HIST 327
Hollow Empire: Louis the Pious and the Decline of the Carolingian Kingdoms after 814 Spring 2019
Division II
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After Charlemagne died in 814, his son, Louis the Pious, assumed sole rule of the Carolingian Empire. Almost immediately, he faced profound political problems, among them a threatened rebellion in 817, brutally suppressed; and coups in 830 and 833, which left Louis’s prestige and power greatly reduced. Gone were the success and the confidence of Charlemagne’s rule. Instead, the Franks found themselves on the defensive as Vikings began to conduct seasonal raids and the political and economic structures of the early ninth-century entered a period of extended devolution. The downward spiral continued after Louis’s death in 840, as his heirs opened a civil war among themselves and the Carolingian Empire fragmented into a series of independent kingdoms. This seminar will study the decline of the Carolingians through close study and discussion of the most important primary sources, including royal biographies of Louis the Pious; monastic annals; legislation promulgated by Louis and his successors; contemporary histories; and a host of other documents, including letters, treatises, and saints’ lives. We will also consider select secondary studies. We will ask after the nature of Louis the Pious’s political problems, seek to find out how it was that Carolingian power came apart almost as suddenly as it emerged, and investigate the newer, smaller political and legal world that emerged in western Gaul in the latter half of the ninth-century.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 15
Class#: 3279
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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