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HIST 1011 Greeks, Romans, Kings and Crusaders: European History to 1600


David Paradis



This course sketches the development of western political, social, and cultural traditions and institutions from the dawn of civilization to the emergence of nation-states in the seventeenth century. The bulk of the material will focus on the development of Greek and Roman civilizations in the first half of the course and the transformation of Germanic kingship and the impact of crusading in the second of half of the course. Students will read a combination of primary sources and textbook assignments related to these topics and others throughout the course.


This class seeks to strengthen students’ abilities to read, to comprehend, and to analyze information about the past in order to understand their present society and culture with more depth and clarity. Consequently, students will need to examine historical evidence in order to explain why and how civilizations developed. These explanations will be the focus of the paper assignments, which constitute the most influential part of this course grade.

In order to prepare for the papers and to increase comprehension of the material, students will engage in discussions and quizzes related to the assigned readings in the course. Students should therefore focus their thoughts on material in the required texts. In short, this course asks you to comprehend assigned readings and to express your analysis of those readings in concise prose.

The emphasis on expression in concise, formal prose is intended to prepare students for professional careers, nearly all of which require the ability to write clearly and succinctly. For more information about writing analytical essays in clear, formal prose, I encourage you to visit this page on the history department’s website.

To summarize, the objectives of the course include the development of a series of widely applicable skills related to reading, comprehension, analysis, and expression. The evidence that we will be working on in the course is in the assigned textbook and also in more difficult primary source readings. However, you can apply the methodology to the analysis of evidence in a variety of professions. For example, I have personally applied them in the software industry for over thirty years.

Finally, by helping you develop comprehension, analysis, and expression, the course also aims to increase your critical thinking skills by raising your awareness of complicated topics related to authorial intent, conditions that influenced various sources, and the appearance of sometimes subtle biases or perspectives in various works. Ultimately these skills will help you not only in your professional life but also in your private life and personal relationships.


Make sure to obtain the specified edition of the assigned texts; these books offer the best insights into the material. If you are taking this course near the University of Colorado Boulder campus, I have placed two copies of each book on reserve at the Norlin Circulation Desk.

  • Lynn Hunt etal., The Making of the West, Vol. 1: To 1660, ISBN 9780312672737
  • Aristophanes, Lysistrata and Other Plays – Penguin Classics, abbreviated as Arist below, ISBN 9780140448146
  • Tacitus, Agricola and Germany, Oxford World Classics ISBN 9780199539260
  • Beowulf, ed. trans. Seamus Heaney, Norton critical edition ISBN 9780393975802
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron, trans. Mark Musa, Signet Classics, ISBN 9780451531735


Grades will be assigned according to the number of points you accumulate during the semester.

Online Discussions 600 points
Quizzes 600 points
Paper 1 300 points
Paper 2 400 points
Paper 3 500 points
Paper 4 600 points
Total possible points 3000 points

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