Indiana University


History H206


Medieval Civilization


spring 2009


(jump to schedule)
















Dr. Deborah M. Deliyannis

Office:  Ballantine Hall 708                                                                                       Place:  Jordan Hall A100  

email:                                                                        Time:  TuTh 11:15 am-12:30 pm  

Office Hours:  Wednesdays 1:30-3:30 pm or by appt.                                                                 Section: 26668  




What do we mean by "Medieval Civilization"?  Chronologically, the Middle Ages spans more than a thousand years (from approximately 400 to 1500 AD), and covers the many different political, cultural, and ethnic communities of Europe.  There was not one medieval civilization, but many medieval civilizations, related in some ways to each other, but distinct and constantly changing.  This class will be an introduction to the history of the Middle Ages through its culture and ways of life.  


Because the period to be covered is so vast, we will focus our attention on six moments in time and space that are representative of some of the communities of the Middle Ages. We will look at villages and cathedral towns, monasteries and manor houses, and for each, we will think about how we learn about them through primary sources and physical remains.  We will consider who lived in the community, what activities they took part in, what the community  looked like physically, and what aspects of medieval life and culture are represented there.





This website contains the syllabus, with all the relevant links to readings, site information, etc..  It has copies of the images of the various sites that are discussed in class.  Other items, such as examples of good essays and study guides, may also be added.  Some of the links on this website require a username and password; you can find these on your paper syllabus, and on Oncourse under "Announcements".


Many other useful resources, including all the powerpoint presentations used in class, will be placed in the Resources folder on Oncourse.





Readings in this course come from two sources.  One of these is a textbook, for sale in the Bookstore:


Barbara Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, 2nd edition (Broadview Press, 2004).


In addition, for each class there will be a document or documents which represent primary sources, which can be found on the world wide web or on Oncourse in the "resources" section.   These texts are required (and the assignments are based on them); you may either read them online or print them out. 





The class will consist primarily of lectures; if you have a question at any time during the lecture, feel free to raise your hand and ask.  If you find something confusing, probably many other people do too, and they will appreciate your question also.


If at any time outside of class you have questions or wish to talk to me about any aspect of the class, please come to my office hours, as listed above.  If these times are not convenient, I will be happy to schedule an appointment.  I am also very accessible via e-mail.

Course requirements


             5%      Attendance at lecture

             5%      Question group (see below)

           40%      Four short papers on readings (10% each)

           20%      Midterm exam

           30%      Final exam

         100%      TOTAL

Attendance will be taken in lecture; your attendance will be worth 5% of your final grade.  You will be allowed two 'free' absences.


In the third week of the semester, each of you will be assigned to a group made up of five or six people.  Each group will be assigned one class day.  On your assigned day, you will sit in the front row of the classroom.  At some point during the lecture you must ask a question.  The question can be one of clarification, a request for further information, a question about something you read and didn't understand, or anything that relates in some way to the lecture.  If you ask your question, you will receive an A for this component of the course.  You should also feel free to ask questions when it is not your turn to sit in the front; but this way everyone is guaranteed the opportunity to ask at least one.


The short (1000 words) papers on each unit will be due in class the day following completion of the unit.  Of the six papers, you must write four of them.  You may choose the topics that most interest you, or the ones that fit best with your schedule.  KEEP IN MIND THAT THE MIDTERM AND FINAL WILL COVER MATERIAL FROM ALL UNITS, EVEN THOSE FOR WHICH YOU SKIP THE PAPER; YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MATERIAL. 


For each paper, an essay question has been assigned; you should answer the question specifically by making references to the texts that are the outside readings (and refer to them by name in your paper).  Guidelines for the papers can be found online, both on Oncourse as H206paperguidelines.doc and at this link.  Assignments are due in class on the day they are due; late assignments will not be accepted, period.  You never know what crisis will befall you during the semester; it is strongly suggested that you turn in the first four papers rather than waiting until the end of the semester. Papers will only be accepted in class on the day they are due (i.e. you can't email them during class time or turn them in to the office, without specific permission from the instructor). 


The midterm and final exam will consist of a combination of short answer identifications and short essay questions.  Questions will address material covered in lectures and the textbook, and also specific questions about the outside readings. 



Extra Credit


If you choose to turn in more than four papers, extra credit of up to 2% on your semester average will be given for each extra paper.  You will receive 1% extra for a B or B+ paper, and 2% for an A- or A paper.  We will calculate your grade to your best advantage.


There will be other opportunities to earn extra credit during the semester, by attending lectures or parts of conferences held at IU.  These will be announced via email through Oncourse, and also in class.  If you attend such an event and write up a one-page, double-spaced summary of it, you will earn 2% on your semester grade; you are allowed a maximum of two such extra credit assignments.



Tentative Schedule and Reading Assignments





Jan. 13:  Introduction



Ravenna:  a Late Antique city

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 19-75, 95-110


Essay question [due Jan. 29]:  How many different kinds of buildings can you account for in a late antique city, based on the texts and on what you know of Ravenna?  What groups of people were responsible for these, who used them, and how?


