. Examinations. There will be a midterm and comprehensive final
2. Quizzes. Four quizzes, one of which will be a map quiz.
All quizzes will be announced in advance. Make-ups are given only in extreme
cases and only at the discretion of the professor.
3. Paper. 7-page paper on a topic or source to be agreed upon
between the student and professor. Please note well: late papers are penalized
one-third of a grade for every weekday late.
4. Participation. Students will be expected to attend class
and to have prepared for lectures and for discussion by having read and
thought about the assigned readings. Of particular importance is the discussion
of the source texts, which will occupy a large portion of class time. Unexcused
absences will lower the participation component of student grades.
5. Movies. There will also be a number of films on medieval
topics that we shall screen, some in class, others at night. All out-of-class
events are optional for students, but strongly recommended.
1. The final grade will be determined according to the following breakdown:
2. Grades will be assigned according to the follow numerical equivalencies:
80-82 B-, .....Etc.
Please refamiliarize yourself with the blurb on academic honesty in
the 2000-01 Undergraduate Catalog, p. 79. There you will find a
definition of Academic honesty, and the following paragraph, to which I
draw your particular attention:
Academic dishonesty…can take several forms, including, but not
limited to, plagiarism, cheating, misrepresentation of facts or experimental
results, unauthorized use of or intentional intrusion into another’s computer
files and/or programs, intentional damage to a computer system, and unauthorized
use of library materials and privileges.
Of special concern is the issue of plagiarism. Stated briefly, plagiarism
is leading your reader or listener to believe that what one has written
or said is one’s own work, when, in fact, it is not. The range of plagiarism
includes word-for-word copying of another’s text without quotation marks
and appropriate citation, to inappropriate paraphrasing of another’s text,
to "cutting and pasting" portions of another text into your own, to even
the unattributed borrowing of apt phrases or terms. All of these degrees
of plagiarism are equally unethical and may be penalized with failure for
the assignment or, in extreme cases, failure of the course.
If you are at any time unsure as to whether your work is plagiaristic,
you should consult with the professor.
See the "Links" section above for more resources on plagiarism.
January 22: The Middle Ages: Wrestling with a Concept
January 24: Christianized Rome
January 26: Rome Falls
Read: Hollister, chs. 1, 2;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 2, 5-7;
Tierney, vol. II, ch. 3.
January 29: The Byzantine East
January 31: Islam
February 2: Discussion
Read: Hollister, chs. 3, 5;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 9, 11, 23;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 4-6.
February 5: The Barbarians
February 7: Law and Society
February 9: The Christian West
Read: Hollister, ch. 4;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 12-18, 20;
Tierney’s Church and State (hereafter, Tierney C/S), pp. 1-11, 13-14.
February 12: The Carolingians
February 14: Carolingian Civilization
February 16: Discussion
Read: Hollister, ch. 6;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 24-28;
Tierney C/S, pp. 16-19, 20-23.
February 19: The New Round of Invasions
February 21: Feudalism
February 23: Feudalism, continued
Read: Hollister, chs. 7, 8;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 32-35;
Tierney, vol. II, ch. 8-10.
February 26: Reform
February 28: Crusade
March 2: Discussion
Read: Hollister, ch. 10;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 40-43;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 22-24;
Tierney, C/S, pp. 24-33.
March 5: Church and State
March 7: The Investiture Crisis
March 9: Midterm Examination
Read: Hollister, ch. 12;
Tierney, C/S, pp. 33-97.
March 19: Economy and Society
March 21: Art and Literature
March 23: Women and Family
Read: Hollister, chs. 9, 14;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 51-53, 56-59;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 11, 12, 14.
March 26: Medieval Thought and Philosophy
March 28: The Chivalric Society
March 30: Discussion
Read: Hollister, ch. 11;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 44-46, 93, 97;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 18, 20, 21, 31.
April 2: Feudal France
April 4: Feudal England
April 6: Feudal Germany
Read: Tierney, C/S, pp. 159-72;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 60, 61, 63, 72-76, 78, 100-102.
April 9: The University
April 11: Discussion
Read, Tierney, vol. I, nos. 82-84.
April 18: Boniface and Philippe
April 20: The 100-Years War
Read: Hollister, ch. 15;
Tierney, C/S, pp. 172-93;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 85-87;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 25-27.
April 23: The Making of Modern Government
April 25: The Making of Modern Government, continued
April 27: Discussion
Read: Hollister, ch. 16;
Strayer, Medieval Origins, all;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 88-92.
April 30: The Black Death and the Crisis of the 14th Century
May 2: New Structures of Economy
May 4: The Birth of Humanism
Read: Tierney, C/S, pp. 193-211;
Tierney, vol. I, nos. 106-109;
Tierney, vol. II, chs. 15-17.
May 7: Summary
May 8: Review