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   Course Title    European Medieval Civilization
Lecturer    Gennadiy Magakov
Institution    Rostov State University
Country    Russia



The plan of studies of the History department of the Rostov State University intends to introduce the Western European medieval history as the main subject of the World history course studied in the second term. In the third semester the Early and Classical Middle Ages are studied, in the fourth semester the Late Middle Ages. At the same time, the plan of studies provides numerous  elective courses in every semester along with compulsory ones. Since, inevitably, in the general course of medieval history only the most important economic and socio-political processes and events are mainly emphasized, the department of the Ancient World and the Medieval Ages consider it expedient to offer alternative elective courses that give knowledge for students interested in the profound studies of the history of the Middle Ages, of the natural and material conditions of the European medieval society development, influence of these conditions on the demographic situation in Europe, and the everyday life of a medieval man. Familiarization with the above mentioned historical material allows students to extend their knowledge both about social and economic development peculiarities, and the specific characters of the medieval spiritual culture and mentality.




The history of concept “Middle Ages” and problems of the determination of the historical contents and chronological borders of medieval epoch in European, Russian and Soviet historiographic tradition. The concepts of “short” and “long” Middle Ages.

Ratio of concepts of “socio-economic formation”, “civilization” and “culture”.


1. Geographical environment of the development of the European medieval civilization

The geographical and historical contents of the concept “Europe” and its borders. Peculiarities of the physical geography of the European continent.

Climatic zones of Europe. Fluctuation of humidity and temperature in epoch of the Middle Ages.

Landscape, flora and fauna of the medieval Europe.


2. Demography of the medieval Europe

Problems of historical demography. The basic historical sources and methods of historical demography. Main demographic parameters, processes and  factors in epoch of the Middle Ages.

Ethno-political processes in Europe in epoch of the Middle Ages.


3. Food and drinks of the population of the medieval Europe

“Barbarous” ratio of food in the early Middle Ages. “Small” and “large” bread of Europe. The process of internal colonization of Europe and distribution of vegetative ratio of food.

Vegetative oil and animal butter. Salt. Vegetables and fruits. Food import: pepper and spices, sugar, rice.

“Food revolution” in Europe as a consequence of a beginning of epoch of Great geographical discoveries: potato, corn, sunflower, tomato. Tobacco. Chocolate, tea and coffee.

Water and the problem of water supply in medieval Europe. Zones of winemaking and brewing. A standard of living and ratio of winetrade and beertrade. Strong spirit drinks and the so-called “alcohool revolution” in the medieval Europe.


4. Medieval costume and style.

Initial materials: skin, leather, fabric, dye-stuffs. Technology. A barbarous beginning and antique heritage in early-medieval clothes.

The invention of cutting and the origin of the style. Burgundian style. Italian style. Spanish style. Internationalization of costume and hegemony of the French style.

Estates distinctions, religious restrictions, public opinion and style.


5. Medieval dwellings

Building materials. Types of medieval settlements. Agricultural dwellings. Castle. Monastery. Burgh, city and urban dwellings.

Furnish of inhabited premises. Water supply and water drain. Hygiene and comfort of inhabited premises. A fireplace and individualization of habitation. “New lay-out”.


6. Ways of the message and means of movement in medieval Europe

Roads and overland transport in Medieval Europe. River systems and river transport of the Middle Ages.

Mediterranean and North- Atlantic regions of development, medieval European shipbuilding and the convergence in the beginning of the great geographical discoveries era.


7. Development of productive forces of medieval European society

Power supply sources of medieval manufacture: muscular force of the people and animals, natural sources of energy. So-called “power” and “technological” revolutions in medieval Europe.

Production and primary processing of iron ore. Development of medieval metallurgy. Perfection of methods of metal works and the process of specialization of industrial instrument sets.

Gunpowder and the development of the weapon in Europe: its  military- political- and socio-economic consequences.

The invention of the mechanical clock and “secularization of time”.

Writing materials of the Middle Ages. Scriptoriums. Schools. Universities. The invention of a mobile font and beginning of printing. Medieval“information revolution”.


8. Trade and money reference in medieval Europe

Precious metals and money in medieval Europe. Coining, damage of a coin, money reference, compulsory rate of money.

The basic centres of European medieval trade. Retail and wholesale trade. Organization and rules of commercial activity.  Problem of the commercial profit.

Change, usury  and bank operations.  Problem of loan percent.

Occurrence and development of exchange trade.

The problem of parity of the natural and commodity-money attitudes in medieval Europe.




European society of XIV-XV centuries: The autumn of the Middle Ages” (J.Huizinga) or an “early spring of Modern times”?




1.A History of Business in Medieval Europe, 1200-1550. By E.S. Hunt & J.M. Murray. 1998

2.A History of Private Life. Gen. ed. by G. Duby. Vol. II. Revelations of the Medieval World. 1987

3.A History of Private Life. Gen. ed. by G. Duby. Vol. III. Passions of the Renaissance. 1989

4.Die grosse zeit der galeeren und  galeassen. Von L.Eich, E.Henriot und L.Langendorf. 1973

5.Gans and sails in the  early phase of European expansion, 1400-1700. By C.M.Cipolla. 1965

6.Love and  Marriage in the Middle Ages. By G. Duby. 1984

7.Mrusek H-J.  Burgen in Europa. 1975

8.Nadolski A. Bron i stroj rycerstwa polskiego w sredniowieczu. 1979

9.Rudolph W. Bateaux-Radeaux-Navires. 1975

10.Segelkriegs-schiffe des 17.jahrhunderts. Von E.Henriot und L.Langendorf. 1975

11.The Medieval Military Revolution. Ed. by  A.Ayton and J.L. Price. 1995

12.Urban Europe, 1500-1700. By A. Cowan. 1998

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