Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide students with the basic knowledge of the main issues and events related to medieval Europe, with particular reference to the period between the fifth and the eleventh century, It also aims to provide insights on specific issues and to define some of the fundamental concepts of medieval history (such as fief, vassal, heresy, knighthood, ecclesiastical benefice, etc..).
During the course, the student learns to
- Understand the key facts and figures, as well as the most important political and ecclesiastical institutions, the most significant forms of social, economical and ecclesiastical organization of the early medieval period, and to place each element in time and space properly
- Collect further information on the topics discussed using the avilable bibliography (both printed and digital texts), developing capacity for independent judgment and a critical attitude towards the sources; to distinguish, in particular through the study of a monograph, between scientifical texts, popular historical literature and unverifiable information
- Communicate and discuss the concepts learned during the course, paying extra care to the accurate use of language, of the concepts and of the categories, and to handle the specific vocabulary of the historical discipline
- Get used to considering the political, institutional, social and economic relations and the ideologies not as a natural given, but as the result of changes that have taken place in specific contexts, and to apply the notion of context to the analysis of a text, and more generally of any social and political phenomenon and to any artistic and cultural form of expression
Course contents summary
Italy and Europe in the High Middle Ages (III-XI centuries).
The course aims to provide students with information and basic tools for the critical understanding of the main aspects of the economic, social, cultural and religious life between the third and the eleventh centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the political and institutional forms of organization of the human communities living during the period taken into account, and to the elements which shaped the peculiar characteristics of the European area. The course is structured according to the canonical thematic pattern well established in the discipline, and follows a chronological order. The main topics examined will be: the reforms of the late Roman Empire and its sunset, the diffusion and the affirmation of Christianity; the barbarian migrations and the end of the Mediterranean unity, the Byzantine Empire and the Eastern Mediterranean area; the Lombard kingdom and the breaking of the political unity of Italy, the Arabs and the Islamic expansion, landscape, economy and demography in the high Middle Ages, the Franks and the Carolingian Empire; the latter invasions and post-carolingian Europe; the crisis of the Public Power and the affirmation of local authorities in the West; the economic recovery and the demographic growth in Europe between the tenth and the eleventh century, the feudal monarchies and the political recomposition of Western Europe; the reform of the Church and the affirmation of the papal monarchy. During the lectures sources and maps will be commented. Students are required to study individually a reference book and a monograph chosen from those indicated in the programme, which will be made available both on the website of the Historical area of the Department of Letters, Arts, History and Society, and in hard copy at the office of the area itself.
A. Cortonesi, Il medioevo. Profilo di un millennio, Carocci, Roma 2008, for the general part of the course.
The students will also be required to choose and to study one of the following monographs:
- B. Ward Perkins, La caduta di Roma e la fine della civiltà, Roma-Bari, Laterza 2005
- F. L. Ganshof, Che cos’è il feudalesimo?, Einaudi, Torino 2003
- A. Barbero, Carlo Magno. Un padre dell’Europa, Roma-Bari, Laterza 2000
- S. Gasparri, Italia longobarda. Il regno, i Franchi, il papato, Roma-Bari, Laterza 2012
During the lectures the teacher will introduce – more or less in chronological order - the main issues and themes of early-medieval history, using both the bibliography of reference and other texts for the study of particular aspects. During the lectures significants documentary sources will be translated and discussed, in order to provide students with elements for a first approach to the sources and to stimulate discussion on the topics covered. Historical maps will also be distributed and discussed, to help students to frame the events in space
Assessment methods and criteria
The knowledge and skills acquired during the course will be assessed through an oral examination in Italian. The knowledge and skills verified by the examination are:
The ability to place correctly on the timetable the events, the characters and the social and cultural events
The lexical precision in describing specific phenomena of the Middle Ages and, more generally, the use of the specific language of the historical disciplines
Adequate ability to study independently and critically revise the contents learned during the course and through the study of the manual and the monograph, as well as the aptitude to link structures and dynamics, and to identify causal relations.
The ability to establish connections between events and phenomena typical of the medieval period to the contemporary world.
In order to verify the achievement of such knowledge and skills, oral test questions are designed to assess (aside from the knowledge itself) the ability of independent and original reworking of the skills, the lexical precision, the ability to deal with complex issues through complex arguments.
Failure is determined by the inability to understand the basic elements of the course, particularly with regard to the placement of events and characters in the correct temporal and spatial context, by the inability to express himself/herself in correct Italian, by the inability to explain specific concepts and phenomena related to the medieval age with adequate lexical precision, the lack of self-preparation of the texts in the program. Sufficient evaluation (18/23/30) is determined by the demonstration by the student to possess the ability to place events and characters in the correct spatial and temporal context, by the ability to explain the concepts and phenomena typical of the medieval age with adequate lexical precision; the ability to reprocess the information by making independent judgments. The medium marks (24-27/30) are given to the student who shows a level more than sufficient (24-25/30) or good (26-27/30) of evaluation indicators listed above. Higher scores (28/30-30 cum laude) are awarded to students who demonstrate a very good or excellent level of the indicators listed above, and the ability to articulate discourses and an attitude to formulate personal and original judgments, the ability to identify and explain cause-effect relations; to identify links between spatial and temporal contexts (and also political, social, economic and cultural phenomena) distant in time and space.