History of the Middle Ages

I.     Course Prefix/Number: HIS 135

       Course Name: History of the Middle Ages

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course examines the political, cultural and intellectual development of Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Italian Renaissance.  Content includes Roman, Christian, and Germanic contributions to medieval west. The impact of Byzantine and Islamic cultures are also explored.

IV.   Learning Objectives

A.   Demonstrate basic knowledge of the major historical eras covered.
B.   Define the basic vocabulary needed to discuss the history of the Middle Ages
C.   Discuss, compare and evaluate representative works of popular culture for the period.
D.   Explain the political, social, cultural and economic diversity within civilizations during the Middle Ages and explain the interactions among these traditions.
E.   Present and debate conflicting interpretations.
F.   Analyze primary and secondary sources that are used in interpreting the history of the Middle Ages.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

A.    Introduction

1.    Defining the “Middle Ages”
2.    Modern Historians and the Middle Ages
3.    Historians from the Middle Ages: A medieval View of History

B.    The End of the Roman Empire

1.    Constantine and Imperial Christianity
2.    The Doctors of the Church

a.    Jerome
b.    Ambrose
c.    Augustine

3.    The West and the Dying of the Classical World
4.    The Germanic Migrations

C.    The survival of the Eastern Roman Empire

1.    The Age of Justinian
2.    Byzantine Christianity

D.    Continuity and Change

1.    Bishops and Warlords
2.    Monasticism
3.    God and Allah

E.    Carolingian Europe

1.    The Franks
2.    The Rise of the Carolingians
3.    Carolingian Monarchy and the Cult of St, Peter
4.    Charlemagne

a.    The Carolingian Empire
b.    The Carolingian Renaissance

F.    Europe in Transition

1.    The Second “Fall of Rome”
2.    The Invasions
3.    Feudalism
4.    Village and Manor
5.    The Rebirth of Europe

G.    Monasticism

1.    The Reforms of Cluny
2.    The Papacy and Monastic Reform

H.    Pilgrimage and Crusade

1.    The Cult of the Saints
2.    The First Crusade

a.    An armed Pilgrimage?
b.    The Jews and the First Crusade

3.    The Later Crusades

I.    The Emergence of the Papacy

1.    The Chair of St. Peter
2.    Canon Law
3.    The Investiture Controversy
4.    Papal Monarchy

J.    The Two Kingdoms

1.    England

a.    The Norman Conquest
b.    The Angevin Empire
c.    The Birth of Parliament

2.    France

1.    The Capetian Kings
2.    Philip the Fair

K.    Culture of the High Middle Ages

1.    The 12th Century Renaissance
2.    The Gothic Style
3.    A Medieval Curriculum
4.    Medieval Philosophies

L.    The Autumn of the Middle Ages

1.    “Danse Macabre”

a.    The Black Death
b.    The 100 Years War

2.    A Church Divided

a.    The Avignon Papacy
b.    Mystics and Reformers

3.    Death and Resurrection

VII.  Methods of Instruction

Each class will include a variety of instructional methods such as: lectures, in-class discussion, group activities, document and film analysis, and the use of new technologies.
Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

Students are expected to attend each class, having read the assigned textbook material before coming to class, bringing with them any questions they might have on the text or other related materials.  They are also expected to be actively engaged in the class sessions through such things as attentiveness to lectures and films, note-taking, asking questions, doing the assigned writing, and involvement in class discussions.

Students will be required to write outside of class the equivalent of 12-15 typed pages of material that will be graded.  This writing may take the form of a research or term paper, summaries of Journal articles, and/or a series of shorter analytical papers.

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

At least two exams will be given in addition to other required papers and assignments.

Papers will be evaluated based on how well they conform to the assignment and employ the methods of historical research.

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at www.oakton.edu/title9/.

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at www.oakton.edu/lgbtq.