HSTAM 112 A: The Medieval World

Winter 2024
MW 1:30pm - 3:20pm / SMI 205
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Welcome to HSTAM 112

Homage H III L IX.jpg






Welcome to Medieval Europe! 

M/W 1:30-3:20 in 205 Smith

This course is an introductory survey of western European history during the Middle Ages that emphasizes three core themes: (1) the gradual emergence of a distinction between religion and government; (2) the development of a concept of limited government; and (3) the medieval origins of the modern state. We will also explore some of the more distinctive features of medieval European society, including the expansion of Christianity and development of the papacy, the crusades, the growth of chivalry, the Gregorian Reforms, the formation of a persecuting society, the growth of towns and a middle class, political rebellions, and religious dissent.

The course is intended as an introduction to medieval European history and to the study of history in general.  No previous knowledge of either is necessary.

W and I&S Credits:

You will receive both W and I&S credits for HSTAM 112. You do not have to sign up for a particular section or submit additional work in order to receive these credits.


This will be a synchronous, in-person class. I will be recording the in-person lectures using Panopto in case you miss any lectures or need to review them, but my expectation is that we will all meet in class for lecture unless you are ill (then please stay home and let your TA know). Also, just be aware that there are sometimes glitches with Panopto recordings and that you can't really rely on them as a perfect substitute for coming to class. I'll do my best to ensure that all of the recordings have good audio and clear video, but I can't always control what happens.

Friday discussion sections will also be in-person, and attendance and participation in section will count toward your grade for the course (details on grading are below). Everyone is allowed to miss one section without penalty. If you need to miss an additional section, contact your TA.

If I need to cancel class due to illness, I'll notify you through a Canvas course announcement (please make sure you check your UW email on a regular basis, since all important class announcements will be sent to it). Otherwise, the expectation will be that we will all show up for class in person (unless you're ill - then please stay home and let your TA know by email).


Professor Urbanski (urbanski@uw.edu)

Office: 316B Smith

Office Hours: Mondays 3:30-4:30 and Tuesdays 3-4 (in person), or by appointment (zoom)


TA: Sebastian Blas (sblas@uw.edu)

Office: 214 Smith

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30-11:30


TA: Ilsa Razzak (irazza@uw.edu)

Office:  214 Smith

Office Hours: Fridays 10-12 in person or by Zoom (Zoom link https://washington.zoom.us/j/5071503091)


General Rules for Contacting Instructors:

  • Please check the syllabus and/or assignment handout to see if they contain the information you need before emailing instructors with questions.
  • You can email us to make appointments or for quick questions, but you should come to see us during office hours or after lecture for anything that requires more than a one or two sentence response and for questions about grade.
  • Office hours are periods that we set aside specifically to meet with our students. You should come to office hours if you need help with an assignment, have questions that require a detailed response, or just want to chat about the course, medieval stuff, monsters, or cats. You can even come to office hours with a friend from class if you like.
  • We check our email regularly during normal business hours (M-F between 8 am and 5 pm).
  • We will reply to emails within a reasonable time-frame (within 24 hours during the week and by the afternoon of the next business day for emails received over the weekend or on holidays).


Required Books: The following books are required reading for this course. They will be available in the University Bookstore or you can order them from Amazon.  

Textbook: Judith Bennett, Medieval Europe: A Short History, 12th edition (Oxford University Press, 2020) (you may also use the 11thedition)

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, trans. B. Radice, revised by M. Clanchy (Penguin Classics, 2004)

The Song of Roland, ed. Glynn Burgess (Penguin Classics, 2015)

I strongly encourage you to use the Penguin Classics editions of The Song of Roland and The Letters of Abelard and Heloise that I assigned for this class. You can find other versions on the internet for free, but the translations are usually about 100 years old (that's why they're free) and the language is archaic and difficult to understand. The Penguin Classics versions are much newer and easier to understand, they have good prefaces and handy explanatory notes, and they are relatively inexpensive (less than $20 new, and you can get them even cheaper used). If you can't find them in the UW bookstore, they are always available on Amazon.

