The Dark Ages

Dickson College, Semester 1, 2013

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18 | Glossary | Timelines | Bibliography | Discussion |
Class FilesOral Presentation Task
Research Essay
In-Class Essay Notice
Document Test Notice
Unit Outline
BSSS Course Document
BSSS Course Framework
BSSS Policy and Procedures
ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies

The Dark Ages on ClioOn the Question of Constantine's Conversion to Christianity | Justinian and the Roman Empire | Justinian and the Nike riots | The Byzantine achievement | The enduring legacy of Byzantium | Theodora and the politics of sex | The character of Pope Vigilius | European art in the sixth century | The Achievements of Pope Gregory I | The Greatness of Charlemagne

Tom's Contact DetailsOffice - Room N39
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Phone - 62056481
Greenwell Timetable 2013 Term 1.png

Important DatesThursday 21 Feb (Week 3): Meet the Teacher Evening
Thursday 7 March (Week 5): Document Test
Thursday 4 April (Week 9): Parent-Teacher Night
Thursday 11 April (Week 10): In-Class Essay
Friday 10 May (Week 12): Draft Research Essay due
Friday 17 May (Week 13): Research Essay due
Thursday 13 June (Week 17): Oral Presentations begin

Guide to Grammar & Writing
DC Library
DC Library History Page
Online Etymology Dictionary
Forvo: the pronunciation guide
The complete guide to Harvard Referencing
Textual references
Reference generator - Harvard system
Inserting quotes into essays
How to write a bibliography
See the PPT on annotated bibliographies
A Guide to Citing Sources in Classics
ALFRED Primary Sources

Week 1 (Feb 4 - 8)

Monday: (Year 11 and new Year 12 students only)

Welcome to the unit! The main purpose of today’s lesson is to get to know each other a bit. The more I can learn about you, the better I’ll be able to teach you. So please think carefully about these questions, discuss them with your group and write down your answers in the space provided below.

Tuesday: (Not) The Dark Ages, The Early Middle Ages

The Dark Ages are part of the Middle Ages. In 476, the last Western Roman Emperor, Romulus Augustulus, was deposed. The period known as the Middle Ages continues to circa 1500. The fall of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, to Ottoman Turks in 1453 is sometimes used as a point marking the end of the Middle Ages.

The Dark Ages refers to the period from circa 500 – 1000. 1000 – 1300 is known as the High Middle Ages or Central Middle Ages. 1300 – 1500 is known as the Late Middle Ages, also the Renaissance.

An Italian scholar, Petrarch, invented the term in the 1330s. The term "implied an exclusive respect for classical standards in literature and art and a corresponding disparagement of all that was achieved between the decline of ancient culture and the work of Renaissance scholars, writers and artists." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 7, Great Britain, 1959, p. 60) The Dark Ages also came to refer to the decline in population, trade, coinage, literacy and centralised government that accompanied the decline of the Western Roman Empire. It also refers to the relative scarcity of written sources from this period.

Except, we no longer use the term ‘the Dark Ages’. Instead, we call it the Early Middle Ages. Most historians think ‘Dark Ages’ is a too negative and too sweeping term to refer to a period that actually included significant political, cultural and intellectual achievements.

It is also important to note that the way of thinking about history implied in terms like ‘Dark Ages’ and ‘Middle Ages’ is Eurocentric, that is, centred on Europe. Just for example, the classical period of the Maya civilization in Mesoamerica occurred in what Europeans call the Middle Ages. As we'll look at later this term, Islamic civilization flourished during this period. The idea of these historical epochs being the 'middle' between the classical past and the modern world just doesn't apply.

Thursday: The Waning of the Roman Empire

Read Chapter 2, 'The Decline of the Western Empire' from Hollister & Bennett (2002), Medieval Europe, A Short History, Viking: London, pp. 32 – 35.
- 285: Diocletian breaks the Roman Empire into two halves, ruled by two emperors. Initially the capital of the Eastern Empire is Nicomedia in Western Asia Minor.The split became permanent in 395.
- 330: Constantine founded Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) as the capital of the Eastern Empire.
- Milan and Ravenna were to replace Rome as the capital of the Western Empire.
- The split into Eastern and Western Empires reflected a pre-existing linguistic division. Greek was spoken in the East and not Latin. The East was also more urban and more prosperous.

Q1. For each of the following proposed explanations for the decline of the Roman Empire, a) speculate on how it is argued to have led to the decline of Rome and b) identify Hollister & Bennett’s criticism (p. 32/3).
(Speculated) Causal Link
Climatic changes
Reduces agricultural output

Overreliance on slavery
lack of innovation
Slavery was a constant through the expansion as well as the decline of the Roman Empire
The otherworldliness of Christianity
Undermines pursuit of power and prosperity in this life
The East was more Christian, yet it survived
Sexual orgies
Breakdown of morality and Roman values
Orgies were at their height during the glory of Rome
Bad ecological habits
Overuse of land, soil degradation

Lead poisoning
Lead pots and lead pipes led to lead poisoning

Male homosexuality
De-population, breakdown of morality
Homosexuality was as common in the 5th Century BC as it was in the 5th Century AD

Q2. What evidence do Hollister & Bennett provide to suggest that poor leadership may have been partially responsible for Rome’s decline? How do they counter the argument that there was poor leadership in the 1st century when Rome flourished (p.33)?
Valentinian the Third was a child emperor, left most decisions to his mother, and murdered his best general. Correspondingly, large amounts of Roman territory were lost. For example, North Africa was lost to the Vandals. Nero and Caligula were just as incompetent as emperors, yet the empire managed to survive them. However, the 1st Century Empire was structurally stronger than it was in the 5th Century, and therefore was able to withstand the occasional bad emperor. 5th Century Rome was weaker, less populous, and therefore the incompetent reign of Valentinian was more damaging.

Q3. What were the weaknesses of Roman agriculture in the Late Empire (p. 33)?
Instead of advancing technology and innovation, the aristocracy relied on slave labour. When the population began to decrease, it became a problem.

Q4. In what ways did the Roman Empire survive after Romulus Augustulus was deposed in 476? (p. 34)
The Eastern Roman Empire continued until 1453, a clear continuation of the Roman Empire. The Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire can also be seen as successors of the Roman Empire in the West.

Q5. What are the key aspects of the legacy of the Roman Empire described by Hollister & Bennett (p. 35)?
- The Latin language remained the common language of Europe for many centuries. It evolved into the Romance languages, e.g. Spanish, French, Italian.
- Roman law shaped Church law and modern European law.
- The Roman Catholic Church assumed political control in parts. The Church drew on much of the administrative structure of the Empire. Roman bureaucrats remained an important part of the system.
- The Greco-Roman intellectual tradition influenced Christian thought.
- Repeated cultural revivals, e.g. Italian Renaissance circa 1300, Neo-classicism of the 1700s and 1800s

Q6. What does barbarian mean to us today? What did it mean to the ancients? (p. 35)
Today, the term ‘barbarian’ refers to savage and uncultured people. To the Greeks and the Romans, it simply meant ‘foreigner’.

