Department of Greek & Latin
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MA Late Antique & Byzantine Courses


Prof. David d’Avray (UCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
As the Victorian Protestant historian Macaulay wrote in his purple prose, 'That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains.' It is true that only the papacy, among medieval governments, had a continuous history throughout the whole period, affected every part of Europe, and remains a major factor in world history. This course aims to uncover some of the long-term structures that developed in late antiquity, acquired enormous strength in the central medieval period, underwent tremendous strain in the fourteenth and fifteenth century, and survived to play a global role. The methodology combines longue durée analysis in the Annales tradition with frameworks of interpretation borrowed from Social Anthropology. Students without Latin are admitted to the course on the understanding that they are taking intensive Beginners Latin and will be capable of working with texts in the original by the end of the second term.
Assessment: one 4,000 word essay (50%) and a three hour examination (50%)
Place: UCL 

Dr Antonio Sennis (UCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
Who are we? Where do we come from? For which reasons and by which means do we define our common identity? And who are they and where do they come from? Ar we better than them? Have we got an original character that demonstrates we are better? Can we evoke the past in order to certify the present? These questions are at the same time so old and so dramatically up to date. The course will draw on various types of written sources (narratives, charters, poetry, epigraphy) and material evidence (coins, monuments, luxury objects) in order to explain how the shaping of an ethnic identity contributed to the construction of political, social and economic entities in medieval Europe. The main issues explored during the course are: how the different barbarian peoples were considered and described by Roman writers; how the various barbarian elites recounted their peoples’ origins, the myths they used and how much they owed to those Roman narratives; what ethnic identity had to do with the relationship between rulers and population; how it contributed to the construction of political bodies; if religion was ever used as a tool to claim ethnic identity or to express political opposition; the extent to which we are able to understand the relationship between ethnic identity, kingship, court historiography and progress of territorial power in medieval Europe; how we can use this evidence to see how European societies changed the further they went from Roman times.
Some knowledge of Latin (which may be gained through courses offered as part of the MA in Medieval Studies) would help.
Assessment: Two essays totalling 8,000 words (MDVLGH03)
Place: UCL

Prof. David d'Avray and Dr Marigold Norbye (UCL)
40 credits
Meets: tbc
This course is taught in the History Department, though palaeography courses elsewhere in the university will be available to students and the examination will be designed to give credit to students who have profited from them. The first aim of the course is to teach students how to read manuscript books and documents. It also provides introductory training in the description and dating of manuscript books, in textual criticism, and in the methods and concepts of 'diplomatic'. Students capable of more advanced work in any of these areas will be given the opportunity to do it. They will be encouraged to use the collections of medieval manuscripts and documents in London, which has a concentration unrivalled in the English-speaking world. Students will normally have an opportunity to study directly and in detail a manuscript or manuscripts in the British Library. These manuscripts will be tailored to the personal research interests of individual students. The best pieces of work may be published in the Electronic British Library Journal. Technical training will be set in the context of the cultural history of writing in the medieval West.
Any student having no prior knowledge of Latin is required to attend the Latin for Beginners course. Students are required to complete written course work that does not constitute part of the course assessment.
Assessment: One 5,000-word essay (50%) and a 3-hour unseen examination paper (50%).
Place: UCL

Dr Tassos Papacostas (KCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
The course provides an introduction to the varied physical remains of all types left behind by Byzantine civilization: architecture, painting, the so-called minor arts, and manufactured objects. The selection of material and issues to be examined range from the urban and rural landscapes, fortifications, palaces, houses, monasteries and churches, to mosaics, frescoes, sculpture, enamels, ivories, reliquaries, lead seals and pottery as well as traded goods. This wide range of topics will be investigated chronologically as well as thematically.
Assessment: two 4000 word essays (25% each) and a 2-hour final examination (50%).
Place: KCL

Dr Tassos Papacostas (KCL)
*40 credits
Meets: tbc
The module offers the opportunity to acquire a deep knowledge of the evolution, artistic production and monumental heritage of a part of the medieval world that exemplifies developments beyond Constantinople and has generated a lot of recent and incisive scholarship. The subject matter is approached (i) as a case study of a Byzantine province, looking at its fate in the 'dark age' and medieval period, and (ii) as a prime example of western expansion into the eastern Mediterranean in the wake of the Crusades and later in the context of Venice’s commercial empire. The island’s history illustrates several important themes in the evolution of the Mediterranean and consequently its artistic and monumental heritage encapsulate and exemplify the principal wider trends (the centrality of Byzantine culture, the introduction of Gothic architecture, the genesis of Crusader art, the impact of the Renaissance). Thus one of the overarching themes is the wider context (Byzantine and/or Crusader, Levantine and/or Mediterranean) which will loom large over the investigation of each topic.
Assessment: two 4000 word essays (25% each) and a 2-hour final examination (50%).
Place: KCL

Dr Dionysios Stathakopoulos (KCL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc
This module covers the transitional period which preceded and followed the Arabic conquest of large parts of the Byzantine empire in the seventh century. Initially, Byzantium struggled to contain the Arabic expansion in the East and the Slavic settlement in its European provinces. Numerous administrative reforms testify to this effort, and perhaps equally, one of the most emblematic theological debates to be associated with the Eastern empire, that of Iconoclasm. In this module we will look closely at how the Byzantines faced these threats to their stability and follow the historical course up to the onset of gradual economic, political and cultural revival in the late eighth century.
Assessment:one 4000 word essay
Place: KCL

