The World of Charlemagne



Spring 2014

HIEU 3131

The World of Charlemagne

Paul Kershaw

This course examines the political, social and cultural history of continental western Europe in the period c. AD 750 to  850, with a particular emphasis upon Charlemagne’s reign (769-814). Moving chronologically from the rise to dominance of the Carolingian dynasty through the formation of the Carolingian empire to Charlemagne’s imperial coronation of 800 and beyond we will explore in depth the political, religious, intellectual and economic history of the period through a mix of textual and archaeological evidence, and much current scholarship. Sources will be in English translation. The thought and works of a number of Carolingian authors, including Alcuin and Einhard will come under particular scrutiny. This class will also set the Carolinian achievement in its wider contemporary context as we examine both neighbouring polities and peoples (Saxons, Bretons, Lombards) as well as the Byzantine Empire in the age of Empress Eirene (797-802) and the early Abbasid Caliphate.

Classes will be a hybrid of lecture and discussion. Students will write two 2,000 word essays, post online annotations/commentaries to online readings as a basis for discussion through ‘NowComment’ or similar software and take a final exam.

This course meets 2WR. It cannot be taken C/NC.    



Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904



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