Friday: The Christianisation of Rome

Christianity began as a minor and oft-persecuted sect in the Roman Empire. However, before the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, it came to tolerate Christianity (313 AD) and finally embrace it as its official religion (380 AD). After the Western Roman Empire fell, Christianity and the Church formed a huge part of its legacy and became a defining feature of the Middle Ages.

You and a partner will be assigned one excerpt from these sources on the Christianisation of Rome. Read it carefully. Identify all information which helps us answer any of the four questions below. For each point you identify, choose the most compelling quote from the excerpt. Write it out and write, in sentence form, how the quote helps answer the question.
- What obstacles did Christianity initially face from Rome?
- How did the Roman Empire become Christian?
- How did Christianity change, especially as it became the dominant, then official, religion of the Empire?
- Why was Christianity an important part of the legacy of the Roman Empire?

This is an example of an answer on what Source A tells us about the obstacles Christians faced from Rome.
Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 9.35.35 PM.png

The annotations point out key elements of the answer that you should try and replicate.
Screen Shot 2013-02-07 at 9.36.02 PM.png

Obstacles faced by Christianity
Christianity of Rome
How Christianity Changed
The Christian Legacy
Source A
"... to the Roman authorities, he was simply a troublemaker." (Hollister & Bennett 2002: 17)

Source B
“The more you cut us down, the more we multiply.”

Source C
“Convicted not so much on the charge of burning the city, as of “hating the human race.””

Source D

“most early communities met in homes, but by the 4th and 5th centuries, purpose built churches grew common.”

Source E

“Undertook a momentous reversal of imperial religious policy when he granted Christians official toleration and protection.”

Source F

"They would not obey the institutes of antiquity, which perchance their own ancestors had first established...”

Source G

“Any of those wishing to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly without molestation.”

Source H

“Of course it lost some of its former spiritual intensity in the process”

Source I

“since all three were busy administrators, immersed in the political and ecclesiastical affairs of their day, their teachings were practical as well as thoughtful.”

Source J

“In the end he determined to use Greco-Roman literature in the services of the Christian faith”

Source K

Augustine used the philosophy of Plato and the Neoplatonists as a basis for a new Christian philosophical scheme.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 2 (Feb 11 - 15)

Monday: Welcome to Byzantium

One of the most popular entertainments in 6th Century Constantinople were the chariot races held at the Circus. The followers of the different teams, like football fans today, formed groups or factions that also had a socio-political dimension. In 532, two of the biggest factions, the Blues and the Greens, began rioting. partly, they were fighting amongst each other, partly they were revolting against taxes; partly they just liked to fight. In any event, in a bid to restore order the city prefect arrested seven people for rioting and sentenced them to death. Two escaped when the rope confining them broke. As it happened, one of the escapees was from the Blue faction while the other was a Green. Consequently, the Blues and Greens united in demanding pardon for the escapes and riot broke out again. Only this time it was worse and the rebellious crowds burnt down much of the city and threatened the power of Emperor Justinian himself. The crowds chanted 'Nika' (victory) thus giving the rebellion its name. Justinian was ready to flee. It was his wife, the Empress Theodora, who insisted she would prefer death than the humiliation of fleeing Constantinople. She co-ordinated a crackdown on the rioters which resulted in the death of 30,00 to 40,000 people. Justinian was again in control and went on to have a long and very accomplished reign: he had already began work on codification of Roman law; he had the Hagia Sophia built and he set about reconquering the West. The map below shows the Byzantine Empire at the beginning of his reign and then at its fullest extent after his conquests.


Note-taking can be made more effective by numbering the points you identify. Numbering enables you to break what your reading down into distinct chunks and it also forces you to think about the relation of the ideas to each other; which are the main points and which are sub-points of larger ideas.

Read the material related to Justinian in Kreis, S. (2001), ‘Lecture 17 The Byzantine Empire’ and practise numbering your notes.

1. Reign of Justinian (527 – 565)
1.1 Goal to restore empire an obsession
1.1 Revision of Roman law (Corpus Juris Civilis)
1.21 Commission of 16 men studied 2000 texts over 6 years
1.22 Standard legal work until the 19th century

2. Theodora (c.500-547)
2.1 Justinian was aided by Theodora (wife)
2.2 Together they brought new energy
2.2.1 Progressive

3. Mob violence in Constantinople, called the Nika Riots
3.1 Grew from political unrest over fiscal measures
3.2 Rival factions fought in the streets, Blues + Greens
3.3 Justinian wanted to leave, two of his generals and wife convinced him to stay
3.4 Theodora raised a personal army, eventually killed 35,000 in a single day

4. Conquering of the West (533)
4.1 Took North Africa, Rome and Sicily
4.2 Expansion was short lived, the Lombards had overtaken Roman Italy by 565

Thursday: Procopius and the Hagia Sophia

This presentation briefly introduces Procopius of Caesarea, by far the most important source on the reign of Justinian.

Procopius of Caesarea.png



Secret History.png

Read Procopius: on the Great Church, [Hagia Sophia]

Q1. Consider Procopius’s attitude to Emperor Justinian, reflected in the way he writes about him in the first paragraph. For each statement below, comment on the characteristics that Procopius attributes to Justinian.

Procopius’ Statement
Attitude towards Emperor Justinian
“The emperor, thinking not of cost of any kind, pressed on the work… ”
Sees Justinian as a visionary, determined to accomplish great things, clearly admires Justinian
“… the king's zealous [devoted, enthusiastic, fervent] intentions…”
Views Justinian as a strong leader
“…a man of intelligence, and worthy to carry out the plans of the Emperor Justinian.”
Justinian is above normal men, and only a man of intelligence is worthy to carry out his plans; Justinian is idolised
“It is indeed a proof of the esteem with which God regarded the emperor…”
Justinian is seen as blessed and appointed by God
“… we are compelled to admire the wisdom of the emperor…”
Views him as wise, above the average man, with a compelling aura
“… to execute the noblest of his works...”
Justinian's reign as a whole was seen as noble, but the construction of the Hagia Sophia outdid all his previous achievements

Q2. Based on your analysis in Q1, summarise Procopius’ attitude to the Emperor as evidenced in the excerpt.

Q3. Create a PowerPoint Presentation which illustrates and explains the following claims made by Procopius about the Hagia Sophia. Use this template if you wish. Wikimedia Commons has numerous images of the Hagia Sophia. The Wonders of the World Databank from PBS is quite helpful.

- “[The Church] is distinguished by indescribable beauty, excelling both in its size, and in the harmony of its measures, having no part excessive and none deficient…”
- “The church is singularly full of light and sunshine; you would declare that the place is not lighted by the sun from without, but that the rays are produced within itself, such an abundance of light is poured into this church...”
- “A spherical-shaped dome standing upon this circle makes it exceedingly beautiful; from the lightness of the building, it does not appear to rest upon a solid foundation, but to cover the place beneath as though it were suspended from heaven by the fabled golden chain.”
- “Moreover it is impossible accurately to describe the gold, and silver, and gems, presented by the Emperor Justinian…”

Friday: Hagia Sophia; Corpus Juris Civilis

This presentation is a compilation of some of our major findings on the architectural virtues of the Hagia Sophia.

