Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Medieval Culture

Medieval Culture
Second semester
Main language of instruction: Spanish

Other languages of instruction: Catalan

Teaching staff

By appointment


This course aims to present the main features of the medieval world in Europe and North Africa, from the fall of the Western Roman Empire (Rome) to the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire (Constantinople).

Pre-course requirements

No prerequisites are needed to enrol in this course.


- To acknowledge and interpret the main keys that shape European and North African Medieval culture.

- To distinguish and appreciate the continuities and breaks that can be seen in different cultural manifestations from the 5th to the 15th century.

- To confirm the great presence of these cultural features nowadays.


  • E01 - Ability to provide a humanistic/cultural vision to other sciences or methods.
  • E04 - Ability to recognise and interpret cultural manifestations.
  • E08 - To distinguish and understand the structures of different cultural systems.
  • E11 - Ability to interpret data and relate it to appropriate theories.
  • E12 - To acquire knowledge and understanding of imaginary, iconic and symbolic languages and their representation.
  • E13 - To acquire knowlege of the general diachronic framework of the past.
  • E15 - Ability to identify and value the different elements which make up cultural heritage.
  • E16 - To acquire knowledge of the different models and policies of other cultures and migrant groups.
  • E20 - Ability to reflect on human-environment interaction and the organisation of the resulting territory.
  • E22 - To acquire knowledge of and the ability to use data collection instruments (biliographic catalogues, inventory archives, documentary sources, electronic sources, etc).
  • E27 - Ability to work in multicultural contexts.
  • E33 - Ability to relate concepts of heritage, homeland and cultural identity.
  • E34 - Ability to create educational resources in the Cultural sphere.
  • G01 - To analyse and interpret social and cultural environments to identify need, opportunities, weaknesses and strenghts..
  • G02 - To lead, cooordinate and form part of interdisciplinary work teams.
  • G03 - To search for and/or administer economic resources within the framework of an institution or company, or a cultural programmes, project or service.
  • G05 - To act responsibly and produce high-quality, rigorous and efficient work that benefits society.
  • G07 - To know how to apply and adapt to new technologies in processes of cultural management, production and dissemination.
  • G08 - Ability to carry out research.
  • G11 - Ability to work in an international context.

Learning outcomes

  1. The student acquires key concepts about culture and cultural experiences.
  2. The student applies theoretical knowledge in analysis and face-to-face discussions and independent activities.
  3. The student knows and selects specific documentation on cultural experiences.
  4. The student practices teamwork strategies.
  5. The student learns to contextualise cultural phenomena and connects them to their social and political dimension.
  6. The student connects concepts from different materials worked transversally.
  7. The student learns to diagnose problems in the cultural intellectual field.
  8. The student applies/transfers theoretical and/or abstract concepts from each the topic to real situations.
  9. The student reads and analyses essays on current topics.
  10. The student writes narrative and descriptive texts.
  11. The student analyses and diagnoses cases of cultural complexity.
  12. The student organises data and/or scattered information.



1.- The concept of the Middle Ages. Some ideas about the history of private life in the Late Middle Ages
2.- Conditions of material life.
3.- The emergence of the "barbaric" peoples and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
4.- The expansion of Christianity.
5.- The continuity of the Byzantine Empire: Byzantium.
6.- The emergence and expansion of Islam.
7.- Medieval society: feudalism.

8.- Charlemagne and the "Carolingian Renaissance".

9.- The phenomenon of the Crusades.
10.- The second invasions: Scandinavians, magyars, Saracens (9th-12th centuries)

11.- The renewal of the monastic: Cluny and Cistercian
12.- Panorama of the 12th and 13th centuries
12.1.- The struggles between the Papacy and the Empire (11th-13th centuries)
12.2.- The main centres of culture in Western Europe (11th-12th centuries). The Romanesque moment
13.- The 13th century
13.1.- Economic and urban development

13.2.- High culture between the 12th and 14th centuries
13.3.- The renewal in the Church: Franciscans and Dominicans
13.4.- The Cathars
14.- The 14th and 15th centuries
14.1.- The Hundred Years' War (1337-1453)
14.2.- The Black Death
14.3.- The Schism of Avignon
14.4.- The consolidation of vernacular languages
14.5.- Trade at the end of the Middle Ages
14.6.- The consolidation of the guilds


1. Introduction (1 class). The concept of medieval art. The periodisation of medieval art: the problem of styles. The protagonists of medieval art: the promoters (royalty and aristocracy, the Church, the guilds and the brotherhoods, the bourgeoisie). Artists-craftsmen. The image in the Middle Ages and its function.

2. From the art of the world of the Late Empire to the 10th century (2 classes).

2.1. The art of the late Empire and the first Christian art. The formulation of the sacred space: the basilicas, the martyria, the baptisteries, the mausoleums. The birth of Christian figuration: the catacombs and sarcophagi.

2.2. Byzantine art. The emperor and his court in Constantinople. The irradiation of the empire: Ravenna and Greece. The iconoclasm. The illumination of books and the sumptuous arts.

