Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 840037-B-6
Middle Ages: at the Theological-political Crossroads
Course info
Course module840037-B-6
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryBA (Bachelor)
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byTilburg University; Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences; TSHD: Liberal Arts and Sciences; Liberal Arts and Sciences;
Is part of
B Liberal Arts and Sciences
prof. dr. A.J.A. Bijsterveld
Other course modules lecturer
dr. D.J.M.S. Janssens
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2020
Starting block
SM 2
Course mode
RemarksCaution: this information is subject to change
Registration openfrom 20/01/2021 up to and including 20/08/2021
After having completed the course & 'Middle Ages: at the Theological-Political Crossroads'; the student is able:
  1. To describe and outline the main developments and turning-points in history, politics, religion, philosophy and culture in Europe during the Middle Ages (The End of an Empire: Legacies of Rome; Monasticism 1: From Diversity to Unity; Monasticism 2: From Unity to Diversity; Christianity and Islam: The Crusades and the Iberian Peninsula; Twelfth-Century Renaissance: From Cathedral Schools to Universities; Church and State in Central and Late Medieval Italy);
  2. To discuss the most important philosophical currents of the European Middle Ages and their chief representatives (Augustine, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas - Christianity, Averroës – Islam, and Maimonides and Judah Halevi - Judaism);
  3. To relate developments in philosophy, religion and culture with the major political and societal changes in the medieval world;
  4. To compare different periods and developments in history, politics, religion, philosophy and culture and determine their similarities and differences;
  5. To assess the significance and importance of the medieval legacy for contemporary European culture.

For non-LAS students the number of places in this course is limited. For registration, please contact Gerwin van der Laan ( at least three weeks prior to the start of the course

Required Prerequisites

Curiosity, pen and paper (or a laptop)
In many respects, the Middle Ages constitute the cradle of modern Europe: its historical, political, religious, philosophic, economic and cultural developments contributed to defining the European Community as a distinct and influential part of the globe. At the same time, simply speaking of the 'Middle Ages' already involves one in a set of quandaries:
  1. The period roughly spans a thousand years, which makes it difficult to view, let alone to understand it as a whole. A further subdivision in early, high and late Middle Ages does little to remedy this problem;
  2. The concept itself is a relatively late construction based on a specific and problematic view of history in terms of beginning, middle and end. Whereas we generally like to call ourselves modern or post-modern, no-one in, say, 1245, would have dreamed of calling herself 'medieval'.
  3. The concept is profoundly Eurocentric: it largely ignores or excludes events and developments that occurred in other parts of the world (e.g. the Far East, not to mention Africa), and which nevertheless were influential. Thus, the importance of Arab rule over the Iberian Peninsula for the development of European culture has only come to be recognized recently.
    In order to get a grip on the decisive yet elusive European Middle Ages, we will explore them through the lens of their defining tensions, confrontations and conflicts: by discussing major events and developments, by studying key primary and secondary texts, and, last but not least, by looking at them from the perspective of what are often called their Others: classical Antiquity, Judaism, and Islam. This approach will enable us to assess the continuities and discontinuities between medieval and contemporary Europe as a theological-political crossroads.
This course also includes a visit to a museum, which is selected every year.

This course is taught using University College Tilburg's "Team Teaching"-Method, which entails two lecturers (often from different fields) teaching the course at the same time.

The final grade is composed of: Midterm Exam (30%), Final Exam (30%), Participation (20%) and Weekly Assignments (20%).

Compulsory Reading
  1. Course materials will be assigned at the beginning of the course.

Recommended Reading
  1. Barbara Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages,Vol. 1/2, Broadview Press, 2004.
  2. Remi Brague, The Legend of the Middle Ages, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  3. Barbara Rosenwein (ed.), Reading the Middle Ages: Sources from Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic World, Broadview Press, 2006.
  4. Patrick J. Geary, ed., Readings in Medieval History, Peterborough etc.: Broadview Press, 1993 third edition, ISBN 1-55111-550-6.
Course available for exchange students
Conditions of admission apply
Contact person
dr. D.J.M.S. Janssens
Timetable information
Middle Ages: at the Theological-political Crossroads
Written test opportunities
Schriftelijk (30%) / Written (30%)EXAM_01SM 2109-06-2021
Midterm (30%) / Midterm (30%)MIDTERM_01SM 2221-06-2021
Schriftelijk (30%) / Written (30%)EXAM_01SM 2207-07-2021
Written test opportunities (HIST)
Midterm (30%) / Midterm (30%)MIDTERM_01SM 2130-03-2021
Required materials
Recommended materials
Assignment (20%)

Written (30%)

Final Result

Midterm (30%)

Other_1 (20%)

Kies de Nederlandse taal