Another major accomplishment of the early period of Justinian's reign was the development of the Corpus Juris Civilis, also known simply as the Code of Justinian. In the Code, many centuries of Roman statute and case law is condensed into a coherent and accessible form.

Watch Chapter 7. 'Justinian's Law Code, the Corpus Iuris Civilis' (38.11), of Lecture 9. 'The Reign of Justinian' from the Open Yale course delivered by Professor Paul Freedman, The Early Middle Ages, 284 - 1000.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each. Also see what you can find out about eunuchs in the Byzantine Empire. Post what you find in response to my question in the discussion area.

Week 3 (Feb 18 - 22)

Monday: Conquest of North Africa, 533-534
Early in his reign, Justinian ordered a committee of legal scholars to draft what came to be known as the Corpus Juris Civilis (529 and 534). He also had the magnificent Hagia Sophia built (532 - 537). His other major achievement at this time was the reconquest of lands that had formerly been part of the Roman Empire. When, in 532, the Vandal king of North Africa, Gelimer, failed to defer to Justinian on the succession to the Vandal throne, Justinian declared war. Read Norwich 1998: 66 - 68. Use this map to aid your understanding of the events described.

Thursday: Justinian's Quest to Restore the Roman Empire in the West

429: The Vandals were a Germanic people who had migrated down into Spain. When the Roman Governor of North Africa, Bonifacius, rebelled against the Western emperor, he requested support from the Vandal king, Gaiseric.
435: The Vandals aided Bonifacius but subsequently laid claim to much of North Africa.
439: The Vandals conquered Carthage, the capital of Roman North Africa.
445: The Vandals invaded and sacked Rome, thus gaining the reputation that gives rise to the modern connotations of 'vandal'.
523 - 530: Hilderic, the Vandal king, pursued a pro-Byzantine policy.
530: Hilderic's relations with Byzantium and a military defeat at the hands of the the Moors led to him being overthrown by his cousin, Gelimer.
533: After Gelimer refused Justinian's demands to release and restore Hilderic, war broke out.

In this excerpt from Book IV of On the Wars, Procopius describes the triumph Justinian granted to Belisarius on his victorious return. It is an important piece of evidence in understanding Justinian's quest to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory - and to be seen to have done so. Read the excerpt and circle any words that you don't understand or would like to know more about.

Titus: Roman emperor (79 - 81), prior to becoming emperor, conquered the Jews in the First Roman-Jewish War and destroyed Jerusalem in 70.
Trajan: Roman emperor when the empire was at its fullest extent (98 -117).
triumph: A procession to honour and sanctify the achievements of a victorious military commander.
hippodrome: The stadium in which horse and chariot races were held in Byzantium, similar to the Roman circus.
Palatium: One of the seven hills of Rome, rising above the forum.
Vespasian: Father of Titus, emperor from 69 - 79.
inexpedient: impracticable; unsuitable; inadvisable
obeisance: deferential respect; bow; curtsy
suppliant/ supplicant: A person making a humble plea to someone in power or authority.
faith of Arius: Arius was a Christian bishop in North Africa in the 3rd and 4th centuries. He advanced the doctrine that there was a time before Jesus the son, that unlike God the father, Jesus the son was created. This made Jesus the son subordinate to God the father in the structure of the Holy Trinity. Adherents to this doctine became known as Arians. The Council of Nicaea declared Arianism a heresy in 325. However, barbarians like the Goths and the Vandals were converted by Arians and thus Arianism endured into the 6th and 7th centuries. It is important to appreciate that Arians were Christians and Arianism was a sect within Christianity.
consul: In the Roman Republic, two consuls were elected annually. They thus each acted as a check on the other's power. When Rome became an empire, the position of consul remained but lost its substantive power.
curule chair: a seat occupied by persons in position of authority

Read the excerpt from Procopius again, reflecting on Justinian's desire to restore the Roman Empire to its former glory. For each of the quotes below, identify how, via the triumph, Justinian is promoting himself as a great and powerful emperor in the Roman tradition. (Think about the spectacle described by Procopius as propaganda and ask yourself: what message is Justinian trying to communicate through this propaganda?)

1. “Belisarius, upon reaching Byzantium with Gelimer [last king of the Vandals, captured by Belisarius in 534] and the Vandals, was counted worthy to receive such honours, as in former times were assigned to those generals of the Romans who had won the greatest and most noteworthy victories.”
Justinian was reviving a Roman tradition. By doing this, he was showing his prowess as a Roman emperor as great as those of old.
2. “For he displayed the spoils and slaves from the war in the midst of the city and led a procession which the Romans call a "triumph,"
Displays his power over other human beings, can humiliate his enemies without fear, and show the masses what a glorious victory he has achieved.
3. “And there was also silver weighing many thousands of talents and all the royal treasure amounting to an exceedingly great sum (for Gizeric [leader of the Vandals who had sacked Rome in 455] had despoiled the Palatium in Rome)...”
Not only conquered the Vandals, but also recaptured what was lost from Rome, re-asserting Roman dominance and power.
4. “And there were slaves in the triumph, among whom was Gelimer himself, wearing some sort of a purple garment upon his shoulders...”
Justinian was showcasing his power over the ruler of his enemies.
5. “And when he came before the emperor's seat, they stripped off the purple garment, and compelled him to fall prone on the ground and do obeisance to the Emperor Justinian. This also Belisarius did...”
Stripping Gelimer of the last of his power, and displaying Justinian’s unquestionable authority and power.

Having conducted the above analysis, try the following imaginative exercise. Imagine you're a newspaper reporter in Constantinople in 534. You're not a fearless champion of the truth but a fawning hack looking to ingratiate yourself with the powers that be. (You know if you stick to the official line, the imperial court will keep feeding you juicy stories). You have witnessed the triumph awarded to Belisarius by Justinian and now need to write up a report for tomorrow morning's paper. Focus on communicating to your readers what the spectacle revealed about the greatness of the emperor. In terms of style, you can write like a 21st reporter and draw on fictional interviews with onlookers and participants. You have creative license to embellish the event with fictional details but try to avoid directly contradicting the information provided by Procopius.

