Show/hide main menu

Level 4

4AAH1001 The Making of Britain 400-1400

Credit value: 30 credits
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Simon Parsons
Teaching pattern: 20 x 1-hour lectures (weekly); 20 x 1-hour seminars (weekly)
Availability: Please see module list

Assessment: 1 x 3 hour examination (100%)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

Single semester version for Study Abroad students
  • 4AAH1101 The Making of Britain I: Anglo-Saxon and Norman Britain c.400 - 1100 - semester 1 
  • 4AAH1201 The Making of Britain II: Magna Carta and the Parliamentary State c.1050 - 1400 - semester 2

Single semester versions of the module, split 400-1100 (semester 1) and 1050-1400 (semester 2), are available to study abroad students only.

Assessment: 4AAH1101 & 4AAH1201: Coursework (100%), comprising: 2 x 2,500 word essays (50% each).

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The period of history between the collapse of Roman rule in the fifth century and the Black Death in the fourteenth shaped the Britain in which we live today. It saw the introduction of the English language, and the creation of political divisionswhich still stand. While the independent state formed in Scotland defeated England’s attempts at conquest, the English kingdom, forged out of the many small kingdoms of the post-Roman period, eventually subjected Wales to its rule.

The period also saw the first English intervention in Ireland. With the whole future of the United Kingdom now in the melting pot, we are still grappling with the consequences of these events. This unique course presents an in-depth and comparative view of these political developments while at the same time shedding light on the lives of men and women of all classes, from slaves and peasants upwards. It considers how they were affected by political uncertainty, religious intolerance, a vibrant but precarious economy, bouts of plague, the demands of lords, feud, crime and punishment, and the burdens and benefits of a royal government – a government which in England created both the common law and the tax-based  parliamentary state. One major theme is the way Britain’s history was influenced by peoples and ideas coming from continental Europe, including Christian missionaries, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman invaders (1066 and all that) and kings who strove to protect and (in the Hundred Years War) expand an empire in France. 

These central themes are brought to life by close discussion of key primary sources including Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, Domesday Book, Magna Carta, and the passionate defence of Scotland’s independence known as the Declaration of Arbroath.

Provisional teaching plan

  1. Britain after Rome, 400–600
  2. The Coming of Christianity to Lowland Britain, 600–800
  3. Kings and Kingdoms before the Vikings, 600–800
  4. King Alfred and the Vikings: Britain in the First Viking Age, 800–900
  5. The West Saxon Expansion and the Making of England, 900–1050
  6. Crime, Punishment, Compensation and Feud
  7. The Norman Conquest, 1050–1100
  8. Anglo-Norman Settlement in Britain
  9. The Kingdoms in Britain in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries
  10. The Roots of Magna Carta: Politics and Government, 1154–1215
  11. Revolution, Rebellion and Reform in England 1258–65: the Career of Simon de Montfort
  12. The Jews: Persecution and Toleration, 1066–1290
  13. Powerful Women: Queens and Queenship
  14. Medieval Economy and Society, c. 1086–1348: Expansion and Growth
  15. Medieval Economy and Society, 1348–1500: Contraction, Stagnation and Reorientation
  16. The Church in Later Medieval Britain
  17. Pestilence and Death in the Fourteenth Century
  18. Wars of Independence
  19. The Hundred Years War
  20. National Identity: who did they think they were?

Introductory reading list

These books are ‘core textbooks’ for this module, therefore purchasing them rather than borrowing them will be of benefit to you throughout your course.

The Anglo-Saxons, ed. J. Campbell (Oxford, 1982)

D.A. Carpenter, The Struggle for Mastery. The Penguin History of Britain 1066-1284 (Penguin, 2004)

Robert Bartlett, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225 (2000).

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454