Fall 2021 - HIST 220 D100

Late Medieval and Renaissance Europe (3)

Class Number: 3959

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 8 – Dec 7, 2021: Tue, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.



An introduction to the world of late Medieval and Renaissance Europe (c.1200-c.1500). Breadth-Humanities.


Fresco in the Sala dei Mesi (Room of the months), in Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara; 1476-84Fresco in the Sala dei Mesi (Room of the months), in Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara; 1476-84. Source: Emily O’Brien

Why did so many young girls become nuns in the Middle Ages? Why was there an artistic revolution in Renaissance Italy? Where did religious intolerance come from in medieval Europe? And how can studying the Black Death help us navigate our Covid-19 world? These questions and more stand at the centre of this introductory course on late medieval and Renaissance Europe (c.1200 – c.1500). A defining period in the history of the continent, this was the age of Michelangelo and Joan of Arc, of plagues and crusades, of Magna Carta and the Inquisition, and of the “rebirth” of Greek and Roman antiquity. As we explore these three centuries, we will trace five principal themes: the changing shape of medieval spirituality; the clash and integration of Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures; the rise of new forms of secular government and religious authority; the interconnected crises of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; and the intellectual and artistic cultures of the medieval court and the Italian Renaissance. To help us forge our understanding of these issues, we will work closely with a wide range of primary sources — from eyewitness accounts of the Black Death to a “how to” manual for medieval wives, and from the lyrics of crusader songs to the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel.


In addition to teaching the fundamental developments of this historical era, HIST 220 aims to train students in the close and rigorous analysis of primary sources – a skill critical to success both inside and outside the classroom. Students will deepen their understanding of analysis by learning to craft good historical questions; by writing interpretations of literary texts, historical documents, and artifacts; and by exploring the historical significance of these sources in the context of tutorial discussions. HIST 220 also offers students explicit instruction in class participation and especially in the context of remote learning. 


  • Tutorial Attendance + Participation 25%
  • First short assignment 10%
  • Midterm 20%
  • Second short assignment 20%
  • Final project 25%



Barbara H. Rosenwein, A Short History of the Middle Ages, Volume II: From c. 900 to c. 1500, Fifth edition (University of Toronto Press, 2018): ISBN 9781442636293. This book will be available for purchase through the SFU bookstore, and a copy will be put on reserve at Bennett library. All tutorial readings will be available via Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2021 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with approximately 70 to 80 per cent of classes in person/on campus, with safety plans in place.  Whether your course will be in-person or through remote methods will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the fall 2021 term.