Emilie Morscheck in Constantinople: Today the public of the Roman Empire witnessed the fabled spoils of Emperor Justinian’s conquest over North Africa. The day could not have been more perfect for such a celebration. It was as if God was blessing the Emperor with his presence. The hippodrome was packed with people who had come to see the wealth the Emperor had recovered for the Empire.
Belisarius entered to a great cheer. The emperor had only chosen his best general to fight in his service. Behind him came the loot of the most glorious battle. Masses of gold and silver came forward in an endless stream. It was more than most people had ever seen in their life. The crowd roared for the Emperor had brought back such great treasures.
Then came the captured enemy, all slaves to our mighty Emperor. Amongst them, clad in purple, was their king, forced to walk with his inferiors. Emperor Justinian watched, above the chaos of the crowds. Only one so mighty could wield such power.
Then the Emperor singled their King out. He walked towards the Emperor and he had eyes only for the Emperor. He cowered in the presence of such a great leader. Then he was stripped of all his power and made him bow down and plead for mercy. Emperor Justinian, in all of his wisdom and authority, acknowledged the man before sending him far away with honourable gifts.
The general bowed down and was presented with gifts that only the Emperor could afford. He was given consul, an honour worthy of the man who had taken the victory in the name of the Emperor.
The triumph lasted for hours, no one wanted to stop showing anything but admiration for the Emperor who has given us so much. He is the first in such a long time to claim such a victory. His name will forever go down with the other greats of Rome. The conquest of North Africa is truly worthy of the Roman Empire.
Long live Emperor Justinian!

5.30pm – Year 12 Certificate Information, Dickson College Hall;
6.00pm – Meet the Teachers, Dickson College Canteen
Friday: The First Phase of the Gothic War (535 – 540)

The following notes are from Norwich (1998: 68 – 73).

- In this phase of the war, the Byzantines take Italy. Subsequently the Goths were to fight back and the war went on into the 550s.
- Theodoric (the Great), the Ostrogoth king, ruled Italy from 493 – 526 but as a ‘viceroy’ of the Byzantine Empire. He recognised the Emperor’s ultimate authority.
- Theodoric left a daughter, Amalasuntha, and a young grandson, Athalaric. When Athalaric died, Italy was co-ruled by Amalasuntha and Athalaric’s cousin, Theodahad.
- Amalasuntha was strangled in her bath by associates of Theodahad, giving Justinian a rationale to invade.
- The Byzantine general, Belisarius, took Sicily easily and then Naples after a short siege.
- Loss of Naples led to Theodahad being deposed and the appointment of an elderly general, Vitiges
- Vitiges decided not to defend Rome and withdrew to Ravenna.
- Belisarius entered Rome in December, 536.
- Vitiges besieged Rome in 537/8 until Ravenna itself was threatened.
- Justinian sent Narses to keep an eye on Belisarius and a rivalry between the two was initiated
- Vitiges made an offer of surrender to Belisarius on the proviso he proclaimed himself emperor. Belisarius pretended to accept and marched into Ravenna (but actually remained loyal to Justinian)
- Belisarius returned to Constantinople, victorious again, in 540.
- Encouraged by Vitiges, the Persian King Chosroes I invaded in the east and took Antioch in June of 540

Homework: For Monday, write a short paragraph (three or four sentences) on why Justinian deserves the epithet 'Great'. Draw on what you know about his reign from 527 to 540. You may also wish to point out any negative aspects of his character and reign that may occur to you.

Week 4 (Feb 25 - Mar 1)

Monday: Procopius's portrayal of Justinian and Theodora in The Secret History

The impression we have of Justinian from Wars and Buildings is an overwhelmingly positive one. The Secret History paints a very different picture. The goal of this lesson is to understand how Procopius portrays Justinian in this work.

1. Go to Procopius of Caesarea: The Secret History (Medieval Sourcebook).
2. Read the introduction.
3. You can read from the beginning or use the table of contents to skip to those parts that seem most interesting and relevant.
4. As we did together with Wars, note words you aren't familiar with and find out their meaning.
5. Our objective is to identify and list any criticisms Procopius makes of Justinian and/or Theodora.
6. When you find a criticism, paste an appropriate quote into a Word document and write out a brief interpretation of that quote that explains the criticism that Procopius is making.
7. When you have completed your account of the description (quote plus a couple of sentences), post it in our discussion area.

Thursday: Secret History vs. Published History

What is the nature of the differences between Procopius' published and unpublished work? Read these excerpts from Procopius' Wars, Buildings and The Secret History. Identify any inconsistencies or differences between the excerpts from the two published sources, Wars and Buildings, on the one hand, and the unpublished Secret History on the other.

Wars &/or Buildings
Secret History
Nature of difference
“The Emperor, not thinking of cost of any kind, pressed on the work...”
“As soon as he took over the rule from his uncle, his measure was to spend the public money without restraint, now that he had control of it.”
- Imprudent vs. noble expenditure
- Benefits empire vs. harms empire
- Different interpretation
Justinian accepts advice to return Jewish treasures to Jerusalem.
“A faithless friend, he was a treacherous enemy, insane for murder and plunder, easily led to anything evil, but never willing to listen to good counsel...”
- Accepts advice vs. never listens to advice
“... we are compelled to admire the wisdom of the emperor...”
“... as people say colloquially, a moron.”

“... proof of the esteem with which God regarded the emperor...”
“... these two seemed not be human beings, but veritable demons...”

Justinian treats the Vandal king with respect and honour, rather than slaughtering him
“... insane for murder...”
Particular claim vs. general claim

Which Procopius should we believe? Read Source G from Book 12 of The Secret History and Source F from Book 9. Assume you have no other specific information about what the excerpts describe. Do you find them believable? Why? Why not?

Source G?
Tone: extreme, conspiratorial, passionate, emotional – less believable.
Support for conclusions? Sweeping statements without evidence or reasoning in support.

Source F
Specific vs. General: includes examples of things she actually did
Intuitively plausible: Is Procopius' account likely?
Ability to know: based on reports from others; hard to know the specific details he claims to

Friday: Secret History vs. Published History (continued)

How believable is Source E? Consider its intrinsic believability AND how it corroborates with what we independently know about Justinian.

Claim made by P.
Believable? Why/not?
Justinian is a moron etc.
- Yes: Justinian was helped with most of his work and just employed others to do his work and claimed the credit.
-No: Lack of evidence
Never willing to listen to good counsel
- No: In wars Justinian takes advice regarding the Jews.
- No: Internally incoherent
Deceitful, Devious, False etc.
-Yes: Other supporting evidence land grabs; false accusations; “gifts”
- Yes: accords with our expectations
- Yes:some degree of detail
-Yes: supported by justinians achievements

Read this introduction by a translator of The Secret History. Think about and discuss the following questions.

1. What does this author think motivated Procopius to write the Secret History?

2. What reasons are provided to support the view that Procopius was in fact the author of the Secret History?

3. What is suggested about how inconsistent the SH is with Procopius’ published works?

4. What ideas are advanced about the believability of the SH?

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 5 (Mar 4 - Mar 8)

Monday: Revision

Read the document test notice and revise the work covered over the previous four weeks. Think about the sources we've looked at and the questions we've explored and reflect on what questions might be asked in the document test. Prepare a cheat sheet for the test on Thursday. Although it is open-book, it will be helpful to have the really important information near to hand. And the process of identifying the most important aspects of our investigations will help clarify your understanding.