Dr Dionysios Stathakopoulos (KCL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc
This module aims to provide a broad comparative study of the economic, political, cultural and religious relations between the Byzantine East and European West in the 9th and10th centuries. From the coronation of Charlemagne to the death of Otto III in 1002 the relationship between the Byzantine empire and its western counterpart, the Carolingian and later Ottonian empires, is a particularly rewarding topic. This module will explore a variety of aspects of this relationship: from the role of silk and slaves, to the knowledge of Greek in the West and Latin in the East and from international marriage alliances to the quasi-ubiquitous theme of reform and revival.
The main focus, however, is on the conflicting claims of two empires, each seeking to legitimate its descent from Rome through traditional ceremonies, costumes and regalia. In this module, we will give particular attention to establishment of rival empires under Charlemagne, the strained relationship between the sees of Rome and Constantinople as well as to the growth of Ottonian power in the West, from Otto I's victory on the Lech (955), his coronation as Holy Roman Emperor (962), and the marriage of his son, Otto II, to the Byzantine princess Theophano (972). By comparing these two medieval societies, a key period of European history will be illuminated.
Assessment:one 4000 word essay
Place: KCL

Professor Jonathan Harris (RHUL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc (term 1)
This course traces the response of the rulers of the Byzantine Empire to the First Crusade and to the establishment of the Latin East. Early classes will focus on the background of the empire as it was in the middle of the eleventh century, its relations with the Latin West and the accession and reign of Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118). We shall then turn to the lead-up to and events of the crusade. A range of Byzantine and Western source materials will be examined in translation in an attempt to determine how the Byzantines viewed the crusaders, what they considered their aims to be, what policies they adopted towards them, and—perhaps most important of all—what mistakes they made in dealing with this unprecedented phenomenon.
Assessment: One essay of 4,500 – 5,000 words
Place: RHUL, Egham Campus

Professor Jonathan Harris (RHUL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc (term 2)
This course takes a long term view of the crusade which captured and sacked Constantinople, the capital city of the Byzantine empire, in April 1204. Starting in 1180, it places events in the context of relations between the Byzantines and previous crusades and assesses how key developments such as the usurpation of Andronicus I, the Third Crusade and the empire’s internal weakness contributed to the ultimate outcome. We shall then turn to the events of 1198-1204. Translations of accounts left by contemporaries and eyewitnesses (both Byzantine and Western) will be studied in detail as we try to discover why an expedition that set out with the intention of recovering Jerusalem from Islam ended up pillaging the greatest city in the Christian world.
Assessment: One essay of 4,500 – 5,000 words
Place
: RHUL, Egham Campus

  • HS5209 Women, the Crusades and the Frontier Societies of Medieval Christendom 1000-1300

Professor Jonathan Phillips/Dr Danielle Park
*20 credits
Meets: One 2-hour seminar (term 2)
The crusading rose at a time of significant change for women.  During the High Middle Ages there was an increase in economic productivity and intellectual stimulation, accompanied by wide-reaching religious reform.  The boundaries of Christendom were expanding through sustained crusade expeditions and women were involved in settling the new frontiers.  As an introduction to the course, the effects of the Papal Reform Movement and contemporary societal change on women’s traditional roles will be established.  The association of crusading with pilgrimage meant that women often travelled to the Holy Land with crusade expeditions, although their presence was often criticised. This course will demonstrate how most medieval historians used gendered language and moral tales to express their disapproval of women who took the cross.
Assessment: One essay of 4,500 – 5,000 words
Meets: RHUL, Egham campus

  • HS5256 Recording the Crusades: the Memory of the Crusades

Professor Jonathan Phillips (RHUL)
*20 credits
Meets: tbc (term 2)
This course will examine the writing and the memory of crusading, paying particular attention to the evolution and mutation of the crusading idea over the last 200 years. We will see how crusading imagery was adopted by the European colonial/imperial powers during the nineteenth century, we will look at how it was used during World War I and then follow the story down to the disastrous use of the word ‘crusade’ by President George W.Bush in 2001. We will also consider how historians have interpreted the subject, starting with Michaud in the early nineteenth century, moving through Grousset (1920s), Erdmann (1930s), Runciman (1950s), Prawer, Richard and Mayer (1970s), to Riley-Smith, Housley and Tyerman today.
Assessment:  One essay of 4,500 – 5,000 words
Meets: RHUL Egham campus

  • HS5515 The Crusades: Louis IX of France and the Recovery of the Holy Land

Professor Jonathan Phillips/Dr Michael Carr (RHUL)
20 credits
Meets: One 2-hour seminar running weekly over one term (term 1)
The origins and history of the crusades in the twelfth century; Capetian France; the pontificate of Innocent III; the Fifth Crusade, the crusade of Emperor Frederick II; the origins of the Seventh Crusade; the preaching of the expedition; the financing of the crusade; the journey to the East; the progress and outcome of the campaign; Louis IX in the East, 1250-54; Summary.
Assessment:  One essay of 4,500 – 5,000 words
Meets: RHUL Egham campus

Page last modified on 13 sep 13 17:43