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Local lordship in the Central Middle Ages (900-1200)


Admission requirements

Relevant BA-degree or demonstrable general knowledge of medieval history and of doing research in medieval history on the basis of primary sources from the medieval period.


The establishment of a new type of local lordship, known as ‘banal lordship’, and its political and social importance to processes of state formation in the Central Middle Ages, remains one of the most controversial issues in medieval history. Since the renewal of the debate with the appearance of Poly & Bournazel’s monograph La mutation féodale in 1980 – eleven years later translated into English as The Feudal Transformation – much has been done to clarify, specify or re-discuss the exact nature of local lordships, the geopolitical area of their distribution, their supposedly crisis-driven proliferation, and the scale and spread of related phenomena such as castle building, extrajudicial violence and feuding, territorial peace agreements, and the deployment of vassalic relations. What is now lacking, is a survey that takes in the main results of this quarter of a century of research. This seminar aims at filling this gap. In the first part the historiographical debate on ‘the feudal revolution/transformation’ will be profoundly examined and (re)discussed on the basis of an ample collection of book chapters and articles; in the second part each participant will carry out a case study – on the level of primary sources – on a well-documented local lordship in one of a selected number of regions of Latin Christian Europe in the central medieval period.

Course objectives

Students acquire a broad knowledge of the political and social history of Europe in the Central Middle Ages, especially from a local-regional perspective. Students acquire a profound understanding of the historiographical debate on the ‘Feudal Revolution’. They learn how to conduct research into published and unpublished primary sources, related to the course theme, and to make a Europe-wide, comparative evaluation of the results. Students are expected to give an oral presentation and to write two papers: one discussion paper of about 2,500 words (ca 6 pages) for the historiographical part and a final written report of about 7,500 words (ca. 18 pages) on their own case-study.


Timetable History

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Total: 280 hours

  • Presence at seminars (12 × 2 =) 24 hours

  • Study of literature first 6 weeks (6 × 10) = 60 hours

  • Preparation bibliographical survey (discussion paper) = 40 hours

  • Preparation oral presentation = 56 hours

  • (Further) research & writing final report = 100 hours

Assessment method

  • Discussion paper: 15% of final mark – with the purpose of testing general knowledge of the time frame and of the main historiographical issues at stake.

  • Oral presentation: 25% of final mark – with the purpose of testing the ability of presenting the results of introductory research into a chosen subject on the basis of a correctly defined problem.

  • Final report: 60% of final mark – with the purpose of testing the ability of presenting the over-all results of a small research project based on the use of primary sources in a well-structured written report that answers the basic standards of scholarly research in the field of medieval history (including the definition of a problem within a relevant theoretical and historiographical framwework, and a methodologically adequate analysis of sources).

Students with an over-all unsatisfactory mark will get one additional chance to improve their final report.


Blackboard is used for:

  • Course documents

Reading list

The reading list for the first part of the seminar will consist of about 20-30 book parts and articles from journals and edited volumes published in the years 1992-2014, most of them in English. The list will be made available before the summer recess of 2015.


via uSis


dhr. Prof.dr. P.C.M. Hoppenbrouwers