HH315: The Age of Chivalry and Faith

Spring 2009

Prof. Richard Abels (302 Sampson, x6263, abels@usna.edu)

Office Hours: MW 0745-0930 (and by appointment)




[Last revised April 21, 2009]

This course is designed to be a survey of the history and culture of Western Europe between ca. A.D. 1050 and ca. A.D. 1300, the period usually referred to as the “High Middle Ages.” Although the course will examine the major political, religious, economic, and social changes that occurred during this period, our focus will be on the culture and institutions of the secular aristocracy--kings, barons, and knights--and the ecclesiastical elite--popes, bishops, abbots, and monks. We will pay special attention to the political and social systems of the age, kingship and lordship; to the culture of the medieval aristocracy, chivalry; to movements of religious enthusiasm; and to the evolution of the Catholic Church into a papal monarchy.

The Middle Ages are popularly perceived either as an age of poverty, brutality, and superstition, or as one of Faith and Chivalry. Both conceptions have some truth to them; neither is completely satisfactory. As we shall see during the course of this semester, the Middle Ages were anything but a stagnant period. The political, social, religious, and economic changes that occurred during this time gave birth to many of the institutions and ideas crucial to the formation of the modern world (e.g., the Catholic Church, universities, representative government, chivalry, romantic love, nationalism, crusades, the bourgeoisie, to name but a few). By fusing the Grĉco-Roman, Germanic, and Judĉo-Christian traditions the thinkers of this period created a culture different from anything that preceded it, a culture that was specifically "European." The foundations of the modern world were thus laid during the Middle Ages.


1. To foster critical and analytical skills through the close study of sources.

2. To sharpen communication skills through written assignments and class discussions.
3. To provide understanding of the political, social, economic, religious, and intellectual developments that took place in western Europe during the High Middle Ages 


1. Homework (25%):  Up until spring break, you will be required to write one homework essay every week. For most weeks you will have an option of writing on either the assigned readings for the Tuesday or Thursday class. The topics for the homework essays are written into the lesson plan. Homework is due at the beginning of class. 


1b. Extra-credit homework. I have included in the syllabus a number of opportunities to write replacement homework essays on assigned topics. As with the required homework essays, the replacement essays are to be on the assigned topics in the syllabus and are due on the day they appear in the lesson plan. These are optional assignments. They replace the lowest graded homework assignment.


2. Class participation will comprise 5% and will be given additional consideration in assigning grades in borderline situations. 

3. Exams (45%): There will be a take-home midterm examination (due at the beginning of class on 5 March) and a comprehensive final. Questions will be based on material covered in class and upon the readings.  (No late take-home midterms will be accepted.) The midterm will comprise 15% of the student's grade; the final will account for 30%.

4. MAJOR WRITING ASSIGNMENT (25%): All students must write EITHER 1) an 11-15 page research paper OR 2) a 5-7 page analytical essay AND critical review of either a scholarly article or a scholarly book dealing with a subject concerning the Middle Ages.

OPTION A. RESEARCH PAPER (click on this for full explanation)

Due dates

annotated bibliography and problem statement: 26 March

research paper with summary statement: 23 April

DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT:  write an 11-15 page research paper based on at least three (3) primary sources supplemented by scholarly secondary sources dealing with any problem or issue in the history of the High Middle Ages (1050-1300).  You are free to choose the subject of your research.  One suggestion is to use the life of a particular person as a window on to the era, or to examine fully the significance of a specific historical event. (List of names of medieval people) If you choose to write on a person or event, select some particular aspect of this person or event and use it to explain and illuminate the institutions, attitudes, ethos, or practices of the era of the subjectDo NOT write an 'encyclopedia entry.'  A paper that is no more than a narrative summary of events in a person's life, even one that is a good narrative summary, will receive at the very best a 'C'. Model your paper on a journal article. The paper must be a minimum of ten double-spaced, typed pages long, excluding the one-page summary statement (see below) and endnotes.


A problem statement with annotated bibliography is due on 10 March.  The annotated bibliography must include at least three primary sources related to your topic with an explanation of who wrote them, when, where, and why.  The problem statement is an explanation of the topic you have chosen, its historical significance, and (if you are far enough along in your research) of your tentative findings. Note: if I find your problem statement and annotated bibliography inadequate for the research project, I will direct you to take the Option B.



a. RESEARCH: Since this is a research paper, your grade will reflect how well you researched your topic. Your paper is to be based upon your analysis of a minimum of THREE PRIMARY SOURCES (i.e. a contemporary or near contemporary source). (You may use Paul Halsall, ed. Internet Medieval Sourcebook, as a repository for primary sources.)  You may supplement them with scholarly articles and or books.  Use Backman and my online articles only for context and to establish the historiography of your topic. If you know little about the subject you have chosen, you may consult Wikipedia or a specialized encyclopedia in Nimitz (e.g. Women in the Middle Ages: An Encyclopedia) for background.  The body of your paper, however, should be based mainly on the primary sources you found in your research.

