Pass in at least two of the Level One modules offered by the Department of History.
This module examines the early Middle Ages (c. 300- c. 1100) from the point of view of the family. The study of the family is a particularly fruitful approach to understanding early medieval society, as blood and marriage relationships made the family the building block of larger social networks. In week 1-2 we will seek to understand the late Roman starting point against which early medieval developments must be measured. In week 3-4 we will consider the initial impact on the family of the barbarian invasions at the end of antiquity and the influence of so-called Germanic custom on early medieval concepts of family. In week 5-8 we will explore early medieval households: settlement patterns, family economics, concepts of co-residency and relationships between spouses on the one hand and parents and children on the other. Finally (week 9-11) we will examine strategies that families used to safeguard both property and group identity between the end of antiquity and what some scholars see as the ensuing 'social revolution'.
The Late Roman Family
The Roman Father
Land and Wealth
The Great Estates of Late Roman Egypt
Barbarians at the Gate
Roman Families in Barbarian Gaul
What is a Sippe?
Household and Demography
Families and Settlements
Marriage and Divorce
Making Sense of Incest
Female Roles in the Family
Mothers and Sons
Children in the Family
Asceticism and Property
The Eye of the Needle: The Gospel Legacy
Family and Monastery
Royal Claims: The Pippinids at Nivelles
Families and "Social Revolution"
Cluny and the mutation familiale
A. Arjava, Women and Law in Late Antiquity (1996)
J. Banaji, Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity (2001)
K. Cooper, J. Hillner, Religion, Dynasty and Patronage in Early Christian Rome, 300-900 (2007)
C. Leyser, Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great (2000)
D. Herlihy, Medieval Households (1985)
D. Herlihy, Women, Family and Society in Medieval Europe (1995)
R. Mathisen, Roman Aristocrats in Barbarian Gaul: Strategies for Survival in an Age of Transition (1993)
R. I. Moore, The First European Revolution (2000)
B. Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbour of St. Peter. The Social Meaning of Cluny's Property (1989)
B. Rosenwein, Negotiating Space. Power, Restraint and Privileges of Immunity in Early Medieval Europe (1999)
P. Stafford, 'La Mutation familiale: A Suitable Case for Caution', in The Community, the Family and the Saint (1998), pp. 103-125.
S. Wemple, Women in Frankish Society: Marriage and the Cloister, 500-900 (1981)
C. Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400-800 (2005)
I. Wood, 'Genealogy Defined by Women: The Case of the Pippinids', in Gender in the Early Medieval World. East and West 300-900 (2004)
Intended Learning Outcomes
Students completing this module will have developed:
Familiarity with the key structures and functions of the early medieval family in a period of social change.
An understanding of the social concepts underlying the family's role in early medieval society, of the contemporary challenges and critique these concepts faced, and the solutions to these problems.
An ability to critically interpret the contributions of a range of primary sources from a number of genres to our understanding of the early medieval family.
An ability to critically evaluate contrasting modern interpretations in the light of the primary sources.
Intellectual skills, including the ability to construct and present a reasoned argument in written and oral form in a professional manner, to pose questions about complex issues, to locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources, to conduct bibliographic searches.
Transferable skills, including the ability to manage time, to work co-operatively in groups, to engage in independent research, and to engage in critical discussion and debate.