Course Description An alien from outer space who visited the world in the year 1000 would never have predicted that in five hundred years, Europeans would be on the verge of dominating the entire globe. The political, economic, social, and intellectual developments that unfolded between the years 1000 and 1500 catapulted Europeans to the forefront of world civilization. What happened then has had a direct impact on the world in which you live, sometimes in ways that are difficult to imagine. Even the idea of a university originated in this period.
This course examines European civilization during this age of dynamic growth and change, the High Middle Ages. During these centuries, many of the best-known characteristics of medieval culture came into being. Europe emerged from the relative darkness of the Early Middle Ages with an explosion of population, economy, intellectual life, and culture. Three emblematic developments will help us structure our exploration of this fascinating but strange period: cathedral-building, the crusading movement, and the rise of universities. We will discuss the foundations and contexts of these developments, addressing for instance the nature of the agricultural and commercial revolutions, knights and chivalry, and high medieval religion. Through our common reading of primary and secondary sources, we will investigate the architecture, the institutions, the groups, and the extraordinary individuals who shaped these creative centuries in European history.