HIST 1016 SECS 001-004


Lecture Time: MW 12:20-1:15                                Meeting Place: McMicken 127

Instructor: Robert Haug                                               Email: haugrt@ucmail.uc.edu

Office Hours: Mon. 10:00-11:00am, Wed. 1:30-2:30pm, and by appointment.

Office: McMicken 331


Jordan Hager (hagercja@mail.uc.edu) (office hours)

Jennifer Hobson-Plattner (hobsonja@mail.uc.edu) (office hours)

Thanks to the popularity of George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series and the HBO program “Game of Thrones” inspired by these books, stories of intrigue and power struggles in pre-modern court politics have once again captured the public imagination. In this course we will look at the history that inspired Martin’s fantasy world, examining concepts of kingship and the complex relationship that drove medieval politics through a series of case studies ranging from the crowning of Charlemagne to Salah al-Din’s unification of Egypt and Syria, from Khubilai Khan’s struggles to rule both China and the Mongols to the War of the Roses (the immediate inspiration for Martin’s fictional Westeros). Along the way we will learn what it meant to be a good (or bad) ruler in these different societies. We will also explore the complex world of kings and queens, soldiers and scholars, slaves and nobles who challenged each other for power.

The goals of the course are to develop analytical thinking and writing within the discipline of history, think comparatively across cultures and geographic regions, and explore key concepts related to kingship and pre-modern political thought.

This course meets the Breadth of Knowledge general education requirements Diversity & Culture and Historical Perspectives. It also meets the Baccalaureate Competencies in Critical Thinking, Effective Communication, Information Literacy, Knowledge Integration, and Social Responsibility

Required Texts:

Texts available at the university bookstore.

Matthias Becher, Charlemagne, trans. by David S. Bachrach, (New Haven; Yale University Press, 2003)

Hannes Mohring, Saladin: The Sultan and His Times, 1138-1193, trans. by David S. Bachrach, (Baltimore; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005)

Morris Rossabi, Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times, 20th anniversary edition, (Berkeley; University of California Press, 2009)

Texts available electronically through the university library.

Michael Hicks, The Wars of the Roses, (New Haven; Yale University Press, 2010) http://uclid.uc.edu/record=b5168862~S39

Additional readings will be made available electronically through this syllabus.

Course Requirements:

1) Attendance: Regular attendance and active participation in both lecture and discussion sections is MANDATORY. In order to obtain the full participation percentage of your grade, I will expect you to…

  • Regularly attend class: Remember, attendance means showing up, staying awake, and actively participating in discussions. Sleeping in the back of the room does not count as attending class. I will allow for one unexcused absence, others will be reflected in your grade. If you need an excused absence because you must miss class for a legitimate reason, talk to me before the day you need to be excused.
  • Active participation in class discussions: Ask questions, engage the material. Active participation does not mean talking in class all the time, but it does mean listening carefully to others and showing through verbal and non-verbal communication that you are mentally present in class (not just a body filling a chair).

2) Midterm and Final Exams: There will be two exams in this course. These exams will ask you to answer a series of short answer identification questions and longer essay questions. Details will be discussed in class prior to the exams.

3) Papers: There will be two short, five page writing assignments for this course. Details on these assignments will be given out two weeks before the due dates listed in the schedule below.

All written assignments will be submitted via Blackboard.

Grade Breakdown:

  • Lecture Attendance and Participation – 10%
  • Discussion Section Attendance and Participation – 20%
  • Paper 1 – 15%
  • Midterm Exam – 20%
  • Paper 2 – 15%
  • Final Exam – 20%

Grade Scale:

A = 100-93%; A- = 93-90%; B+ = 90-87%; B = 87-83%; B- = 83-80%; C+ = 80-77%; C = 77-73%; C- = 73-70%; D+ = 70-67%; D = 67-63%; D- = 63-60%; F = 60-0%

Technology Requirements:

In order to succeed in this class, you must have regular access to Blackboard for readings and submitting assignments. You must also be able to regularly check your University of Cincinnati e-mail for announcements and communications related to the course.

All UC students have a free Microsoft SkyDrive account, integrated into UConnect, which allows you to store up to 25GB of files securely on-line. You may access your SkyDrive account at http://skydrive.live.com (use your UC e-mail address and central login password to access your account). Every quarter I have students who can’t submit papers on time because they lost their flash drive, their computer broke, or they saved it on a friend’s computer and can’t access it. If you save your work to SkyDrive, you will be able to access it at any time on any computer with an internet connection, eliminating problems of lost, broken, or inaccessible technology. Therefore, I highly recommend you upload your papers to SkyDrive (for all your classes, not just this one).


Please be aware of the University’s academic misconduct and plagiarism policy and the Student Code of Conduct (www.uc.edu/studentlife/conduct). Plagiarism includes presenting text or ideas written by, or quotations found by, another as your own work. The Department of History rule is that a student who is discovered plagiarizing on any assignment will automatically receive a grade of zero for that assignment and the assignment cannot be redone and will have their case referred to the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies for further action. A second incidence of plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course and a further report to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Every term I am forced to fail students who engage in academic dishonesty and cheat. If you are about to turn in a plagiarized paper, stop and contact me instead. We can always work something out so you receive some credit for a late paper instead of none for a plagiarized paper.