*All other readings are PDFs linked in the schedule of classes below (except for the reading from Bennett, which is a required book).


Recommended Book:

Linda Woodhead, Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2014)

It's very important that you have a basic understanding of Christianity for this course. While I will provide some of the basics in lecture, I will be focusing on doctrinal disputes and the historical development of the institutional church. If you are unfamiliar with the basic tenets of Christianity, Woodhead provides an excellent and inexpensive introduction to the subject.


15% - Midterm Exam open in Canvas from Monday, Jan. 29, at 8 am to Tuesday, Jan. 30, at 11:59 pm

20% - First paper (1200-1500 words) Due Monday, Feb. 5, at 11:59 pm through Canvas

25% - Second paper (1500-1800 words) Due Monday, Feb. 26, at 11:59 pm through Canvas 

20% - Final exam open in Canvas from Monday, March 11, at 8 am to Tuesday, March 12, at 11:59 pm 

20% - Work in discussion sections on Fridays (40% writing assignments, 40% participation, 20% CYO HH)

You must take both exams and submit both papers in order to pass the course.


Grading: The TAs will be evaluating your work under my direct supervision. We will strive for fairness, consistency, and transparency in assigning grades. If you have questions about a grade you received, please speak to your TA.


Grade Appeals: If you feel you have been graded unfairly, you should speak to your TA in person. If you still feel that your grade is unfair after speaking with your TA, you can appeal to me. I will grade the assignment and whatever grade I assign it will stand, whether it is higher or lower than the original grade. This is not a risk free option, so you'll want to be sure that you have a strong case.

Grades will be assigned as percentages on individual assignments and exams and converted to the 4.0 scale for the final course grade.

4.0 95-100%

3.5 90%

2.5 80%

1.5 70%

0.7 62% (lowest passing grade)


All assignments are due by the stated date and time, unless you request an extension prior to the assignment deadline. I have a “no questions asked" policy for extensions. If you are asking for an extension, I will presume you have good reasons and will grant the extension as long as it is:  

  1. submitted to me by email (urbanski@uw.edu) before the due date/time, and
  2. you tell me in your email when you will turn in the work (it should be within two days at most unless there are extenuating circumstances)

If you submit frequent requests for extensions, I will reach out to see what is going on and reserve the right to grant them or not.  

Any assignments that are submitted late (i.e. after the original due date/time if you have not received an extension, or after your extension expires if you have received one) will be automatically docked 5% per day (including weekends and holidays).


Honesty, ethical conduct, and academic integrity are expected in this course. Academic integrity includes a commitment to not engage in or tolerate acts of falsification, misrepresentation, or deception. Acts of dishonesty include cheating or copying, plagiarizing, submitting another person's work as one’s own, submitting AI generated work as one's own, using Internet sources without citation, having another student take your exam or working together with other students on your exam, tampering with the work of another student, facilitating other students’ acts of academic dishonesty, etc.

Unless I specify otherwise, all assignments and exams are to be completed by the student alone, without inappropriate assistance of any kind (including the use of AI programs like ChatGPT).


Penalties for Suspected Plagiarism or Unauthorized Use of AI

I know that most of you are honest, hard-working, and would not dream of cheating. I see you and I appreciate you. You are the reason I love this job. However, there are always a couple of students who try to see what they can get away with. This policy is for them.

I have a “two strikes and you’re out” policy for suspected plagiarism or AI use.

First instances of suspected plagiarism or AI use:

  • All assignments containing suspected plagiarism or AI use will receive a 0 and a written warning from me via email.
  • If the assignment in question is a paper, you will have to rewrite the paper in order to pass the course, but will still receive a 0 on the paper.
  • If you feel you have been unfairly suspected of a first instance of plagiarism or AI use, you have the option to meet with me in person within 7 calendar days of receiving the written warning to verbally demonstrate your familiarity with the source(s) in question and elaborate on the answers you submitted in your weekly writing assignment, exam, or paper. This amounts to an oral examination on the assignment in question. If you can demonstrate your familiarity with the material, I will remove the 0 on the assignment and grade you based on the oral exam. If you cannot demonstrate familiarity with the material, the 0 on the assignment and the first warning for suspected plagiarism or AI use will stand.

