Social history of Middle Ages (2007/2008)

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Course code
Name of lecturer
Corrado Corradini
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. II A dal Feb 18, 2008 al Apr 12, 2008.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

to analyse and interpret the organisation of medieval society in its main features (i.e. Institutions, Economy, Law, Culture, Religion).
Students should therefore acquire:
a)The ability to analyse medieval society in historical terms.
b)A basic knowledge of typical social figures such as the knight, the merchant, the beggar, the woman and so on.
c)The specific ability to understand and examinate the way medieval people used to represent themselves and their social status, through the analysis of documentary sources.


The course is divided into three parts:

1) Main features of the Middle Ages: it is necessary to go through the Medieval History handbook again, if already done; if not, it is necessary to focus on the following topics: The transition from the Ancient World to the Middle Ages; The Christianisation; The Organization of the Church; The Barbarian Invasions; The Latin Monasticism; The Lombards; The Arabs; The Franks and the Empire of Charlemagne (Economy and Society); The Vassal-Beneficiary System; the Ottonian Empire; The tripartite society; The Eleventh Century, The Crusades, The Italian `città-stato’ (i.e. `the State-Cities’); the Italian `Comuni’; The crisis of the XIVth Century and the Black Death.
Students are responsible for this part of the course.

2) Social groups and figures of the Middle Ages: during the course the teacher will provide information and notions about some typical social figures such as the nobleman, the knight, the farmer, the citizen, the merchant, the beggar and the woman.

3) Monographic course: Typical figures and features of the Italian `Civiltà Comunale’ (XIIth-XIVth century): in addition to the notes taken during the course, students must acquire a basic knowledge of the documentary sources shown by the teacher.

Students are required to study the following books:
a)For part 1: pp. 33-69, 71-76, 79-91, 111-124, 126-132, 150-155, 157-158, 164-171, 206-213 in the current handbook: P. GOLINELLI, Breve storia dell’Europa medievale, Bologna, Patron, 2004.
b)For part 2: if you cant’t attend lectures, you are strongly recommended to read J. LE GOFF (ed. by), L’uomo medievale, Roma- Bari, Laterza, 1986 (or following editions): foreword, pp. 1-38; the warrior, pp. 81-123; the farmer, pp. 125-154; the citizen, pp. 155-200; the merchant, pp. 271-317; the woman, pp. 319-349; the beggar, pp. 391-421.
c)For part 3: all students are required to read carefully one of the following books:
-P. ARIES-G. DUBY, La vita privata. Dal Feudalesimo al Rinascimento, ed. by G. Duby, Bari, Laterza, 2001 (First edition: 1988). [Students are asked to read two of the following essays: Ch. de La Roncière, D. Régnier-Bobler, D. Barthélemy, Ph. Contamine, G. Duby, Ph. Braunstein pp. 130-537.]
-M. BACCI, Lo spazio dell’anima. Vita di una chiesa medievale, Roma- Bari, Laterza, 2005.
-G. CHERUBINI, Il lavoro, la taverna, la strada: scorci del Medioevo, Napoli, Liguori, 1997.
-J. HEERS, L’esilio, la vita politica, la società nel Medioevo, Napoli, Liguori, 1997.
-P. GOLINELLI, Celestino V. Il papa contadino, Milano, Mursia, 2007.
-G. GRECI- G. PINTO- G. TODESCHINI, Economie urbane ed etica economica nell’Italia medievale, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005.
-A. A. SETTIA, Rapine, assedi, battaglie. La guerra nel Medioevo, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2002.
If you can’t attend lectures you must also read this book:
A.FRUGONI - C. FRUGONI, Storia di un giorno nella città medievale, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2002.

Assessment methods and criteria

Final oral exam. Required skills:
a)Understanding, analysing, summarizing and interpreting the documentary sources.
b)Providing a summary of the chosen book with reference to the monographic part as well as one of the specific features of medieval society.
c)Discussing on the topic of the monographic course.