Thursday: Document Test
Friday: The Conclusion of Justinian's Reign

A key area of debate about Justinian's reign is the wisdom of his relentless focus on the West. Soon after he died the Byzantines found themselves locked in a struggle with the Persians on the Eastern frontier. That series of conflicts left both empires weakened and vulnerable to Muslim armies when they burst out of Arabia in the 7th Century. So, was it a mistake for Justinian to focus on reconquering the West when the threats turned out to lie in the East? As Professor Freedman emphasises, we can ask this question but we must always bear in mind that we have the benefit of hindsight that Justinian and his peers didn't. Watch Lecture 9. 'The Reign of Justinian' from the Open Yale course delivered by Professor Paul Freedman, The Early Middle Ages, 284 - 1000.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 6 (Mar 11 - 15)

Monday: Canberra Day public holiday
Thursday: Introduction to Islam

Justinian died in 565. Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam, was born in 570. He received his first divine revelations in 610 and by the time of his death in 632, Arabia was largely Islamic. By the early 8th Century, Spain, North Africa, the Middle East, the former Persian Empire were all under Islamic control. Islamic civilization is worthy of our attention because, like Byzantium under Justinian, it was characterised by amazing political, cultural and intellectual achievement. Furthermore, the prominent and often controversial place of Islam in the contemporary world can be illuminated by a deeper understanding of its past. Read this introduction to Islam. Read and take notes on Sardar, The Britannica Guide to Islam, pp. 3 - 23.

Friday: Revision on the basic elements of Islam and the life of Muhammad

To consolidate your understanding of Islam and the prophet Muhammad, answer these comprehension questions.

Q. How many countries does Islam predominate in?
A. 30 or 40 countries (North Africa, Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia)

Q. How many practising Muslims are there?
A. 1.4 billion according to Sardar, 1.6 billion according to the presentation

Q. What century was Islam founded in?
A. The 7th Century

Q. What is the literal meaning of 'Islam'?
A. 'Surrender' or 'Submission'

Q. What’s the difference between ‘Islam’ and ‘Muslim’?
A. Islam is the religion; Muslims are the people who belong to the Islamic faith.

Q. What do we mean when we say Islam is an Abrahamic religion?
A. Islam, as well as Judaism and Christianity, regard Abraham and as a founding figure.

Q. What is one way Islam differs from Christianity in terms of doctrinal belief?
A. There are many possible answers to this question but a key difference is that, while Muslims regard Jesus as one of their prophets, they do not regard him as divine.

Q. When did Muhammad live?
570 – 632

Q. What do Muslims say when Muhammad’s name is mentioned?
Q. Asshadu anna Muhammadan rasul Allah (“may God’s blessings and peace be upon him”)

Q. What do Muslims say when names of the major prophets in the Abrahamic tradition are mentioned?
A. alayhi al-salam (upon him be peace)

Q. Who do Muslims believe Muhammad was descended from?
A. Ishmael, the son of Abraham.

Q. Who do Muslims believe built the Ka’bah in Mecca?
A. Adam

Q. What are three names for the prophet, other than Muhammad?
A. Of the many used, Mustafa, Amin, Siraj and Munir (Sardar, p.5)

Q. Muhammad’s family was part of the ruling Quraysh tribe. What was Muhammad’s family name?
A. Banu Hashim

Q. Who was the poor woman who Muhammad’s mother, Aminah, sent Muhammad to in the desert?
A. Hawazin

Q. What supernatural event, according to tradition, happened to the young Muhammad in the desert?
A). Two angels open his breast and purified his heart with snow

Q. Who was Ali?
A. Muhammad’s cousin, the son of Abu Talib, who took Muhammad in when his grandfather died. He also became Muhammad’s son-in-law when he married Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah.

Q. What was the first name of Muhammad’s first wife?
A. Khadijah

Q. How many children did Muhammad have with his first wife? How many survived?
2 sons, both died and 4 daughters

Q. Who are Shia Muslims believed to be descended from?
A) Ali and Fatimah

Q. When and where did Muhammad first experience the presence of the Archangel Gabriel and receive the first Quranic revelation?
A. In the month of Ramadan in 610, when he was 40, in a cave called al-Hira in the Mountain of Light (Jabal al-Nur) near Mecca.

Q. How long did the process of revelation of the Quran take?
A. 23 years: 610 – 632

Q. In what year did Khadija die?
A. 619

Q. Why does Jerusalem have special importance for Muslims?
A. The Nocturnal Ascent (Miraj) occurred there. According to the Quran, Muhammad was taken by Buraq, a winged steed, to the site of the Dome of the Rock, from where he ascended in to the Divine Presence itself, a place where even the archangel, Gabriel, could not go.

Q. What are threeconflicting interpretations of what happened in the Miraj?
A) – corporeal (bodily) and spiritual (literal interpretation
- spiritual
- inner vision/ dream (modern, secular interpretation)

Q. In 622, Muhammad and his followers left Mecca for Yathrib aka Medina. Why did Muhammad leave Mecca? Why was Muhammad welcomed in Medina?
A. - persecution - believed Muhammad could resolve internal conflict between Aws, Khazraj, Jews

Q. Who was the victor of the conflict between the Quraysh and the Muslims in 624-5?
A. The Quraysh

Q. What, according to tradition, did the Jews successfully urge the Quraysh to do in 626-7?
A). Invade Medina

Q. What technique was adopted by the Muslims from their first Persion convert, Salman al-Farsi
A. Surrounding the city with a defensive ditch

Q. How did Muhammad take revenge on the Jews?
A. The men were put to death; the women and children were enslaved

Q. What precipitated Muhammad’s triumphant return to Mecca in 630?
A. The Quraysh broke pact agreed on at al-Hudaybiyah

Q. Just before Muhammad died, he appointed Ali as the executor of his will and his Wali. How do Sunnis and Shia interpret this event differently?
A. Shia = political successor; Sunni = personal and family matter

Homework: Review the presentation from Thursday and the Sardar reading to ensure you are confident about the defining features of Islam and the main events in the life of Muhammad.

Week 7 (Mar 18 - 22)

Monday: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilisation

Read and make notes on the prologue (pp. 13 - 16) of The House of Wisdom by Jonathon Lyons.

- According to Walter the Chancellor, Antioch was decadent and immoral
- It was this decadence that was believed to have caused the earthquake which, on November 13, 1114, struck Mamistra
- The reaction to the earthquake was to attribute it to God; to see it as a rebuke of their wayward behaviour. Hence there was a sudden outbreak of devotion and piety.
- Christian Crusaders came to conquer and regarded the infidel with contempt
- Adelard of Bath in contrast, had come to the East to acquaint himself with Arab wisdom.
- Antioch; founded 4th century; very important in early Christianity. Conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century. Conquered by Crusaders in the late 11th century
- Antioch was a living Rosetta stone: interaction of Greek, Latin and Arabic speaking people.
- A huge number of books had been taken from Tripoli by Crusaders. Adelad of Bath came to Antioch, because many of these Arab books could be accessed there.
- Adelard encountered a tradition that Western civilisation had been cut off from for many years.
- This tradition provoked new ways of seeing the world
- If the cosmos moves to regular and unchanging rhythms, how does that affect the place of God?
- Muslim philosophers challenged religious teachings about the creation of the universe.
- Arab thinkers had been trying to reconcile reason and faith for centuries. Europe’s encounter with this tradition would force it to do the same.
- The European encounter with Arab science transformed it, eg use of clocks to measure time.
- Do we acknowledge cultural debt to the Arabs sufficiently?
- There has also been a significant Arab cultural contribution to Western civilisation, for example, food, language,
- Impossible to imagine the West without Arabic science, philosophy, maths, algebra, medicine, geography, rationalism, cartography.

