Faculty of Arts


Medieval Cultures: Faith, Power, Identities


"Medieval Cultures" aims to offer Stage II and III students a detailed study of medieval European history. The European Middle Ages spans the period c. 400 to c. 1550 and takes in the entire European continent. Rather than attempting total coverage of this chronological and geographical range, our intention is to address major themes, institutions, turning points and transformations within shifting parameters. Thus, in any given year the course will emphasise certain aspects of medieval history above others.

In some years the focus may be on the early period, from late antiquity to the Vikings; in others, the focus may be on the transformations of the central period from the tenth to thirteenth centuries; in other years, the focus may be on the mental and social worlds of the high and late Middle Ages from the twelfth to early sixteenth centuries.

Regardless of such variation, it is expected that any student taking "Medieval Cultures" will gain a strong understanding of such topics as the spread and function of Christian faith in medieval societies; conflicts between Catholic Christianity and other faiths of the era; the forms and expressions of institutional power, such as monarchy and papacy; social structures and economic relations, including between lords and peasants; movements of peoples, perceptions of ethnic identities and the impact of migrations; the disparate roles and relations of men and women; moments or periods of social conflict or upheaval; and the literary and visual expression of changing cultural priorities.

In every iteration of the course, strong attention will be paid to primary sources—written, visual and material—and to the methodological challenges posed in their interpretation. Students will consider what kinds of sources are available to the medieval historian, whose perspective they represent, what their purpose was and how historians deal with the omission of certain viewpoints such as those of women, the lower orders, or ethnic or religious minorities.

 For 2020, course themes will be examined in the context of two major case studies:

  • Examples of so-called "Barbarian" cultures (e.g., Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings)
  • The Norman period of the eleventh and twelfth centuries


Coursework + exam

Availability 2021

Not taught in 2021


Lecturer(s) Associate Professor Lisa Bailey
Dr Lindsay Diggelmann


Recommended Reading


Coursework + exam


HISTORY 239: 15.0 points


15 points at Stage I in History and 30 points passed


HISTORY 219, 254, 268, 319, 339, 354, 368

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