b) USE OF SOURCES: Read critically and evaluate the sources that you use. Do not merely accept a medieval narrative at face value. Consider who wrote it, the purpose of the work, its genre, and its intended audience.  Use the prescribed Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) format. Papers lacking notes will receive a failing grade.

c) THESIS AND ARGUMENT: Your paper must focus on a significant historical issue or question and present a thesis supported by a well reasoned and substantiated argument.

d) WRITING. For a paper to earn an ‘A’ or ‘B’ it must be grammatically sound and logically organized. I prefer simple, direct prose. If you are not certain about the meaning of a word, do not use it. If you are not sure about the grammatical functions of semi-colons, do not use them.


SUMMARY STATEMENT: You are to attach to your final paper a ONE-PAGE summary statement in which you concisely define your paper's thesis and explain its findings. Papers lacking a summary statement will be DOCKED ONE FULL GRADE. (FAILURE TO READ DIRECTIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AS AN EXCUSE.)

OPTION B. ANALYTICAL ESSAY  /ARTICLE REVIEW OPTION (25% of final grade). Rather than writing a research paper, you may write an analytical essay, 5-7 pages on an assigned topic, and an article review. The analytical essay will be based on the assigned readings for this course.

a) THE BOOK/ARTICLE REVIEW (10% of final grade).  Due date: 14 April
    The book/article review must not only summarize the author's main arguments, but must place them in the context of your assigned reading for this course. This means you must explain how it supports, contradicts, or supplements the assigned reading. The book or article must be scholarly (based on primary sources and written by a specialist in the field). You may choose any scholarly book or article on medieval history covering the period 1000-1300 that I have not assigned for this course.

Examples of scholarly journals in Nimitz or on J-STOR that publish articles on medieval history: English Historical Review, Early Medieval Europe, Anglo-Norman Studies (DA195.B33), Anglo-Saxon England (DA152.2.A.75), Speculum, Journal of Medieval History, Mediaeval Studies, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Medievalia et Humanistica, Past & Present, Historical Research, Catholic Historical Review, Archaeological Reports, War in History. The Journal of Social History and Journal of Economic History also occasionally publish pieces on medieval history. You may model your reviews on the book reviews in Speculum, the American Historical Review, and the English Historical Review. If you are interested in medieval military history, the "De Re Militari" website (arranged by geographical area and topic) has links to many relevant articles and even books, but beware: some of them are 'popular' and not scholarly history

b) ANALYTICAL ESSAY (15% of final grade). Due 23 April

An analytical essay is one that responds to an issue or answers a question arising out of the reading of a particular primary source text or texts. One begins by exploring the meaning of the essay question; if you do not understand what is being asked, you cannot adequately answer the question. The assigned primary sources represent the body of evidence needed to answer the questions raised by the topic as you have interpreted it. You may use assigned secondary sources for historical context, but the conclusions of your paper must be based upon your own analysis of the assigned texts.
    Because this is a history class, your analytical essays need to emphasize the historical context of the works that you are analyzing. In order to use a primary source text as historical evidence, it is necessary to define, if possible, who and what its author was, who the intended audience was, and why the work was written. This means also that you must place the text in its proper time and locality.

Click on ANALYTICAL ESSAY for the topics.

5. DOCUMENTATION. The major writing assignments, i.e. the research paper and the analytical essay must have ENDNOTES or FOOTNOTES and a bibliography.  I strongly prefer Chicago Manual of Style format for the research paper (see examples below). You may either CMS or parenthetical references for the analytical essay as long as you also include a complete bibliography of all cited sources. Whatever documentation format you use, you must provide a mechanism for the reader to easily locate the passage or text you used. This means your notes must include page numbers if they are present in the text and some other means of locating a passage if they are not. Your first reference to a text must provide all the publication information necessary to locate that book or article.  Analytical essays lacking endnotes/footnotes will be assigned a grade of 'D'.  RESEARCH papers must have notes AND bibliography. Research papers lacking notes will receive Fs; the failure to include a bibliography will cost you 10 points.  IMPORTANT: You need citations with page references (or, if it is an internet source, with section, chapter, or paragraph references) for all of the following: quotations, paraphrases, allusions to passages in the text, ideas or interpretations that you have taken from someone else.


1David Crouch, William Marshal: Court, Career and Chivalry in the Angevin Empire, 1147-1219 (London: Longman, 1990), 43-52.
Normal order: First name last name, comma, Title in italics (Place of publication: publisher, date within parentheses), comma, page numers, period. Note the punctuation.

Second reference
2Crouch, William Marshal, p.70.

