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Periodization in History (Lecture 2)

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Andrew Mc Donald

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Thursday, September 15th 2011 HIST 1F90: Periodization in History “Inventing the Middle Ages” Tripartite division of history - Ancient - Medieval - Modern - Leonardo Bruni, Florence, d. 1444 - adapted, developed, and dominant in western history from 17th century. Dividing lines in history - end of Roman empire = end of ancient world - end of Roman empire = beginning of middle ages - where is the dividing line? - The artificial and porous nature of dividing lines in history - often made by historians - no for sure date - useful tools because they allow us to divide the past up into chunks - 200 year range of dates that you can pick and chose from Inventing the Middle Ages in the Renaissance - Petrarch, 1304-1374 - ‘Dark Ages’ - ‘Middle Ages’ - ‘Renaissance’ = Rebirth - Medium aevum - middle age = medieval - Middle ages = artificial, scholarly, construct ‘Middle ages’ - the six ages of Man - St Augustine d. 430 The Idea of the Middle Ages - renaissance - ‘Gothic’ - = barbaric - Reformation - Catholic superstition and corruption - Englightment - Age of Faith vs Age of Reason - Romantics - Gothic revival << Light ages Thursday, September 15th 2011 -Modern academic use - retains the term but ditches the negative connotation The Problem of the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the Roman Empire What happened to the Roman Empire in the fifth century? Empires and Revolutions - Roman Empire = greatest empire the world has seen - “Decline and Fall” = arguably one of the most famous processes impacting an empire - Pax Romana - the Roman Peace = point Roman empire was at it’s greatest - Mediterranean civilization - built up by conquest however they were generally speaking happy to adapt - build on cities - built on system of roads - After Rome, c. 500 - empire has fragmented and broken up Crisis of the Third Century - Crisis on the frontiers - 251: Emperor Decius killed by Goths - 260: Emperor Valerian captures by Persians - 271: Aurelian Wall - Rome - “The Imperial Merry-Go Round” - 238: 7 Emperors - 218-268: 50 contenders - The “age of the soldier emperors” - 260s-280s: ‘Breakaway Empires’ Problem-Solving Emperors and the “New Empire” - Diocletain (r. 284-305 d. 311) - Soldier - killed rival general - against Christianity - Constantine (r. 306-337) - converted to Christianity - legalized Christianity in Roman Empire - men had ideas of how to fix problems - society has become more militarized The “New Empire” Thursday, September 15th 2011 - totalitarian, military state - complete subordination of society to the military - “awful revolution” - its brief success: first half of fourth century a relatively peaceful and prosperous time - towards a Christian empire 312-395 - empires made themselves like Gods - restrictions put on most everything - stabilized empire The Fourth Century - Battle of Hadrianople - 378 - Romans vs Goths - Empire slain - Theodosius I (378-95) - Accommodating the Germanic peoples - division of the Empire in 395 - after death in 395, empire gets divided into two division - sons follow one is empire in east and one in west Fifth-century Themes - renewed pressure on the frontiers - 410 sack of Rome by Goths - Devolution of Roman authority in parts of the empire - 410 Britain; 418 parts of Gaul; 430
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