75893 - History of Institutions and Cultural Heritage in the Middle Ages

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

Aim of this discipline is to provide the student with a patrimony of knowledge and abilities, able to lead him to understand (with the help of written sources) the formation of the cultural Heritage and of the monumental and documental patrimony, in Italy, Europe and the Whole Mediterranean area. At the end of the course, students must acquire deep knowledge of the political-institutional processes and of the socio-institutional interactions which shaped medieval Europe in its particular identity and historical memory, and they must be able to apply this knowledge to a specific urban or territorial area or to a specific archival and librarian context and to understand the cultural Heritage of an institution. They must be able to communicate the results of a bibliographical research or of a critical analysis of written sources, and to approach the study of new topics on the basis of the knowledge acquired during the course.

Course contents

(10 h.) Cities and Territories in Italian and European Middle Ages: general characters and regional specificities.

Different typologies of urban settlements: capital cities (urbs regiae), castles (castra), episcopal cities, mercantile settlements (emporia), new villages and settlements.

Cities and routes. Towns on the seashore vs. towns on the plains. Cities of Roman or Byzantine origin vs. newly founded cities. Laic and ecclesiastical elites. Urban space and sacred space of churches, monasteries and cemeteries. Cathedrals, bishopʼs palaces and municipal buildings.

2) (10 h.) Cultural Memory. Production centers of culture and documentation: bishops, cathedral chapters. Monasteries, Cathedral schools and Universities, city-states, royal and princely courts.

Written sources: different typologies, and their different methods of construction and use.

The construction of memory by ecclesiastical institutions, laic elites, medieval cities. 

The books of Pontiffs (libri pontificales) and the registers of popes and bishops.  Urban chronicles and Statutes. The growth (either quantitative and qualitative) of the book and document heritage from High to Low Middle Ages.

Notarial deeds. From single parchments to notarial registers.

3) (10 h.) Case studies: Ravenna, Lucca, Bologna, Milan, Florence.

Organization of urban space and cultural and documentary heritage.The origin and growth of the main documental repositories. Inventories of books and documents.



Students must prepare a written paper (10-15 pages), on a topic agreed with the teacher (Instructions on writing the essay are posted on the teacher's website: https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/raffaele.savigni/contenuti-utili), and at least one of these books:

For the Course class "History, preservation and enhancement of artistic and archaeological heritage and landscape" Students:

1) F. Bocchi, Per antiche strade: caratteri e aspetti delle città medievali, Roma, Viella, 2013;

2) Gli spazi della vita comunitaria : atti del Convegno internazionale di studio, Roma-Subiaco, 8-10 giugno 2015, a cura di Letizia Ermini Pani, Spoleto 2016(De re monastica, 5).

3) P. Grillo, Nascita di una cattedrale. 1386-1418: la fondazione del Duomo di Milano, Milano, Mondadori, 2017

4) F. Marazzi, Le città dei monaci: storia degli spazi che avvicinano a Dio, Milano, Jaca Book, 2015

5) Dalla RES PUBLICA al Comune. Uomini, istituzioni pietre dal XII al XIII secolo, edited by A. Calzona and G. M. Cantarella, Verona, Fondazione Alberti-Scripta, 2016

6) P. Boucheron, Conjurer la peur : Sienne, 1338 : essai sur la force politique des images, Paris, Seuil, 2013; Italian translation, Scongiurare la paura: saggio sulla forza politica delle immagini, Milano, Jaca Book, 2018.

7) P. Boucheron, Pouvoir et édilité: les grands chantiers dans l'Italie communale et seigneuriale, edited by É. Crouzet-Pavan, Rome 2003;

8) C. Tosco, L'architettura medievale in Italia 600-1200, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2016.

For the Course class LM-5 - Library studies students:

1) P. Cammarosano, Italia Medievale. Struttura e geografia delle fonti scritte, Roma, Carocci 1998 and subsequent reprints.

