The Urban Colonization of Medieval Wales: Understanding Anglo-Norman and Germanic Urbanization
Writing around the year 1188, the Anglo-Norman and Welsh clergyman Gerald of Wales, in composing his Journey Through Wales, wrote 'the Welsh do not live in towns, villages or castles ... they pay no attention to commerce, shipping or industry'. However, as Gerald was undoubtedly aware, this was an already anachronistic depiction of Wales which, while perhaps reflective of Welsh society in the mid eleventh century, was highly inaccurate in Gerald¿s day. Prior to the incursions of Norman adventurers into Wales in the decades immediately after 1066 the Welsh landscape had been almost totally devoid of towns or urban development, by English or continental standards. However, by 1350, the Welsh landscape would feature c.100 towns and boroughs founded largely ¿ but not exclusively ¿ by Anglo-Norman conquerors, and the proportion of persons living in Wales and dwelling in urban communities would be equivalent to England or Spain (around 15 to 20 per cent). This transformation was accompanied by large-scale immigration from England, the linguistic and cultural Anglicization of large parts of lowland Wales in the vicinity of town foundations, the development of local and regional trade networks and, perhaps most importantly, the foundation of the overwhelming majority of the network of towns in Wales, as we have it today. Moreover, the urbanization of Wales was not a unique event in northern Europe, but was paralled by the Anglo-Norman urban colonization of Ireland and the urbanization of Prussia and the Baltic coastal regions by Germanic traders and settlers. These parallel colonial movements offer fertile scope for the construction of analytical comparasons between Wales, Ireland and the Baltic. The module covers: the rationale behind, and mechanics of, urban foundation; the relationships between urbanization, colonization and economic reorganization; urbanization and the formation of ethnic and cultural identities; the emergence of trade networks; institutionalized and non-institutionalized relationships between ethnicity and economic opportunity; architectural expressions of colonization, both domestic and eccleastical; and, throught the module, comparative aspects of Anglo-Norman and Germanic urbanization movements.
Medieval Europe: An Introduction
The module is a basic introduction to the history of Europe c600-c1450, a period usually described as 'Medieval'. It outlines the political and economic structures of the period, and examines the medieval 'world view' by discussing attitudes to life, death and the afterlife. Its first theme, expansion, charts the growth of Europe as a major world power and includes topics such as the crusades against the Muslims and pagans, political and economic growth, and intellectual development in the foundation of the universities. Its second theme, crisis, focuses on the devastating impact of plague, famine and warfare, and the increasing persecution of heretics, lepers, homosexuals, and Jews.
History is an imprecise art and what historians say and write about the past is not the same as what actually happened in the past. Most people's knowledge about the past doesn't come from professional historians at all but rather from 'public history'. Public history is the collective understandings of the past that exist outside academic discipline of history. It is derived from a diverse range of sources including oral traditions, legends, literature, art, films and television.
This module will introduce you to the study and presentation of the past. It will consider how the content, aims and methods of academic and public history compare and contrast and you will engage in your own small research project to investigate this. The module will also teach you about the fundamentals of studying and writing history at university. You will learn about essay writing, group work and critical analysis and employ these skills to understand and assess history today, both as an academic activity and as public knowledge.
Medieval Britain 1250-1461
This module on British history in the later medieval period investigates the relationship between England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and France, raising questions about conquest, nationalism, patriotism and race. It will also look at the social, economic and cultural history of Britain (eg the rise of English as a literary language) as well as the internal problems each country faced as it battled against plague, revolts and civil war.
The Practice of History
The purpose of the module is to encourage you to think more deeply about how historians work and, in particular, about how we as historians can locate and use primary historical sources effectively as a means of interpreting and understanding the past. During the module we will learn about the survival of historical evidence, how it is organised and made accessible to historians to undertake their research, and how to effectively locate and interpret it in your studies. We will consider how the process of doing historical research changes over time, in particular with the impact of recent developments like digitization.
At the core of the module will be the work you undertake with others in your seminar group using a range of primary sources which your seminar tutor will introduce to you. As part of the module assessment you will also undertake your own primary source based research project using items from these collections. The module is designed strengthen your analytical skills and to help prepare you for the more extensive uses of primary evidence which you will encounter in final year special subjects and dissertation.
Reading Medieval Manuscripts
Medieval manuscript sources are crucial to our understanding of the Middle Ages. Research across the disciplines of medieval studies is grounded in the study and use of medieval books and documentary sources. This module aims to give students the skills, knowledge and confidence to engage with original manuscript sources of various types, from early Anglo-Saxon Gospel books to medieval chronicles, from illustrated books of hours to critical legal documents. Students will engage with these sources via digital and printed images and full-scale printed facsimiles, learning to recognise and transcribe medieval hands from all periods. Students will be given the chance to read original manuscripts during visits to the West Glamorgan Archive Service (Swansea) and the National Library of Wales (Aberystwyth). This module assumes no prior knowledge of medieval manuscripts, nor any prior knowledge of the medieval languages featured in the manuscript samples, including Latin, Old English and Middle English.
Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 2: Themes and Sources
This module aims to apply the skills and approaches learned in the module HIMM01: Introduction to Advanced Medieval Studies 1: Skills and Approaches to a range of important themes in Medieval Studies, including gender, identity, laws and customs, spirituality, heritage. The module is interdisciplinary and draws on historical, literary and visual sources. The content of the module will be arranged in 2-weekly blocks, with the first week in each block dedicated to introducing students to the specific theme and the second week being used as a practical application of this knowledge to a source or text.