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URH 204
MW 2:55-4:10

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Office Hours    MG 307 --  Monday 10-11 am; Friday 1:30-2:15 pm, and by appointment.



BECHER, Charlemagne

DUTTON (tr.), Charlemagne’s Courtier :  Einhard [= Ein.]

DUTTON (ed.), Carolingian Civilization [=Civ.]

NEEL (tr.),  Handbook for William (Dhuoda)


ROSENWEIN, Short History of the Middle Ages

SCHOLZ, Carolingian Chronicles

RICHÉ, The Carolingians

Charlemagne (Charles the Great, 775-814) is still revered as “the Father of Europe”. In his time as king of the Franks and then emperor of the West, we see for the first time with any clarity the shape of Europe as it would remain for a millennium and more, also of the structures and cultural mix that would characterize “the West” before there were a France, Germany or United Kingdom. The “Carolingian Renaissance” promoted a brief but fruitful burst of writings and artifacts, including an intimate if slippery Life of Charlemagne and much better documentation of the public and – to an extent – even the everyday life of the age. By reading primary sources in translation, students can grasp a pivotal moment in Western Civilization, see how historians construct their categories, and learn the limitations of the historical craft.

This is a reading seminar. It meets twice a week and classes will revolve largely round the reading, in class and outside, of primary sources on the Age of Charlemagne. I have kept the basic readings relatively short in terms of page numbers, in order that you can read closely, and then come back and reread where you need to. The other assignments are designed to optimize class discussion. I shall lecture a little, but after the start of term, only where necessary to supplement your readings, to substitute for text books as it were.

Most of you will need to familiarize yourselves with the geography of Western Europe at an early stage. Try Paul Halsall's Map Quiz! The go to a Relief map of Europe, and seek out both modern state frontiers and natural features (incl. city, river names).  The online
Maps of Euratlas can give you a snapshot of Europe at 100 year intervals. Many of the other online atlases reproiduce old (though not useless) publications.  If you want to put in a bit of real study, got the Regnum Francorum site, whicjh seems excellent, once you have figured it out. And Olin Reference has all kinds of better atlases too.

Course Requirements:

1.   Participation (20%): 
I expect you to attend all meetings and to contribute what you can to the discussions. One useful way is to put good questions to the others. (Then they will focus on your choice of issues.) To help this, after the first couple of weeks, I will expect each student to write a weekly report (5%) on  the readings of half a page or so.

2. Two papers: The short paper (4-6 pp.) will present a preliminary assessment of Einhard's Life (25%), due 12 noon, Friday Oct 8. The longer one (10-15 pp.) will be on a question  you  think up and agree with me (40%), due 12 noon, Friday Dec 3. I will want to see an outline with a preliminary list of the sources you expect to use (5%) by Week XI. Most secondary reading can come from the books in Uris Reserve, but I will offer more specialized suggestions where I can. You can also search online, eg through the Carolingian Bibliography. You will want a Timeline for your own use, and should compile one, for which you may use the one in Becher, by Week VI (5%).

3. Office Hours: I regard Office Hours as an essential resource for all students, and expect to see you fairly often, and well in advance of any crises. In addition to working with me on your longer paper, you can give me feedback and raise any detailed problems which we did not reach in class.

NB Plagiarism Policy. Please familiarize yourself with Cornell’s academic integrity code (see pamphlet “A Writer’s Responsibilities.”) Unintentional plagiarism results in an “F” for the paper. Intentional plagiarism results in an “F” for the course, or worse. For further help on  how to avoid any appearance of plagiarism, click this link, consult the pamphlet “A Writer’s Responsibilities" and/or talk to me. This will not be an issue to any student who works in a reasonably sensible and positive way on the assignments.

In this course we respect University policies on racial and ethnic discrimination, sexual harassment, assistance to handicapped, visually/hearing impaired students, and rules on religious holidays and plagiarism. You are responsible for familiarizing yourself with the relevant university regulations, and should raise any questions or concerns well in advance of any crises.

A. Charles' Gesta (Deeds)

0.    W Aug 25
Einhard, Life, preface

Anyone new to the period should start with Rosenwein, chap. 3 (the section on the Franks is available on Electronic Reserve); another good introduction is a Lynn Nelson lecture.
Einhard is held to have modeled his Life in some sense on Suetonius', Twelve Caesars; you would do well to take a look for comparison purposes at least at the Life of Augustus. You may also find it helpful to look at my Advice on Source Criticism which was (NB) originally composed for a very different class.

