09223 - History of the Medieval Church

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Reduced inequalities Peace, justice and strong institutions

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will have a deep critical knowledge of the medieval Church in its many top-level and lower-order institutions, whether central or peripheral. They will have a critical methodological approach to problem-solving via data analysis and applying the relevant models to interpreting social and institutional processes. They will be able to use the different sources critically with direct knowledge of original sources relating to: religious orders, periods of radical and partial reform, relations between the church and and reasons therefore, the main church issues (papal primacy and conciliarism), division and schism, canon law. They will be able to use the relevant teaching tools and realise the importance of the historical documentary heritage. They will be able to explain social and institutional phenomena by comparisons and linkages covering different periods and geographical settings. In their spoken language they will use the specific terminology.

Course contents

The program is divided into two parts: the first with an institutional nature, the other one focused on a monographic study.

Institutional part:

a) The Christianization of the Roman Empire and the development of ecclesiastical institutions

b) The evangelization of the Barbarian West

c) Monasticism

d) The relationships between East and West

e) Ecclesiastical institutions in the Carolingian and post-Carolingian period

f) The Reform of the eleventh century

g) The construction of the papal monarchy

h) The Church and the canon law

i) Heretical movements

l) Mendicant Orders

m) The Avignon Papacy

n) The great western schism and Conciliarism

Reference books: the two manuals by Claudio Azzara and Anna Maria Rapetti indicated in the "texts" section.

Monographic part:

- The Investiture Controversy.

Reference book: the volume by Nicolangelo D'Acunto on the Investiture Controversy indicated in the "texts" section.


Attending students will prepare the final exam following this bibliography with the support of materials and notes provided in class:

C. Azzara – A.M. Rapetti, La Chiesa nel Medioevo, Bologna, Il Mulino 2009, in addition to C. Azzara, Il papato nel Medioevo, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2006.

N. D’Acunto, La lotta per le investiture. Una rivoluzione medievale (998-1122), Roma, Carocci, 2020.


Non-attending students will prepare the final exam following the previous bibliography with the support of one of the following additional readings:

- M.T. Dolso, Gli ordini mendicanti. Il secolo delle origini, Roma, Carocci, 2021.

- G. Melville, Le comunità religiose nel Medioevo. Storia e Modelli di vita, Brescia, Morcelliana, 2020.

- L. Paolini, Le piccole volpi. Chiesa ed eretici nel medioevo, Bologna, Bononia University Press, 2013.

- R. Parmeggiani, L' Inquisizione a Firenze nell'età di Dante. Politica, società, economia cultura, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2018.

- M. Pellegrini, Vescovo e città. Una relazione nel Medioevo italiano (secoli II-XIV), Milano, B. Mondadori, 2009.

Teaching methods

Lessons (general approach to the subject); reading and comment of the principal sources.

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

During the lessons power point slides with images, graphics and geographics maps will bw used.

Office hours

See the website of Riccardo Parmeggiani