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HIST302: Medieval Europe

Unit 4: The High Middle Ages   Between the eleventh and thirteenth century, Europe entered a period known as the High Middle Ages.  The absence of the bubonic plague and the rise of commerce created an environment for many changes in politics and society.  Many European kingdoms became more stable polities after the period of “barbarian invasions;” kings centralized and Christianized their territories.  This unit presents a geographic overview of Europe from Spain to the Urals during this crucial period of the 1200s and early 1300s. 

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 12 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 4.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 4.4: 3 hours 

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Identify and describe key events in the political and constitutional history of the English and French kingdoms during the High Middle Ages. 
  • Identify major milestones in what historians have called the “reconquista” and describe the challenges faced by the Christian rulers of the new Iberian kingdoms.
  • Identify and explain major contemporary political events in Central and Eastern Europe, including the Mongol invasion and conquest of Russia. 
  • Describe political events and structures in smaller principalities such as Flanders, which indicate the variety of relationships between rulers and ruled in medieval Europe.   

4.1 England and France   4.1.1 Magna Carta   - Reading: U.S. Naval Academy: Professor Richard Abels’ “Annotated Excerpts of Magna Charta, 1215” Link: U.S. Naval Academy: Professor Richard Abels’ “Annotated Excerpts of Magna Charta, 1215” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Please read all of this text which describes the circumstances leading up to King John’s (r. 1199-1216) signing of the Magna Charta in 1215, an event which is considered to be one of the most momentous in English political history.  In this reading, Professor Richard Abel of the United States Naval Academy provides a valuable introduction to the political conflict between the king and landed elites within the realm that led to the drafting of the Magna Charta, the claims and rights expressed in its clauses, and some of the implications of these agreements for future generations of rulers and ruled.  After reading Abel’s introduction, please proceed to the final segment of the text and read the set of clauses from the Magna Charta selected by the author.
 
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4.1.2 Manner of Holding Parliament   - Reading: Yale University’s The Avalon Project: “Manner of Holding Parliament” Link: Yale University’s The Avalon Project: “Manner of Holding Parliament” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this document from the mid 1300s to better understand the political position of the various ranks of medieval England.
 
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4.1.3 Royal Power in France   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of “Suppression of Etampes Commune, 1199–1200” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of “Suppression of Etampes Commune, 1199–1200
 
Instructions: Read this entire document for insight into how the French kings could revoke rights of those who did not fulfill their obligations.
 
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4.1.4 Kingship in Medieval France   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of “Louis IX: Advice to His Son” Link: Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of “Louis IX: Advice to His Son
 
Instructions: Read the document to understand the ideal conduct and duties of a French monarch.
 
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4.1.5 Peasants   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: “On Laborers” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: “On Laborers” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read “On Laborers” to understand the daily lives of peasants and the relationships between different types of peasants.
 
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4.1.6 Women   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Peter of Blois’ “Letter to Queen Eleanor” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Peter of Blois’ “Letter to Queen Eleanor” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read Peter of Blois’ “Letter to Queen Eleanor” to understand women’s legal position in the twelfth century and how important Eleanor’s divorce and remarriage were to the political climate of northern Europe.
 
Note on the text: Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine, lived from 1122 to 1204 and was perhaps the single most powerful person in Europe in the twelfth century.  She was definitely the wealthiest.  She inherited a third of France from her father, and in 1137 she married the future Louis VII, King of France.  In 1152, Eleanor met Henry, Count of Anjou, the heir apparent to the English throne, and divorced Louis to marry Henry, taking the Aquitaine and all of her other feudal possessions with her. In this letter Peter of Blois tries to dissuade Eleanor from divorcing Louis.
 
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4.2 Germany and the Rhine   4.2.1 Barbarossa   - Reading: Yale University’s The Avalon Project: The Gelnhausen Charter (April 13, 1180) Link: Yale University’s The Avalon Project: The Gelnhausen Charter (April 13, 1180)
 
Instructions: Read the Charter to understand the efforts to limit ducal power in the Holy Roman Empire.
 
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4.2.2 The Idealized Emperor   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "The Idealized Emperor" Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Idealized Emperor” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read "The Idealized Emperor."  As you read, ask yourself the following questions: what was the vision of ideal imperial rule?  How did German monarchy differ from other monarchies in Western Europe?
 
Reading, taking notes, and answering the questions above should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete. 

4.2.3 Flanders   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "Flanders" Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Flanders” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please r"ead "Flanders.  As you read, ask yourself the following questions: how would you characterize the relationship between counts and town councils in Flanders?  What role did economics play in this relationship?
 
Reading, taking notes, and answering the questions above should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete. 

4.3 Central and Eastern Europe   4.3.1 The Golden Age of Kiev   - Reading: Eastern New Mexico University: Dr. Shirley J. Rollinson’s “Selections from the Primary Chronicle” Link: Eastern New Mexico University: Dr. Shirley J. Rollinson’s “Selections from the Primary Chronicle” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read the selections from the Primary Chronicle to understand the growth of Kiev and its ties to Byzantium.
 
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4.3.2 The Mongol Invasions   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "The Mongol Invasions" Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “The Mongol Invasions” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Please read "The Mongol Invasions."  As you read, ask yourself the following questions: what kind of governance did the Mongols provide in their empire?  What were some of the results of Mongol expansion?
 
Reading, taking notes, and answering the questions above should take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete. 

4.3.3 Great Novgorod   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Great Novgorod” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Great Novgorod” (PDF).
 
Instructions: Please read "Great Novgorod."  As you read, answer the following questions: how did Novgorod maintain its independence from other regions of Russia?  What were the main characteristics of governance in Novgorod?
 
Reading, note-taking, and answering the questions above should take approximately 15 minutes to complete. 

4.3.4 Poland under Casimir the Great   - Reading: John Radzilowski’s “From Wood to Stone” Link: John Radzilowski’s “From Wood to Stone” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Casimir the Great ruled Poland from 1333–70 and transformed his country from a recently reunited collection of local princes into a regional powerhouse.  Read the except above to understand how Casimir shaped the history of east-central Europe.
 
Terms of Use: This material has been reposted with the kind permission of John Radzilowski.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.  

4.4 Europe’s Peripheries   4.4.1 Iberia   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation's "Iberia" Link: The Saylor Foundation's "Iberia" (PDF).

 Instructions: Please read "Iberia." In the eighth century, nearly
all of the territory encompassed today by the states of Spain and
Portugal was conquered by Muslim armies, an event which presaged a
long period of conflict between Carolinian and Muslim forces.  The
strength of Christian principalities in the north of the peninsula
also grew in time and by the thirteenth century—the period covered
in the present reading—powerful kingdoms had emerged in the form of
Castile, Aragon, and Portugal.  The final stages in the growth of
these powers and their efforts simultaneously to conquer the
remaining Muslim territories in the peninsula while developing their
internal systems of authority is described in the present reading. 

4.4.2 Ireland   - Reading: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Gerald of Wales’ “The Norman Conquest of Ireland (12th Century)” Link: Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Professor Paul Halsall’s version of Gerald of Wales’ “The Norman Conquest of Ireland(12th Century)” (HTML)
 
Instructions: British chronicler Gerald of Wales wrote this account of the Anglo-Norman conquest of Ireland.  Read the account, and consider the importance of English influence on medieval Ireland.
 
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4.4.3 Scandinavia   - Reading: The Saylor Foundaton's "Scandinavia" Link: The Saylor Foundaton's "Scandinavia" (PDF)

 Instructions: Please read "Scandinavia" to better understand the
impact of Swedish expansion on Finland from the 1200s.