HIST 101 Lecture Outline (Spring 2023 – Week 12)

HIST 101






History of Venice: Rise to Glory (13:41 min.; show 3:00-8:00):

Marina Rustov, How to Live in Cairo in the Year 1000 (17:37 min.):

The Artistic Legacy of Abbasid Baghdad (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 3:44 min.):

How to use an astrolabe (British Museum, 6:38 min.):

Seb Falk: Astrolabes: The Medieval Smartphone? (9:33 min.):

Video on Viking ships (6:28 min.; start at 0:44):



Cultures, pp. 338-353 (Mediterranean cities; the reinvention of the Church; the reinvention of the Islamic world; the call for Crusades; the Crusades; Turkish power and Byzantine decline)


c. 1000  Beginning of European revival (click here for a map of Europe about the year 1000):

  • external attacks cease
  • internal violence diminishes
  • weather improves
  • better crops > better diet > rise in population
  • long-distance trade revives
  • towns revive
  • “Tripartite” society: those who pray, those who fight, and those who work


Mediterranean cities and international trade:

After c. 1000, W. Europe began to recover, while internal divisions were  dividing the Islamic world, and the Byzntines were withdrawing from Mediterranean affairs to focus instead on the Balkans and Slavic lands. European merchants from port cities on the Mediterranean in Spain, S. France and Italy began to trade by sea with the Byzantine and Muslim worlds as well as with Europe. From Europe they brought mostly raw materials such as lumber, wool, minerals, and metal ores;  from N. Africa, the E. Mediterranean, and Byzantium they brought silks, spices, glassware, metalwork, and other manufactured goods and exotic luxury products. Many port cities established special compounds for foreign merchants and their goods, both to protect them and to segregate them from the local population.

The reform of the Western (Latin) Church:

During the centuries of external attacks, the military aristocracy who undertook the defense of European society took control of the elections by clergy and monastic houses to important church offices. The aristocracy used this to benefit their own families and allies.  The result was that the corruptly chosen popes, bishops, abbots, and abbesses were often very unsuited to the offices they held.

After c. 1000 CE the cessation of external attacks and the broad revival of W. Europe led the church – no longer in need of military defense – to begin to assert independence against this corrupt control of its elections by secular lords. By the 1050s the pope (the bishop of Rome) was also trying to establish his own supremacy over the entire church and over all bishops, both in the Western (Latin) church and in the Eastern (Byzantine) church. In 1054, this led the pope and the patriarch of Constantinople to excommunicate one another, and to a schism (formal split) between the Latin church and the Byzantine church.

The reinvention of the Islamic world:

The period c. 1000-1258 CE was a very turbulent one, with the rise in N. Africa of new local Berber dynasties who rejected traditional Arab political and military leadership, established fundamentalist regimes in N. Africa and Spain, and treated Jewish and Christian communities with growing harshness.  In the Near East, the Abbasid caliphate was destabilized by the arrival from Asia of the Seljuk Turks. In 1071 the Seljuks achieved a massive victory over a Byzantine army at the battle of Manzikert by which the Byzantines lost control of most of Anatolia. The Abbasids turned to the Turks as military allies, and embraced elements of Turkish culture, as they had of Persian culture. The Abbasids also encouraged the spread of Sufism (Islamic mysticism), and Baghdad remained a center of learning and artistic culture until its violent conquest and destruction by the Mongols in 1258.

The Crusades (1095-1291):

The revival of W. Europe and the rise of the Latin church as a unified institution under the increasing control of the pope, the news in Europe of the conquest of most of Anatolia and the Holy Land by the Seljuk Turks, and the desperate appeal by the Byzantine emperor to the west for military aid, led Pope Urban II in 1095 to call European knights to march to the Holy Land and seize it from Muslim control. The First Crusade that followed succeeded in doing just that, conquering the lands along the E. coast of the Mediterranean, culminating with the conquest and sack of Jerusalem in 1099, and establishing four “Crusader States.” In less than a century, however, Muslim armies re-took almost all of the Crusader-held territories; the last Crusader stronghold, the port city of Acre, fell in 1291Military orders of knights emerged, including the Templars, the Hospitallers, and the Teutonic Knights. They lived under religious discipline and dedicated themselves to defending the Holy Land and to fighting Muslims and pagans.  During the 1100s and 1200s Europeans launched seven major crusades and a number of minor crusades to try to recover the Holy Land or to seize Muslim territories in Egypt and N. Africa, to no avail. However, in Iberia Christian armies succeeded in their “Reconquista” (reconquest) of territory from Muslim control, pushing southward until by 1275 only the small kingdom of Granada along the S. coast remained in Muslim hands. Popes  launched additional successful crusades  in Europe against a powerful heretical movement (called Catharism or Albigensianism) in S. France, and against pagan slavs in E. Europe.  Together, the crusades and the military orders militarized and weaponized the Latin church.

By c. 1300: Rise of W. Europe and Turkish Power; Byzantine Decline:

Between c. 1000 and 1300 CE, Western Europe became a world power. Its kingdoms and smaller states had expanding populations and economies; they were united spiritually by a powerful institutional church ruled by the pope; they had for a time seized control of the Holy Land; and Italian shipping dominated the Mediterranean. The Byzantine Empire suffered a crushing defeat at Manzikert in 1071 that sharply reduced its size, wealth, and power, and it was dealt a further severe blow when Constantinople itself was sacked and looted by Crusaders in 1204 and  ruled by “Franks” for more than 60 years, and ceased to be a world power. The Turks rose in power through their control of much of Anatolia (where they established a state called the Sultanate of Rum) and of Syria and Egypt (where they established the Mamluk Empire).  They defeated the Mongols in 1260, and Turkish hegemony over the Muslim world lasted until 1922.




