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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Making and Breaking Medieval Britain: England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales c.1100 - c1500 (HIST08039)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course traces the interlocked story of the various polities that occupied late medieval Britain and Ireland. It examines the way in which the understanding of Britain as a cohesive geographical, political and cultural unit strengthened in the 12th and 13th centuries, and how this process reversed in the 14th century, an age of war, plague and economic decline.
Course description The course provides students with an overview of the key developments in the history of late medieval Britain and Ireland. The course addresses and questions the comparative methodological approach pioneered by Rees Davies and Robin Frame (the so-called 'New British History') that seeks to understand the history of the British Isles as something more than a collection of 'national' political narratives. The chronological starting point is provided by the profound transformation of the aristocratic, ecclesiastical, administrative, economic structures, and cultural and social life, of the various polities within the British Isles that came in the wake of the Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England. The course traces the way in which, thereafter, Frankish political and cultural norms extended over much of the British Isles and Ireland, drawing the various societies that inhabited the islands into European networks, largely mediated through the English crown and its associated institutions. The course outlines the way in which the 'Europeanisation' process allowed the English monarchy to reinforce its dominant position within Britain, before the impact of war, plague and famine in the fourteenth century destroyed the coherence of this 'English Empire'.

Provisional Lecture Programme

Introduction (weeks 1-2)
1. The medieval and modern construction of British History.
2. The British Isles and Ireland in 1065.
3. The Coming of the Franks
4. The Angevin supremacy.

Week 3-4: Power, government, aristocracy
5. Kingship and Government. The experience of England and Scotland
6. Petty kings and Princes. The experience of Wales and Ireland
7. Chivalry, war, and the culture of Lordship
8. Political communities and assemblies.

Weeks 5-6: Identities: 'One race, one tongue, one law'?
9. Becoming English.
10. Becoming Scottish.
11. The first English Empire? Language, Law and Ethnicity
12. The breaking of Britain, 1296-1350.

Weeks 7-8: Religion
13. The New Church. 1100-1300
14. Popes, Kings and Schisms.
15. Heretics and outsiders.
16. Pilgrimage, Crusade and Popular Piety

Weeks 9-10: Society and Economy
17. The rise of urban Britain
18. The family: social structures and social tensions
19. The Black Death and its aftermath
20. Popular Rebellion

Week 11: Conclusions
21. Medieval British History: A meaningful concept?
22. Revision
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in any first level course achieved no later than August of the previous academic year.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 1 introductory level History course at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework, a sound knowledge of key aspects of the medieval world;
  2. demonstrate, by way of an assessed essay, an ability to assimilate a variety of sources and formulate critical opinions on them;
  3. demonstrate, by way of an assessed essay, an ability to research, structure and complete written work of a specified length, within a specified time;
  4. demonstrate an ability to make informed contributions to class discussion and give an oral presentation as required;
  5. demonstrate an ability to organize their own learning, manage their workload, and work to a timetable
Reading List
R. Bartlett, The Making of Europe: Conquest, Colonization and Cultural Change 950- 1350 (London, 1993)
R. Britnell, Britain and Ireland 1050-1530: Economy and Society (Oxford, 2004)
D. Carpenter, The Struggle for Mastery. The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284 (London 2003)
R.R. Davies, Domination and Conquest: Ireland, Wales and Scotland, 1100-1300. (Cambridge, 1990)
C.Dyer, Making a living in the middle ages: the people of Britain 850-1520 (Yale, 2002)
R. Frame, The Political Development of the British Isles, 1100-1400 (Oxford, 1995)
J. Gillingham, The English in the Twelfth Century (Woodbridge 2000)
S.Rigby A Companion to Britain in the Later Middle Ages (Chichester, 2009)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsMedieval Britain
Course organiserDr Stephen Boardman
Tel: (0131 6)50 4035
Course secretaryMiss Annabel Stobie
Tel: (0131 6)50 3783
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