2.3. The art of Barbarians. Visigoth Hispania: the churches and their topographical organisation. The sumptuary art of the Visigoths: the treasures. The art of the British Isles.

2.4. Carolingian art. The Carolingian renaissance and the renovatio romani imperii. The liturgical reform. The development of religious architecture: transepts, westworks, crypts. The Carolingian scriptoria.

2.5. The art of the Ottoman dynasty.

2.6. The art of the Asturian monarchy: architecture and sumptuous arts.

3. Romanesque art (3 classes).

3.1. The architecture of Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th century: architectural models, the articulation of the walls, constructive technique: the great contributions.

3.2. Sculpture: from the first reliefs to the cloisters and the great historical portals. Sculpture on wood: imagery and religious furniture.

3.3. Painting and miniature. The mural painting of the apses: the theophanies. Featured pictorial ensembles. The great scriptoria of the 11th and 12th century. The garment and liturgical clothing. The sumptuous arts.

4. Gothic art (4 classes).

4.1. Gothic or Gothics. Changes in spirituality: towards a more human conception of God.

4.2. Architecture: The technical advances, the symbolism of light and the rise of the first Gothic cathedrals in Ille de France. The French model and its expansion throughout Europe. The Southern Gothic. Italy: Pisa, Siena, Florence. England.

4.3. Sculpture and painting in the 12th and 13th century: the decoration of façades. Nicola and Giovanni Pisano in Tuscany of the Duecento and Trecento. Liturgical furniture and liturgical objects. French painting and miniature of the 13th century, the linear Gothic and its irradiation.

4.4. The crisis of the 14th century. The architecture of southern Gothic. The sculpture of the Three Hundred: altarpieces and imagery, funerary sculpture. The flourishing of the Tuscan Trecento: the Florentine and Sienese innovations in painting and its influence outside of Italy.

4.5. The end of the Gothic: political and social context. The modern devotio. The architecture of Flamboyant Gothic. The international Gothic in the arts of colour and sculpture. The flamenco gothic: towards a new realism.



1-. Medieval epic

2-. Chivalric narrative

3-. Medieval lyric poetry

4-. Drama

5.- Short narrative

6-. Dante, Petrarch and Italian humanism

7-. Dance of Death

8-. Fifteenth-century poetry



1. Preliminary questions:

    a) The concept of ‘medieval philosophy’.

    b) Translatio studiorum.

    c) The place of religion in medieval philosophy.

    d) Christianity and philosophy.

 2. Patristic philosophy and the transition from the ancient to the medieval world

    a) The Apostolic Fathers, the apologists and Gnosticism.

    b) Splendour of the Latin Patristic: St. Augustine of Hippo.

    c) The last patristic: Pseudo-Dionysius Aeropagita and John of Damascus.

 3. From Patristics to Scholastics.

   a) The last Roman and the first scholastic: Boethius.

   b) The Carolingian Renaissance: John Scotus Eriugena.

   c) Dialectics in the 11th century: St. Anselm of Canterbury.

   d) Urban schools: Chartres, Saint Victor.

   e) The problem of Universals: Peter Abelard.

4. Muslim and Jewish Philosophy (10th century -11th century)

   a) Eastern Islam (Avicenna) and Western Islam (Averroes).

   b) The Jewish philosophy: Avicebron and Maimonides.

5. Scholastic Philosophy

   a) The scholastic philosophical corpus: fides et ratio.

   b) The University and the first professors: Paris and Oxford.

   c) Splendour of Scholasticism: St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure.

6. Crisis and decline of medieval philosophy (13th century -14th century)

    a) The 1277 Condemnation of Paris: John Duns Scotus.

    b) William of Ockham and ‘Ockhamism’.

Teaching and learning activities

In person

In this course we will combine the theoretical sessions of topic lectures by the group of professors and the practical sessions (reading of texts, analysis of sources, discussions, etc.).

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person


50% Written essay.

50% Final exam.  



Exam (75%)

Written essay and oral presentation (25%)



Final exam (85%)

Class attendance and participation (15%)


Asistencia a clase

Se requiere el 80% de asistencia al conjunto de las clases de arte. En los casos en que esta asistencia no se cumpla se restarán 2 puntos de la nota final.




●     Examen final (70 %): comentario de 4 diapositivas

●     Ejercicios: 2 comentarios de obras (30 %)

* Para hacer media entre las dos notas se debe tener aprobado el examen


According to faculty regulations, at least 0.10 points will be deducted for each misspelling in exams and papers.


Bibliography and resources


AVENTÍN, MERCÈ i SALRACH, JOSEP M. Història medieval de Catalunya. Barcelona: Edicions de la Universitat Oberta de Catalunya i Proa, 1998. 

BARÓ I QUERALT, X. Introducció a la historiografia bizantina a través dels seus textos. Barcelona: Casa de l’Est, 2012.

DIVERSOS AUTORS. Textos comentados de época medieval (siglos V al XII). Barcelona: Teide, 1982.

