Medieval Civilization

HI 312-01

Winter 2009           MWF 10:45-11:50            LH 333


Dr. Erika Lindgren                                                             

314 Luther Hall                                                                       


Office Hours: By appointment and

MF 9:05-10:05, T 1:30-2:30


Course Description

This course examines the social, political, religious, economic, legal, and intellectual development of civilization in Europe, and to some extent its neighbors, during the period known as the Middle Ages.


Course Goals:  By the end of the term you should be able to:

1.      Express a broad understanding of why and how medieval civilization developed.  This is the “Big Picture.”

2.      Show knowledge of the key historical figures, events and institutions that shaped this civilization.

3.      Read, discuss, and write about medieval primary source documents.

4.      Plan and implement a research project that produces a seminar length paper.

5.      Understand how historians practice their craft.

6.      Uncover some of the links between our current society and that of the past.

7.      Have some fun!


Required Texts

Balderich, A Warrior Bishop of the Twelfth Century [Deeds of Albero of Trier] (PIMS, 2008)

Benedict, The Rule of St. Benedict (Doubleday, 1975)

Marcus Bull, Thinking Medieval (Palgrave, 2005)

Ruth Mazo Karras, Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others (Routledge, 2005)

The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, edited by Betty Radice, revised by M. T. Clanchy (Penguin, 2003)

Julian Richards, The Vikings (Oxford, 2005)Hereafter


Barbara Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, 2nd ed. (Broadview, 2004)


On-line readings on webpage.

Website: contains copies of the syllabus, assignments, and links to online readings.



Readings- You are responsible for the readings assigned in this syllabus.  On the day that they are assigned you should complete them before class. Always bring the day’s reading to class.  When asked to submit questions by email, please do so by 9 am before class.


Historian Portrait- This short paper asks you to create a portrait of a medieval historian from a list provided.  You will use any resources you can find to describe what is known about their life and works.


Historigraphy paper- This short paper exams how scholars have dealt with a medieval topic of your choice.  May be related to your research project.


Codicology paper- This short paper calls for you to describe one manuscript in the University of Iowa’s collection from both a historical and art historical standpoint.


Research Project- Each student will undertake an individual research project that involves both primary and secondary sources.  Each student will submit a project proposal (graded), an annotated  bibliography of sources (graded), an outline (graded), a draft of roughly 10 pages (not graded, but mandatory), and a final paper of roughly 15 pages- not including bibliography, appendices, or images.  Students will also formally present their findings to the class.


Late work will not be accepted unless prior arrangement has been made with the professor


Participation-Any in-class writing assignments or quizzes will count towards your participation grade.  All students are expected to contribute to the discussion of class readings and lectures.


Grading and Attendance Policy

Participation                             300

Historian portrait                       100

Historiography paper                100

Codicology paper                     100     

Research project

            Paper proposal             50

            Bibliography                 50

            Outline                         50

            Draft                            0

            Finished                        200

            Presentation                  50                   


You are responsible for all material covered in the classes you miss.  If you miss more than 10% of the class meetings, your final course grade will be docked.    Missing class also means you can not contribute to your participation in class. 


Special Needs:

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides protection from illegal discrimination for qualified individuals with disabilities.  Students requesting instructional accommodations due to disabilities must arrange for such accommodations by contacting Pathways Associate for Testing and Advising Carla Coates.  She can be reached at the Pathways Center, 314 Vogel Library, Wartburg College, Waverly, IA 50677, 352-8230, <>.   Presenting documentation of a student’s disability early (before the beginning of classes) is helpful and often necessary to secure needed materials in a timely way.  Accommodations should be requested PRIOR to affected assignment due dates.  For more detailed information, please see



Honor Code/Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the representation of the work or ideas of others as your own.  Plagiarism can result from failing to cite a source, giving sufficient credit to the original authors, closely paraphrasing without attribution, and direct copying.  The Academic Policies Committee of Student Senate and the Honor Council have asked faculty to remind students that they have a “…responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work”.  All forms of plagiarism and cheating will result in severe academic penalties.


By attending Wartburg College, students are demonstrating their dedication to the Honor Code.  The Honor Code reminds students of their responsibility to promote academic honesty by opposing cheating and plagiarism and reporting dishonest work.  This is a reminder of your obligation to the Honor Code (from the policy developed by students and overseen by the Student Senate, the Honor Council, and the Academic Ombudsperson).




Classroom policies:

            1.   Arrive promptly

2.      Please turn off all cell phones, pagers, beepers, and noisy watches.

3.      You may only record my classes with my permission.

4.      If you know you must leave early, let me know before class and sit near the door.

5.      Limit exiting and reentering the classroom during the class period.  It is disruptive to your fellow students and distracting to the professor.

6.      Make sure you put your name on everything you turn in!

7.      Follow the directions on all assignments!  It will save headaches and heartaches.

8.      I have nothing against food and drink in the classroom.  Just make sure it is not too messy, smelly, or noisy- NO chips!!  AND PICK UP AFTER YOURSELF!



Schedule of classes: When texts are listed for a class session, students should arrive having already read and reflected on this material.  Assignments are listed on the dates they are due.


Week 1      

M 1/5               Introduction


W 1/7              Popular Culture and the Middle Ages

                        Read: Bull, Introduction and Chapter 1; Rosenwein, chapter 1


F 1/9                Periods, periods, we don’t need no stinking periods!