Second instances of suspected plagiarism or AI use:

  • If a student submits a second assignment that contains suspected plagiarism or AI use, I will notify you by email and you must meet with me in person within 7 calendar days of that notification to verbally demonstrate your familiarity with the source(s) in question and elaborate on the answers you submitted in your assignment, exam, or paper. If you can demonstrate your familiarity with the material, I will remove the 0 on the assignment and grade you based on the oral exam. However, if I determine from this conversation that it is likely you engaged in plagiarism, including the use of AI to generate your assignment, a second time, you will receive a 0 on the assignment and I will report the incident to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct for investigation and the enforcement of appropriate sanctions.
  • If a student suspected of a second instance of plagiarizing or using AI fails to meet with me within 7 calendar days of being notified by email, I will assume this is an admission of culpability and report the incident to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct for investigation and the enforcement of appropriate sanctions.

Any student reported to the Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct after a second instance of suspected plagiarism or AI use will fail the course.


Two of the main goals of this course are to hone your critical thinking skills and your argumentative writing skills. These skills are incredibly important for getting through life. In fact, they're far more important than your ability to recall things like what year the Norman Conquest happened. Relying on AI to produce assignments for you not only deprives you of valuable opportunities to practice these skills, the technology tends to turn out papers and writing assignments that are bland, forgettable, lacking in specific detail, and slightly off-topic. In other words, using AI deprives you of the chance to think for yourself, and it won't even get you a very good grade. It is also important to remember that text generators like ChatGPT are sometimes wrong, and that they are not familiar with our textbook or my lectures. If an AI tool gives you incorrect information and you use it on an assignment, you will be held accountable for it.

You should never use AI as a substitute for your own thought or your own writing, but there are two circumstances in which you are allowed to use AI in this class (your other professors will likely have very different policies, so do not assume that my policies will apply in your other classes).

The use of AI is allowed in this class under the following circumstances only (any other use is prohibited):

1. You may use AI to provide you with explanations of concepts or to organize your notes. I would much prefer that you ask me for clarification if you are having trouble with any of the material in this course, and I am happy to answer questions after class or during my office hours, but I recognize that some of you will want to use AI for this. However, if the AI gives you incorrect information and you use that information on an assignment or exam, you will be held accountable for it.

2. You are allowed to use tools like Grammarly or Quillbot to proofread or edit writing that you have produced yourself. Just be aware that using these tools to edit your work comes with the risk that it may change your original writing so much that it no longer reflects your original thought, so make sure you are using it for simple grammar and spelling checks, not to substantially rewrite your work.

The unauthorized use of artificial intelligence (AI) can be a form of academic misconduct at UW. Tools that use AI and large language models to generate text or images, such as ChatGPT, GPT4, Bing Chat, and "Write with AI" in Google Docs (the "help me write" feature now in beta testing in Workspace Labs), are usually prohibited by instructors in Department of History courses. Unless your instructor has expressly permitted the use of such tools, check with your instructor before using them. The unauthorized use of such tools may constitute academic misconduct and could result in serious disciplinary action.


Reading: All readings should be completed BEFORE the class for which they are assigned. You should bring the reading assigned for discussion section to class with you on Fridays.


Lectures: You REALLY need to attend lecture if you want to do well in this course. Lectures will not just repeat material covered in the textbook, but will introduce new material that will appear on our exams. I will also be building upon information given in lecture, and you will have difficulty understanding later lectures if you miss too many of the earlier ones.

Lectures will be in-person but I will be recording them so you can review them or catch up on any you missed. They will be posted under Panopto Recordings.

I will also post my lecture Powerpoint for the day after each class meeting (under Files in the Powerpoints folder).


Section: Sections are an essential part of this course – they are not optional. Their purpose is not to summarize lectures for you, but to introduce new material. They are where you will discuss our primary and secondary sources, learn how to analyze those sources, and learn how to construct your own historical arguments. We will also focus on teaching students how to write a history paper in the first few weeks of section. You should come to section having done the reading for the week and prepared to contribute to discussion. You should bring the reading with you.

