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Periodization in History (Lecture 2)

Course Code
Andrew Mc Donald

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Thursday, September 15th 2011
HIST 1F90: Periodization in History
“Inventing the Middle Ages”
Tripartite division of history
-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
-‘Gothic’ - = barbaric
-Catholic superstition and corruption
-Age of Faith vs Age of Reason
- Romantics
-Gothic revival << Light ages
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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)
-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”
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