HST697: Order and Disorder around the year 1000
15 credits (Semester 2016-17: Autumn)
Module Leader: Dr Charles West
'Our understanding of medieval Europe around the year 1000 has been really transformed in past decades as historians have re-assessed some of their most basic assumptions about how medieval society actually worked. This module goes to the heart of the matter, making use of a wide range of remarkable sources to access a lively arena of historical debate.' Dr Charles West
Medieval European society used to be considered lawless and violent, and at no time more so than around the year 1000, in the wake of the collapse of Carolingian order. However, many historians have turned away from working out what fragmented society in this period towards investigating what bound it together. This module examines five 'axes of order', social forces that have been understood to have structured – in very different ways – medieval European society c.950-c.1050: namely the state, the Church, feud and kinship, gender, and the gift. With these themes in mind, this module will evaluate how far this really was a 'disordered' society, and how (or whether) anthropology can help the historian with these issues. Following the weight of the historiography, the course concentrates on Francia, but it will be possible to broaden the investigation to contemporary Anglo-Saxon England and Byzantium too, to elicit contrasts and similarities.
This is a diverse field of study, with implications for a wide range of historical issues, and also a hotly contested one, with a great deal of recent research. The module will thus introduce you both to historiographical issues and to questions of documentation and interpretation. You will develop an understanding of how historians' interpretations of Europe around the year 1000 have changed and of the material and textual sources that are available to them. You will also develop a wider understanding of medieval history and of the singularity of the early medieval period.
By the end of the module, you will be able to demonstrate:
The module will be taught in five, two-hour classes. Each class will focus on one of the 'axes of order', discussing recent historiographical contributions as well as examining selected, and varied, sources. The classes will provide a structured environment for you to debate the topics raised and to share knowledge and perspectives. You will, in addition, have individual tutorial contact with the module leader in order to discuss your written work for this module.
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You will complete one or more exercises (totalling a maximum of 3,000 words) which explore one of the key themes raised by an in-depth study of this topic. You will be expected to demonstrate an ability to handle bibliographical resources, a critical understanding of different methodological approaches and available primary sources, and an independent engagement with current historiographical debate.
- D. Barthelemy, The Serf, the Knight and the Historian (Ithaca, 2009)
- H. Fichtenau, Living in the Tenth Century (London, 1991)
- T. Head and R. Landes, The Peace of God (London, 1992)
- R.I. Moore, The First European Revolution (Oxford, 2000)
- S. White, Feuding and Peace-Making in eleventh-century France (Aldershot, 2005)