HIST 204 Lecture Outline (Spring 2015 – Week 1)

Week 1: Tuesday

Introduction to course:

Discussion of syllabus, required textbooks and online readings, grading and deadlines, exams and research paper, discussion sections, expectations.

IMPORTANT: We need to be able to contact you via your UWM e-mail address. If you use another Internet Service Provider instead (e.g., Yahoo! or Hotmail), you must put a Forward command on your UWM e-mail address immediately, so that your UWM e-mail will be forwarded to the e-mail address that you actually use. To do this, go to to http://outlook.office365.com and follow the directions there for forwarding mail.


BC (“before Christ”) = BCE (“Before the Common Era”) (examples: “Augustus seized control of Rome in 31 BC” or “Augustus seized control in 31 BCE”)
AD (“anno domini” or “in the year of the Lord”) = CE (“Common Era”) (examples: “Augustus died in AD 14” or “Augustus died in 14 CE”)
c. or ca. (“circa“) = “around” (example: “Chaucer was born c. 1340.”)
i.e. (“id est“) = “that is” (example: “In the thirteenth century, i.e., in the 1200s . . .”)
e.g. (“exempli gratia“) = “for example” (example: “Primary sources can include physical objects, e.g., buildings, skeletons, and pottery.”)

What is a primary source?

Primary sources are essential to the study of history; they are the raw data from which historians work.

Primary sources = firsthand or eyewitness sources, contemporary with the period under study .
(For example, primary sources for medieval Europe include both texts and also physical objects, such as buildings, skeletons, and pottery, that date from the Middle Ages.)

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources = secondhand or later sources, not contemporary with the events studied.
(For example, secondary sources for medieval Europe include modern reference works and scholarly studies, assemblages of statistical data, and reconstructions of medieval buildings, weapons, and clothing.)

Why do historians need to consult both?




Old Roman chant: Terra Tremuit (offertorium from the Easter Sunday service, Rome, 7th-8th cent.: 10:02 min.):

Collegerunt pontifices (11th-cent. processional antiphon, 5:25 min.):

Summary of early medieval European history, AD 1-1000:

Click here for an Interactive map of the Roman Empire

c. AD 1-200 Height of Roman power
200s Roman Empire in crisis
300s Order restored; Roman Empire becomes widely Christianized; Empire divided into Eastern (Byzantine) and Western Empires
400s-500s Invasion of Western Empire by Germanic tribes leads to collapse of Western Empire, which leads to sharp decline of towns in West (Eastern or Byzantine Empire survives until 1453)
600s Rise of Islam
mid 700s- mid 800s Rise of Carolingian (Frankish) Empire, Benedictine monasticism, and feudalism; the three great European-Mediterranean powers (Byzantines, Muslims, and Carolingians) achieve rough balance of power
800-1000 W. Europe attacked by Vikings, Muslims (“Saracens”), and Magyars; Carolingian Empire disintegrates
c. 1000 Revival begins in W. Europe:

  • (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

Online readings:

Peace of God, 989

Archbishop and bishops decree anathema (damnation) against anyone who attacks churches or people who cannot defend themselves (poor and clergy). = Effort to curb endemic violence by predatory lords and their followers.

Raoul Glaber, Histories

Widespread building and rebuilding of churches shortly after the year 1000. Demonstrates widespread economic revival.

Truce of God, 1063

Bishop and count jointly decree severe penalties (exile and exommunication) against those who commit theft or violence during the period called the “truce of God” (throughout the year, from sunset Wednesday to sunrise Monday; and daily from Advent to 6 January, Lent to a week after Easter, and the 5th Sunday after Easter to the 7th Sunday after Easter). = A further effort to curb endemic aristocratic violence.

Those charged with breaking the peace who deny it are to undergo the ordeal of hot iron. = Standard form of judgment when charge is disputed: God determines innocence or guilt. (Click here for a depiction from Bamberg Cathedral [1513] of a woman undergoing an ordeal by hot iron.)