Europe in the Early Middle Ages

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 2203
Europe in the Early Middle Ages
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hrs. per week / semester Seminar: 2 hrs. per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Course Description
This course covers the history of Europe in the early Middle Ages (approximately 300 to 1100), from the late Roman Empire through the transition to medieval Christendom. Topics include the character of the late Roman world and the issues surrounding its collapse, the establishment of new values and new social structures, the dominant role of the Church, the creation of new forms of social organization, and the emergence of a distinctive European culture.
Course Content

A sample course outline would include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. The Later Roman Empire
    • structure, culture, economy, government
  2. Christians in the Roman World
    • beliefs, spread, organization
    • monasticism
    • Christian Rome
  3. The Germanic Peoples
  4. The Crises of the Late Roman Empire
    • military, political, economic
    • leading historical interpretations
  5. Successor States
  6. The Eastern Empire
    • Justinian, the Italian wars
  7. The Rise of Islam
  8. The Emergence of Papal Leadership
  9. North of the Alps
    • Franks, Anglo-Saxons, Irish
  10. Charlemagne and the Carolingian Empire
  11. Vikings
  12. Manorialism
  13. Feudalism
  14. Women in Early Medieval Society
  15. Trade and Towns
  16. The Ottonians and Theocratic Kingship
  17. The Normans and Anglo-Saxon England
  18. Cluny and Reform
  19. The Investiture Crisis
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course the successful student will have:

  1. Acquired an understanding of the main themes and characteristics of European civilization in the high and later Middle Ages.
  2. Acquired experience in approaching and explicating primary medieval sources (reading history).
  3. Created and communicated personal interpretations of historical problems (writing history). Forms for communication of personal interpretations include annotated bibliographies, essays, comparative book reviews, and final examinations.
  4. Analyzed the ideas of other students and the instructor in class in both tutorials and seminars (discussing history).

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accord with the Douglas College student evaluation policy. Specific components of evaluation will include some of the following: mid-term and final exams consisting of short answer questions and essay questions; in-class written work, quizzes, research paper; seminar presentations; short debate/position papers; participation in class discussions.

Specific evaluation criteria will be provided by the instructor at the beginning of the semester and will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

Any combination of the following totalling 100%:

Final exam 30%
Midterm 20%
Research essay 30%
Analytic study 10%
Class participation 10%
Textbook Materials

Textbooks will be chosen from the following list, to be revised periodically.


  • Frankforter, A. Daniel. The Medieval Millennium: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2002.
  • Peters, Edward. Europe and the Middle Ages. 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2003.
  • Rosenwein, Barbara H. A Short History of the Middle Ages. 3rd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Higher Education, 2009.
  • Primary sources available online through the Internet Medieval History Sourcebook, at