Historical Foundations of Western Civilisation : Middle Ages

lfial1420b  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

Historical Foundations of Western Civilisation : Middle Ages
3 credits
22.5 h
Lecuppre Gilles;

The prerequisite(s) for this Teaching Unit (Unité d’enseignement – UE) for the programmes/courses that offer this Teaching Unit are specified at the end of this sheet.
Main themes
Using the material learned in the course "Fondaments 1," the course aims to make the student more familiar with two or three of the crucial research problems issuing from each period and touching different areas of research. In this manner, the course leads the student to a deeper understanding of Western society from Antiquity to the present time. The lecturer will not address the two "inter-period" themes that formed the basis of the "Fondements 1" course in the first semester. The topics developed during the four series will be discussed and agreed upon by the lecturers.

- Four series of "directed readings," each bearing on one of the four periods of history: Antiquity, Middle Ages, the Modern Era, and the Contemporary Period
- Preparation and deepening of one's knowledge of the subject matter through these readings.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


- For each of the four periods, to master the chronology of the history of Western civilization and the main foundations of Western history.
- By examining some sources, to master how historical knowledge is developed.
- For each of the periods studied, to be able, starting from a "reading folder," to elucidate some of the major problems of historical research.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
Two themes will be considered:

Real and fictitious fortified castles in the Middle Ages :
As a symbol of the very period which witnessed their development, medieval castles are certainly informative about war and its evolution. That is why we will lay siege to those wooden or stone fortresses and take them by storm, with the help of sophisticated machines and cannons. For all that, we will not forget that castles were also an environment, the setting of Arthurian adventures and the ornaments of splendid miniatures at the end of the Middle Ages. Via Romantic writers and the 19th century as a whole, which contributed to its rehabilitation, the medieval castle still has a particular meaning in the collective unconscious, which we will have to call into question.

Travelling in the Middle Ages :
The Middle Ages, most notably from the 11th century on, proved a remarkable era for travels and travellers. Whether continental or maritime, routes favoured faith (pilgrimages, flows of monks and mendicant friars), knowledge (quest for manuscripts, continuing coming and going of masters and students), trade (more and more globalised), discovery of the unknown: by expanding their horizons, and consequently ours, explorers reconciled novelty with their prolific imaginary world and thus made next generations want to go and find other wonders. The course will aim at giving an insight into the motivations, the means, the traits and the works of travellers during a curious and fertile period.
Teaching methods
Evaluation methods
The final written examination, including various types of exercises, intends to check the mastery of the lectures and documents.
Other information
Online resources
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in History

Bachelor in Ancient Languages and Literatures: Oriental Studies

Bachelor in History of Art and Archaeology : General

Minor in History

Minor in Medieval Studies