Undergraduate Course: Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Political Thought (SCHI10070)
|School||School of History, Classics and Archaeology
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
||Availability||Available to all students
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
|Home subject area||Scottish History
||Other subject area||Celtic
||Taught in Gaelic?||No
|Course description||What is the nature of organised society? How are authority, power and leadership structured and exercised? The surviving corpus of writings produced in early medieval Britain and Ireland (c.500 to c.900) are remarkably rich in perspectives on these political questions. Intensive study of these works forms the backbone of a long scholarly tradition concerned with 'institutional history': the origins and concrete realities of kingship, 'governance' and political institutions in the British Isles. Such a focus has tended to ignore, however, the more abstract and intellectual aspects of Insular political writing in this era. In some cases, scholars may even have mistaken abstract ideas for evidence of authentic political behaviour.
This course, relying on English translations of key texts, seeks to introduce students to the impressive range of political thought which survives, including considerations of such subjects as social status, leadership and followership, authority and its limits, freedom, obedience and justice. It will stimulate reflection on these concepts as general features of the human condition in all times and places. It will also test various aspects of the 'institutional history' of early medieval Britain and Ireland.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
|Additional Costs|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||A pass or passes in 40 credits of first level historical courses or equivalent and a pass or passes in 40 credits of second level historical courses or equivalent. Before enrolling students on this course, Directors are asked to contact the History Honours Admission Secretary to ensure that a place is available (Tel: 503783).
|Displayed in Visiting Students Prospectus?||No
Course Delivery Information
|Not being delivered|
|On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
1. -- command of the body of historical knowledge surrounding political thought in early medieval Britain and Ireland, demonstrated/assessed through written work and seminar contributions
2. -- an ability to develop and sustain informed and relevant historical arguments, demonstrated/assessed through written work and seminar contributions
3. -- successful application of the professional skills of analysing critically historical texts of early medieval date (either in translation or in original languages, where students possess them) and associated modern scholarship
4. -- sharpened senses of the broad character of leadership, followership, power and authority with broad applicability to other courses and student endeavours
|The learning outcomes of the course will be assessed according to the following formula: two-hour Degree Examination (50% of final mark); individual Essay of 2500-3000 words (30% of final mark); individual Source Analysis/Commentary of 1000 words (15% of final mark); contributions to seminar discussion (5% of final mark).|
||1 Was there political thought in the early Middle Ages?
2 Pagan past, Christian present, and political thought
3 Kinship and 'the kin-based society'
4 Tribes or 'states'? Concepts of local sovereignty and identity
5 The 'social contract' between king and people
6 Rank, 'excellence' and social mobility
7 Gildas, dissent and the tyrant-king
8 High kingship: concepts, theories and models
9 Innocents: the place and role of women in politics
10 Peace and power
11 Conclusion: political theory versus political practise
Aitchison, N. B. 'Kingship, society, and sacrality: rank, power, and ideology in early medieval Ireland', Traditio 49 (1994), 45-75.
Binchy, D. A. Celtic and Anglo-Saxon Kingship (Oxford, 1970).
Breatnach, L. Uraicecht na Ríar: the poetic grades in early Irish law (Dublin, 1987).
Burns, J. H. (ed.), The Cambridge History of Medieval Political Thought, c. 350-c. 1450 (Cambridge, 1988).
Byrne, F. J. 'Tribes and tribalism in early Ireland', Ériu 21 (1971), 128-64.
Byrne, F. J. Irish Kings and High-Kings (2nd edn: Dublin, 2001).
Charles-Edwards, T. M. 'Críth Gablach and the Law of Status', Peritia 5 (1986), 53-73.
Charles-Edwards, T. M. 'A contract between king and people in early medieval Ireland? Críth Gablach on kingship', Peritia 8 (1994), 107-19.
Charles-Edwards, T. M. Early Christian Ireland (Cambridge, 2000).
Davies, W. and P. Fouracre (eds.), The Settlement of Disputes in Early Medieval Europe (1986).
Driscoll, S. T. and M. R. Nieke (eds.), Power and Politics in Early Medieval Britain and Ireland (Edinburgh, 1988).
Enright, M. J. 'Royal succession and abbatial prerogative in Adomnán's Vita Columbae', Peritia 4 (1985), 83-103.
Ireland, C. A. (ed.), Old Irish Wisdom Attributed to Aldfrith of Northumbria: an edition of Bríathra Flainn Fína maic Ossu (Tempe AZ, 1999).
Jaski, B. Early Irish Kingship and Succession (Dublin, 2000).
Kelly, F. (ed.), Audacht Morainn (Dublin, 1976).
Kelly, F. A Guide to Early Irish Law (Dublin, 1988).
Mac Neill, E. (trans.), 'Ancient Irish law: the Law of Status or Franchise', Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 36 (1921-24 ), Section C, 265-316.
McLeod, N. 'The concept of law in ancient Irish jurisprudence', The Irish Jurist 17 (1982), 356-67.
Meens, R. 'Politics, mirror of princes and the Bible: sins, kings and the well-being of the realm', Early Medieval Europe 7.3 (1998), 345-57.
Patterson, N. T. Cattle-Lords and Clansmen: the social structure of early Ireland (Notre Dame and London, 1994).
Ullmann, W. A History of Political Thought: the Middle Ages (Harmondsworth, 1965).
Wormald, P. 'Celtic and Anglo-Saxon kingship: some further thoughts', in P. E. Szarmach (ed.), Sources of Anglo-Saxon Culture (Kalamazoo, 1986), 151-83.
||Teaching in each two-hour seminar will revolve around student-led discussions of key texts and historiographical problems, informed by directed readings from secondary authorities. Debate and critical assessment of received interpretations will be encouraged. There are no formal student presentations.
|Course organiser||Dr James Fraser
Tel: (0131 6)50 4034
|Course secretary||Miss Clare Guymer
Tel: (0131 6)50 4030