Module Identifier HY14220  
Academic Year 2007/2008  
Co-ordinator Dr Bernard G Gowers  
Semester Semester 1  
Course delivery Lecture   18 lectures  
  Seminars / Tutorials   1 seminar per fortnight  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 1 X 2,500 WORD ESSAY  30%

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:
Assess critically the body of historical knowledge which discusses the history of continental western Europe, c.800-c.960

Comprehend and assess the different historical debates and analyses evident in related texts, ranging from the Middle Ages to recent scholarly works.

Read, analyse and assess a range of different types of historical evidence relevant to the module, including appropriate literary evidence.

Express understanding and discuss related issues through writing in an academic context

Work independently and as part of a group and take an active part in group discussions (not formally assessed).

Brief description

Charlemagne's empire was the most powerful polity in western Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire. This module examines the Carolingian empire and its successor states from the height of Charlemagne's power, c.800, to the middle of the tenth century. This was an era of endemic warfare, but also one preoccupied by Christian notions of peace. External enemies of the Carolingians and their successors included the Vikings, the Magyars, and Saracen raiders in the Mediterranean. Internally, there were numerous `civil' wars among Christian kings and nobles. Aristocratic culture celebrated success in warfare, and violence permeated every area of society. Yet this was also a period in which the church played a central social role, extolling pacific virtues such as peace, humility, and charity. Monasticism celebrated withdrawal from the violent material world, and ideas of public order in a harmonious Christian society retained considerable authority. This course allows us to examine the achievements and tensions inherent in this world.


This module is intended to provide an introduction to the history of continental western Europe, c.800-c.960. The focus is on those territories that were part of the Carolingian empire, but general developments elsewhere in western Europe and the Mediterranean basin are also considered. It provides a focused introduction to the history of one of the most important medieval European realms, exposes the students to a variety of sources, approaches and themes, and helps to broaden the provision of Part I courses in the department.


1. Christmas in Rome, AD 800. Charlemagne's achievement.
2. Peasant worlds.
3. Aristocrats.
4. Louis the Pious and Christian rulership.
5. Monasticism
6. Lothar, Louis the German, Charles the Bald: High politics and court culture
7. Mediterranean neighbours
8. Northern neighbours: raiding, trading and state formation
9. The practice of warfare
10. Towns and commerce
11. The end of the Carolingian empire
12. A Carolingian Renaissance?
13. Carolingians and Robertines in West Francia
14. The Magyars
15. Germany in the early tenth century
16. Bishops and law
17. Otto I and Archbishop Bruno
18. Conclusion: Violence and Peace
1. Aristocratic Society
2. Monasticism
3. Christian rulership
4. Plunder, tribute, and commerce
5. The church and the laity

Module Skills

Problem solving Identify problems and factors which might influence potential solutions; develop creative thinking approaches to problem solving; evaluate advantages and disadvantages of potential solutions.  
Research skills Understand a range of research methods and plan and carry out research; produce academically appropriate pieces of written work.  
Communication Read a wide range of both primary and secondary texts; improve their listening skills during the lectures, and consequently develop skills in note taking; demonstrate and develop the ability to communicate ideas in two essays; skills in oral presentation will be developed in seminars but not assessed.  
Improving own Learning and Performance Show awareness of own learning styles, personal preferences and needs; devise and apply realistic learning and self management strategies; devise a personal action plan to include short and long-term goals and to develop personal awareness of how to improve on these.  
Team work Understand the concept of group dynamics; contribute to the setting of group goals; contribute effectively to the planning of group activities; play an active part in group activities (e.g. short group presentations in seminars); exercise negotiation and persuasion skills; evaluate group activities and own contribution.  
Information Technology Students will be encouraged to locate suitable material on the web and to access information on CD-Roms and to apply it appropriately to their own work. Students will also be encouraged to word-process their work. These skills will not be formally assessed.  
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills, beliefs and qualities in relation to course in progression; plan and prepare for future course / career.  
Subject Specific Skills Develop a knowledge of, and familiarity with, a range of different medieval sources; develop the ability to use appropriate historical research tools effectively.  


This module is at CQFW Level 4