Translated Primary source in a collection:
3Gregory VII, 'The Dictates of the Pope," title 6, trans. E.F. Henderson, in The Middle Ages, Vol. 1: Sources of Medieval History, ed. Brian Tierney, 4th ed. (New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1983), 142-3.
Always provide a section number or the book and chapter numbers of a primary source to help your reader locate the passage in the text.

Journal article
4J. C. Holt, "Politics and property in early medieval England," Past and Present, 57 (1972), 3-52.
Normal order: First name last name, comma, title in quotation marks, comma (within closing quotation mark), title of journal in italics, comma, volume number, (date of publication in parentheses), comma, page numbers (without pp.), period.

Primary source quoted in a secondary authority:
5 Orderic Vitalis, Ecclesiastical History, trans. M. Chibnall, bk 5, ch. 3, cited in Stephen Morillo, Warfare under the Anglo-Norman Kings, 1066-1135 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1994), 152.

Note: internet citations. The general rule is to cite the source exactly as if it were a published source (e.g., note 3 above) and add to it the web information (who is responsible for maintaining the site and name of the site) and URL address. Make sure that you give--if it is provided--the name(s) of the author and/or translator of the text.

6Internet Medieval Sourcebook, ed. Paul Halsall: Agreement between Count William V of Aquitaine and Hugh IV of Lusignan," trans. Susan Reynolds, Jane Martindale and Paul Hyams, based on text ed. Jane Martindale in English Historical Review 84 (1969), 541-8, with introduction by Richard Abels,  http://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/agreement.html, accessed 12 January 2002, paragraph 13.
[Note that I provide a paragraph number to locate the reference within the text. If the text has chapter or section numbers, use them instead.]

7Richard Abels, "Points about 'Feudalism'," http://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/Feudal.htm, accessed 12 January 2002, paragraph 1.

*BIBLIOGRAPHY ENTRY: (Note the differences between the bibliography and note formats):
Crouch, David. William Marshal: Court, Career and Chivalry in the Angevin Empire, 1147-1219London: Longman, 1990.

Normal order: Last name, first name, period, title (book in italics), period, place of publication, colon, publisher, comma, date, period.

If you have any questions, click on Chicago Manual of Style

6. PLAGIARISM. DEPARTMENTAL PLAGIARISM STATEMENT (read carefully). To 'paraphrase' means to put another's ideas into your OWN words. If you take another's words and fail to indicate that fact with quotations marks, that is PLAGIARISM. See the History Department's plagiarism statement linked to this syllabus. If you commit plagiarism unintentionally, either out of carelessness or laziness (or failure to read the department's plagiarism statement), you will receive a ZERO on the assignment. If I believe that you intended to deceive, the paper will get a zero AND I will turn the matter over to the midshipman honor board. 


7. I will take style as well as content into consideration in grading your papers. Errors of grammar, problems of syntax, confusion of expression, and careless typos will result not only in furious red AWKS disfiguring your text but in an appropriately lower grade. I urge the use of a dictionary and a grammar book. If you do not know the difference between 'its' and 'it's' or between a comma and a semi-colon, do not guess; find out. (As a rule do NOT use “it's” in formal writing, since it is a contraction.)You should be aiming for clarity of expression in your writing. Be concise; be clear; use the active voice whenever possible; and always use the past tense when writing about past events. 

8. LATE POLICY All writing assignments are to be submitted at the beginning of class on the date indicated in the syllabus. Failure to adhere to this deadline will result in ONE LETTER (10 point) PENALTY FOR EACH CLASS LATE. Papers handed in after class but before 2000 on the day the paper was due will be docked five points.  (This does not apply to the take-home midterm, which must be handed in on time. Failure to do so will result in a grade of zero.) Watch, movement orders, scheduled dental appointments, etc., are NOT valid excuses for lateness. If you know that you are going to miss class on the day an assignment is due, either hand in the paper early or arrange for a friend to deliver it to me. If you have a legitimate reason for an extension, please ask me for one before the assignment comes due. A paper that is four classes late will automatically receive an F. How high an F will depend upon the quality of the paper.  All writing assignments must be handed in by the LAST DAY OF CLASS. Those that are not will receive the grade of ZERO. I will accept submission by email attachment—but it is your responsibility to ensure that I receive it on time.

9. INSTRUCTOR'S DISCRETION. A semester's grade does not represent simply the total points received on assignments during the course of the semester. It is the instructor's professional evaluation of how well the student performed and how much he or she learned in the course. In assigning the final grades, I will take into account upward and downward trends, whether the student took advantage of extra-credit opportunities, and how well the student mastered the course material for the final exam. A student going into the final with a low B who writes an exceptional examination may well receive an A for the semester, even though his or her final 'average' comes out to an 88 or 89. Conversely, a student who has a strong C going into the final and writes a failing exam, demonstrating an unsatisfactory understanding and mastery of the course material, might well forfeit that C.