Thursday: The Arab Roots of European Medicine

Read David W. Tschanz, "The Arab Roots of European Medicine," in 'Aramco World', May/June 1997, pp. 31. Answer the questions on this reading in the discussion area.
- Read through the questions in the discussion area before you start reading the article, to help get a sense of what to look for.
- Compose your answers in a Word document initially. Paste them into Clio when you're finished.
- In your answers, provide as much detail as possible.
- Quote from the Tschanz article to support your answer. Reference with: (Tshanz 1997).
- You're encouraged to view your classmates' answers. It's fine if your answer overlaps in large part with other people's. That's a good thing! Keep an eye out for any areas where you can 'add to the conversation' and/or you disagree with a previous answer. In the case of disagreement, politely set out the view you disagree with and then explain why you think there is a better alternative.
- You're encouraged to research beyonf the Tschanz article to embellish your answers.

Friday: How Tschanz substantiates Lyons' claims about Arabic civilization


1. to establish by proof or competent evidence: to substantiate a charge.
2. to give substantial existence to: to substantiate an idea through action.

1. "If, as Adelard now learned from his Arab teachers, the heavens moved to regular and immutable rhythms, then what role remained for God Almighty?... Such questions had engaged Arab thinkers for centuries, as they struggled to fit their own monotheistic faith into a growing understanding of the universe around them. The great struggle between faith and reason was about to come crashing down on an unsuspecting Europe." (Lyons 2009: 15)

How does the Tschanz article substantiate the claim that, in the Early Middle Ages, Arabic civilization had a more rationalist spirit, one that attempt to reconcile reason and faith in way that was different to a Western Europe?

2. "Western historians of science have largely carried on in this vein; many cast the Arabs as benign but effectively neutral caretakers of Greek knowledge who did little or nothing to advance the work of the ancients." (Lyons 2009: 16)

How does the Tschanz article substantiate the claim that the Arabs made an amazing contribution to civilization of their own, in addition to transmitting ancient Greek learning?

3. Lyons claims that Europeans of the High Middle Ages (1000 – 1300), like Adelard of Bath, acquired from the Arabs "the secrets of the ages, buried for six centuries beneath the chaos of western Christendom" (Lyons 2009: 16).

How does the Tschanz article substantiate the claim that, in first centuries of the Second Millenium, Europe accessed ‘the secrets of the ages’ from the Arabs?

Debate: It turns out 'Dark Ages' is an appropriate way to describe Western Europe between the 6th and 10th centuries
What do you think? Consider the points made by Tschanz and Lyons and what is implied by the term, 'dark ages'. Brainstorm points for and against.

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 8 (Mar 25 - 29)

Monday: Great Innovations of Islamic Civilisation

Thursday: Rediscovering Arab Science

Investigate the Islamic contribution to science and scholarship.
- You and a partner will be assigned a topic (see below).
- Prepare a PowerPoint Presentation on the topic (for after morning tea).
- Explain the topic as best as you can understand it.
- Start by scanning ‘Rediscovering Arab Science’ by Richard Covington
- Can you find any additional information? The index of Saudi Aramco World is worth a look before checking elsewhere.
- In your PowerPoint Presentation, please make your points as detailed as possible and attribute your claims to the sources in which you found them.
- Evaluate how your findings demonstrate: 1) the way Islamic civilization drew on, translated and transmitted ancient Greek learning and/or 2) the way Islamic civilization made an amazing contribution to civilization of its own and/or 3) the rationality of Islamic civilization, 4) The influence of Arab science on Europe.
-Topics: The role of Arabic language; al-Khwarizmi (mathematics); al-Haitham aka Alhazen (optics); al-Biruni (astronomy); Cartography; al-Zahrawi (surgery); Harun al-Rashid and his son, Al-Ma’mun (Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad); Arabic science: the lines of transmission; Decline of Islamic Science

View this collation of the classes' findings on the Islamic contribution to science and scholarship.

Homework: The questions in the in-class essay in Week 10 will reflect the work covered in class. The main questions we've explored have been:
- How did Islamic civilization translate, absorb and transmit ancient learning from Greece and other cultures?
- In what ways did early Islamic societies make their own significant contribution to civilization (over and above the transmission of previously discovered knowledge)?
- How did Islamic science and learning subsequently influence Europe?
Revise what you have learnt over the past three weeks and consider how you would answer each of these questions.

Good Friday: No classes

Week 9 (Apr 1 - 5)

Monday: Easter holiday, no classes
Thursday: The Expansion of Islam

Map of Islamic Expansion.png

Parent-Teacher Night, Dickson College Hall
Friday: Assessing Charles Martel

Read this account of the Battle of Tours.

1. Why does Charles Martel deserve praise for the victory at Tours in 732 (and praise as a military leader generally)? List the reasons.
- He won against a larger and more advanced adversary
- He understood his enemies strengths
- Brilliant defensive battle
- Dictated time and place of the battle
- He played effectively on Arabic motivations
- By securing a favourable position(wooded hilly) he negated the enemies strengths
- Launched raid on Arab base camp which precipitated retreat
- He acquired the stirrup enabling the use of horses in combat
- Foresight and flexibility
- Victory over the Arabs when they invaded in 736

2. What information about the aftermath to the Battle of Tours brings into question the claim that it was the moment when the Arab advance into Europe was halted?

Homework: Revise for the in-class essay next Thursday.

Week 10 (Apr 8 - 12)

Monday: Revision

Revise for the in-class essay by thinking about: what questions you might be asked; how you would answer them; what evidence you could use to support your answer. Work towards developing a 'cheat-sheet' for quick reference during the test.

If you are considering doing the question on the Battle of Tours, review what the Wikipedia entry has to say about the major competing interpretations of what happened and its significance. Most importantly, examine the account of objections to the idea that Tours changed the course of history. Finally, consider what light this Arab source sheds on the debate.

Thursday: In-Class Essay

This is the research essay task due Friday, Week 13. It would be a good idea to devote a little time in the break to get started on this.

Homework: Aim to find the sources and information you need to write your essay by the time we come back for Term 2. If you have trouble locating information, you should be in a position to tell me that in Week 11 so I can help you then).

Week 11 (Apr 29 - May 3)

Monday: The Coronation of Charlemagne, Christmas Day, 800

This presentation introduces the story of Charlemagne's coronation by Pope Leo III and explains some of the main reasons why it was significant. Read Hollister & Bennet (2002: 112 - 115) on the same topic and answer the following questions.

