Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Concepts of Kingship in Europe, c.800-c.1250
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 x 1 Hour Lectures
Seminar 6 x 1 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Semester Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 1 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  50%
Supplementary Assessment Essay 2 - 1 x 2,500 word supplementary (resit) essay  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate a detailed and systematic understanding of current approaches to the history of medieval Europe.

Demonstrate a detailed and systematic understanding of the longer term historical questions of continuity and discontinuity in medieval Europe.

Demonstrate an ability to use and reflect critically upon a range of relevant primary and secondary material.

Demonstrate a sophisticated ability to analyse and deploy relevant historical evidence to produce appropriate arguments.


The module will provide an additional element of choice for Part II students, particularly important to students on the Medieval and Early Modern degree scheme (V190), but available to single and joint honours students more generally. This module is intended to provide students with an introduction to one of the key institutions of medieval Europe, and to debates that continued to define European history well into the modern period. It will cover western Europe as a whole, and will use a range of primary sources students will be acquainted with developments in kingship, legal structures, economics, religion and culture.

Brief description

This module will differ from other modules that you may have studied by pursuing a thematic and conceptual rather than a chronological approach. This goes hand in hand with reading widely across both primary sources and secondary literature. At the module’s heart is the attempt to come to terms with the institution and concept of kingship, so central a feature in premodern European societies. Yet what did it actually mean? How was it exercised and thought about? We will use a range or primary sources, ranging from Anglo-Saxon England to twelfth-century Scandinavia, to answer these questions. Central themes include the sacrality of kingship; the choosing of a monarch; but also the means by which he could be challenged; and the varying attempts by contemporaries to define what specific functions of the office meant in practice (such as, for instance, justice, piety, or martial prowess).


At the heart of this module are the sources and concepts employed by contemporaries to define the purpose and limitations of royal power. The first part will thus use both lectures and seminars to explore the ways and means in which contemporaries thought about royal power. This will take the form of discussing key texts and the environment in which they were produced. These normally include foundational texts, such as Biblical and patristic materials, but also contemporary ones, such as Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne. In the second part of the module, both seminars and lectures will focus on challenges to the image of kingship painted in these sources – from within a kingdom, due to external pressures, wider cultural changes, and so on. Particular attention will be paid to issues of sacrality, and the attempts – increasingly frequent towards the end of this period – to find new ways of enshrining and codifying the limits of royal power, often associated with documents like The Golden Bull of Hungary or, in fact, the English Magna Carta.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number N/A
Communication Written communication skills will be developed through the coursework and written examination; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but are not formally assessed.
Improving own Learning and Performance Students will be advised on how to improve research and communication skills through the individual tutorial providing feedback on submitted coursework.
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be expected to word-process their work and make use of Blackboard. These skills will not be formally assessed.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will develop a range of transferable skills, including time management and communication skills, which may help them identify their personal strengths as they consider potential career paths.
Problem solving Students are expected to note and respond to historical problems which arise as part of the study of this subject area and to undertake suitable research for seminars and essays.
Research skills Students will develop their research skills by reading a range of texts and evaluating their usefulness in preparation for the coursework and the written examination.
Subject Specific Skills Students will gain experience of working thematically rather than chronologically, examining the development of notions of Kingship across a long period of European medieval history.
Team work Students will be expected to play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars) and to learn to evaluate their own contribution to such activities.


This module is at CQFW Level 6