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Study information

Europe in the Tenth Century: Continuity and Change

Module titleEurope in the Tenth Century: Continuity and Change
Module codeHIH2092A
Academic year2021/2
Module staff

Professor Sarah Hamilton (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

Did tenth-century continental Europe experience a dark age?  Contemporary commentators have described it as such and the view has persisted ever since: threatened and invaded from outside by Vikings, Magyars and Saracens, resulting in political turmoil and rising militarisation, and increasing intellectual timidity. In this module you will examine various aspects of the evidence for this picture in order to ask: how far is it an accurate description? Taking a comparative approach, you will use contemporary sources from the time to investigate the social, political and cultural developments in France, Germany and northern Italy between c900 and c1000.  You will work independently and in a group, including participating in a group presentation.

Module aims - intentions of the module

You will need effective communication and analytical skills, oral and written, to complete many of your modules and in a job after you graduate.  This module aims to help you develop your skills in researching, interpreting, and analysing both primary and secondary material, and in reporting on your work.  It provides you with an opportunity to explore an area of history in more depth, and helps you to develop the depth of understanding you will require to study more specialised areas of history. It will also give you an opportunity to work in a team on group tasks.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key developments in the history of continental western Europe in the tenth century
  • 2. Summarise and evaluate different historiographic perspectives relating to the history continental western Europe in the 10th century.
  • 3. Critically evaluate the key cultural, political, economic, and social trends relating to the history of continental Europe in the 10th century.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Analyse the key developments in a complex historical environment
  • 5. Demonstrate an ability to handle profoundly different approaches to history in a deeply contested area
  • 6. Demonstrate an ability to understand and deploy complex historical terminology in a comprehensible manner

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Select, organise and analyse material for written work and oral presentations of different prescribed lengths and formats.
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.
  • 9. Present an argument in a written form in a clear and organised manner, with appropriate use of correct English
  • 10. Through essay development process, demonstrate ability to reflect critically on your own work, to respond constructively to feedback, and to implement suggestions and improve work on this basis

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Introduction
  • Outlook
  • Tenth-century People’s Views of their World
  • Europe in the Late Ninth Century: the Carolingians’ Legacy
  • Invaders and Neighbours: The Myth and Reality of Relations between Latin Christians and their Neighbours
  • Political Transformation and Legitimacy
  • ‘The Little Kings’ of the Tenth Century Part I: Images of Tenth-Century Rule
  • ‘The Little Kings’ of the Tenth Century Part II: the ‘Rules’ of Political Life
  • A New Roman Empire?
  • Mentalities
  • Conflict in the Tenth Century: Feud, Rebellion and Negotiation
  • Lordship and Communities
  • Soldiers of Christ: Aristocratic Male Identity
  • Just Wives and Mothers? Female Aristocratic Identity
  • Cultures and Belief
  • Lord Bishops
  • The Tenth-Century Monastic Reform
  • Religious Enthusiasm: the Cult of the Saints
  • Lay Beliefs
  • The Ottonian Renaissance
  • Apocalypse Then
  • Social Transformation
  • The End of Slavery?
  • Violence and the Peace of God
  • The Feudal Transformation
  • Phantoms of Remembrance
  • Was the Tenth Century a Dark Age?


  • Contemporary views of the tenth-century
  • The Collapse of the Carolingian Empire
  • Encountering the Other
  • The New Roman Empire
  • Trial by Ordeal
  • The Beginnings of Knighthood
  • Queens and Abbesses
  • Sins and sinners
  • Millenarianism
  • The Feudal Transformation
  • Was the Tenth Century a Dark Age?

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching Activities22Seminars; these will be led by the tutor. You will need to prepare for each seminar and present on a given topic in groups of 4, on 4 occasions
Guided independent study 22Web-based activities located on ELE - preparation for seminars and presentations
Guided independent study 234Reading and preparation for seminars and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay (term time)402500 words1-7, 9-10Verbal and written
Group Presentation2025 minutes per presentation + 5 minutes Q&A1-8Verbal and written
Essay (exam period)402500 words1-7, 9-10Verbal and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay (term time)Essay (2500 words)1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period
Presentation750-word script for presentation1-8Referral/deferral period
Essay (exam period)Essay (2500 words)1-7, 9-10Referral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 2500 word essay, as in the original assessment, but replaces participation in the presentation with a 750 word written script that could be delivered in such a presentation.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • J. Dunbabin, France in the Making, 843-1180 , 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2000)
  • H. Fichtenau, Living in the Tenth Century: Mentalities and Social Orders , trans. P. Geary (Chicago, IL, 1991)
  • S. Hamilton, Church and People in the Medieval West, 900–1200 (London, 2013)
  • K.J. Leyser, Rule and Conflict in an Early Medieval Society: Ottonian Saxony (London, 1979)
  • K.J. Leyser, Communications and Power: The Carolingian and Ottonian Centuries (London, 1994)
  • S. MacLean, Ottonian Queenship (Oxford, 2017).
  • T. Reuter (ed.) The New Cambridge Medieval History , III: 900-1025 , (Cambridge, 1999).
  • T. Reuter, Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities (Cambridge, 2006)
  • C. Wickham, Medieval Rome: Stability and Crisis of a City, 900–1150 (Oxford, 2014)

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

History, medieval, European, Vikings, France, Germany, Italy

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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