Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course aims to provide an introduction to the problem of the relation between ideology and social and economic structures and dynamics. In general terms, the analysis of the specific case of the three orders in medieval society involves the problem of the relations between morphology and context.
During the course, the students learn to:
know the main medieval authors who have dealt with the problem of tripartite society, as well as the historical, political and cultural context in which from time to time lies their reflection
Understand and analyze literary texts and philosophical and legal-political treaties characterized by stratified levels of meaning and complexity in terms of both formal and cultural/ideological elements
Research autonomously for further information on the covered topics using both printed and digital bibliography
Make informed judgements, based on an accurate decoding of the texts and on the understanding of the historical and cultural context in which they were conceived
Communicate and discuss contents, analysis and judgments using the appropriate registry and the specific language and terminology of the historical disciplines
Course contents summary
Priests, warriors and commoners. Medieval ideas on the tripartite society
The course analyzes the medieval conception of society as a tripartite body based on the functional solidarity between the three orders which ideally comprise it: the order of priests, devoted to prayer, the order of the warriors, devoted to war, and that of the commoners (peasants and workers), devoted to productive activities. From the Carmen ad Robertum regem composed in the first half of the eleventh century by the Bishop of Laon Adalberon, this vision (which does not necessarily have an impact on the actual organization of the society), among other ideological representations of the society, stands out for its longevity, and constitutes a long-term element in the cultural history of the middle ages and of the Ancien régime.
The course will be structured as a seminar. In the first part, through a series of introductory lectures, the teacher will outline some of the main issues and problems: the theory of indo-european functional tripartition according to Georges Dumezil; the appearance of the tripartite conception of the society in the cultural elaboration of the French clergy in the eleventh century and its possible origins; the connection between this kind of ideological representation and the emergence of the feudal society; the long-term survival of the tripartite representation of the society until the French Revolution. In the second part of the course essays and documentary sources about the topic will be analyzed. The students are required to read and study individually essays and texts chosen from those presented in class, which will be duly indicated in the estende syllabus. The extended syllabus will be drawn up by the teacher at the end of the course and 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.
- Georges Duby, Lo specchio del feudalesimo. Sacerdoti, guerrieri e lavoratori, Roma-Bari, Laterza 1989
- Adalbéron de Laon, Carme per re Roberto (ca. 1030), a cura di P. Rossi, Pisa, Edizioni Plus - Pisa University Press 2011
Further references will be provided during the course and will be indicated in the extended syllabus
During the initial lectures, the teacher will introduce the historiography and the main elements of the historical and cultural context, and will outline the profiles of authors and texts which are more relevant to the general topic of the course. In the second part of the course , the students will autonomously read and analyze essays and texts provided by the teacher, which will be commented on and discussed in class.
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 successful acquisition of the appropriate register and the specific language of historical studies;
an adequate ability to study independently, to process information learned during the course;
the attitude to propose individual insights beyond the topics covered in the course
the ability to deal with problems related to information retrieval and interpretation of complex texts, the ability to make independent judgments.
In order to verify the achievement of such knowledge and skills, oral test questions are designed to assess the knowledge acquired during the course, the ability of independent and original processing of such knowledge, and the ability to apply the acquired skills to the analysis of a wide spectrum of sources and texts.
Failure is determined by lack of knowledge and understanding of the basic contents of the course, by the inability of the student to express himself/herself in correct Italian, by the lack of self-preparation and the inability to solve problems related to information retrieval and decoding of complex texts, as well as the inability to make independent judgment.Sufficient evaluation (18-23/30) is determined by the demonstration by the students to have learned the basic contents of the course, the ability to express themselves in correct Italian and to use the appropriate register and specific terminology of the discipline; by an adequate level of self-preparation, by the ability to solve problems related to information retrieval and to the interpretation of complex texts, as well as the ability to make independent judgment. The medium scores (24-27/30) are awarded to the student who produces evidence of a level more than sufficient (24-25/30) or good (26-27/30) of the evaluation indicators listed above. Higher scores (from 28/30 to 30/30 cum laude) are awarded to the students who show to have reached a very good or excellent level in the evaluation indicators listed above.