History 1100-Honors

Ancient and Medieval Europe

Christopher Oldstone-Moore



Overview and Requirements


 The fundamental goals of this class are:


1) To become familiar with the great events and persons of the Western past.

2) To develop a capacity for analyzing historical evidence and expressing insights verbally and in writing.

3) To recognize more clearly the historical influences that have shaped our own civilization.


The study of history is about the present.  It seeks answers to key questions about ourselves, especially how we became who we are. 


In the sciences, students do what professional scientists do: they learn the laws of nature by direct experimentation in the laboratory.  Historians cannot do that, but they can examine evidence from the past, the "primary sources." In this course, you will "do" history in a way similar to that of professional historians. You will look at evidence from the past--buildings, artifacts, artworks, and especially writing of all kinds--in order to assemble a picture of events and developments that have shaped lives past and present. The history of Europe is formative to the experience of modern Americans. European culture, ideas and institutions have shaped modern America in countless ways.

Books to purchase at the bookstore


Clifford Backman, Cultures of the West, 2nd Edition, Vol. 1

Ronald Mellor, Augustus and the Creation of the Roman Empire

Jay Rubenstein, The First Crusade


Course materials online


This syllabus serves as the course homepage.  The schedule has links to lecture outlines, art, additional readings and study guides.




Laptops are banned except for showing documents during discussion. Boredom is better than distraction. Electronic devices are fine in general, but have the primary effect of making us hopeless social nerds. If interaction with real humans does not work for you, then you should go home and rethink your life.


Special Needs


If any student has a demonstrable need for special consideration with respect to the requirements of this class they should inform the professor immediately.




 Written Work


  Participation: This has a verbal and written component. Discussion is the heart and soul of this class. Students should be prepared to engage with the issues raised in general or small group discussions. Any day that a student makes a constructive and informed contribution is worth 3 points. The instructor will also randomly collect homework questions in class 10 times for five points each. Each student can earn 10 extra points for participation (for a total of 80/70). Questions will not be accepted after class time or by email.


Trial Brief (4 pages): Each student will have an assigned day to participate in a trial. Students will be given extra readings in addition to the common reading for all students. The student will adopt the point of view contained in a reading assigned to her, and argue the question assigned for the trial on that basis. The litigants should also read the other presenters' readings, so that they can attempt to refute or agree with the other points of view.


Essay First Page and Bibliography: On the assigned due date, each student will submit the first page (or any greater portion of the essay) and bibliography to receive feedback from the instructor.


Essay (5 pages): Choices for essay topics are found on the website, along with specific instructions about structure, style and grading.


Three exams: Each exam will feature identifications, short answer questions, and possibly an essay.


Due Dates


All due dates are indicated on the schedule. Students will receive a 3-point deduction for every day that the Thesis/Outline or Essay is late.  Extensions will be granted only in advance and in pressing circumstances.




The course is 400 points: The final grade is calculated on this scale:



70 pts 

90-100% = A

Trial Brief

50 pts

80-89% = B

Essay First Page

20 pts

70-79% = C


80 pts

60-69% = D

Exams (x3)

180 pts