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

Undergraduate Course: The Doomed Kingdom: Power, Law and Religion in Early Medieval Europe (HIST10495)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAs the huge empire created by the ruler Charlemagne fragmented, his heirs embarked on a desperate and ruthless struggle for power. This course looks at how one of the kingdoms that emerged, Lotharingia (855 - 869), was engulfed and eventually destroyed by a divorce scandal, in the process brilliantly illustrating the entangled dynamics of politics and culture in early medieval Europe.
Course description This course explores the intersection of politics and culture in early medieval Europe through the strange fate of the Carolingian kingdom of Lotharingia. The slow-motion collapse of this kingdom, linked to an extraordinary marriage scandal, is uniquely well-documented, through secret treaties, letters both confidential and public, the minutes of staged show trials, records of tense summit meetings, learned legal advice, and rich and often spiteful contemporary narratives. Drawing on these sources, students will explore key themes in early medieval European history, including the contested meaning of empire, dynastic rulership, the evolution of queenship, the use of the written word, legal pluralism, the impact of the vikings and the changing role of the papacy.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements 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.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  50
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 11, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 11, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
1,000 word critique of an AI-generated essay on late Carolingian history (15%)
Four short source commentaries (2000 words) (35%)

Two-hour written exam (50%)
Feedback Students will receive feedback on their coursework, and will have the opportunity to discuss that feedback further with the Course Organiser during their published office hours for this course or by appointment.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. account in detail for the collapse of the kingdom of Lotharingia, setting its fate in a broad early medieval context
  2. understand the interpretative limits and potential of a wide range of early medieval sources
  3. evaluate and take a position on recent historiographical debates in late Carolingian history
  4. plan and execute written critical analyses of selected aspects of late Carolingian Frankish history, relating to the course themes, in both coursework and examination settings
Reading List
Stuart Airlie, Making and Unmaking the Carolingians, 751-888 (New York, 2020)

Marios Costambeys, Matthew Innes and Simon MacLean, The Carolingian World (Cambridge, 2011)

Paul Dutton, Carolingian Civilisation: a reader (Toronto, 2009)

Karl Heidecker, The Divorce of Lothar II. Christian Marriage and Political Power in the Carolingian World (Ithaca, 2010)

Janet L. Nelson, Charles the Bald (1992)

Janet L. Nelson, The Annals of St-Bertin (Manchester, 1991)

Martha Rampton, Trafficking with Demons: Magic, Ritual and Gender from Late Antiquity to 1000 (New York, 2021)

Laury Sarti, Orbis Romanus. Byzantium and the Roman Legacy in the Carolingian World (Oxford, 2023)

Rachel Stone, Morality and Masculinity in the Carolingian Empire (Cambridge, 2011)

Rachel Stone and Charles West, The Divorce of King Lothar and Queen Theutberga. Hincmar of Rheims's De divortio (Manchester, 2017)

Elina Screen and Charles West, eds. Writing the Early Medieval West (Cambridge, 2018)

Charles West, The Fall of a Carolingian Kingdom (Toronto, 2023)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Skills in research development and analysis

Oral communication skills, through seminar participation and presentation delivery

Written communication skills

Group working, to prepare and develop presentations and through seminar activities
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Charles West
Course secretaryMiss Lauren Smith
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