HIST 326
The Shadow King and the Emperor: Pippin III, Charlemagne, and the Rise of the Carolingians Fall 2018
Division II
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By the later seventh-century, Frankish Gaul had entered an advanced state of political decline. The long-haired kings of the Merovingian dynasty became little more than figureheads as true power devolved to court officials, particularly the mayors of the palace. Ultimately, a new clan, the Pippinids, acquired hereditary control over mayoral positions in the Neustrian and Austrasian kingdoms. In 751, Pippin III (d. 768) packed the last Merovingian king off to a monastery and assumed royal power in his own right. He and his son Charlemagne (d. 814) established a new dynasty, the Carolingians, as they extended their rule throughout Gaul, western Germany, and northern Italy. These years saw a steady progression of military conquests, as well as legal and ecclesiastical reforms and an elaborate program of cultural renewal known as the Carolingian Renaissance. In this seminar we will approach the rise of the Carolingians as a historical problem. How did these kings reverse the political decline of the Frankish kingdoms so suddenly? How thoroughgoing were the political, legal, and cultural reforms that they implemented? To what degree has our view of Carolingian achievement been distorted by the abundance of official and quasi-official sources for the era? To answer these questions we will turn to a wide array of primary sources, including monastic chronicles, royal biographies, legislation, letters, poems, and saints’ lives; we will also consider a selection of classic and recent secondary studies.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 1290
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: three 5- to 7-page papers
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: History majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia
HIST Group P Electives - Premodern

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