Fall 2015 - HIST 390 D100

Studies in History I (4)

Class Number: 8978

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2015: Mon, 9:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine units of lower division history.



Special topics.


From Reconstruction to Destruction: Byzantium from the 9th to the 15th century

Byzantium was the Roman Empire of the Medieval Era. Constantinople, its capital, was New Rome. This course therefore focuses on Roman history of the Middle Ages and covers the period from the late eighth century to the end of the Byzantine era in the fifteenth century. When we start, Byzantium is coming out of the so-called period of the Dark Ages and is about to set out on an almost uninterrupted two centuries of glorious expansion that turns it into the dominant power of the Mediterranean. By the end of the semester, the empire is a ghost of its old self, moribund and confined to the walls of Constantinople and to some lands in Greece. The fleets of Italian city-states, the monarchy of France and Spain and the empire of the Ottoman Turks rule the new world in which this ancient polity now exists. Soon after, with the Renaissance in full bloom, men like Machiavelli will shape European thought armed with “new” ideas that Byzantine refugees carried in the West after the end of their empire. Over the course of the coming semester we will talk about Byzantines of all walks of life, men, women and eunuchs and we will study their history, society, institutions, and culture. To do so we will read primary sources, which you will be called to interpret and understand. This material will showcase the crucial place of Byzantium in European, Mediterranean and Near Eastern history.


  • Class participation and attendance 20%
  • Two six page papers (20% each) 40%
  • One eight page paper 40%



Reading Materials
Those sources will be found in a Course Pack located on the course’s Wordpress site, in articles and other excerpts uploaded on that same site, as well as in other online resources that appear in the form of URLs to be provided over the course of the semester.


You may use Timothy Gregory’s A history of Byzantium, 306-1453 as your textbook. Your grade will not rely on that but it may allow you to better contextualize my lectures. In the weekly course readings on the syllabus you will get on day one, I will provide optional readings from Gregory’s book to assist you in your studying

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://students.sfu.ca/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html