Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : History

Undergraduate Course: Charlemagne's Europe, c. 750 - 825 (HIST10512)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits40 ECTS Credits20
Summary'If a Frank is your friend, he's certainly not your neighbour'. This quip was reported by the contemporary biographer of Charlemagne, Einhard: but was it true? This course explores that question, by studying the societies and cultures that neighboured Charlemagne's empire, including the English kingdoms, the Abbasid Caliphate and the Avar nomads, and investigating the nature of their interactions with the Franks.
Course description Though large, Charlemagne's empire never encompassed all of what people at the time thought of as Europe. Through studying the relations the Franks had with the peoples living around them in the decades around the year 800, the course shifts the focus away from the imperial centre towards its borders. By contextualising Charlemagne's empire in this way, we shall develop a clearer understanding of what Europe (Europa) meant in the ninth century.

The course will begin with a succinct summary of Carolingian Francia at the time of Charlemagne, before moving onto a panorama of the peoples who were in contact with the Franks, from the Irish to Byzantium, and from al-Andalus to the Danes. We shall then take a thematic turn, considering the mechanisms and conceptualisations that informed these relations, before concluding with a reconsideration of what it meant when a contemporary hailed Charlemagne as 'Father of Europe'. At the heart of the course is your own individual analysis of the sources, enriched through collaboration with your peers in the seminars, a group project and a course symposium, as well as through your own reflections on your learning. All this is designed to build on and sharpen your skills as a well-rounded historian that you've learned so far in your degree.

Content note: The study of History inevitably involves the study of difficult topics that we encourage students to approach in a respectful, scholarly, and sensitive manner. Nevertheless, we remain conscious that some students may wish to prepare themselves for the discussion of difficult topics. In particular, the course organiser has outlined that the following topics may be discussed in this course, whether in class or through required or recommended primary and secondary sources: violence and intolerance. While this list indicates sensitive topics students are likely to encounter, it is not exhaustive because course organisers cannot entirely predict the directions discussions may take in tutorials or seminars, or through the wider reading that students may conduct for the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements A pass in 40 credits of third level historical courses or equivalent.

Students should only be enrolled on this course with approval from the History Honours Programme Administrator.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 400 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 42, Summative Assessment Hours 3, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 8, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 347 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework:
Two source commentaries submitted together, 1,000 words total (10%)
4,500 word essay (20%)
Learning journal of at least five 150-word entries each semester (10%)

Non-Written Skills:
Group presentation (15 mins + 5 mins Q&A) of a map-based infographic (20%)

Written Exam:
3-hour examination (40%)
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.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand the complexities of relations between the Carolingians and other peoples in and around Europe in the decades around 800
  2. analyse and utilise primary written sources to support historical arguments
  3. collaborate with peers in analysing and interpreting historical evidence
  4. reflect on their individual learning journey
Reading List
Jenny Benham, International Law in Europe, 700 - 1200 (Manchester, 2022)

Jennifer Davis, Charlemagne's Practice of Empire (Cambridge, 2015)

Sven Kalmring, Towns and Commerce in Viking-Age Scandinavia (Cambridge, 2023)

Michael McCormick, Charlemagne's Survey of the Holy Land (Washington, 2011)

Janet L. Nelson, King and Emperor: a new life of Charlemagne (London, 2019)

Klaus Oschema, Europe in the Middle Ages (Leeds, 2023)

John Osborne, Rome in the Ninth Century (Cambridge, 2023)

Sam Ottewill-Soulsby, The Emperor and the Elephant: Christians and Muslims in the Age of Charlemagne (Princeton, 2023)

Walter Pohl, The Avars: a Steppe Empire in Europe, 567-822 (London, 2018)

Laury Sarti, Orbis Romanus. Byzantium and the Roman Legacy in the Frankish World, Oxford, forthcoming

Jonathan Shepard et al., Imperial Spheres and the Adriatic: Byzantium, the Carolingians and the Treaty of Aachen (812) (London, 2017)

Jo Story, Carolingian Connections: Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Francia, c. 750-870 (London, 2003)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Ability to critically interpret evidence and data from an open-minded perspective
A confident and reflective approach to pursuing their goals
Skilled communication
Ability to play a role as part of a team
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Charles West
Course secretary
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information