10436 The Beginnings of Europe: Western Europe in the Early Middle Ages

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Medieval History

Prerequisites: none

Authors: Ora Limor, Yitzhak Hen, Israel Shatzman, Daphna Ephrat, Iris Shagrir. The materials also include The Roman Empire and its Legacy, by Israel Shatzman (The Open University, 2002, in Hebrew) and a Hebrew translation, by Y. Hen, of Einhard’s The Life of Charlemagne.

The period between the 4th and 10th centuries, known as the early Middle Ages, was a period of fusion of the various elements which shaped European civilization: the Greco-Roman heritage, the institutions and practices of the Germanic peoples, and Judeo-Christian culture. The course deals with this turbulent period and with the historiographic discussions regarding it. It focuses mainly on the Frankish kingdoms, but also touches upon other Germanic peoples, as well as on forces outside of Western Europe.

Topics: The Roman Empire and its legacy; Early Christianity, the “barbarians”; The Frankish kingdom – in the days of Clovis and his successors (the Merovingian dynasty) and in the days of Charlemagne and his successors (the Carolingian period); Government, society and economy in the Frankish kingdom; Christian culture – monks and monasteries in Western Europe, culture and art (the Carolingian renaissance); The border of Europe (between Byzantium and Islam), the Mediterranean in the transition from antiquity to the Middle Ages (a discussion of the Pirenne thesis).