12544 - History of Medieval Political Thought(1)

Course Unit Page

  • Teacher Berardo Pio

  • Credits 6

  • SSD M-STO/01

  • Teaching Mode Traditional lectures

  • Language Italian

  • Campus of Bologna

  • Degree Programme First cycle degree programme (L) in History (cod. 0962)

  • Teaching resources on Virtuale


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Reduced inequalities Sustainable cities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide students with a general vision of the evolution of political thought in the Christian West throughout the middle ages (6th-15th century). They will be able to discuss the latest comments on and interpretations of a series of texts taken from soures that keenly affected the evolution of medieval political thought. They will grasp how and where different cultures interacted in history. They will recognize the relevance of categories, languages and complex concepts to cultural interaction over the long term. They will also learn to listen, understand and debate respectfully with different cultures and viewpoints, spotting the tie-ups among different disciplines.

Course contents

- Papacy, Empire and Kingdoms: ideological fundaments of the Universal Sovereignty and of the national monarchy;

- Absolutism and Constitutionalism;

- the lex regia de imperio;

- the Franciscan tradition;

- the crisis of the Papal Theocracy (Gilles of Rome, John of Paris, Dante, Marsilio);

- The Political Thought of William of Okham;

- Bartolo's Political Thought;

- the Conciliar movement (Conciliarism);

- the Political Thought of Fiftheenth-Century Italian Humanists.


Monographic part: The Magna Carta Libertatum of 1215 (Reference book: the volume of Mario Caravale indicated in the "Bibliography" section).


  • R. Lambertini - M. Conetti, Il potere al plurale. Un profilo di storia del pensiero politico medievale, Roma, Jouvence, 2019.
  • M. Caravale, La Magna Carta Libertatum, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2020.


  • G. Briguglia, Il pensiero politico medievale, Torino, Einaudi, 2018 (only for students not attending).

Teaching methods

Frontal lectures (general approach to the subject); reading and comment of the principal sources of the medieval political thought.

Assessment methods

The final exam will be an oral one, with questions aimed to verify the student's knowledge of the themes discussed during frontal lessons (only for students that participated in classwork) as well as those treated in the program's texts. Among the elements that concur in the final evaluation there are: detailed knowledge of the book's content, property of language, and especially the capacity of organizing the information into complex answers showing expositive and critical skills.

Top marks will be awarded to a student displaying an overall understanding of the topics discussed during the lectures, combined with a critical approach to the material and a confident and effective use of the appropriate terminology.
Average marks will be awarded to a student who has memorized the main points of the material and is able to summarise them satisfactorily and provide an effective critical commentary.
A student will be deemed to have failed the exam if he displays significant errors in his understanding and failure to grasp the overall outlines of the subject, together with a poor command of the appropriate terminology.

Teaching tools

We will use power point slides with images, graphics and geographics maps.

Links to further information


Office hours

See the website of Berardo Pio