Henry Abramson, lectures in Jewish history:

Synagogue innovations in Late Antiquity (10:38 min.):

The Mishnah (22:33 min.):

What is the Talmud? (16:16 min.; see 0:00-3:50 min.):



Cultures, pp. 353-361 (Judaism reformed, renewed, and reviled; the emergence of the Slavs)

Sources, pp. 165-189 (Pope Gregory VII, Letters; Guibert de Nogent, Gesta Dei (God’s Deeds: the 1st Crusade); Peter Abelard, Sic et Non (Yes and No); Otto of Freising, The Two Cities; the “Song of Roland;” Trotula of Salerno, Handbook on the Maladies of Women; Ibn Fadlan, Risala)


Jews and Judaism in the Diaspora:

After the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and exiled the Jews from Judaea, Jews established scattered communities throughout the Roman empire. In exile, and with the Temple destroyed, the Jews turned to rabbis (teachers) for religious instruction and direction, and used synagogues (community centers) for worship and study. Rabbinical oral teachings, legal judgments, scholarly debates, and biblical commentaries were collected into a massive work called the Talmud (“Learning”). The Talmud contains two parts: the Mishnah (“Teaching”), written in Hebrew, consists of rabbinical laws covering all aspects of life and religious ritual, and was compiled by Rabbi Judah ha-Navi (“the Prince”) c. 200 CE. The Gemara (“Complete”), written in Aramaic, consists of rabbinical analyses and commentaries on the Mishnah.  One version of the Talmud, the “Jerusalem Talmud,” was compiled  by scholars in Palestine c. 350-400 CE; another version, the “Babylonian Talmud,” was compiled  by scholars in Babylonia c. 500 CE.

Carolingian rulers and bishops saw Jews as useful promoters of manufacture and commerce, and offered protection to Jewish communities willing to settle in Frankish lands. The Jews who migrated to northern Europe (Ashkenazim) became culturally and linguistically distinct from the Jews who remained in the Mediterranean (Sephardim).


The emergence of the Slavs (map):

During the 400s and early 500s CE a new Indo-European people, the Slavs, settled the Eurasian plain where E. Europe and W. Asia meet. Over the next 500 years, missionaries and armies from Byzantium and Germany slowly converted and/or conquered the pagan Slavs. The  Eastern Slavs and most of the Southern Slavs joined the Orthodox (Byzantine) Church; the Western Slavs, and the Croatians and Slovenes (S. Slavs) joined the Latin (Roman) Church. But the Slavic lands were a continual battleground for centuries, and political stability was fragile (map of Europe in 814map of Slavic states c. 1000).


Primary sources:

Pope Gregory VII, Letters (1073-81): Pope Gregory VII proclaimed papal supremacy over secular princes, prohibited the interference by secular rulers in ecclesiastical elections, and used his power of excommunication to threaten any prince who challenged him. In these letters, he deals with a variety of matters: what to do with a homicidal priest; the French king’s interference in the election of a bishop; the Byzantine emperor’s request for aid to defend his empire against the “pagan people” (Seljuk Turks); the shocking disobedience of the bishop of Constance; the graciousness of the Muslim ruler of Mauretania, with whom Gregory acknowledges a shared faith in the one true God and a shared reverence for the patriarch Abraham; whether to absolve the excommunicated count of Lucca for his disobedience.

Guibert de Nogent (c. 1055-1124), Gesta Dei (God’s Deeds: the 1st Crusade, 1107-8):  Describes the difficulties faced by the Crusaders during the long siege of Antioch (Oct. 1097-June 1098).

Peter Abelard, Sic et Non (Yes and No):  Abelard’s preface describes his logical methodology for reconciling seeming contradictions in the writings of the Church fathers. This includes identifying scribal errors, mistakes in translation or interpretation, false authorial attributions, confusions between an author’s personal opinions and his authoritative statements of faith, etc.

Otto, bishop of Freising (1115-58), The Two Cities:  Describes the turbulent conflicts between the German emperors and their aristocracy, their conflicts with the people and bishops of N. Italy; their wars against the Bohemians and Poles; the Germans’ evangelization of the Poles and Hungarians; the corruption in Rome that resulted in three men each claiming to be pope, and how Henry III forced them out and chose a reformer to be pope (Leo IX);  Henry IV’s clash with Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand, formerly prior of Cluny).

The “Song of Roland” (c. 1140-70):  The chivalrous Count Roland and his valiant comrades Turpin, Archbishop  of Rheims, and Count Oliver battle against hopeless odds rather than ask for help. Roland sounds his ivory horn to alert Charlemagne only after his doom is certain, when even his legendary sword Durendal cannot give him victory.

Trotula of Salerno, Handbook on the Maladies of Women (c. 1200):  This extract includes recipes for diagnosing infertility, for preventing conception, for softening the skin and removing body hair, and for dyeing hair black.

Ibn Fadlan, Risala (“Journeys,” c. 921):  Observations on the Rus Vikings, whom Ibn Fadlan encountered on the Volga River.