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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : History, Classics and Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: Saints┐ cults in Medieval Europe, 300-1300 (LLLE07029)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummarySaints┐ cults pervaded every aspect of life in medieval Europe: from the elite church, kingship and politics, to the everyday life of Christendom. This course explores the enormous growth and change in medieval Christian saints' cults, from their popular origins in the third century, through to thirteenth-century papal control. Using a wide variety of primary sources, both written and physical, students will examine the many contexts of saints' cults, including pilgrimage, relics, art and architecture.
Course description 1. Introduction: What is a saint? Theological ideas of sainthood. Social and political context of saints' cults.
2. Origins: Martyrs and ascetics; hagiography. St Antony, St Paul of Thebes, St Martin of Tours.
3. Types of saint: martyrs, bishops, ascetics, royal, monks, missionaries, male, female.
4. Miracles: Types of miracle; miracle collections; miracles as a historical source.
5. Relics: Types of relic - bones, cloth, locations; medieval criticism of relics; changing attitudes towards relics.
6. Pilgrimage: Who went? Why? Where? Visit to NMS.
7. Art and Architecture: Images of saints - how did these change over time? Buildings connected to saints.
8. Case study: St Cuthbert. Consider all the above issues through looking at a single saint┐s cult.
9. Scottish saints: Kentigern, Machar, Columba, Margaret, Nicholas, Giles.
10. Conclusions: What made a saint? Who decided? Changes from third to thirteenth centuries. Saints' cults beyond the thirteenth century.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. evaluate the role of saints' cults in medieval society, culture and politics
  2. explain the changes in saints' cults from the third to the thirteenth centuries
  3. analyse a range of medieval primary sources
  4. demonstrate the above outcomes in the assessment.
Reading List

Stouck, M.-A., 2008. A Short Reader of Medieval Saints. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Bartlett, R., 2013. Why can the dead do such great things? Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.


Brown, P., 1982. The Cult of the Saints. Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Farmer, D. H., 2011 (5th. ed. revised). Oxford Dictionary of Saints Oxford: OUP.

Freeman, C. 2011. Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe. Newhaven CT: Yale University Press.

MacQuarrie, A., 1997. The Saints of Scotland. Edinburgh: John Donald.

Sumption, J., 2002 (2nd ed.). Pilgrimage: An Image of Medieval Religion. London: Faber and Faber.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills ┐ Critical thinking.
┐ Handling and analysis of sources.
┐ Oral discussion.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Sally Crumplin
Course secretaryMr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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