Medieval History
cod. 1004081

Academic year 2017/18
1° year of course - First semester
Professor
GENTILE Marco
Academic discipline
Storia medievale (M-STO/01)
Field
Storia, filosofia, psicologia, pedagogia, antropologia e geografia
Type of training activity
Basic
72 hours
of face-to-face activities
12 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit
in ITALIAN

Learning objectives

The course aims to provide students with basic knowledge of the main issues and events related to medieval Europe. It also aims to provide insights on specific issues and to define some of the fundamental concepts of medieval history (such as fief, vassal, heresy, knighthood, ecclesiastical benefice, etc.), together with basic elements of historical geography.
During the course, the student learns to
- Understand the key facts and figures, as well as the most important political and ecclesiastical institutions, the most significant forms of social, economic and ecclesiastical organization of the medieval period, and to place each element in time and space
- Communicate and discuss the concepts learned during the course, with particular attention to the accurate use of language, concepts and categories, and the appropriate use of the specific vocabulary of the historical discipline
- Develop the practice of considering the political, institutional, social and economic relations and the ideologies not as a natural given, but as the result of changes that have taken place in specific contexts, and to apply the notion of context to the analysis of a text, and, more generally, to any social and political phenomenon and to any artistic and cultural form of expression
- Collect further information on the topics discussed using the available bibliography (both printed and digital texts), developing the capacity for independent judgment and a critical attitude towards the sources; to distinguish between scientific texts, popular historical literature and unverifiable information

Prerequisites

None

Course unit content

The first module aims to provide students with information and the basic tools for a critical understanding of the economic, social, cultural and religious life between the third and fifteenth centuries. Particular attention will be paid to the political and institutional forms of organization of the human communities which, during the Middle Ages, shaped the specific characteristics of the European area.
The course is structured according to the thematic pattern well established in the discipline, and roughly follows a chronological order. The main topics examined will be: the late Roman Empire and its sunset; the barbarian migrations and kingdoms; the Byzantine and Islamic Mediterranean; Carolingian Europe; post-Carolingian Europe and local power; the diffusion of Christianity; the reform of the Church and the Papal monarchy; European economic growth around 1000 AD; the diffusion of feudal bonds and European expansion; Papacy, Empire and kingdoms; the cities and the communes; the crisis of the later Middle Ages; the decline of the “universal powers”; the European states; the Italian states.
Further material will be provided via a series of “blended” lessons on the concept of the Middle Ages, on the sources, and on some of the main themes and topics of medieval history. These lessons will be available on the e-learning website Elly. During the classes and exercises, texts and sources will be discussed and historical maps will be shown.
The second module will focus on the Italian late medieval states, drawing on the most recent Italian and international scholarship on the subject. The main topics examined will be the kingdoms of Naples and of Sicily; the Papal states; the republics of Florence and of Siena; the states of the Gonzaga and of the Este; the republic of Venice; the state of Milan; the republic of Genoa; the rural communities; lordships and fiefs; factions and parties; orders and social distinction; offices and officials; political languages.

Full programme

Module A: Introduction to Medieval History

The students are required to study thoroughly the reference book

A. Zorzi, Manuale di storia medievale, UTET, Torino 2016

Furthermore, students are required to complete the blended course available on the e-learning website Elly. As an alternative option, students may choose to study one of the following books:

R. Bordone, G. Sergi, Dieci secoli di medioevo, Einaudi, Torino 2009

M. Ascheri, Medioevo del potere. Le istituzioni laiche ed ecclesiastiche, Il Mulino, Bologna 2009

Module B: The Italian States in the Late Middle Ages

The students are required to choose and study 15 essays from the volume

Lo Stato del Rinascimento in Italia, a cura di A. Gamberini e I. Lazzarini, Viella, Roma 2014

Bibliography

Module A (6 cfu)

A Zorzi, Manuale di storia medievale, UTET, Torino 2016

R. Bordone, G. Sergi, Dieci secoli di medioevo, Einaudi, Torino 2009
M. Ascheri, Medioevo del potere. Le istituzioni laiche ed ecclesiastiche, Il Mulino, Bologna 2009

Module B (6 cfu)

Lo Stato del Rinascimento in Italia, a cura di A. Gamberini e I. Lazzarini, Viella, Roma 2014

Teaching methods

During the classes the teacher will introduce – roughly in chronological order - the main issues and themes of medieval history, using both the reference bibliography and other texts for the study of particular aspects. During the practical classes significant historiographical texts and documentary sources will be examined to enable students to use the sources themselves and to stimulate discussion on the topics covered. Historical maps will also be shown, to help students to frame the events in space.
For the first module students are required to study the reference book on their own. To deepen their understanding of the basic concepts, students will also be required to study either the blended course available on the e-learning website Elly, or one of the books suggested in the programme as an alternative option.
For the second module the students are required to study individually the essays suggested in the programme.

Assessment methods and criteria

The knowledge and skills acquired during the course will be assessed through an oral examination in Italian. The examination will start with a simple test to assess the student’s ability to put people and events in the correct space and chronological order.
The knowledge and skills verified by the examination are:
a) The ability to place key events, characters and the social and cultural development in correct chronological order. b) The lexical precision in describing specific phenomena of the Middle Ages and, more generally, the use of the specific language of the historical disciplines. c) Adequate ability to study independently and critically revise the contents learned during the course and through the study of the texts, as well as the aptitude to link structures and dynamics, and to identify causal relationships. d) The ability to establish connections between events and phenomena typical of the medieval period and the contemporary world.
In order to verify the achievement of such knowledge and skills, oral test questions are designed to assess (aside from the knowledge itself) the ability to apply the skills developed independently and originally, lexical precision, and the ability to deal with complex issues by building complex arguments.
Failure is determined by the inability to understand the basic elements of the course, particularly with regard to the placement of events and characters in the correct temporal and spatial context; by the inability to express himself/herself in correct Italian; by the inability to explain specific concepts and phenomena related to the Middle Ages with adequate lexical precision; by the lack of preparation and knowledge of the texts in the programme. Sufficient performance (18 to 23/30) is determined by the student’s ability to place events and characters in the correct spatial and temporal context; by the ability to explain the concepts and phenomena typical of the Middle Ages with adequate lexical precision; by the ability to reprocess the information by making independent judgments. Medium marks (24 to 27/30) are given to the student who shows a level more than sufficient (24 to 25/30) or good (26 to 27/30) according to the indicators listed above. Higher scores (28 to 30/30 or 30/30 cum laude) are awarded to students who demonstrate a very good or outstanding level according to the indicators listed above; as well as the ability to articulate discourses; the ability to formulate personal and original judgments; the ability to identify and explain cause-effect relationships; the ability to identify links between spatial and temporal contexts (and also political, social, economic and cultural phenomena) distant in time and space.

Other information

The maps and the texts discussed during the classes will be made available on the e-learning website Elly.