HIST 4130: Medieval Mediterranean World

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Department of History

Spring 2015

Updated 30 April 2015

HIST4130 Medieval Med Banner - compressed


Course Room: Osbourne B136
Course Time: Friday 10:50-1:30 pm
Course Syllabus, Assignments, and Readings: http://bit.ly/1wrip5v
Grades: Go to UCCS Blackboard

Professor: Dr. Roger L. Martínez Dávila
Office: Columbine Hall 2053
Office Hours: Thu and Fri 2-3:30 pm, Additional hours by appt.
Telephone: 719-255-4070
Email: rmartin8@uccs.edu

Asst. Instructor: Ms. DeV Nicole Emmons
Office: Columbine Hall 2044
Office Hours: 
 Fri 9 – 10:30 am
Email: nemmons@uccs.edu


Download the syllabus – HIST 4130 Medieval Mediterranean – Spr 2015

Digital Course Packet – Scroll down to the class schedule. Download items there.


Course Description:

In this advanced course on inter-cultural, religious, and political relations, we will explore and discuss the intensive interaction of Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities during the medieval and early modern periods. Together, we will: witness an Islamic caliph’s gift of an elephant to a Christian king, follow the flow of silk and sugar across the Mediterranean Sea, watch a Jewish general lead an Islamic army into battle, lament the tragic outcome of the “curious” medicine of the Franks, experience the three faiths’ rediscovery of Greek philosophy and science, and bear witness to the tragedies of religious intolerance. This course focuses on what the great Spanish historian Americo Castro referred to as “convivencia”, the co-existence of medieval and early modern Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Our exploration begins with an investigation of the simultaneous development and formation of medieval European and Islamic civilizations (600-1200). After acquiring this essential historical context, we will begin the critical process of exploring two key and counter-balancing Competitive Landscapes—in the west, the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa, and in the east, the Holy Land and Byzantium. By studying these two Competitive Landscapes, we will acquire an analytical framework that will prepare us for investigating five dominant Spheres of Contact in the greater Mediterranean. These include: Egypt, Iberia and North Africa, the Holy Land and Byzantium, Sicily and the central Mediterranean, and Constantinople/Ottoman Turkey.

The investigation of each Sphere of Contact will allow us to understand the manner in which these social groups interacted as well as assess their views of each other. We will study religious and cultural beliefs, economics and trade, political events and warfare, language and the arts, and intellectual and scientific issues. In sum, the course will highlight the numerous interconnectivities of the medieval Mediterranean world.

Medieval Spheres of Contact

syllabus map - compressed


Course Requirements and Assignments:

For this course, I expect that you will:


Your performance in the course will be assessed based on the following assignments

Assignment  — Percent of Final Grade — Due Date:


Course Learning Objectives:

After completing the course, it is my expectation that you will be able to:


Required Texts and Readings:


Class Schedule:


January 23
Course Introduction and The Elephant and the Ark


shepherd-c-054-055January 30
Early Medieval European Christian Kingdoms and Society (600 to 1200 c.e.)


Ka'ba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (The Great Mosque of al-Haram courtyard)

Ka’ba, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (The Great Mosque of al-Haram courtyard)

February 6
The Prophet Muhammad and the Rise of Islamic Civilization (600 to 1200 C.E.)


The Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba's Mezquita (Cordoba, Spain)

The Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba’s Mezquita (Cordoba, Spain)

February 13
The Iberian/North African Sphere of Contact (Early Middle Ages 600-1200 c.e.)


definingboundariesFebruary 20
The Iberian/North African Sphere of Contact (Early Middle Ages 600-1200 c.e.)


map crusader statesFebruary 27

Due to snow and bad weather conditions — class is cancelled for February 27, 2015.


March 6
The Holy Land and Byzantine Sphere of Contact (1100-1300 c.e.) and Setup for Reacting to the Past


March 13
Reacting to the Past: The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148 c.e.


March 20
Reacting to the Past: The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148 c.e.


March 27
Spring Break


April 3
Reacting to the Past: The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148 c.e.

Game Session 6: 


April 10
Reacting to the Past: The Second Crusade: The War Council of Acre, 1148 c.e.

Game Session 8:


Mosque of al-Hakim (Cairo, Egypt) 990-1013 c.e.

Mosque of al-Hakim (Cairo, Egypt) 990-1013 c.e.


imgresApril 17
Egyptian Sphere of Contact (900-1200 c.e.)

April 24
Egyptian Sphere of Contact (900-1200 c.e.) – continued


AMICO_METRO_103824977

Creator Probably southern Italy or Sicily Culture European; Southern European; Italian Title Casket Work Type Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects Date 11th-12th century Material Ivory Measurements L. 15 in. (38.1 cm), W. 8 in. (20.3 cm) Description This box, known as the Morgan casket, is one of the most accomplished Islamic works of art in ivory. Even though it was probably produced in southern Italy, the animals enclosed in the interlacing vine are similar in style and iconography to contemporaneous Fatimid art from Egypt. Sicily was under Muslim rule for almost three centuries, which explains the Islamic influence on the works produced there in medieval times.

May 1
The Sicilian Sphere of Contact (800-1200 c.e.)


Painted ceiling of the Nave of the Cappella Palatina, Palazzo Reale (Palermo), 1140 c.e. - Source: http://krc.orient.ox.ac.uk/adns/

Painted ceiling of the Nave of the Cappella Palatina, Palazzo Reale (Palermo), 1140 c.e. – Source: http://krc.orient.ox.ac.uk/adns/

May 8
The Sicilian Sphere of Contact (800-1200 c.e.)


Final Exams Week
May 15