HIST 314

War and Society in Premodern Europe

This course addresses war as a major force in European history from the early Middle Ages to c.1500, with a special focus on Northwestern Europe. Taking a 'war and society' approach, the course focus less on strategies, tactics, and generalship than on the ways in which war has shaped, and been shaped by, variables such as social and political hierarchies, gender roles, and religious belief. Students explore the relationship between war and social, cultural, political, and technological change, and attempt to reconstruct the experience of war for combatants and non-combatants. Specific topics to be considered include the role of warfare in shaping early medieval polities, the rise of a knightly class and related social developments, the culture of chivalry and martial display, and the advent of new, increasingly destructive methods of waging war in the later Middle Ages. Students complete a substantial research project in the second half of the semester.