2) La memoria delle chiese: cancellerie vescovili e culture notarili nell'Italia centro-settentrionale, secoli X-XIII, ed. P. Cancian, Torino, Scriptorium,1995 e Le scritture del Comune: amministrazione e memoria nelle città dei secoli XII e XIII, ed. G. Albini, Torino, Scriptorium,1998

3) Le scritture dei monasteri, proceedings of the Second International Seminar, ed. F. De Rubeis e W. Pohl, Roma 2003

4) Vitale e Agricola sancti doctores: città, Chiesa, studio nei testi agiografici bolognesi del 12. secolo, ed. G. Ropa and G. Malaguti, Bologna, EDB, 2001

5) Bologna e il secolo 11.: storia, cultura, economia, istituzioni, diritto, ed. G. Feo and F. Roversi Monaco, Bologna, BUP 2011

6) G. Sarti, Un libro ravennate di spiritualità monastica dell’inizio del secolo VIII nell’Archivio Storico Diocesano di Ravenna- Cervia, with an introductory essay by R. Savigni, Ravenna, Longo, 2017, with R. Savigni, “Memoria urbis”: l’immagine di Ravenna nella storiografia di età carolingio-ottoniana, in Ravenna da capitale imperiale a capitale esarcale, Atti del XVII Congresso del Centro di studi sull’Alto Medioevo (Ravenna, 6-12 giugno 2004), Spoleto 2005, pp. 615-701;

7) Two volumes from the series: "Il Medioevo nelle città italiane", Spoleto, Cisam. E.g.: G. Milani, Bologna, Spoleto 2012; P. Guglielmotti, Genova, Spoleto 2013; L. Tanzini, Firenze, Spoleto 2016; E. Orlando, Venezia 2016.

Students can discuss with the teacher different readings related to their paper argument.

Instructions on writing the essay are posted on the teacher's website (https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/raffaele.savigni/contenuti-utili).

Non-attending students will have to take a second book or other readings agreed with the teacher

Students who have not previously attended a medieval history course can gain basic knowledge using the manual of A. Zorzi, Manuale di storia medievale, Torino, Utet, 2016.


Teaching methods

Analysis of written sources, and discussion of relevant bibliography, with attentions to the content but also to the use of historical methodologies.

Seminar lections and interactive sessions through the forum (https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23537 ), with special attention to the reading, analysis and discussion of different historical sources (narrative, documental, archaeological sources). Sources and bibliography will be made available to students during classes and through the website https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23537, on which students can interact constantly with the teacher.

Assessment methods

Oral examination with discussion of a written paper (10-15 pages). The topic of the paper must be agreed with the teacher, and the paper itself should be submitted at least one week in advance. (https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/raffaele.savigni/contenuti-utili).

The oral examination will be held after the end of the lessons. It will be oral, and made of three principal questions. The discussion of the paper will be considered as one of the three questions of the final test. The final evaluation will be determined also by class participation, i.e. by interventions and questions of the student during the lessons and through the forum (https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23537 ), as well as attendance to seminars, conferences, and lectures about Middle Ages organized or suggested by the teacher.

The student, to pass the examination, must prove his knowledge of the principal topics of the course, his ability to identify the principal socio-economic, cultural and institutional processes of the Middle Ages, and his awareness of the characteristics of a number of medieval sources, that he has to use and discuss critically (at least in their Italian translation). The list of sources, provided in class by the teacher, is available at https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23537 .

To obtain high marks, students should demonstrate good knowledge of specific vocabulary (in Latin too, if necessary); ability to easily move through different topics and sources, and to connect them logically; ability to critically compare different sources on the same topic.

Students unable to describe the principal topics, or to correctly place in space and time major historical events, will not pass the examination.

Minimum requirement to pass the exam is the generic knowledge of principal topics (even without use of appropriate vocabulary).

Non-attending students must bring a second volume agreed with the teacher before the end of the course (in addition to the general assignments) and their grades will be high only if they will prove their ability to critically discuss the sources and the bibliography used in the paper, as well as their capacity to connect different texts and contexts, and to answer the question with specific vocabulary.


Teaching tools

Databanks, digital libraries, digital archives, online resources (sources, bibliography).

Seminar lections based on the reading and analysis of historical sources (narrative, documental, monumental, iconographical, cartographical sources). Sources will be listed at the beginning of the course and on the website https://iol.unibo.it/course/view.php?id=23537.

Guidance towards a selective use of the web for scientific purposes.

Students will be guided towards a direct approach to libraries and archives, with the aim of a better contact of primary sources (edited or not).

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Raffaele Savigni