This course begins with the crisis of the Roman Empire in the third century and the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312. We will study the so-called "barbarian invasions" of the fourth and fifth centuries and the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West. The Roman Empire in the East (and commonly known as the Byzantine Empire after the seventh century) survived intact, developing a very different style of Christianity than in the lands of the former western empire. Apart from examining Christianization in the deserts of Egypt or the chilly North Sea, we will discuss the phenomenon of Islam in the seventh century (especially after the Prophet Muhammad's death in 632) and the Arab conquests of the eastern Mediterranean and north Africa. In the post-Roman world of the West we will read about the Anglo-Saxons, the Carolingians, and the Vikings. In exploring these topics we will have to think about the relationship of kings to popes, Emperors to patriarchs, of missionaries to pagans, of cities to villages, of the sacred to the profane. Our attention will be directed to things as various as different forms of monasticism, the establishment of frontier communities, the culture of the Arabian peninsula, magic, paganism, military tactics, Romanesque churches, sea travel, manuscript illumination, the architecture of mosques, early medieval philosophy, the changing imagery of Christ, holiness, and violence as a redemptive act.
Course Attributes: EN H; BU Hum; BU IS; AS HUM; AS LCD