I.        MW Aug 30; Sept 1

Einhard, Life, preface, nos. 1-16 on wars etc; Becher, Intro, chap. II and pp. 151-4 (Timeline).

II.     W Sept 8    (M Sept 6 is Labor Day)

Einhard, Life, nos. 17-27; Becher, chaps., 3-4.
Dutton, Civ., nos. 13. 1 (Saxon Capitulary), 20. 4 (Alcuin to Charlemagne on converting the Saxons)

III.    MW Sept 13, 15

Einhard, Life, nos. 28-9 on empire and German-ness; Becher, chaps. I, V-VI;
Dutton, Civ., nos. 3-4 (Pippin's elevation, anointing), 11-12 (800)"Programmatic Capitulary" of 802 (Dutton, Civ., no. 13. 2)
IV.   MW Sept 22, 24        

Einhard, Life, nos. 30-33 on death; Becher, chaps. VII-VII;
Dutton, Ein., pp. xi-xxiii & nos. 1. 14 (Walahfrid Strabo's new intro), 26. 1-7(Thegan's Life of Louis the Pious) .

B. Civilization and Renaissance

V.       MW Sept 27, 29

Einhard, Translation and Miracles, bks. I-II (pp. 69-91);
Dutton, Ein.., no. 13. 7 esp. Charlemagne's circular "On the Cultivation of Letters", 20. 1-2 (Alcuin letters)

VI.    MW Oct 4, 6

Einhard, Translation and Miracles, bk. III (pp. 92-111)

Sat-Wed, Oct 9-13


VII.   W Oct 13

Einhard, Translation and Miracles, bk. IV (pp. 111-31)

VIII.  MW Oct 18, 20

Dhuoda,  pp. 1-6, 12-3 (1. 6-7); 17-20 (2. 3-4); 21-42 (bk. 3).
Lecture on the Carolingian Renaissance.

IX.     MW Oct 25, 27

Dhuoda, pp. 71-2 (5.8); 76-8 (6. 4); 79 (7. 1); 91-2 (9. 1-3); 95-106 (bks. 10-11).

Dutton, Civ., nos. 19 (Theodulph to his priests), 37 (Halitgar's Penitential); Ein., nos.6. 7, 17-18, 23, 25(Feud & Sanctuary)

Review of book on Gregorian Chant and the Carolingians. Donald Bullough, Carolingian Renewal has 2 chapters on liturgy and chant.You can find many examples of Chant via Wikipedia and elsewhere. 

X.    MW Nov 1, 3  
What economic data can you find in the sources we have read so far?

Material Culture: A Visitor's Guide to Carolingian France shows you many good images of places and thnigs; look for the links to Coins etc. What did these cost and who paid?
On the management of imperial estates, the so-called Capitulary "De Villis" , and the inventory from 'Asnapium'; further material in Civ., no. 13. 5-6 (pp. 85-9);
on Einhard's own estates Ein., nos. 3. 11-13, 6. 23-4 etc.

Richatd Hodges on Charlemagne’s Elephant:, and an oilman’s view,

XI.    MW Nov 8, 10      Some (un)representative contemporary scholars

Alcuin extracts in , nos. 20-22. A page from his bible
Agobard of Lyons (c. 779 – 840) On Injustices to Mathfrid (ca. 822-February 828); On Hail and Thunder;(= Dutton, Civ., no. 33), on  "The Insolence of the Jews" 826-7, On the Deception of Certain Signs, and preaches c. 830 on "the Division of the Empire"
Theodulph of Orleans (750/60 -  821) Dutton, Civ., nos. 16-19 (esp. 18, 2, 5-6) [19 is diocesan precepts]. There is pretty odd recording of one of Theodulph's hymns you can listen to online.


C. The Legend (Nachleben)

XII.    MW Nov 15, 17

Dutton, Civ., nos. 25, 60, 79; Notker of St. Gall, Life of Charles [extracts];
Divisions of the Empire: Dutton, Civ., nos. 23, 28, 47

XIII.  M Nov 22

Einhard, Vita, c. 9; Dutton, Civ., 9. 5 (55-6) ; Song of Roland , [extracts]

Wed-Mon, Nov 24-9

XIV.   MW Nov 29, Dec 1

Wrap-up, with readings TBA.


E&OE prh/8-10

Introduction to issues of Church and State in the period.

More source materials on Charlemagne at
The Strasbourg Oaths are  some of the very earliest texts in French and German (of a kind).
Battle of Tours/Poitiers 732: 3 accounts (2 Christian, one Arab) + another Arab account
An account of the Medieval Mass

Lynn Nelson Lecture on "The Carolingian Empire"