Midterm exam 15%
Homework (text analyses)    25%
Research option OR Analytical essay/article review option: 25%
Class participation and instructor's discretion 5%
Comprehensive final examination 30%


Backman, Clifford R.. The Worlds of Medieval Europe. 2nd Edn. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 2009.

Chretien de Troyes. Arthurian Romances. Trans. Wiliam Kibler and Carleton Carroll. New York: Penguin, 1991.

Crouch, David. William Marshal: Knighthood, War and Chivalry, 1147-1219. 2nd edn. London: Longman, 2002.

Guibert of Nogent. A Monk’s Confession: Memoirs of Guibert of Nogent. Penn State University Press, 1996.

Jocelin de Brakelond. Chronicle of the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds. Ed. and trans. Janes Sayers. New York: Oxford U. Press, 1998.

Keen, Maurice. Chivalry. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005.

Raoul of Cambrai. Trans. Jessie Crosland. Revised by R. Abels. N.Y.: American Heritage Custom Publishers, 1994.  [Web reading]

Abels, Richard. A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350)



I. The ‘long’ eleventh century, c.950-c.1120 (A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350))






Week of 5 Jan

Th. Introduction to the course
Reading: Backman xv-xviii Abels, Periodization of Medieval History: The High Middle Ages ; A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350)



Week of 12 Jan

T. The rural world: economic and social Conditions

Reading: Backman 195-217; Life in Eleventh-Century England according to Domesday Book (1086) (click through entries for “World of Domesday Book”)

Primary source reading: Domesday Book entry for royal manor of Earley in Berkshire; Ĉlfric, Abbot of Eynsham: Colloquy on Occupations (Latin primer for monks)

Images:  eleventh-century agriculture and village life (powerpoint); Medieval Life - The Farming Year; English countryside and agriculture A.D.1100

Map: Map of Europe, Year 1000


Th. Politics in the eleventh century: love, loyalty, and “feudalism”

ReadingBackman 219-225; Abels on 'Feudalism' 

Primary source reading: Agreement between William V of Aquitaine and Hugh IV of Lusignan ; Bishop Fulbert of Chartres on the duties of men and lords ; homage;

Images: motte and bailey ; Bayeux Tapestry (ca. 1070): building motte and bailey castle/burning house ; Bayeux Tapestry: attack on a castle ; Bayeux Tapestry (ca. 1075), charging knights

Maps:  Map of France in 1050; Poitou in 1030; Map of Europe, Year 1000

HOMEWORK (write on one of the following questions):

1. Do the Agreement between William V of Aquitaine and Hugh IV of Lusignan and the letter of Bishop Fulbert of Chartres on the duties of men and lords support or challenge the traditional Anglo-American model of feudalism as outlined in my online posting Abels: 'Feudalism' ?

2. Do the Agreement between William V of Aquitaine and Hugh IV of Lusignan and the letter of Bishop Fulbert of Chartres on the duties of men and lords support or challenge Bisson’s “Feudal Revolution” thesis as outlined in my online posting Abels: 'Feudalism' ?

Note: all homework assignments are to be 1-3 pages long.           









Week of 19 Jan
T  No class (follows Monday schedule because of Martin Luther King Holiday)


Th. Kingship in eleventh-century Christendom

Reading: Backman 233-59

Images: Politics and Power in the Eleventh-century: Powerpoint

Maps: Political Map of Europe in 1100; Map of France in 1050; Map of England in 1000; Maps of Dominions of William the Conqueror, 1087

Based on Backman’s discussion, compare and contrast the main characteristics eleventh-century kingship in Germany, France, England, and Spain. What did they all have in common? How and why did they differ?


Week of 26 Jan
T. Noble families
Reading: Giroie family and its vendetta with the Montgomery family (Abels/Hyams)

Primary source reading: Guibert xiii-xix, 5-24, 34-47; Orderic Vitalis (c. 1140) on the Giroie family

HOMEWORK, option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday). Write on one of the following: 

1. What does Orderic Vitalis’s story of the Giroie-Montgomery feud reveal about the nature of family and kinship obligations among nobles in the eleventh and twelfth centuries?

2. What does Guibert’s story about his mother reveal about the role of women in noble families?


Th. Guibert of Nogent on monasticism, saints, devils, and sex

Primary source reading: Guibert of Nogent  Guibert xxiv-xxxii, 3-5, 47-58, 69-84, 89-119, 199-208; Thirteenth-century relic stories (popular preaching); Christian Church and Sex (James Brundage) ; chart of degrees of kinship (for incest prohibition)

Recommended reading (if you don’t know about the origins of monks and monasticism): Backman 80-92

HOMEWORK, option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday):  Write on one of the following:

1) What vices/abuses did Guibert detect among the monks of his day?

