History of Christianity: The Early Middle Ages

Next Session: Oct 21, 2024

This course aims to introduce students to the major developments and traditions of the early medieval church. Building on the material introduced in the lectures on the first five centuries of the church, this course explores the social, political and doctrinal dimensions of life in the church between the sixth and tenth centuries. Most of the lectures focus on the West, but consideration is also given to influential developments in the Greek-speaking East and beyond.

Course Content

Unit 1: The 6th Century

  • The 6th century: an era of fragmentation and dissolution
  • Christians and pagans in the new Europe: the baptism of Clovis
  • Gregory the Great and his world

Unit 2: The 7th Century

  • Pope Gregory the Great and the Christian mission: the conversion of England
  • The doctrinal controversies of the eastern Roman Empire
  • Christianity and Islam

Unit 3: The 8th Century

  • The rise of western monasticism
  • Medieval saints and saints’ lives in Ireland and on the continent
  • The iconoclast controversy of the 8th century

Unit 4: The 9th Century

  • The rise of the Papacy and the conversion of pagans
  • Religious life: Charlemagne’s reforms, pagan survivals, and Christian morality
  • Islam in western Europe and the martyrs of Cordoba

Unit 5: The 10th Century

  • The western Church
  • The Eastern Orthodox Church and the breaking of unity

Course Format

  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All readings available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (200-250 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated Zoom sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read assigned lecture text and primary sources; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Respond to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled Zoom sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Marcela K. Perett

Marcela K. Perett

Marcela K. Perett holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Notre Dame. She is especially interested in the history of the Church, early and medieval; her current research focuses on reformers (and heretics) of the medieval Church. She also holds a master's degree in theology and in medieval studies, both from Notre Dame. Marcela has recently started a new job, teaching at the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin, Germany.

B.A., Middlebury College, 1999; M.T.S., University of Notre Dame, 2003; M.M.S., University of Notre Dame, 2005; Ph.D., University of Notre Dame, 2009