lhist1210  2019-2020  Louvain-la-Neuve

Note from June 29, 2020
Although we do not yet know how long the social distancing related to the Covid-19 pandemic will last, and regardless of the changes that had to be made in the evaluation of the June 2020 session in relation to what is provided for in this learning unit description, new learnig unit evaluation methods may still be adopted by the teachers; details of these methods have been - or will be - communicated to the students by the teachers, as soon as possible.
5 credits
37.5 h
Q1 and Q2
Van den Abeele Baudouin; Van Ypersele Laurence;
Main themes
This course aims to provide History students with methodological and practical insights into two main categories of historical sources: manuscript documents and illustrated documents. Both categories have specific evaluation and reading rules.
Two modules are available, one on manuscripts and the other on images. Module 1 will take place during the first term, and 2 during the second term.

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

1 Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
  • characterise, in theoretical and practical terms, the main types of Western writing systems;
  • master the principal systems of medieval abbreviations;
  • decipher a medieval or modern manuscript written in Latin or French.
By the end of the course, students will be trained in the use of illustrated documents as sources for historians, in order to be able to:
  • retrace the past;
  • use realia (landscapes, infrastructure, tools, etc.);
  • perceive mental and collective representations;
understand their links with political, economic and social history.

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”.
1. Manuscript document module: Medieval and modern palaeography
This course looks at types of writing in use between the 12th and 18th centuries: writing in books, cursive script and diplomatic script. It explains the links between them and how each type developed, and introduces students to different methods to evaluate and date them. Students will work through deciphering exercises to familiarise themselves with the systems of abbreviation.
2. Illustrated document module: History and images
This course is organised in three phases:
  • Building on the general courses of the Bachelor's degree in History, the course delves deeper into the critical approach to illustrated documents of various types, from antiquity to the modern era, highlighting critical problems posed by their typology, heuristics and interpretation;
  • It includes three exercises analysing different types of images;
  • Problems are solved by consulting the illustrated sources analysed in the exercises then the information is structured and synthesised and an attempt is made to apply it to a wider context.
Teaching methods
A few theoretical lectures are followed by mostly practicals, devoted to commenting on and deciphering documents, prepared each week by the students.
This course aims to familiarise students with medieval and modern types of writing and introduce them to deciphering techniques. It starts with a theoretical part on media, instruments and writing methods, and on the places where documents are kept. Most of the subsequent sessions are practical, involving exercises in deciphering Latin and French documents, in chronological order. Each class covers one document, previously transcribed by the students and submitted to the teacher, who annotates it. One session is also reserved for medieval miniatures and their contribution to manuscript evaluation.
This course delves deeper into the critical approach to illustrated documents of various types, from antiquity to the present day, highlighting the problems posed by the typology, heuristics and interpretation of images. After a general methodological introduction to image analysis, the course focuses on the specific analysis of medieval and contemporary images (including moving images: cinema, television). Students are expected to react to these analyses and then actively take part in them.
Evaluation methods
One part of the assessment (4/20 points) relates to the transcription exercises done during the year. The main part consists of a written examination (16/20 points), comprising questions on the theory learned and the transcription of three excerpts from Latin and French documents. Students may use a Latin dictionary.
Assessment is based on three written essays on medieval images, fixed contemporary images (19th-20th century) and moving contemporary images, respectively.
To obtain a final grade, both modules must be successfully completed.
Faculty or entity

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

Title of the programme
Bachelor in History

Minor in Medieval Studies

Minor in History