1. History is an academic discipline that seeks first to explain what happened – a task made difficult by the complex nature of sources – and then to explain why it happened.
I can explain and suggest solutions to the pitfalls involved in writing history.
I can define and evaluate various theories of history.
I can discuss the influence of context on a historical event.
I can examine how historical processes influence events.
I can evaluate and synthesize evidence from both historical sources and background knowledge to produce critical commentary and reasoned arguments.
I can examine historical events, people, and trends using evidence to support relevant, balanced, and focused historical arguments.
2. The ideas and institutions that characterize modern Europe had their origins in the works of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Medieval Europeans.
I can examine the Ancient Greeks’ contributions to modern European history and culture. I can examine Ancient Romans’ contributions to modern European history and culture.
I can describe the process by which the Greek/Roman heritage was lost and preserved.
I can describe the role of the Frankish kings in preserving and expanding the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.
3. The power and wealth that characterized modern absolute monarchs was preceded by a dynamic which saw power held by the Church and distributed among nobles. Elements of this dynamic persevered into the modern era.
I can analyze the sources of the nobles’ power in pre-modern Europe.
I can analyze the sources of the Roman Catholic Church’s power in pre-modern Europe.
I can analyze the emerging struggle between secular and spiritual authority in pre-modern Europe.
I can examine the relationship between the power of the Roman Catholic Church and the success of the First Crusade.
History is a very difficult and complex discipline, made so by the fact that it relies on human sources, which are notoriously unreliable and idiosyncratic, as evidence. The historical record from which historians seek to synthesize evidence is often incomplete, either because certain events or people were deliberately or accidentally excluded. To the extent that the record is present, it is made the less reliable by bias and its less insidious, but utterly ubiquitous “partner-in-crime,” point-of-view, also known as perspective. The trouble that these have caused historians has led many to adopt an over-simplified “cause and effect” approach to understanding history, which abandons the attempt to synthesize a true narrative and in doing so deprives individuals of their role in history.
The alternative is to embrace the complexity of history and accept the challenge of constructing a narrative from an array of diverse and often conflicting sources. In doing so, the historian must have at his/her disposal not only an understanding of events or people, but the broader context in which those events and people were situated, as well as a sense of the processes which influence those people and events. This understanding allows for a rigorous examination of sources designed to extract the best information available from those sources, despite the presence of bias and/or perspective. By combining the information thus extracted with factual evidence, a balanced and coherent historical narrative or argument may be produced.
For Europeans, history began with the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks established the very concept of citizenship that is practiced in Europe today, and created standards for structured thinking in science and philosophy that influenced modern European thought. Similarly, their standards in the literary and visual arts have stood the test of time. Their concept of individual achievement has been perhaps the most lasting and deeply-rooted of their many contributions to modern Europe. The Romans were less creative and lofty, but their practical focus on how to provide for and govern large populations (through civil engineering and a republican government structured with checks and balances) also served as models for modern Europeans. When the Roman empire collapsed, much of the accumulated knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans was lost in western Europe, but its preservation by the Byzantines and Arab Muslims allowed it to be reintroduced, sparking the Renaissance 1000 years later.
In the meantime, the only surviving institution was the Church, headquartered in Rome. The Franks emerged as the only organized Christian kingdom of the early medieval period and, as such, became the chief defenders of Christian societies and institutions against barbarian and Muslim challenges. Under the rule of Charlemagne, the Franks established the first European empire since the fall of Rome and forcefully expanded Christianity into eastern Europe. The Viking invasions, however, sent western Europe into chaos, and kings were forced to invent new structures to secure their kingdoms.
In this environment, kings found themselves bereft of real power. On the one hand, the Church and its leader, the Pope, held spiritual powers that could bring monarchs literally to their knees by threatening them and their subjects with eternal damnation. On the other hand, kings had become totally reliant on their nobles to secure and administer their kingdoms. When kings tried to lord over their nobles, they might be “put in their place,” as happened to King John of England when Magna Carta placed legal limits on his power; then kings tried to challenge the Pope, they were forced to back down, as happened to Henry IV, HRE in the lay investiture controversy.
historiography feudal system
Narrative Model lord/vassal
Cause and Effect Model manor
perspective/point of view knight
“Great Man” Theory Battle of Hastings
Grand Theory Magna Carta
“history repeats itself” Pope/Bishop of Rome
postmodernism Doctrine of Petrine Supremacy
chaos theory Lay Investiture controversy
polis Concordat of Worms
demos “People of the Book”
civil liberty jizya
social contract Seljuk Turks
civil power First Crusade
political power Siege of Antioch
democracy Siege of Jerusalem
sophists Pericles “Funeral Oration”
classical philosophers Thales
Socratic method Democritus
world of ideas vs. objects Protogoras
form vs. matter Socrates
republic Tarquinus Superbus
senate Publius Valerius
consuls plebeians Lucius Jun. Brutus
comitia Tiberius/Gaius Gracchus
tribunes Gaius Marias
plebeian assembly Lucius Cornelius Sulla
latifundia Gaius Julius Caesar
landless/urban poor Octavian/Augustus
dictatorship Scipio vs. Cato
Cloaca Maxima Constantine
plebs frumentaria Karl Martell
panem et circenses Pepin
“universal city” Charlemagne
Germanic tribes/Goths Harold Godwynson
“Fall of Rome” William the Conqueror
Byzantine Empire John
Arab Muslims Augustine, City of God
majordomo Gelasius I
Moors Gregory VII
Battle of Tours Henry IV, HRE
Lombards Alexios I
partible inheritance Urban II
Palmer, R. R., Colton, Joel, and Kramer, Lloyd, A History of the Modern World Tenth Edition
Caldwell, Amy, Beeler, John, and Clark, Charles, ed., Sources of Western Society
Davies, Norman, Europe: A History
Davison, Michael Worth, ed., Everyday Life Through the Ages
Lualdi, Katharine, ed., Sources of The Making of the West
Sherman, Dennis, Western Civilization: Sources, Images, and Interpretations
Tierney, Brian, Kagan, Donald, and Williams, L. Pearce, eds., Great Issues in Western Civilization
Burke, James, The Day the Universe Changed
Cahill, Thomas, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter
Dodge, Theodore, Alexander
Durant, William, The Life of Greece
Durant, William, The Story of Philosophy
Hall, Sir Peter, Cities in Civilization
Hamilton, Edith, The Greek Way
Keegan, John, The Mask of Command
Norberg-Schulz, Christian, Meaning in Western Architecture
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
Caesar, Gaius Julius, Commentaries on the Gallic Wars
Cahill, Thomas, Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World before and after Jesus
Dodge, Theodore, Hannibal
Durant, William, Caesar and Christ
Gibbon, Edward, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Hall, Sir Peter, Cities in Civilization
Payne, Robert, Ancient Rome
Cahill, Thomas, Mysteries of the Middle Ages
Churchill, Winston, History of the English-Speaking Peoples (Vol. I)
Durant, William, The Age of Faith
Manchester, William, A World Lit Only by Fire: The Medieval Mind and the Renaissance
Due to the nature of the AP European History curriculum, it is difficult to envision an approach to enrichment. The course is taught with the expectation that its content and standards for performance are equivalent to those of a first-year college survey course, and students who choose to enroll in this course do so in anticipation that the course, in and of itself, is an enrichment of their education in history. Students may choose to read the complete versions of texts referenced during the course, with the encouragement and support of the instructor.