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Course Description

The course will begin with the structure and the decline of the Roman Empire, the triumph of Christianity and the incursions of the barbarian peoples into the Roman Empire, which brought the Western Empire to an end. It will deal with the survival and revival of Greek learning in the Eastern Mediterranean (Syria and Egypt) and its transmission to Ireland’s monastic culture and its dissemination to the kingdoms Western Britain (Wales and Cornwall) of Anglo-Saxon England, where it took root and was passed on to Continental Europe, where it made a material contribution to the Carolingian Renaissance, and to the revival of Christian art and literary culture in Western Europe. It is no longer conventional or at all correct therefore to refer to the period between the end of the Western Roman Empire and the revival of learning in the 11th century as ‘The Dark Ages’. The spread of Christianity served its purpose by civilizing the barbarian peoples and in ensuring the survival of the remnants of Graeco-Roman culture.

Course Objectives

  • The effects of the Moslem, Viking and Magyar onslaughts on Europe will be examined, the origins of feudalism and the rise of Islamic culture in Al Andalus (the Iberian Peninsula), which in turn brought about the revival of Greek learning in Southern and NW Europe.


Sophmore standing.

Required Textbook

Western Civilization Vol. 1 to 1500, Jackson Spielvogel.


Component Percentage
Weekly discussions 20%
Two written essays 40%
Final research paper 40%
Copyright ©2008 Aidan Breen, Ph.D.