Accessibility statement

Violence, Miracle and Renaissance in Medieval France

Tutor: Danielle Park (tutor for 2018-19) / Sethina Watson

Module type: Period Topic

Module code: HIS00008C

A period of celebrated transformation, the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries were an exciting time to live. A newly-powerful papacy was drawing Europe together as 'Christendom' and launching the First Crusade, a call to saw thousands march to the Holy Land to seize Jerusalem. Towns were growing in size, wealth and power, and there was a renewed zeal for religion with its hermits, saints, and monks. Warfare and its wagers continued to cause upheaval, but they were coming under increasing criticism and being asked to fight for God and for good rather than for their own profit. The French monarchy was emerging from obscurity, and bands of scholars, seeking new forms of learning, were congregating and laying the foundations for universities. All this was witnessed by one man, Guibert of Nogent, whose gossipy autobiography will be the main source for this module. Guibert lets us into a world where a new order was rising on his doorstep, within a landscape filled with violence and miracles. Here, we see one man’s response to this world, through his own struggles with learning, faith, sex, his tutor and, most of all, his indomitable mother.

The provisional outline for the module is as follows:

    • Guibert and his times
    • Nobility, Violence and the Rise of France
    • Religious Life: Hermits, Monks and Mothers
    • Scholars and the New Learning
    • Women, Sex and Family
    • Why are the towns revolting?
    • The Miraculous, the Fabulous & the First Crusade
    • Did the Twelfth Century Discover the Individual?


To find out more

You might like to look at the following:

    • Guibert of Nogent. Monodies and On the Relics of Saints: The Autobiography and a Manifesto of a French Monk from the time of the Crusades, trans. Jay Rubenstein & Joseph McAlhany. New York: Penguin Books, 2011. 
    • Dunbabin, Jean. France in the Making, 843-1180. 2nd edition. Oxford: OUP, 2000.


For more information, please visit the module catalogue.