11379 - Medieval History

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The discipline aims to educate students to know and comprehend the political, institutional, social, and cultural phenomena, which led to the construction of the special identity of Medieval Europe and of its documental and monumental patrimony.

Students will learn to understand the principal political-institutional and socio-cultural processes of the Medieval Age (in their essential lines); to critically analyse the impact on European civilization of these processes, in the long period; to apply these elements to the analysis of written sources and to the problems of the preservation and valorisation of the material patrimony, both documental and monumental) patrimony; to synthesize the methodological contents of a scientific historical paper, and to present the results of a research; to approach the study of new topics on the basis of the knowledge acquired during the course.

Course contents

A) 1st Learning module (6 credits), taught by Professor R. Savigni:

1) (4 h.) Introduction, The idea of Middle Ages and the issue of periodization. What's a source, and main typologies of sources. Collection of sources and specific websites.  

2) (20 h.) High Middle Ages. Migrations of nomadic populations, Roman-Germanic Kingdoms.

Lombards and Franks: society, institutions, mentality.

Arabs and Islam in the Mediterranean Sea.

The role of the Church and of monasticism in the formation of medieval civilization.

The Carolingian and Ottonian Empire.

Feudality, Lordship and "incastellamento".

Papacy and Empire until the ecclesiastical reform of the 11th century.

Environment, climate and history. Climate change in the Middle Ages.

3) Case Study (6 h.) : Ravenna and its archbishops between Papacy and Empire. The cultural and documentary heritage of Ravenna from Theodoric to the 11th century.

Laerning Module B (30 h, prof. Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli):

Gregory VII and the Reformation of the Church.

The Normans.

Civitas and Municipality.

The New Orders. Heresies, Inquisition and witchcraft.

Female figures and roles in the late Middle Ages The fourteenth century.

Case study: Preachers and crowds at the end of the Middle Ages (with reading and commenting on sources)


A) General part (1st Learning module)

1)Textbook: A. Zorzi, Manuale di storia medievale, Torino, Utet, 2016.

2) Sources analyzed during the lessons by the teacher, available here: http://campus.cib.unibo.it/.

If needed, students may do a preliminary basic training the medieval section of a history manual of upper secondary schools (p. e. R. Balzani-A. Chiavistelli-R. Savigni, L'argomentazione storica, La Nuova Italia-Rizzoli education 2018), and may use the discussion forum to ask questions to teachers.

Non-attending students will have to integrate the study program with a reading agreed with the teacher (for example C. Azzara, The barbarian invasions, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2007 (second edition)

B) 2nd Learning module: in addition to the manual, the book of M.G. Muzzarelli, Pescatori di uomini. Predicatori e piazze alla fine del Medioevo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2005.

Non-attending students must also bring a book of their choice between:

Glauco Cantarella, Gregorio VII, Roma, Salerno Editrice 2018

Paolo Grillo, Le guerre del Barbarossa, Roma-Bari, Laterza 2014

Grado G.Merlo, Frate Francesco, Bologna, il Mulino 2017

G. Todeschini, Gli ebrei nell’Italia medievale, Carocci 2018

Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, Un’intellettuale alla corte di Francia. Christine de Pizan intellettuale e donna, Bologna, il Mulino 2017



Teaching methods

Traditional front lesson will be accompanied by the reading and analysis of various sources, provided by the teacher or available on the web (Latin sources are provided with Italian translations), by discussion of the main critical literature , and by constant e-learning communication (website https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23552).

During the course, Visits are planned to the Historical Archives of the city (Municipal and Archbishopric), and to the monuments of the city, with the aim to illustrate the method of investigation and interpretation of historical sources both written and material/iconographic.

Assessment methods

Entrance test: at the beginning of the course, to verify the initial knowledge and skills of the students attending. Mid-course test: after half of course A, to monitor the learning process.

Final test; an oral examination, about both parts. It can also be taken separately with the two professors. The final grade will be the average of the marks obtained in the two parts.
Presence showed by the student during the lessons or during discussion in the forum will be considered for the final mark, as well as partecipation to seminars or conferences and lectures about Middle Ages organized or suggested by the teacher.
In order to pass the exam, the students are requested to:

show understanding of  the principal topics of the course; 

identify the principal social-economical, cultural and istitutional transformations in Middle Ages;

critically read the sources available at the website https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23552 (at least in italian language), as well as the material indicated by the teacher.

In order to obtain a high mark, the student are requested to:

have a good knowledge of the specific vocabulary (Italian and Latin);

easly move through the different topics and sources using the appropriate links;

confront critically the different sources concerning the same topic.

If a student appears not to be able to move through the principal subjects studied and not to be able to order in time and space the most important historical events, he won't be able to succeed in the examination. A (at least) generical knowledge of the principal subjects, even without the use of an appropriate vocabulary, will be sufficient, and the student will pass.

Non-attending students are requested to contact the teacher to define the topics and the integrative readings before the conclusion of the course.

Non-attending students will be able to get a high evalutation only if they will use in a critical way the sources mentioned in the bibliographic material used, as well as they will use the suitable links between different readings and contexts, and answer to the questions with an appropriate vocabulary.

Teaching tools

Frontal lessons, critical reading of sources, and critical web use.

The Professor will use different typologies of sources (all translated during classes) partly available on the net (especially at www.retimedievali.it).
A guided visit to a Library or an Archive will provide a more direct approach to the primary sources.

Lessons will be frontal, with interactive sessions, with use of e-learning material. Students ware also required to partecipate in the interactive teaching by enrolling on the e-learning page of the course: https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23552.

Students will be able to intervene in the forum, which will represent a constant tool for dialogue with the teacher.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Raffaele Savigni

See the website of Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli