HST114: Pagans, Christians and Heretics in Medieval Europe

20 credits (semester 2) - not running in 2017-18

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Module Summary

In this module, you will explore one of the central themes of European history between the 4th and 14th centuries: the shifting relations between power, religion, and identity. In the early part of the period, the dominant issue was that of conversion from 'paganism', a word labelling a great range of religious practices, to Christianity; in the middle part, questions of the right relationship between 'secular' and religious authority came to the fore, as did the question of violence; in the latter part, the balance that had emerged from previous struggles entered into crisis, as new and transformative forces were brought to bear.

Across more than a millennium of history, we will necessarily touch on a great variety of movements and events: the early persecutions, the conversion of the Roman Empire and then of the barbarians, the rebirth of empire, the rise of the papacy, the eleventh-century reform movement, the Crusades, the development of the mendicant orders, and many others. But against this shifting backdrop, a certain number of issues remained prominent throughout the long stretch of time in question. What was religious orthodoxy, and on what categorisations should be it based? How should those judged to be deviating from this orthodoxy be dealt with, and by whom? Who was to police the identities produced by vigorous religious interaction? What space was there for non-religious activities and identities, political or otherwise? How could what was essentially a Late Antique religious movement be adapted to engage with changing political and social realities, with what degree of continuity, and who would take charge of managing the transition?


Teaching and Assessment

The module will be taught through twice-weekly lectures and compulsory weekly seminars. Further guidance is provided in the module course booklet, available through MOLE.

Information on assessment can be found at: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/history/current_students/undergraduate/assessment/level1


Selected Reading

  • P. R. L. Brown, The Rise of Western Christendom. Triumph and Diversity AD 200-1000 2nd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003)
  • R. Fletcher, The conversion of Europe. From paganism to Christianity, 371-1386 (1997) (recommended)
  • W. C. Jordan, Europe in the High Middle Ages (2001)
  • R. MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries (London: Yale University Press, 1997) (electronic text)
  • R. I. Moore, The formation of a persecuting society (1987)
  • C. Morris, The Papal Monarchy (1989) (electronic text)
  • J. Riley-Smith, The Crusades: a Short History (1987)
  • J. M. H. Smith, Europe after Rome: a new cultural history, 500-1000 (2005)


Intended Learning Outcomes
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