2) What does Guibert’s own career as a monk reveal about the relationship between monasticism and family?

3) Analyze two of Guibert’s stories about devils and explain the moral lessons involved in them.

4) What was Guibert’s attitude toward sex?



     Monastery of Cluny    Gregory VII Excommunicates Clergy     Gregory VII driven out of Rome


Week of 2 Feb

T. The eleventh-century Church and the beginnings of papal and monastic reform

Reading: Backman 187-92, 225-233, 262-269, 285-289; Abels on the Gregorian Reform, read parts II-V

Recommended reading (if you don’t know about the origins of monks and monasticism): Backman 80-92

Primary Source: Guibert xxiv-xxxii, 3-5, 24-34

Images: Eleventh-Century Church (powerpoint presentation)


Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest homework grade, including missing homeworks), option A.

1. According to Backman and Abels, what “abuses” most concerned the eleventh-century “reform” papacy and what groups resisted the program of reform?

2. What indications of the decline of monasticism in his day did Guibert identify, and what attributes did he admire about the “great monks of former days”?


Th. The Papal Revolution
Reading: Backman 225-233 (review), 269-274; Abels on the Investiture Controversy (read sections V-VII)

Primary source reading: Guibert of Nogent 128-135 (review); Gregory VII's Dictatus Papae (1075); Henry IV denounces Gregory VII ; Gregory VII deposes Henry IVPaschal II's First Solution; Paschal's Second Solution; The Concordat of Worms 1122

Images: Three Models of Royal and Papal Authority; Medieval Church Reform and Conflict (first half up to Innocent III)


Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest homework grade, including missing homeworks), option B. Write on one of the following:

1.  Compare and contrast Paschal II’s two unsuccessful ‘solutions’ to the Investiture Controversy with the solution settled on at Worms in 1122.

2.  What role did Gregory VII claim for the papacy in the “Dictatus Papae,” and what role did Henry IV claim for the emperor in his letter denouncing Gregory VII? Can their claims to authority be reconciled?





Cathedral of Laon                                                                                                                                                                               Seal of King Louis VI

(rebuilt after 1112)


Week of 9 Feb

T.  Bishops and Cities: the Case of Laon

Primary source reading: Guibert of Nogent 121-153

HOMEWORK option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday). Write on one.

1. What were Guibert’s criteria for judging whether a bishop was worthy or unworthy?

2.  During the papal hearing to judge the validity of Gaudry’s election to the see of Laon, a papal chamberlain named Peter took Guibert of Nogent aside and said: “Now that my lord the pope has received your testimony in favor of the person you want [as bishop] and has lent you a generous ear, you must suggest to your bishop-elect [Gaudry] that he is to obey my lord the pope’s orders in all matters and to defer to him” (p. 134). What does this reveal about Paschal II’s fears and hopes for the new bishop, and why did Guibert characterize this admonition as “coating the lip of a poisoned cup with honey”?

3. How did Gaudry become bishop of Laon? Would the opponents of “lay investiture” have found fault with the process? [Was Gaudry appointed bishop by a layman, or was he elected by clergy? Was he “invested” with his crozier and ring by a king or by a cleric?]



Th. Revolt in Laon: commune, bishop, and robber baron

Primary source reading: Guibert of Nogent 153-190; Abbot Suger on the wicked Thomas of Marle

HOMEWORK, option B. Write on one of the following:

What do the actions of Thomas of Marle and the response by King Louis VI as depicted by Guibert and Abbot Suger reveal about law, order, and kingship in early twelfth-century France?



II.  The Medieval Zenith, c.1120-1300 (A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350))





Week of 16 Feb  (6 week grades due on Wednesday)

T. Crusades and Knightly Piety         
Reading: Backman 274-278; Keen 44-63; Crouch 207-16

Primary source reading: Urban II calls for a crusade; Raymond of Aguiliers on the sack of Jerusalem, 1099 ; Excerpts on Jihad from al-Mukhtasar by the jurist Abu 'l-Hasan al-Quduri (b. 362 AH=AD 972)Fulcher of Chartres 1127: Orientalized Franks ; Usamah ibn Munquidh: A twelfth-century Muslim's views of the Crusaders; St. Bernard preaches the Second Crusade (1146)

Maps: map of Saladin's realm]

HOMEWORK option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday). Write on one.

1. Compare and contrast the attitudes toward non-believers expressed in Urban II’s call for a crusade and Raymond of Aguilers’ description of the Crusaders’ sack of Jerusalem in 1099 with those of the Muslim jurist al-Mukhtasar.

2. What does Usamah ibn Munquidh’s memoirs reveal about the difference between Franks (including Templars) who settled in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Crusaders who came from the West and returned to their homes afterwards? What was his attitude towards each group?

