11379 - Medieval History

Course Unit Page


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

Quality education Sustainable cities

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the students will be able to appreciate the value of historical knowledge for the understanding of the present, and to distinguish the objectivity of the facts that make up history from the subjectivity of every form of its interpretation and narrative (historiography). They will understand the meaning, forms and essential value of the sources and will be able to conduct research through their use; - they will be aware of the limits and partiality of the term "Middle Ages "; they will be able to identify the great legacies of the medieval period, for instance in the evolution of the relationship between humanity and the environment , in the diffusion, in the interweaving and conflicts of the great monotheistic religions; in the formation of European nations; in the development of technology; in the sedimentation of the architectural and historical-artistic heritage of the European continent, of Italy and its cities. Finally, they will be able to recognize and respect the imprints and legacies of the different cultures that remain in our societies

Course contents

The subject of the course is the history of medieval cities, used as a "lens" to focus on the main themes that identify the Middle Ages, since the development of urban organisms, especially in Italy, exemplarily lends itself to frame and define the essential lines of the long medieval era.

The knowledge of the evolution of cities involves both the analysis of material structures (the "city of stone": buildings, road installations, plots, infrastructures and public works...) and the study of institutions, political bodies, legislation and the administration of justice, of economic and demographic dynamics, culture and religion (i.e. the "city of men"). Therefore, dealing with the history of cities - and in particular medieval cities - means getting to know the urban society, the choices and policies adopted by it and the consequent conditioning of urban material structures.

The course will give students the opportunity to approach medieval history from the well-known and concrete context of historical cities, whose original shapes and characters mostly date back to medieval times.

The learning outcomes of the course are:

- through the study of the history of cities, getting to know the themes that qualify the Middle Ages, such as the crisis of the Roman Empire, the spread of Christianity, the invasions and the Roman-Germanic kingdoms, the Islamic civilization, Carolingian Europe, local powers, the recovery of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the age of municipalities , the religious movements, the characteristics of the fourteenth century, Italy as regional states;

- learning the specific vocabulary of the discipline;

- understanding the phenomena that qualify the abovementioned themes and establishing a connection among them;

- formulating conceptual summaries and critical judgments.


For the students who will complete the Portfolio, reasoned and original report of the topics dealt with during the lessons: such portfolio will be created with the help of a checklist provided by the teacher (the methods for writing the portfolio will be dealt with in detail during the first lesson):

F. Bocchi, M. Ghizzoni, R. Smurra, Storia delle città italiane dal Tardoantico al primo Rinascimento, Torino, UTET Libreria, 2002

For all the other students:

F. Bocchi, M. Ghizzoni, R. Smurra, Storia delle città italiane dal Tardoantico al primo Rinascimento, Torino, UTET Libreria, 2002

and ONE volume of your choice from the following:

F. Senatore, Medioevo: istruzioni per l’uso, Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2018

M. Gazzini (a cura di), Il falso e la storia. Invenzioni, errori, imposture dal medioevo alla società digitale, Milano, Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, 2020

A. Barbero, Barbari. Immigrati, profughi, deportati nell’impero romano, Bari, Laterza, 2008

G. Milani, I Comuni italiani, Bari, Laterza, 2005

I. Lazzarini, L’Italia degli stati territoriali. Secoli III-XV, Bari, Laterza, 2003

Erasmus and Overseas students must contact the teacher to agree on a specific exam program, which will take place in Italian

Teaching methods

Lectures, collective discussions, analysis and commentary on documentary and iconographic sources. 

If health conditions will allow it, an educational visit to Ravenna will also be made.

Assessment methods

The students who opt for the completion of the Portfolio must take a final oral test that will focus on the contents of the volume indicated in the bibliography.

For all the other students, the final exam consists of an oral test that will focus on the topics set out in the two texts indicated in the bibliography.

The evaluation will be expressed in 30ths.

During the oral test, the verification of learning will cover the disciplinary knowledge, critical and methodological skills acquired by the student.

The organic vision of the disciplinary contents and their critical analysis, the expressive mastery and possession of the specific vocabulary will lead to an evaluation of 30-30L; he preparation on a large number of topics covered in the course combined with the ability to make autonomous choices of critical analysis and the mastery of the specific vocabulary will lead to an evaluation of 29-27; the mostly mechanical and / or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, together with the skills of synthesis and analysis not articulated and / or a correct but not always appropriate vocabulary will lead to an evaluation of 23-26; the minimal and partial knowledge of the disciplinary contents and a non-specific vocabulary will lead to an evaluation of 18-22.

Students with different skills and special needs are requested to contact the teacher in order to identify - as far as possible - compensating strategies or tools to support the teaching.

Teaching tools

The teaching materials (.ppt files summarising the contents of the lessons, pdf files of sources and in-depth readings) will be available on the online teaching platform - VIRTUALE.

Office hours

See the website of Manuela Ghizzoni