1. In 800, Charlemagne was already King of the Franks and the Lombards. What was the significance of him being crowned ‘Emperor of the Romans’?
- Posed a challenge to the exclusive Byzantine claim over the Roman legacy
- Reconstituted the Western Roman Empire
- Enhanced Charlemagne’s prestige and reputation
- Consolidated the alliance between the Francs and the Papacy
- Imbues Charlemagne with a sacred quality

2. The chronicler Einhard suggests that Charlemagne was surprised by the coronation and it almost occurred against his will. What reasons are there to suggest this was not the case?
- Charlemagne was too politically powerful to be ignorant of what was planned and not prevent it
- Wanted the prestige and power of the alliance, and that of the Byzantine emperors

3. What might Pope Leo’s objectives have been in crowning Charlemagne emperor?
- “Made in Rome”. Wanted the Papacy to have the power of appointing and deposing Emperors
- Consolidating Franco-Papal alliance

Thursday: The Carolingians from Charles Martel to Charlemagne

Watch Professor Freedman's account of the Carolingian dynasty.

Friday: Essay Research

Use this lesson to locate and read sources.

Homework: If you are having any difficulty finding sources for your essay, you should let me know as soon as possible. Otherwise, work on composing your first draft, to be submitted next Friday.

Week 12 (May 6 - 10)

Monday: The Character of Charlemagne

The key source on Charlemagne is Einhard. The Wikipedia entry provides the following information.

- Born into a family of relatively low status, his parents sent him to be educated by the monks of Fulda - one of the most impressive centres of learning in the Frank lands.
- Perhaps due to his small stature (Einhard referred to himself as a "tiny manlet") which restricted his riding and sword-fighting ability, Einhard concentrated his energies towards scholarship and especially to the mastering of Latin.
- Accepted into the hugely wealthy court of Charlemagne around 791 or 792. Charlemagne actively sought to amass scholarly men around him and established a royal school led by the Northumbrian scholar Alcuin.
- In 814, on Charlemagne's death his son Louis the Pious made Einhard his private secretary.
- The most famous of Einhard's works is his biography of Charlemagne, the Vita Karoli Magni, "The Life of Charlemagne" (c. 817–836).
- In composing this he relied heavily upon the Annals of the Frankish Kingdom.
- Einhard's literary model was the classical work of the Roman historian Suetonius, the Lives of the Caesars, though it is important to stress that the work is very much Einhard's own, that is to say he adapts the models and sources for his own purposes.
- His work was written as a praise of Charlemagne, whom he regarded as a foster-father (nutritor) and to whom he was a debtor "in life and death". The work thus contains an understandable degree of bias, Einhard taking care to exculpate Charlemagne in some matters, not mention others, and to gloss over certain issues which would be of embarrassment to Charlemagne, such as the morality of his daughters.
- By contrast, other issues are curiously not glossed over, like Charlemagne’s concubines.

Read the excerpts from the Life of Charlemagne at the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. What do the excerpts from Einhard indicate about Charlemagne’s character? Compose your answers using quotations and accompanying explanation about what can be concluded from them.

“Charles was large and strong...”, “His health was excellent...” “...he took frequent exercise on horseback and in the chase... and often practised swimming...”
Naturally strong and kept himself physically fit
“Thus his appearance was always stately and dignified, whether he was standing or sitting...”
Maintained a regal demeanour
“His gait was firm, his whole carriage manly, and his voice clear, but not so strong as his size led one to expect.”
He commanded with authority
“...he consulted rather his own inclinations than the advice of physicians...”
Strong-willed, independent-minded
“He used to wear the national, that is to say, the Frank, dress...”
Proud of heritage
“...he sometimes carried a jewelled sword, but only on great feast-days or at the reception of ambassadors from foreign nations.”
Flaunt of power/ success, showing superiority
“...despised foreign costumes, however handsome, and never allowed himself to be robed in them, except twice in Rome, when he donned the Roman tunic, chlamys, and shoes; the first time at the request of Pope Hadrian, the second to gratify Leo, Hadrian's successor...”
Disdain for other powers but respect for the Church
“On great feast-days he made use of embroidered clothes, and shoes bedecked with precious stones; his cloak was fastened by a golden buckle, and he appeared crowned with a diadem of gold and gems: but on other days his dress varied little from the common dress of the people.”
Down to earth, but knew when to flaunt success
“He very rarely gave entertainments...”, “While at table, he listened to reading or music...”
“While he was dressing and putting on his shoes, he not only gave audience to his friends, but if the Count of the Palace told him of any suit in which his judgment was necessary, he had the parties brought before him forthwith, took cognizance of the case, and gave his decision, just as if he were sitting on the Judgment-seat.”
Hard-working, focused on the business of governing
“Charles had the gift of ready and fluent speech, and could express whatever he had to say with the utmost clearness.”
Easily understood, persuasive and charismatic speaker
“... [he] used to keep tablets and blanks in bed under his pillow...”
Personal commitment to learning
“He most zealously cultivated the liberal arts, held those who taught them in great esteem...”
Great respect for knowledge and teachers

Thursday: The Character of Charlemagne (continued)

“The plan that he adopted for his children's education was, first of all, to have both boys and girls instructed in the liberal arts, to which he also turned his own attention.”
Enjoyed the liberal arts
“...he was never willing to marry any of them [his daughters] to a man of their own nation or to a foreigner, but kept them all at home...”
Controlling/ possessive father, possibly concerned about rival claims to the succession
“He was so careful of the training of his sons and daughters that he never took his meals without them when he was at home...”
Devoted father
“He cherished the Church of St. Peter the Apostle at Rome above all other holy and sacred places, and heaped its treasury with a vast wealth of gold, silver, and precious stones. He sent great and countless gifts to the popes...”
Relationship with the Church central to his policies and reign. Personally devout
“...throughout his whole reign the wish that he had nearest at heart was to re-establish the ancient authority of the city of Rome under his care and by his influence...”
Indicates regard for the Papacy and regard for the legacy of the Roman Empire

Describe the character of Charlemagne (based on the evidence provided by Einhard). Use Einhard to support your characterisation: ‘Einhard tells us that... “; “It appears from Einhard’s account that...”; “If we can rely on Einhard’s description of Charlemagne...”

Friday: Rise and Fall of the Carolingians

Watch this excerpt from 'The Dark Ages: The Fall of Civilization, The Rise of a New World Order' (History Channel, 2006).

Draft Research Essay Due
Homework: Work on research essay.

Week 13 (May 13 - 17)

Monday: Division, Invasion and Reorganisation

Read Hollister & Bennett (2002: 125 - 134) for an account of how the Carolingian dynasty first fragmented as it was divided between the sons of Louis the Pious and was then weakened by VIking invasions.

Thursday: Essay writing

Use this lesson to work on completing your essay.

Friday: Timeline of the Carolingian Dynasty

Revise the work we've done this term and formulate a timeline of the Carolingians.