3. How did Bernard of Clairvaux attempt to persuade knights to go on crusade?

4. According to Maurice Keen, what motivated knights to go on crusade?






Week of 16 Feb 

Th. Economic expansion, towns and commercial revolution

Reading: Backman 405-429; Medieval towns and cities (Abels)

Primary source reading: Jocelin of Brakelond 64-70;  Bertran de Born (ca. 1180): class consciousness (first poem); Grant of Lands & Privileges to the Jews, 1084; Acknowledgment by an Agent of an Order on Goods to be Sold in Montpellier, 1248; Urban Privileges: Charter of Lorris 1155; Stendal Garment Cutter's Guild, 1231

Images and figures: Maps of medieval trading routes; Trans-Asian trading routes; Population estimates for larger medieval cities and towns (McEvedy)

HOMEWORK option B. Write on one.

1. According to Backman, what were the main economic developments of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries and what impact did they have on the everyday lives of townspeople and peasants?

2. Based on Urban Privileges: Charter of Lorris 1155 and the reading in Backman, what were the basic privileges granted in urban charters of liberties and why were they so important?

3. Based on Stendal Garment Cutter's Guild, 1231 and the reading in Backman, what were the basic functions and purposes of medieval guilds?

4. Based on Backman and the Grant of Lands & Privileges to the Jews, 1084, what role and function did Jews play in the economic life of medieval cities—and why?





                                                                                          Pope Innocent III and Francis                Miracles of St Francis


Week of 23 Feb

T. Abelard, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and St Thomas Aquinas: the Revival of Learning and Spirituality (Timeline for Abelard, Heloise, and St Benard of Clairvaux)

Reading: Backman 291-316, 377-83, 389-98

Primary source reading: Abelard, History of My Calamities; Abelard’s preface to Sic et Non (Yes and No) 

HOMEWORK option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday). Write on one.

1. How did Abelard interpret the meaning and purpose of his castration in his "History of My Calamities"?  How did it differ from the meaning of the bedeviled man’s self-castration related by Guibert (202-04)?

2. On the basis of Abelard’s preface to Sic et Non (Yes and No), what was Abelard’s explanation for apparent contradictions between spiritually authoritative texts (e.g. Scriptures and the writings of the Church Fathers), and what methods does he propose for resolving these contradictions?

3. From your reading of Abelard’s History of My Calamities, why do you think he inspired so much hatred from other scholars of the time?


Th. Innocent III: the Papal Monarchy, Friars, Heretics, and Inquisition

Reading: Backman 327-349, 364-367; Abels on Pope Innocent III (ponitificate: 1198-1216) and the Fourth Lateran Council (1215)

Primary source reading: Innocent III: Letters on Papal Policies;  Fourth Lateran Council, 1215; incidents from Thomas of Celano’s Life of St Francis ; Little Flowers of St. Francis: Perfect Joy; Waldo's Conversion ; Waldensians; Cathars; Otto of Freising on Arnold of Brescia (handout); “The Gospel according to the Mark of silver”

Images: Three Models of Royal and Papal Authority; Medieval Church Reform and Conflict (second half of slide show)

HOMEWORK option B. Write on one.

1.  Based on his letters, how did Innocent III conceive of the role of the pope and what authority did he claim over other bishops, kings, and the Christian laity?

2.  What charges and criticisms did Arnold of Brescia and the anonymous author of the “Gospel according to the Mark of silver” levy against the mid twelfth-century papacy?  In your view, how would Innocent III have defended the papacy against these charges?

3. What were the chief concerns of Pope Innocent III in 1215 as evidenced by the canons of the Fourth Lateran Council?

4. What basic religious beliefs did Waldo and St. Francis share? Why was the former marked as a heretic and the latter made a saint?

5. What were the basic beliefs of the Cathar heretics and how did the Fourth Lateran Council respond to them?




Chartres                                  Amiens                                               


Week of 2 March

T. The Gothic Vision: “Cathedral” (movie)

Reading: Backman 377-403, 327-349, 364-367; Abels on Pope Innocent III (ponitificate: 1198-1216) and the Fourth Lateran Council (1215)



Th.  Universities and scholasticism: Thomas Aquinas

Reading: Backman 308-16, 378-84

Primary source reading: St. Thomas Aquinas: Question 1: On faith, reason, and theology, Question 2: proofs of the existence of God

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade):

1. According to Thomas Aquinas, what is the relationship between reason, faith, and authority?

2. Analyze the structure of the “scholastic method” used by Thomas Aquinas.

3. Explain the function of reason and faith in Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of the existence of God.





