HIST 302

Birth of Europe

This course introduces students to a period of history that was, until recently, commonly referred to as the "Dark Ages." It uses historical, literary, and archaeological evidence from a variety of early medieval cultures to shed light on what was actually a time of exciting changes, a period which saw the transformation of the Mediterranean-centered Roman world and the rise of vibrant new cultures throughout Europe and the East. Topics include the "barbarization" of the Roman world, the Carolingian Renaissance, the role of women in various early medieval societies, the rise of Islamic civilizations in the East and Iberia, and the political, economic, and spiritual reordering of the medieval world during the tenth and early eleventh centuries. In the course of its explorations the class encounters martyrs and missionaries, pagan chieftains and Muslim pirates, Carolingian princesses and Viking raiders, and follow the development of early medieval culture up to the eve of the High Middle Ages.