                        Read: Bull, Chapter 2


Week 2      

M 1/12             Medieval Evidence    Meet in Classroom 2 at Library

                        Read: Bull, Chapter 3


W 1/14            The use and abuse of the Middle Ages

                        Read: Bull, Chapter 4 and Conclusion


F 1/16              Monasticism                                               Project Proposal due

                        Read: From early rules; Rosenwein, chapter 2


Week 3      


M 1/19             Monasticism         Short class period MLK DAY

                        Read: Rule, Prologue-chapter 20


W 1/21             Monasticism

                        Read: Rule, chapter 21-73


F 1/23              Monasticism

Read: none

Week 4      

M 1/26            Converting pagans       

                        Read: St. Boniface Handout


W 1/28             Franks  

                        Read: Frankish laws and Gregory of Tours Accounts of Clovis


F 1/30              Carolingians                                       Historiography paper due

                        Read: Einhard, Life of Charlemagne


Week 5      

M 2/2               Vikings

                        Read: Vikings, chapters 1-3


W 2/4              Vikings

                        Read: Vikings, chapter 4-8


F 2/6                Vikings

                        Read: Vikings, chapter 9-12                 Annotated Bibliography due


Week 6      

M 2/9               The Dirty F word

                        Read: Articles on feudalism; Rosenwein, chapter 4


W 2/11             The Debate continues
                        Read: Articles on feudalism


F 2/13              History writing in the Middle Ages      Historian Portrait due

                        Read: TBA


Week 7      


M 2/16             TBA                                        

                        Read: TBA; Rosenwein, chapter 5


W 2/18            Reform in the 11th century                                

                        Read: Investiture controversy sources


F 2/20              More reform                                     Outline due

                        Read:   Balderich, Introduction


Week 8      

M 2/23             And even more reform

                        Read: Balderich, chapter 1-21


W 2/25             He dies in the end             Ash Wednesday- Class begins at 11:00 am

                        Read: Balderich, chapter 22-36


F 2/27              NO Class- Work Day


Week 9       Winter Term Break


Week 10    

M 3/9               Oh woe is me!

Read: Letters, Letter 1


W 3/11            The response

                        Read: Letters, Letters 2 and 3             


F 3/13              And further responses

                        Read: Letters, Letter 4 and 5               


Week 11    

M 3/16             The religious letters                                      Research paper draft due

                        Read: Letters, Letter 6 and 7


W 3/18            Abelard’s Rule for Heloise

                        Read: Letters, Letter 8


F 3/20              More letters and some historiography

                        Read: Letters, Letters of Peter the Venerable and Heloise and “The Letters of Abelard and Heloise in Today’s Scholarship”


Week 12    

M 3/23             TBA                

                        Read: Rosenwein, chapter 6

W 3/25            Manuscripts

Read: Susan G. Bell, "Medieval Women Book Owners: Arbiters of Lay Piety and Ambassadors of Culture," Signs 7 (1982): 742-68.



F 3/27              Field Trip to University of Iowa Library- Special Collections

                        Read: Rosenwein, chapters 7 and 8


Week 13    

M 3/30             Sex and Chastity in the Middle Ages

                        Read: Karras, chapter 1 and 2


W 4/1              Marriage

                        Read: Karras, chapter 3            Codicology paper due


F 4/3                Women having sex

                        Read: Karras, chapter 4


Week 14    

M 4/6               Men having sex

Read: Karras, chapter 5 and Afterword


W 4/8              Presentations- Research paper and supporting materials due at beginning of class.       


F 4/10              Easter Break     


Presentations during Final Exam period            


The finals period assigned for this class is 8:30-10:30 am on Friday April 17.

The professor reserves the right to make changes to syllabus, and will notify students when she does so.





Grading standards for essays and papers          Dr. Lindgren


An “A” essay is excellent in nearly all respects.  An “A” essay:

-is well-argued and well-organized, with a clear thesis.

-is well-developed, with content that is original, specific, interesting, appropriate, and convincing.

-has logical transitions that contribute to a fluent style of writing.

-has varied and sophisticated sentence structure.

-has few, if any, mechanical, grammatical, spelling, or diction errors (no more than 3).

-demonstrates command of a mature, unpretentious diction.

-uses the sources extremely well.


A “B” essay shares most characteristics of an “A” essay, but:

-may have some minor lapses in organization and development.

-may contain some sentence structures that are awkward or ineffective.

-may have minor mechanical, grammatical, or diction problems.

-may be less distinguished in its use of language.

-may not use the sources as well.


A “C” essay is competent, but compared to a “B” essay it:

-may have a weaker thesis and less effective development.

-may contain some lapses in organization.

-may have poor or awkward transitions.

-may have less varied sentence structures that tend toward monotony.

-may have more mechanical, grammatical, and diction problems.

-is likely to be less distinguished in its handling of the topic.


A “D” essay is likely to:

-present a thesis too vague or too obvious to be developed.

-display major organization problems.

-lack adequate support for its thesis.

-have confusing or non-existent transitions.

-have ungrammatical or poorly constructed sentences.

-demonstrate problems with spelling, punctuation, diction, or syntax that impede understanding.

-not cite sources.

-be sloppy.


An “F” essay is seriously flawed.  It is likely to:

-have no clear thesis or central topic.

-display random organization.

-lack adequate support or specific development.

-include irrelevant details.

-fail to fulfill the assignment or be unfairly brief.

-contain major or repeated errors in diction, syntax, grammar, punctuation, or spelling.



Adapted from Carol Engelhardt, Ph.D.