The Medieval Reformation: Context (HIH3278)

StaffProfessor Sarah Hamilton - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at level 1 and/or level 2
Co-requisitesHIH3277 (Sources)
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module investigates the changes which occurred in how Christianity was delivered to, and practiced by the laity, and the role which the laity played as active agents in promoting such changes, in the European Latin West in the period c. 900 – c. 1215. These years have variously been described as the medieval reformation or even the first European revolution. They are ones in which both the lives of the clergy and those of ordinary lay people were transformed. It will explore the debates in the modern historiography surrounding key issues including the reform of the lives of both priests and monks; the creation of parish communities; saints’ cults, pilgrimage and crusades; and the heretical movements of eleventh and twelfth centuries.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Evaluate the different complex themes in the history of the medieval reformation and to assess the importance of the medieval reformation in the development of European history and culture.
  • 2. Make close specialist evaluation of the key developments within the period, developed through independent study and seminar work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse the key developments within a particular historical environment
  • 4. Focus on and comprehend complex issues.
  • 5. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 6. Develop a detailed awareness of the complex reasoning inherent in the discourse of the period

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 7. Conduct independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 8. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment
  • 9. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

1) Introduction (to the main developments of the period) 
2) What do we mean by reform? (ideas of reform and revolution) 
3) Parish church and local community (policing the local community; foundation of local churches) 
4) Reform of the pastoral clergy (distinguishing the clergy from the laity: clerical celibacy and other expectations of clerical behaviour; clerical roles in secular life) 
5) Reform of the regular clergy (monastic and canonical reform; new orders; hermits; nuns) 
6) Lay piety (public rites; private prayers; confraternities) 
7) Lay enthusiasm (cult of saints; pilgrimage; crusade) 
8) Discipline and belief (heretical beliefs; penance and excommunication) 
9) Lateran IV and conclusions

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4422 x 2 hour seminars.
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course.1-7, 9Verbal from tutor and fellow students.

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay253000 words1-8Verbal and written.
Unseen exam502 questions in 2 hours1-8Verbal and written.
Essay253000 words1-8Verbal and written.

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Two essaysTwo essays1-8Referral/deferral period.
Unseen examUnseen exam1-8Referral/deferral period.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

John Arnold, Belief and unbelief in medieval Europe (London: Hodder Arnold, 2005) 
Brenda Bolton, The medieval reformation (London: Edward Arnold, 1983) 
Giles Constable, The reformation of the twelfth century (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996) 
Kathleen G. Cushing, Reform and the papacy in the eleventh century: spirituality and social change (Manchester: Manchester UP, 2005) 
Heinrich Fichtenau, Living in the tenth century: mentalities and social order (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1991)
Sarah Hamilton, Church and People in the medieval west (Routledge: Abingdon, 2013)
R. I. Moore, The first European revolution c. 970 – 1215 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)
André Vauchez, The laity in the Middle Ages: religious beliefs and devotional practices (London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993)

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