GANSHOF, FRANÇOIS LOUIS. El feudalismo. Barcelona: Ariel, 1985.

JULIÁ, J.R. Atlas de historia universal. Tomo I: De los orígenes a las crisis del siglo XVII. Barcelona: Planeta, 2000.

HALPHEN, LOUIS. Carlomagno y el imperio carolingio. Madrid: Akal, 1992.

HEERS, JACQUES. La primera cruzada. Barcelona: Andrés Bello, 1997.

LUNA-BATLLE, XAVIER. Textos històrics catalans, segles XII al XVIII. Barcelona: Publicacions de la Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 1999.

MITRE, EMILIO. Historia de la Edad Media en Occidente. Madrid: Cátedra, 1999.

OSTROGORSKY, GEORG. Historia del estado bizantino. Madrid: Akal, 1984.

PIRENNE, HENRI. Las ciudades de la Edad Media. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2001.


Aersten, J.La Filosofía Medieval y los trascendentales. Pamplona: Eunsa, 2003.

De Libera, A. La Filosofía Medieval. Valencia: PUV, 2006.

Fernández, C. Los filósofos medievales. Selección de textos. Vol.I y II. Madrid: BAC, 1979.

Flasch, K. El pensament filosòfic a l’Edat Mitjana. D’Agustí a Maquiavel. Santa Coloma de Queralt: Edèndum, 2006.

Fortuny, F. De Lucreci a Ockham. Perspectives de l’Edat Mitjana. Barcelona: Anthropos, 1992.

Gilson, E. La filosofía en la Edad Media, Madrid: Gredos, 1974.

Guerrero, R. Historia de la Filosofía Medieval. Madrid: Akal, 1996.

Guerrero, R. Filosofías árabe y judía. Madrid: Síntesis, 2001

Jaeger, W. Cristianismo primitivo y paideia griega. México: FCE, 1975.

Mitre Fernández, E (Ed.) Historia del cristianismo. Vol. II. El mundo medieval. Madrid: Trotta, 2004

Reale, G, Antiseri, D. Historia del pensamiento filosófico y científico. Vol.I Antigüedad y Edad Media. Barcelona: Herder, 1995.

Saranyana, J.I. La filosofía medieval. Desde sus orígenes patrísticos hasta la escolástica barroca. Pamplona: Eunsa, 2011.


ART (bibliografia bàsica) 

Bango Torviso, I.; Abad, C. (1996). Arte medieval I. Madrid: Historia 16.

Bango Torviso, I. (1989). El Arte de la Alta Edad Media. Madrid : Anaya

Belting, H. (2007). Imagen y culto : una historia de la imagen anterior a la era del arte. Madrid : Akal

Conant, K. J. (1987). Arquitectura carolingia y románica, 800-1200. Madrid : Cátedra.

Erlande-Brandenburg, A. (1993). La Catedral. Madrid : Akal.

Erlande-Brandenburg, A. (1992) El arte gótico. Madrid: Akal

Schapiro, M., & Balseiro, M. L. (1984). Estudios sobre el románico. Madrid : Alianza.

Williamson, P. (1997). Escultura gótica : 1140-1300. Madrid : Cátedra.

Yarza Luaces, J. (1979). Arte y arquitectura en España 500-1250. Madrid : Cátedra.

Yarza Luaces, J. (1992). Baja edad media : los siglos del gótico. Madrid : Sílex.



ALVAR, Carlos, El rey Arturo y su mundo. Diccionario de mitología artúrica, Madrid: Alianza, 1991


AUERBACH, Erich, Mímesis. La representación de la realidad en la literatura occidental, FCE, México, 1983. 


CERDÀ, Jordi (coord.) (Bastardas, Maria Reina / Cingolani, Stefano M. / De Riquer, Isabel / Massip, Francesc / Simó, Meritxell, Literatura europea dels orígens. Introducció a la literatura romànica medieval. Barcelona: Editorial UOC, 2012


CIRLOT, Victoria, La novel·la artúrica. Origenes de la ficción en la cultura europea, Barcelona: Montesinos, 1987


CURTIUS, E., Literatura europea y Edad Media Latina. México: FCE, 1976, 2 vols.


GUILLÉN, C., Entre lo uno y lo diverso. Barcelona: Crítica, 1985.


LE GOFF, J. Los intelectuales en la Edad Media, Barcelona: Gedisa, 1990


MARCHESE, A. / FORRADELLAS, J., Diccionario de retórica, crítica y terminología literaria. Barcelona: Ariel, 1997.


MONTOYA, J. / I. de RIQUER, El prólogo literario en la Edad Media. Madrid: UNED, 1998.


de RIQUER, M., Antología: cantares de gesta, trovadores, narrativa medieval, literatura catalana y castellana, y vida cavalleresca, Barcelona: Anthropos, 1981


de RIQUER, M. Los trovadores, Barcelona: Ariel, 1983


RICO, F., Texto y contextos. Barcelona: Crítica, 1990.




Teaching and learning material