Your performance and assignments in section will count for 20% of your final grade: on a 4.0 scale, that is .8. That is a lot. It means that if you earn a 4.0 on every paper and exam, but earn a 0.0 in section, your final grade in the class will only be a 3.2. 

* Everyone is allowed to miss one section and one weekly writing assignment without penalty.


This course requires weekly writing assignments (250-300 words), two exams, and two 5-6 page argumentative papers.

Exams: The midterm and final exam will focus on testing your knowledge of material from lecture and our textbook. The exams are intended to test you on information you learned IN THIS CLASS, not what you may have learned in another class, or from Wikipedia or any other website, so plan to come to lecture and do the reading if you want to do well. The midterm will cover all material up to the midterm, and the final will cover all material from the midterm to the end of the class.

Study guides for the midterm and final will be posted on the course website at least one week in advance of the exam.

Exams will be administered through Canvas; both the midterm and final will be open for two days - you can choose when to take the exam within the open period.

Papers: One of the major goals of this course is to help you improve your ability to read and analyze historical sources and to write persuasive historical essays. It is a fundamental premise of this class that writing is a means of learning; to that end, we will be writing two papers focused on analyzing primary sources that we have read for section. Paper topics, detailed instructions, and resources for help with the writing process will be posted under Assignments.

Papers will be submitted through Canvas.

Weekly Writing Assignments: Most weeks there will be a 250-300 word writing assignment on the assigned primary source(s) for the week. These short writing assignments are intended to ensure you have done the reading, given it some thought, and are ready to discuss it in section. They are also intended to help prepare you for the papers and exams, and are a low stakes way for us to provide you with feedback on your writing.

Writing assignments are due on Thursdays at 11:59 pm so you have them completed before Discussion Section on Friday. Links to the writing assignments are embedded in the Schedule of Classes, or you can find them in the assignments tab.

*Everyone is allowed to miss one weekly writing assignment without penalty.


Studying history requires you to engage in critical thinking, analyze evidence in primary sources, build persuasive arguments about how and why things happened using that evidence, and articulate your arguments in clear and concise prose.

In addition to acquiring an understanding of the historical development of western Europe during the Middle Ages, students will learn to:

  • Critically evaluate primary sources for bias and learn to distinguish a credible source from a reliable source.
  • Analyze the historical evidence found in primary sources and construct persuasive and clear arguments using such evidence.
  • Evaluate competing historical arguments using primary source evidence.
  • Appreciate the distance between raw historical evidence and historians’ interpretations of that evidence.


If you experience issues with Canvas, here is a basic troubleshooting guide. You can also contact help@uw.edu


If you require religious or DRS accommodations, or if there is anything I can do to support your learning style, please let me know as soon as possible.

For information on UW policies regarding Religious Accommodations, Student Conduct, Disability Resources, Academic Integrity, and Campus Safety, please visit:





Schedule of Classes

Week 1

Reading for lecture:  Bennett, Introduction and Ch. 1, pp. 1-32


1/3   Intro and Late Antiquity 


Reading for Discussion Section

Read these and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 1/4


2. Tacitus, Germania

 (read pp. 1-12 closely and skim the rest)


Reading Guide:

Begin by reading the handout on How to Read a Primary Source

    • Be able to distinguish between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. What kind of source is Tacitus' Germania? What kind of source is the Lex Salica? What kind of source is your textbook? 
    • What do you need to know before you read, and why is this information important?
    • What’s the difference between reliability and credibility? Are all reliable sources credible? Are all credible sources reliable?
    • What’s the difference between neutrality and objectivity? Are historical sources ever really neutral or objective?
    • How do historians deal with biased sources? How does one attempt to discern the “truth”?

Read Tacitus' Germania

    • Who was Tacitus and when was this source produced?
    • What are Tacitus' possible motives for writing this ethnography of the Germanic tribes? 
    • Tacitus had never been to Germany – how should this fact affect your use of his book as a source for “Germanic” life? Since Tacitus had never been to Germany, where did he get his information about Germania? How can we know if Tacitus' information is accurate?
    • How does Tacitus describe the Germans? What Germanic qualities does he seem to admire? What qualities does he seem to disapprove of? 