Late 600s
Late 600s
Circa 773

Grimald leads failed coup against Merovingians
Pope changed allegiance from Byzantium to the Carolingians
Charles Martel’s reign begins (Maior of the palace of Austrasia)
Battle of Tours
Charles Martel dies, is succeeded by Pepin the Short
Pepin writes a letter to the Pope, asking “is it right for a powerless ruler to remain king?”
Donations of Pepin: Pepin recognises secular rule of the Papacy over central Italy; guarantees defence (against Lombards). Pope legitimises Carolingian rule. Last Merovingian king deposed and replaced by Carolingian king.
Pepin defeats the Lombards, crowned by Pope.
Pepin dies, is succeeded by his two sons, Charles and Carloman.
Carloman dies under mysterious circumstances, potentially at the hands of Charles.

Charlemagne launches an attack on Moorish Spain and establishes the Spanish March.
Charlemagne expands the Empire eastwards. Conquered and absorbed Bavaria.
Einhard accepted into the court of Charlemagne
Defeats Avars
Crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III
By this point, Charlemagne had conquered the Lombards, Bavarians, Saxons, some of Spain and seized Barcelona
Charlemagne is succeeded by Louis the Pious
Einhard writes Vita Karoli Magni
Death of Louis the Pious

Research Essay Due

Week 14 (May 20 - 24)

Monday: Research Activity

- For your oral presentation, you will be required to formulate a focus question on one of the following topics: St Augustine and the Christianisation of England; Francia in the 8th century; Charles Martel; St Boniface; Pepin the Short and the Franco-Papal Alliance; Manorialism; Charlemagne’s conquests; The Imperial Coronation; The Carolingian Renaissance; The Treaty of Verdun; Viking raids; Alfred the Great
- This lesson, our goal is to collectively gain a broad sense of what resources are available to us. To do this, together we will create an annotated bibliography.
- We will be in the library.
- You will be given or will find a source that may be relevant to one or more of the above topics.
- Your responsibility is to write an annotation which briefly outlines: what topics are covered; in what depth; how easy it is to understand; to what extent it shows acquaintance with other (primary or secondary) sources on the topic; in what ways the author is able to know about the topic; what bias or perspective the author appears to have.
- Post your annotation in the discussion area, on Clio.
- Please do not borrow any books. I will put them on reserve at the library desk for 48 hour loans. That way, we’ll all be able to access them.

Thursday: King Alfred and the Viking Age, Presented by John Hood

Presentation: Alfred the Great

Sources on Alfred: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Extracts from Asser, 'Vita Alfredi Regi Angul Saxonum'; The Treaty with Guthrum;
Alfred's Law Code: the '​Doom Boc'.

Friday: Formulate Your Focus Question

Oral Presentation Task

By the end of this lesson, email a proposal for your oral presentation focus question to . Justify your proposal by explaining why you think:

- there is sufficient information available
- you can provide an in-depth answer to the question in the time allowed
- the question invites an argument in response

Homework: Research your oral presentation.

Week 15 (May 27 - 31)

Monday: Oral Presentation Research

Thursday: Oral Presentation Research

Friday: Oral Presentation Research

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 16 (June 3 - 7)

Monday: Oral Presentation Research

Prepare a progress report for Thursday. Your report should go for 2 minutes. Include the following:

i. A precise statement of your focus question.
ii. An outline of your main sources (approximately three), including how they have informed your inquiry and in what ways they are are reliable.
iii. A provisional answer to your focus question with supporting reasons.

Please make dot points on palm cards so that you can practise speaking, rather than reading, to your audience.



Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 17 (June 10 - 14)

Monday: Public holiday

Oral Presentations Begin

Homework: For Monday, identify the three most important things you have learnt this week in the Dark Ages. Write one sentence on each.

Week 18 (June 17 - 21)


Wednesday June 19: Cross-line testing week begins

Year 11 Oral Presentations
John Roberts: What were the origins of feudalism?
Georgina Davidson: How did Augustine’s mission to England succeed?
Myra Opdyke: What was the role of the Papacy in the Carolingian dynasty and how did it fluctuate over time?
Tash Needham: Does Charlemagne deserve the title of ‘Great'? Evaluate in relation to his military achievements.
Hannah Minter: What inspired the Carolingian Renaissance and what was its significance?
Roy Lawrence: Vikings
Hamish Richardson: What affect did the Vikings have on Western Europe?
Emilie Morscheck: Who made the biggest impact on medieval Europe, the Moors or the Vikings?


Dark Ages: Discredited term for the Early Middle Ages. ""DARK AGES, a term formerly used to cover the whole period between the end of classical civilization and the revival of learning in the 15th century. The use of the term implied an exclusive respect for classical standards in literature and art and a corresponding disparagement of all that was achieved between the decline of ancient culture and the work of Renaissance scholars, writers and artists. With the progress of mediaeval studies in the 19th century it became impossible for historians to dismiss one of the great constructive periods in human activity with an epithet implying contempt for its achievements, and the phrase has now become obsolete." (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 7, Great Britain, 1959, p. 60)

Early Middle Ages: Historical period between circa 500 and 1000. Begins with the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and is characterised in part by the associated decline in population, trade, coinage, literacy and centralised government.


Timeline: Justinian the Great (6th Cent)



Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 7, Great Britain, 1959

Hollister, C. W. & Bennett, J. M. (2002), Medieval Europe, A Short History, Viking: London

Lyons, J. (2009), The House of Wisdom: How the Arabs Transformed Western Civilization, Bloomsbury: London

Norwich, J. J. (1998), A Short History of Byzantium, Penguin: London

Sardar, Z. (2009), The Britannica Guide to the Islamic World, Constable & Robinson: London


Covington, R. (2007), 'Rediscovering Arab Science', Saudi Aramco World, May/June 2007, pp. 2-16

Duffy, S. (2010), 'Theodora: the empress from the brothel', The Guardian, 10 June 2010

Farmer, L. (1969), 'Medicine from the Middle East', Saudi Aramco World, January/February 1969, pp. 2-7

Gearon, E. (2011), 'Arab Invasions: The First Islamic Empire', History Today, Volume 6, Issue 6

Herrin, J. (1988), 'The Byzantine Secrets of Procopius', History Today, Volume 38, Issue 8

Korte, N. E. (2005), Procopius' Portrayal Of Theodora In The Secret History:"Her Charity Was Universal", Hirundo: The McGill Journal of Classical Studies, Volume III: 109-130. © 2005

McClanan, A. 'The Empress Theodora and the Tradition of Women's Patronage in the Early Byzantine Empire' in McCash, J. H. ed. (1996), The Cultural Patronage of Medieval Women, Athens, University of Georgia Press

David W. Tschanz (1997), The Arab Roots of European Medicine Saudi Aramco World, May/June 1997


Augustine (1955), Confessions, (trans. and ed. by Outler, A. C). Accessed February 7, 2013, at

Freedman, P. (2011), HIST 210: The Early Middle Ages, 284–1000, Open Yale Courses. Accessed February 7, 2013, at

Kreis, S. (2001), The History Guide, ‘Lecture 17 The Byzantine Empire’, Accessed February 11, 2013 at

Popova, M. (n.d.), 'Oh, My Hand: Complaints Medieval Monks Scribbled in the Margins of Illuminated Manuscripts', brain pickings. Accessed February 7, 2013 at