 SCHEDULE (subject to change):


Week 1 – Introduction

Mon. Aug. 25 – Introduction: It’s Good to be the King! Or is it? (powerpoint)

Wed. Aug. 27 – How did you become King then? (powerpoint)

Readings: Philpott, “Sovereignty,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Watch: “Constitutionalist Peasants” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Week 2 – The First Kings

Mon. Sept. 1 – LABOR DAY – NO CLASS

Wed. Sept. 3 – The Origins of Kingship and Mytho-History (power point)

 Readings: The Legend of Sargon of Akkad“The First Kings” from the Shahnameh; selection from the Shu Jing or The Classic of History.

PART II – Case Study: Charlemagne

Week 3 – King of the Franks

Mon. Sept. 8th – Europe and the Mediterranean after Rome (power point)

Readings: Becher, pp. 1-39.

Wed. Sept. 10th – The Carolingians: From Mayor of the Palace to King of the Franks (power point)

 Readings: Becher, pp. 41-79; Arabs, Franks, and the Battle of Tours (732); Gregory II, Letter to Charles Martel.

Week 4 – Emperor of Rome

Mon. Sept. 15th – Christmas Day, 800 (power point)

Readings: Becher, pp. 81-119; Einhard, The Life of Charlemagne.

Wed. Sept. 17th – The Holy Roman Empire (power point)

Readings: Becher, pp. 121-149; The Donation of ConstantineOnce Again My Anchor Burdened.

 PART III – Case Study: Salah al-Din

Week 5 – From Caliphs to Sultans

Mon. Sept. 22nd – The Rise of Islam (power point)

Readings: Mohring, pp. ix-xxiii, 1-12; al-Yaqubi, “Baghdad.”

Wed. Sept. 24th – The Dissolution of the Caliphate (power point)

Readings: Mohring, pp. 13-41; Nizam al-Mulk, Siyaset-nama, excerpt 1, excerpt 2.

Assignments: Paper One Due Fri. Sept. 26th

Week 6 – The Crusades

Mon. Sept. 29th – Crusade and Counter-Crusade (power point)

Readings: Mohring, pp. 42-73; reports of the Crusader victory in JerusalemIbn al-Qalanisi on Zengi and Nur al-Din.

Wed. Oct. 1st – Salah al-Din: Freedom Fighter? Noble Heathen? (power point)

Readings: Mohring, pp. 74-104; Baha ad-Din’s Life of Saladin; letters on Salah al-Din’s victory in Jerusalem.

Week 7 – Midterm

Mon. Oct. 6th – Midterm Review (power point)

Wed. Oct. 8th – MIDTERM EXAM (Midterm Review Sheet)


Part IV: Kublai Khan

Week 8 – Lords of the Steppe

Mon. Oct. 13th – Chinggis Khan (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 1-21; The Secret History of the MongolsIbn al-Athir, “On the Tartars.”

Wed. Oct. 15th – The Mongol Empires and the Pax Mongolica (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 22-75; Guyuk Khan to Pope Innocent IV.

Week 9 – Kublai the Mongol

Mon. Oct. 20th – The Conquest of China (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 76-114;

Wed. Oct. 22nd – Rivalries on the Steppe (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 115-152; Marco Polo on Chandu (Xanadu); Togan Temur Khan’s lament for Beijing and Xanadu; Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan.”

Week 10 – Kublai the Emperor of China

Mon. Oct. 27th – The Mongols and Chinese Civilization (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 153-205; Marco Polo, Travels; Carrie Gracie, “Kublai Khan: China’s Favourite Barbarian.”

Wed. Oct. 29th – The Decline and Fall of Yuan China (power point)

Readings: Rossabi, pp. 206-231.

Part V: The War of the Roses

Week 11 – Late Medieval England

Mon. Nov. 3rd – Feudalism, Bastard Feudalism, and Dynasticism (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 1-45.

Wed. Nov. 5th – Le roi est mort, vive le roi! (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 49-92; Shakespeare, Richard II, Act 4.

Watch two recent adaptations of the crucial moment of Act 4, Richard’s resignation.

Royal Shakespeare Company starring David Tennant as Richard II.

From the BBC mini-series The Hollow Crown.


Week 12 – Succession and Rivalry

Mon. Nov. 10th – The House of Lancaster to Henry VI (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 93-136.

Wed. Nov. 12th – Popular Revolt and the Claims of York (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 137-185; Jack Cade, “Proclamation of Grievances;” The Historie of the Arrivall of Edward IV: Part V (trust me, it is in English!).

Assignments: Paper Two Due Fri. Nov. 14th

Week 13 – End of the War

Mon. Nov. 17th – Richard III and the Tudors (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 186-232; Titulus Regius.

Wed. Nov. 19th – Did Henry VII Invent the War of the Roses? Did Shakespeare Help? (power point)

Readings: Hicks, pp. 233-276; The Ballad of Bosworth Field.

Week 14 – Shakespeare’s Version of History

Mon. Nov. 24th – Movie TBA

Wed. Nov. 26th – Movie TBA

Week 15 – Conclusions

Mon. Dec. 1st – Conclusions

Wed. Dec. 3rd – Final Review

FINAL EXAM – MON. DEC. 8TH AT 1:30PM (Review Sheet)