Sasanian rock carvings

Sasanian rock carvings

The World of the High Middle Ages (Europe and the Mediterranean World, 1000 – 1453 AD)

The course will explore the social and cultural basis of Later Medieval civilisation in Europe and the Mediterranean world from 1000 to 1453 AD.  Focusing on key events in both east and west, such as the Norman invasion of England, the rise of the Mongols, the Crusades, and famine and plague in Europe, it will end with the birth of the Renaissance and the fall of Constantinople. Drawing on archaeological evidence, literary texts, architecture and the visual arts, it will look at the complex and shifting relationships between the present and the past in the definition and transformation of national and religious identities.

Tutor:                Mark Patton

Time:                Tuesdays 10.30am – 12.30pm

Dates:              Sept 20 – Nov 29 (half term Oct 25)

Jan 17 – March 28 (half term Feb 21)

                        May 9 – June 27 (half term May 30)

Time:                Fridays 2.30pm – 4.30pm

Dates:              Sep 23 – Dec 02 (half term Oct 28)

Jan 20 – March 31 (half term Feb 24)

                        May 12 – June 30 (half term June 02)

Venue:              Gosling Room

Fees:                HLSI members £90 for a 10-week term

£65 for 7-week summer term

Non-members £115 for a 10-week term

£82 for 7-week summer term

Autumn Term

Week 1             After the Storm: The world in 1000 AD. 

Week 2             To the Edges of the Earth: Vinland and the World of the Norse Sagas.

Week 3             Christendom Divided: The Great Schism and its Aftermath.

Week 4             The Dawn of Domesday: The Norman Invasion of England.

Week 5             Shifting Sands: The Fragmentation of the Muslim World.

Week 6             Visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Week 7             To the Glory of God: Romanesque and Gothic Architecture in Context.

Week 8             To be a Pilgrim: The Experience of Pilgrimage in Christianity and Islam.

Week 9             Terror from the East: The Rise of the Mongol Empire.

Week 10           Holy Wars: The Ideology and Logistics of Crusading.

Spring Term

 Week 1             Outremer: The World of the Crusader States.

Week 2             A Parfit Gentil Knight: Chivalry in Theory and Practice.

Week 3             The Imitation of Christ: Saint Francis of Assisi and the Emergence of the Mendicant                    Orders.

Week 4             The Rebirth of Philosophy: Scholasticism and the Idea of the University.

Week 5             Visit to the Museum of London.

Week 6             Unorthodox Religion: Cathars, Waldensians and Lollards.

Week 7             Of Popes and Emperors: The Vatican and the Holy Roman Empire.

Week 8             A Tale of Three Cities: Venice, Genoa and Constantinople.

Week 9             Persecution and Endurance: The Jewish Diaspora in the High Middle Ages.

Week 10           King Death: Famine and Plague in 14th Century Europe.

Summer Term

Week 1             The Challenge to Feudalism: Popular Revolts in Medieval Europe.

Week 2             Medieval Lives: Intimations of Daily Life in Europe and the Mediterranean World.

Week 3             The Challenge to Feudalism: Popular Revolts in Medieval Europe.

Week 4             Europe, Islam and ‘The Other’ – Trade and Travel in the High Middle Ages.

Week 5             The Birth of the Renaissance: Literature and Art in Late Medieval Europe.

Week 6             The House of Osman: The Rise of the Ottoman Empire.

Week 7             The Threshold of Modernity: Europe in 1453.

Reading List

None of these is essential to the course: they are simply introductions to some of the themes we will be exploring:


Robert Bartlett The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonisation and Cultural Change

Robert Bartlett Why can the Dead do Such Great Things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation

  1. Byrne Otherworlds: Fantasy and History in Medieval Literature
  2. Coldstream Medieval Architecture

Tom Holland Millennium

Emmanuel Leroy-Ladurie Montaillou

  1. Sekulis Medieval Art.