Seal of Abbot Samson             Bury St Edmunds Abbey Gate


Week of 9 March

T.  Popular Religion and Elite Religion in the Thirteenth Century: A Holy Greyhound
Reading: Backman 437-457; Alexander Murray, “Religion among the Poor in thirteenth-century France,” Traditio, 30 (1974) (handout)

Primary source reading: Thirteenth-century preaching about the host (sacramental wafer); Stephen de Bourbon: "De Supersticione”: On the holy greyhound, “St. Guinefort”

Images: Medieval Christianity (slideshow)

HOMEWORK option A (do this assignment or the one due on Thursday). Write on one.

1. What does the “testimony of Humbert of Romans” reveal about religion among the poor in thirteenth-century France?

2. What do the sermon stories about the host and Stephen de Bourbon’s tale of the holy greyhound “St. Guinefort” reveal about popular Christianity in the thirteenth century? How did the clergy regard these popular beliefs?



Th. The monastery and the wider world: Abbot Samson and the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds

Primary source reading: Jocelin of Brakelond ix-xxiii 3-48, 50-70, 63-4, 72-83, 88-94, 102-117

HOMEWORK option B. Write on one.

1. In what ways were the procedures used to elect abbots at Bury St. Edmunds “democratic”? In what ways were they “representative”? How did the procedures used to select abbots differ from those used to select priors? (See pp. 9-30, 110-19

2. What qualities were the monks seeking in an abbot? How closely did Samson come to fulfilling that ideal? (For the ideal characteristics, see pp. 15-22; for Jocelin’s assessment of Samson, see pp. 9-15, 31-41, 63-4, 102-06, 115-19.

3.  Describe the relationship between the Abbot Samson and his knightly tenants. What were the sources of conflict between the abbot and the knights who held land from him?

4. Analyze Abbot Samson’s relationship with the archbishop of Canterbury. What were the sources of conflict and tension between the two prelates? (See pp. 45-8, 72-5).

5. Analyze the relationship between the abbot and monks of Bury St Edmunds and the king of England. How much power and authority did the king claim over the abbot and abbey?



Week of 16 March     SPRING BREAK (read David Crouch, William Marshal)







Week of 23 March

T. Development of Feudal Kingship in Angevin England: King Henry II and his sons

Timeline: Abels, A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350): read the the entries for 1042-1066, 1100-1135, 1135, 1154-1189, 1187, 1189-1199 (reign of King Richard)

Reading: Backman 238-47 (review), 328-30, 356-60; *Abels on Feudal Kingship in England and France (on King Henry II and his son John); Crouch 12-28

Primary source reading: Jocelin of Brakelond 15-22, 48-50, 86-87;  Assize of ClarendonRichard I's coronation oath

Maps: map of Angevin Empire; more detailed map of the Angevin Empire (click on to enlarge); Europe c. 1200

Images: Richard I's castle (Chateau Gaillard); ; writ of King Henry I of England to sheriffs of Oxford and Buckinghamshre; tombs of Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son Richard the Lionheart at Fontevraud Abbey in France; contemporary reliquary box for St Thomas Becket; Henry II arguing with Becket; King Henry II reconciles with King Louis VII and Archbishop Thomas Becket, stained glass window, Sens Cathedral, c.1210

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade):

1. What do the career and actions of John FitzGilbert the Marshal (in Crouch’s William Marshal)  reveal about the challenges that faced Henry II when he assumed the throne in 1154?

2. Based upon Richard I's coronation oath, was King Henry II of England a “good” king?


Th. Development of Feudal Kingship in Capetian France and Conflict with the Angevins: King Philip II Augustus and King John of England

Timeline: Abels, A Course Chronology of the Middle Ages (c950-c1350), read entries for 1108-1137 (reign of Louis VI the Fat), 1180-1223 (reign of Philip II Augustus), 1203-1204, 1214, 1215, 1226-1229 (Albigensian Crusade ends)

Reading:  Early Capetian kingship through the reign of Philip II Augustus, Abels on Feudal Kingship in England and France (on Philip Augustus and King John); Backman 360-4

Primary source reading: Rigord's Deeds of Philip Augustus (pay special attention to Philip’s dealings with King Henry II of England and his sons and with the regency arrangements that Philip made in preparation for going on crusade); Philip II deals with a recalcitrant vassal, 1213

Map: Expansion of the French Royal Domain, 1180-1314; Europe c. 1200

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade): Based upon Richard I's coronation oath, was Philip Augustus as described by Rigord a “good” king? (Pay special attention to the testament and regency arrangements made in preparation for leaving on a crusade. This is at the very end of the document.)







