Issues, Approaches and Problems
How did rulers rule and kingdoms function in the centuries after the end of Roman rule in the West? What were the high ideals and hard realities of political life in an age of holy men and women, warlords, and kings?
This four-credit seminar examines the political cultures of the post-Roman western Mediterranean in the period from c. AD 500 to c. 950 - from the age of the earliest successor kingdoms in western Europe through to the terminal phase of Carolingian power. In addition to assessing various aspects of the ideals and the hard realities of early medieval political culture this class is intended to introduce students to a diverse range of primary material from the period and to the analytical methods and scholarly means by which those sources are interpreted and through which the history of the early Middle Ages is written. Material culture and archaeology will concern us as much as the written word.
The class is a balance of collaborative seminar work and individual tutorials. Ultimately, students will write the substantial research paper of approximately 7,500 – 8,000 words using primary sources and secondary studies. Primary sources will be in translation though students will be encouraged to draw upon their respective language training, where relevant.
This class is not intended as a general introduction to the period and it is not suitable for students lacking demonstrable experience of studying the history of the period. Entry is by instructor permission only.