Read the Lex Salica

    • What type of source is the Lex Salica? When was it written?
    • What can it tell us about the values and attitudes of the Franks?
    • Can you confirm or rebut any of Tacitus’ claims about the Germans (e.g. feuds, inheritance, status of women/freemen/slaves, etc.) using the Lex Salica?

Week 2

Reading for lecture:  Bennett, Ch. 2 and 3, pp. 33-82


1/8     Early Christianity and Saint Augustine  

1/10   The Fall of Rome and the Germanic Kingdoms 


Reading for Discussion Section

Read these and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 1/11



Reading Guide:

Read the handout on Thesis Guidelines and Basic Format for History Essays

    • What is a thesis statement?
    • What's the difference between a good start at a thesis statement and a strong thesis statement?
    • How are history essays structured? 
    • What components make up a history paper?
    • What components should each body paragraph in your paper contain?
    • Can you change your thesis as you write your paper or after you've written it?

Read Gregory of Tours' History of the Franks

    • Who is Gregory of Tours and why is he writing? What does Gregory have at stake in writing his History of the Franks - what's his agenda? Did Gregory know Clovis?
    • How does Frankish kingship work? How are kings elected? What does their main job seem to be? Can they be deposed and under what circumstances?
    • How does Clovis convert to Christianity? What role does Clotild play in his conversion? Does the mass baptism of the Franks under Clovis mean that they are all Christian now?
    • How does Clovis expand his territory and unite the Franks? How does Gregory justify Clovis’ territorial expansion?
    • How are the Arian Christians portrayed and why does Gregory portray them this way?
    • How does Gregory portray God? Is God active in the world? Does he protect the just and punish the evil? What roles do saints play in this society? What kinds of power do they have?
    • What kinds of things are Gallo-Romans generally doing? What kinds of things are Franks generally doing?
    • What roles do bishops play in this society? Are all of the clergy portrayed positively? What about the bishops' wives?
    • What is Clovis' relationship with his relatives like?
    • How are women represented (Basina, prophetess, Namatius’ wife, Sidonius’ wife, Clotild, Satan as prostitute)? What can we learn about Frankish marriage practices from Gregory? What roles do you see women playing in Frankish society and politics (go beyond the obvious fact that they bear children)?

Week 3 

Reading for lecture:  Bennett, Ch. 5 and 6 to "Reorganization: New Polities," pp. 108-143



1/17   Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance


Reading for Discussion Section

Read these and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 1/18

1. Sample 4.0 paper

2. Einhard, Life of Charlemagne


Reading Guide:

Read the sample 4.0 paper

Identify and highlight the various components in the paper as follows (if highlighting doesn't work for you, you can mark these components by bolding them, and noting which component you are identifying):

yellow = thesis statement

green = topic sentence or claim

blue = evidence

purple = analysis

red = historical context

    • What specific strengths did you see in the paper?
    • Are there any areas you think could be improved?
    • Bring your highlighted (or bolded) version of the paper with you to section. 

Read Einhard's Life of Charlemagne

    • Who is Einhard and why is he writing? Where does Einhard get his information?
    • How does Einhard explain Charlemagne’s extraordinary success as king of the Franks?
    • What are Einhard’s criteria for a good king? How does this compare to what we saw in Gregory of Tours' depiction of Clovis last week? What has changed, and what has remained the same?
    • Does Einhard reveal an obvious bias? How does this bias affect his portrayal of Charlemagne, and how does it affect Einhard’s credibility?

Read the Royal Frankish Annals

    • Why are the Franks at war with the Saxons? How does the description of Charlemagne’s treatment of the Saxons in the Royal Frankish Annals compare with Einhard’s description (pp.7-8)?

