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Medieval Societies

An image of buildings in Constantinople

The world of Byzantium – that of the ‘other’ Middle Ages of the Eastern Mediterranean – is a fabled and exotic one. If you’ve ever heard of Constantine or Justinian & Theodora, of Constantinople or Antioch, of Hagia Sophia or the Hippodrome, of the Fourth Crusade, of iconoclasts, monophysites or the schism of the churches, of eunuch courtiers or pillar saints, and if you’ve ever wondered who or what they really were, this is the course for you! As a core seminar, the course will have among its primary intended learning outcomes the development of research, analytical, writing and communication skills appropriate to students entering upon a concentration in History. Assignments and practical activities will be directed specifically to this end while being based in exploration of Byzantine history, society and culture. In the Fall Term, this course will run concurrently with the lecture HIST 218 Byzantium where students will become generally familiar with key elements of Byzantine history and society. In the Winter Term the seminar portion of the course will continue with a more focused study of ways in which Byzantine society helped to shape the world of Europe and the Mediterranean in the medieval period. With an emphasis on the interpretation of primary sources in translation and of debated issues, the course will explore some of the more significant episodes and aspects of Byzantine history and culture and will relate them to Byzantium’s place in the broader medieval world and its relations with and attitudes towards the many diverse peoples, powers, and religions of the regions that surrounded it. Among topics to be studied during the year will be Constantine and the emergence of a ‘Christian’ empire, the construction of orthodoxy, Justinian, the coming of Islam and the end of the ancient world, iconoclasm, interaction with the Crusades, the conception and practice of imperial and military power and of justice, the development of Constantinople and the decline of the ancient city, the construction of gender (masculine, feminine and eunuch), the lives of ‘ordinary’ people, education, health and healing, the construction of sanctity and the practice of monasticism, the place of icons, relics and amulets in religious behavior, belief in angels and demons, and the practice of magic and sorcery.

 

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6
Canada

Undergraduate

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Graduate

Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.