Course Description

European History

HIEU 2061

The Birth of Europe

Fall 2018

This class covers the period from the third to the thirteenth centuries, moving from a Mediterranean world dominated by the Roman empire to one characterized by complex interactions (military, economic, cultural, scientific) between multiple kingdoms, communities, faiths and systems of belief.  Political, social and institutional developments will be addressed; literature, art, philosophy, and religion will also receive attention.

We begin with the terminal phases of the ancient world. We end at a time when many of the formative elements of the world we live in today have come into existence. How can we understand the historical processes that led from one to the other? How did life, thought and belief change in these centuries? ‘The Birth of Europe’ is not simply a chance to study the foundational phase of European history it also affords students the opportunity to investigate a crucial phase of world history, the legacies of which continue to shape the world today.

Intended as an introduction to the medieval period, no prior knowledge is expected.

Work undertaken in HIEU 2061: Students will write two 1600-1800 word essays over the course of the semester, take a mid-term and a final exam, attend lecture and participate actively in section discussion. All students receive a letter grade; C/NC is not an option.

In Fall 2018 subjects discussed will include:

• The ‘Fall of Rome’ and its causes.

• The ‘barbarian’ peoples who would reshape the Roman West and, in turn, be reshaped by it.

• The earliest post-Roman kingdoms and the creation of new forms of political life.

• The development of late antique forms of Christianity, its growth as a sanctioned religion from the fourth century on and the varieties of medieval Christianity, orthodox and otherwise.

• The rise of Islam, the end of the Persian empire and the seventh- and eighth-century reconfiguration of the Mediterranean world.

• The formation and fragmentation of the Carolingian empire.

• The Vikings and their impact.

• The Byzantine empire and the Transformation of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Course Type:
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Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904


(434) 924-7147
(434) 924-7891
M-F 8am to 4:30pm
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