Week 4 

Reading for lecture:  Bennett, Ch. 6 from "Reorganization: New Polities", Ch. 7, and Ch. 9 to "Innocent III and the Papacy Ascendant," pp. 143-189 and 217-232


1/22   Europe Falls Apart (Again)

1/24   Reform Movements and the Investiture Controversy


Reading for Discussion Section

Read this and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 1/25

Reading Guide: 

    • Pay close attention to the following documents:

      • Dictatus Papae, p. 49-50 

      • Letter from Gregory to Henry, p. 57-59                                    

      • Letter from Henry to Gregory, p. 59-60

      • Henry to German bishops, p. 61-62

      • Anonymous of York, p. 76-78

      • Manegold of Lautenbach, p. 78-80

    • What was at stake for both pope and emperor in the Investiture Controversy?

    • To what extent could the emperor coerce the pope, or vice versa?

    • What kinds of claims does the Dictatus Papae make about the extent of papal power?
    • How does Henry IV respond to the Dictatus Papae?
    • What arguments do the propagandists make in favor of papal power, and what are the arguments in favor of royal power?
    • Who emerges as the victor in this battle? 

Week 5


Reading for lecture: Bennett, Ch. 4 and 8, pp. 83-107 and 190-216


1/29   The 11th c. Economic Revolution and the Invention of Feudalism   

1/31   The First Crusade and the Chivalric Ethos                    


Timewatch: William Marshal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGW3-Kh7s0w&ab_channel=HistoryFiles (*this video is optional* it covers the career of the greatest knight of the 12th century, and includes information on military training, tournaments, and battle tactics.)


Reading for Discussion Section

Read this and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 2/1

Song of Roland (this is a required book), pp. 29-156 (Skim the introduction and read the entire poem)

Reading Guide:

    • The Song of Roland is a completely fictionalized account of an 8th century battle, so what can we learn from reading it?
    • What values does The Song of Roland celebrate (what do the knights most want to achieve and what do they want to avoid)? What can the representation of the past in the Song of Roland tell us about 11th century concerns?
    • What does chivalry look like in this text? Who exhibits it?
    • What is Roland's relationship with his step-father Ganelon like? What about Roland's relationships with his uncle, Charlemagne, and his best friend, Oliver?
    • What roles do the clergy play in this text? Who is Archbishop Turpin and what is he doing?
    • What roles do women play in this text?
    • How are Muslims (Saracens) and Islam portrayed? How are Christians portrayed? How is God portrayed?
    • How does Charlemagne make important decisions (e.g. to go to war, to hold Ganelon accountable, etc.)? What does justice look like?

Week 6 


Reading for lecture: Bennett, Ch. 10 an 11, pp. 240-295


2/5   The Twelfth-Century Renaissance 

2/7   The New Spirituality and the Enemies Within         


Reading for Discussion Section

Read this and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 2/8

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (this is a required book), 3-89 (Skim the introduction, and read the Historia Calamitatum and Letters II, III, IV, and V)

Reading Guide:

    • Who are Abelard and Heloise (class, background, personalities, etc.)? How do they meet?
    • What are Abelard’s ambitions? What is he like as a student? What is he like as a teacher? How do people react to Abelard?
    • What are family dynamics like? What is life in a monastery/convent like? What surprises you about this?
    • Why does Fulbert turn against Abelard even after he marries Heloise? 
    • How do Abelard and Heloise each feel about becoming a monk/nun? Are they both happy with their choices?
    • Who are Abelard's enemies in the Church, and why are they upset about his teaching/theology?
    • What values does Abelard hold? How do his values compare to those of the knights we saw in the Song of Roland?
    • What is life like for Heloise? What can Heloise’s experiences tell us about the lives of women in 12th century France?  

Note: There is no reading for section next week (week 7). Instead you will be creating your own Horrible History to share in section.

Week 7 

Reading for lecture: Bennett, Ch. 9 from "Innocent III and the Papacy Ascendant," pp. 232-239, and Ch. 12 to "Louis IX and Royal Sanctity," pp. 296-325


2/12   The Problems of State Building

2/14   Innocent III and the Papal Monarchy


If anyone is interested in learning more about the technology used to build medieval castles, there's a great documentary about a project to completely build a castle using only 13th century technology in Guédelon, France on Youtube. Timeline: How to Build a Medieval Castle (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydoRAbpWfCU&t=4s (Links to an external site.)). This is just the first episode; there are five episodes in all and some of the later ones also examine the lives of the workers, castle decor, and military technology.