Jan. 15:  The Late Roman Empire

                  Ammianus Marcellinus, "The Luxury of the Rich in Rome," c. 400 AD


Jan. 20:  Christianity in the Roman empire

                  Ambrose of Milan, Epistle XX, 'to his sister' (on Oncourse, AmbroseEpistleXX.doc)


Jan. 22:  The "Fall of Rome"

                  Cassiodorus, Variae, two letters  (on Oncourse, CassiodorusCities.doc)


Jan. 27:  The Byzantine Mediterranean

                  Procopius, on the Plague


Jan. 29:  The rise of Islam

                  Ravenna papers due



West Stow:  an Anglo-Saxon village

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 75-94,  110-130


Essay question [due Feb. 17]:  What do we know about the early medieval rural lifestyle?  How much can we learn from archaeology about their lives, as compared to from texts of the sort that you have been assigned?


Feb. 3:  The Germanic Kingdoms:  the case of Anglo-Saxon England

                  Salic Law, selections (on Oncourse, SalicLaw.doc)


Feb. 5:   Religion

                  Bede, selections from the Ecclesiastical History (on Oncourse, bedeH206.doc)


Feb. 10:  Towns and trade in the Germanic kingdoms

                  Alcuin, Life of Saint Vedastus (selection) (on Oncourse, Vedastus.doc)

                  Gregory of Tours, Life of St. Patroclus (on Oncourse, gregVPpatroclus.pdf)


Feb. 12:  Charlemagne and his empire

                  Asnapium: An Inventory of One of Charlemagne's Estates

                  Abbe Irminon-Polyptyque de Villeneuve-St. Georges, c. 800



Cluny:  a medieval monastery

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 177-183, 192-206, 239-249, 251-278


Essay question [due Feb. 26]: How does the layout of a monastery, like Cluny, help to foster the aim of a monastic life?


Feb. 17:  The development of Christian monasticism

                  West Stow papers due

                  The Rule of St. Benedict, selections, c. 530 AD (on Oncourse, BenedictRule.doc)


Feb. 19:  Church and State

                  Charter of the Abbey of Cluny


Feb. 24:  Cluny and later reforms of monasticism

                  Critique and Ideal:  the Cistercian Renewal (read Bernard of Clairvaux, from the Apology for William and "Peace on Earth":  A Contemporary Description of Clairvaux)


Feb. 26:  The Crusades

                  Cluny papers due





Wharram Percy:  a feudal village

[note:  the link here is to an external website]

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 131-164, 184-190, 207-223


Essay question [due Mar. 26]:  How does a later medieval village reflect the organization of society in the later Middle Ages? 


Mar. 5:  The Vikings and their impact

                  Dudo of St. Quentin, Gesta Normannorum, selections (on Oncourse, dudovikings.doc)


Mar. 10:   Feudal society

                  The Domesday Book, Instructions and Example

                  Fulbert of Chartres, on Feudal Obligations, c. 1020


Mar. 12:  The agricultural revolution  

                  Manorial Management and Organization, c. 1275






Mar. 24:  The medieval castle

                  Selections from The History of the Counts of Guines and Lords of Ardres (on Oncourse, Guines.doc)


Mar. 26:   The Middle Ages in the movies

                  Wharram Percy papers due



Chartres:  a twelfth-century cathedral town

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 171-176, 190-192, 224-238


Essay question [due Apr. 16]:  Twelfth-century art and culture was concentrated in the newly thriving cities.  Why was this?  Who was sponsoring and paying for it?


Mar. 31:  The economic expansion and the rise of cities

                  The Cathedral Chapter of Chartres-The Riot of 1210

                  Three Disputes involving the Cathedral Chapter of Chartres, 1215-1224





Apr. 7:  The 'twelfth century renaissance'

                  John of Salisbury, Metalogicon, selections, c. 1159 (on Oncourse, Metalogicon.doc)

                  Jacques de Vitry, History, Life of the Students at Paris


Apr. 14:  Chivalry and Courtly Love

                  Medieval song lyrics (on Oncourse, lyrics.doc)


Apr. 16:  Gothic architecture

                  Suger, De administratione (excerpts)


Florence:  a city and the Black Death

Rosenwein, Short History, pp. 279-323


Essay question [due Apr. 30]:  Who are the movers and shakers in a late medieval city like Florence?  From where do they get their authority?  How do they impact the development and appearance of the city?  Who are the other inhabitants? 


Apr. 21:  The boom and bust of medieval trade and commerce

                  Chartres papers due

                  Treaty for Peace and Commercial Harmony Between Florence & St. Gimignano, 1225


Apr. 23:  Famine, War, and the Black Death

                  Boccaccio, the Decameron, Introduction


Apr. 28:  Revolt,  war, and the Renaissance

                  Giovanni Villani, Florentine Chronicle, selections

                  Niccolo Machiavelli, History of Florence, on Lorenzo de' Medici




Apr. 30:  The End of the Middle Ages

                  Florence papers due




FINAL EXAM:  Tuesday, May 5, 10:15 am-12:15 pm , in Jordan Hall A100 (the usual classroom)