Week of 30 March

T. Knights and Chivalry: Martial Values

Reading: Keen 1-43;  Crouch 199-206; Abels on chivalry in the High Middle Ages (an overview)

Primary source reading: Begin reading Raoul of Cambrai  (to be completed by 14 April)

Images:  Chivalry powerpoint images



Th. Tournaments and practical chivalry: the case of William Marshal

Reading: Keen 83-101; Crouch  29-56, 176-99, 207-16

Primary source reading:  The “History of William the Marshal”: The tournament at Lagny; Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval: The Story of the Grail, pp. 439-50; Jocelin of Brakelond 48-50

Images: tournament melee c.1300; tournament, early 14th century (Manesse codex, c.1305x1340); early 15th-century tournament, BnF, fr 119 fol. 474; tournament, 1493

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade). Write on one:

1. Compare and contrast Keen (83-101) and Crouch (192-99) on the purposes served by tournaments in the twelfth century.

2. What do we learn about twelfth-century tournaments from the three assigned primary sources?






Week of 6 April (12 week grades due Tuesday)

T. Courtliness and Chivalry: Perceval le Gallois (movie)

Reading: Backman 316-325; Crouch 182-192; Abels on chivalry in the High Middle Ages (an overview)

Primary source reading: Chrétien de Troyes, Yvain 295-342

Images:  Chretien de Troyes' Perceval: opening of poem (BNF fr. 12577, fol. 1) c.1340); Chretien de Troyes: Perceval arrives at the Graal Castle, BNF fr. 12577; Chretien de Troyes' Perceval: Arthur and Guinevere welcome Perceval’s return (BNF fr. 1453, fol. 27); early 13th-century manuscript of Chretien de Troyes' Perceval


Th. Chivalry and Love: Chretien’s Yvain

Reading: Richard Kaeuper, Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe (Oxford, 1999), pp. 209-30 (“Knights, Ladies and Love”) [handout]

Primary source reading: Chretien de Troyes, Yvain 342-380

Images;  Chretien’s Yvain: Calogrenant fights d'Esclados le Rouxr, BNF, fr. 1433 (c.1340) ; Scenes from Yvain: Yvain fights two demon brothers; Yvain and Gawain unknowingly fight, BNF. fr. 1433 (c.1340); Chretien de Troyes’ Yvain: Lunette reconciles Yvain with the Lady Laudine, BNF, fr. 1433,(c.1340)

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade):

1. Based on Chretien de Troyes’s Perceval and Yvain, what qualities must the ideal courtly knight possess?

2. Of the three knights Gawain, Yvain, and Perceval, which one did Chretien consider to be the closest to his courtly ideal?

3. What dilemmas involving the opposing demands of chivalry did Yvain have to resolve?




            Tomb of William Marshal          


Week of 13 April

T. Critiques of chivalry and bad kingship: Raoul of Cambrai

Primary source reading: Raoul of Cambrai  (entire)

ARTICLE REVIEW DUE (for those doing the Analytical Essay/Article Review option)


Th. William Marshal: baron and lord

Reading: Crouch 66-85, 143-75. Review 183-92, 207-16; Abels: Chronology of William Marshal's life within the context of English history

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade):

1. Based on the assigned reading in Crouch (pp. 143-175), what did a lord require and expect from his knightly retainers and what did knightly retainers require and expect from their lords?

2. Does David Crouch’s research on William Marshal’s knights (pp. 143-175, 183-91) support the feudal paradigm (i.e. vassals holding fiefs from their lords in return for loyalty and knight service)? If not “feudal,” how would you characterize the bonds that held together William and his men?





     Magna Carta             

King John                                                                                                               Blanche of Castile and her son St. Louis



Week of 20 April

T. William Marshal, King John, and Magna Carta

Reading: Crouch 85-142; Backman 356-8

Primary source reading: Abels, "Magna Carta" (excerpts and analysis)

Extra-credit HOMEWORK (replaces lowest grade):

Based on Crouch’s biography of William Marshal, what made John a bad king?


Th. Saint Louis IX of France and the Emperor Frederick II: “Good” and “Bad” Christian Kings

Reading: Backman 361-375
Primary source reading: excerpts from Joinville's Life of St Louis [pay particular attention to Louis’s general ordinance, pp. 365-77]; Louis IX's advice to his son; Louis claims right to hang forgers, 1257

Images: MS illlustrations from the Life of St. Louis (14th cent,)

Extra-credit homework (replaces lowest grade). Write on one:

1. What was Louis IX’s attitude toward and relationship with his bishops and the Church?

2. Based on Louis IX’s dying instructions to his son and his general ordinance to his subjects, what did Louis think to be the duties of a good king and what abuses did he attempt to stamp out?






Week of 27 April

T. Crises of the Fourteenth Century: The Medieval Synthesis Unravels

Reading: Backman 460-94; course chronology, c.950-1350: read 1300-1350


FINAL EXAM: Thursday, 30 April, 0755 in Sampson 105

Final Exam Study Sheet (with essay questions)