2/16 There is no reading for Discussion Section this Friday! Instead, you will create your own Horrible History to share in section.

Week 8 

Reading for lecture: Ch. 12 from " Louis IX and Royal Sanctity," and Ch. 13, pp. 325-332 and 333-365



2/21   The Perfect King: Louis IX / The Popes Lose Their Touch          


Reading for Discussion Section

Read this and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 2/22

Jean de Joinville, Life of Saint Louis (skim the introduction and read pp. 141-144, 173-261, and 300-336)

Reading Guide:

    • Who is Joinville? Why is he writing?  For whom is he writing?  How reliable is his information?
    • Why do the crusaders go to Egypt? Why not Jerusalem?
    • What types of precedents were set by previous crusaders? How does this affect Louis’ plans, and his interactions with the Saracens?
    • Pay close attention to how Joinville portrays Muslims and Islam  – how does this compare with what we saw in The Song of Roland?
    • What oaths are used to cement the treaty between Louis and the emirs? Does the formulation of the oath give us any insight into how well the Christians and Saracens understand each other?
    • Why is Louis considered a saint? How do his crusading efforts, his execution of justice, his shipboard conversion, his reforms, and his personal habits contribute to his reputation for sanctity?
    • Does Louis always agree or cooperate with the Church? How does he propose to deal with people who have been excommunicated?  How does he deal with members of religious orders?  What can his interactions with the Church tell us about his conception of justice/sanctity?
    • What kinds of reforms does Louis institute within his kingdom when he returns from crusade? How important are these reforms in strengthening royal government?  How important are they to his sanctity?
    • What advice does Louis give his son? How do we know that Louis dies a good death; what does he actually do?

Week 9 


Reading for lecture: Bennett, Ch. 14 and 15, pp. 366-420


2/26   The Triumph of the French Monarchy

2/28   Political Rebellion in the Later Middle Ages      


Reading for Discussion Section

Read this and complete the writing assignment by 11:59 pm on Thursday, 2/29

Reading Guide:

    • Pay close attention to the following documents:
      • Third manifesto of the Colonna cardinals against Boniface, pp. 176-178
      •  Ausculta Fili, pp. 185-186
      • The forgeries of 1302, p. 187
      • Unam Sanctam, pp. 188-189
      • The Attack on Boniface, p. 190
      • Giles of Rome, pp. 198-200
      • Disputatio inter Clericum et Militem, pp. 200-203
      • Pierre Dubois, pp. 203-205
      • John of Paris, pp. 206-210
    • What was the struggle between Philip the Fair and Boniface about? What was at stake for the king, and for the pope?  Who emerges as the victor in this battle? How is this dispute related to the Investiture Controversy? How has the balance of power between king and pope shifted since the Investiture Controversy?
    • What claims does Boniface make regarding papal power in Ausculta Fili (185) and Unam Sanctam (188). 
    • How is Boniface attacked and how are his positions misrepresented in the manifesto of the Colonna cardinals (176), the forgeries of 1302 (187), and the attack on Boniface before the French royal council (190)? Who are Boniface’s enemies?  How and why are they attacking/misrepresenting him?  Can we trust their accounts?  What do their accusations reveal about the state of the papacy and the power of the French monarchy?
    • Pay particular attention to Giles of Rome (198), Disputatio inter Clericum et Militem (200), Pierre Dubois (203), and John of Paris (206). What does each of these sources have to say about royal power and papal power? How have royalist and papalist arguments evolved since the Investiture Controversy (are they more or less extreme)?  How important is John of Paris’ argument to the separation of church and state?

Week 10

Reading for lecture: Bennett, Ch. 16, pp. 421-440


3/4   The Church in Crisis

3/6   Renaissance and Reformation          







Catalog Description:
Political, economic, social, and intellectual history of the Middle Ages. Cannot be taken for credit toward a history major if HSTAM 331 or 332 or 333 previously taken.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
May 23, 2024 - 10:03 am