Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

HIST 300 Emperors, Bishops, Barbarians

Fall 2016

Loyola University Chicago, John Felice Rome Center

Fall Semester 2016 – HIST 300


Emperors, Bishops, Barbarians – Rome from Constantine to Charlemagne, AD 300-814

Lecturer: Dr David Lambert          (dlambert1@luc.edu)



Course Description and Abstract

Emperors, Bishops, and Barbarians examines the turbulent history of the city of Rome in late antiquity and the early middle ages. Beginning with the impact on Rome of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, it pursues the history of the city through the last two centuries of the Roman empire in the West, conquest by the Goths, reconquest by the Byzantines, and the rise of the papacy in the early middle ages.


The course will examine the social and political sources of change in the city of Rome, as it was ruled first by Roman emperors, and then by Gothic kings, Byzantine emperors, and Popes. Literary sources, the archaeology of the city of Rome and modern scholarship from a variety of perspectives will be combined to examine the drama of the history, society, politics, and culture of the City of Rome as it moved from the classical world to the middle ages.



Learning Objectives

The key objective of this course is to survey the history of the city of Rome in the period of late antiquity and the early middle ages. One of the main problems concerning study of ancient and medieval history is always one of evidence. In this particular case one has to rely on biased, and often fragmentary literary sources. Archaeology and epigraphy supplement the literary evidence, but also provide information that sometimes stands completely on its own. All the evidence has to be weighed with care and consideration. At the end of this course, students are expected to be aware of the key problems and debates concerning the history of the city of Rome in this period, and to be sensitive to the problems of interpreting evidence. They need to be able to scrutinize, evaluate and analyse critically the available source material. They need to demonstrate that they are able to comprehend, summarize, and contextualize both the primary sources and the discussions around them.



Procedures and Policies

Emperors, Bishops, Barbarians meets twice a week. It is expected that students will contribute in a significant way to this course. They are responsible for completing all of the assigned readings, according to the schedule attached to this syllabus. Class discussions and activities encourage students to generate their own ideas, hypotheses, opinions, theories, questions, and proposals, and to develop strategies for seeking and synthesizing information to support an argument, decide on a conclusion, or resolve a problem. This course has no prerequisites and assumes neither prior knowledge of Roman or early medieval history nor any knowledge of the Latin language. It is intended that students will gain a basic knowledge and understanding of the history of Rome and the wider history of western Europe in the period being studied, as well as that of the working of historical mechanisms, as described above.


                                   Class hours: Tuesday and Thursday*, 09:30 am to 10:45 am


*There is no class on Thursday 29 September

It is strongly recommended to take notes, both when reading and listening. These notes are an indispensable part of studying and learning, often the best means to anchor your thoughts with true understanding, transform opinion into knowledge, and establish comprehension rooted in memory. Writing is learning – with half as much effort.



Course books

  • Reader – available from the JFRC bookstore



Attendance and Assessment

Attendance is mandatory. The success of each session depends on students’ presence, preparation, and participation.


Final grade assessments will be based on the combination of two exams, one mid-term and one final, and one large essay concerning a topic of free choice and based on primary sources and secondary literature. A small percentage of the students’ grade will be derived from attendance and participation.


The 2 (TWO) exams will be tests of your knowledge and understanding of the topics dealt with in the lectures and seminars and of the literature prescribed for each class.


As far as the essay is concerned, it is strongly recommended to start thinking of a suitable topic, including (some of) the appropriate material, right at the beginning of the course. Towards the mid-point of the semester, you will be invited to suggest an essay topic (with advice from the instructor). Essays have a word-limit of 3,000 words (including footnotes/endnotes).


Sources MUST under all circumstances be cited. Plagiarism of any sort will result in a grade of “F” for the assignment, or, depending on the level, perhaps even for the entire course.


More information on the requirements for the specific essay assignment will be provided in class.



Essay Grading and Exam Grading Scale

Written work, and to a certain extent also the final exam, meriting the grade of “A” (excellent) must:


  • address the assigned question or topic directly and intelligently;
  • demonstrate a careful and considered reading of the texts at hand;
  • present a lucid thesis and a reasoned argument in its defense;
  • use correct grammar, punctuation, and sentence construction;
  • make appropriate use of quotations from the texts;
  • reveal thoughtfulness, originality and insight.


Written work and examinations awarded the grade of “B” (good) adequately fulfill a majority of these criteria, with areas of improvement indicated by grading remarks and comments.


The grade of “C” (average) is given when written work and examinations fail to meet most criteria, therefore indicating to the student that an appointment should be made with the professor, before the next assignment, to discuss methods for improvement.


Finally, the grade of “D” is assigned to written work and examinations that are unacceptable, according to the criteria outlined above, in which case an appointment must be made with the professor and arrangements determined for re-submitting the assignments in an acceptable form.


This is the grading scale currently in use:


95-100 = A 92-94 = A-

88-91 = B+ 84-87 = B 80-83 = B-

77-79 = C+ 73-76 = C 70-72 = C-

65-69 = D+ 60-64 = D

59 and below = F


            Grading Percentages:


            Mid-term Examination                      30% of final grade

            Final Examination                              30% of final grade

            Final Essay                                         30% of final grade


            Presence / Participation                      10% of final grade



Students who wish to request a review of the final course grade must provide original versions of all their graded course assignments.



Course Program



Week 1:          Constantine’s Rome


      • Richard Krautheimer, Three Christian Capitals: Topography and Politics (Berkeley, 1982), 7-40.
      • John Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 70-115.
      • John Curran, ‘The conversion of Rome revisited’, in: S. Mitchell & G. Greatrex (eds.), Ethnicity and Culture in Late Antiquity (London, 2000), 1-14.
      • R. Ross Holloway, Constantine and Rome (New Haven/London, 2005), 1-18.
      • Jaś Elsner, ‘From the Culture of Spolia to the Cult of Relics: The Arch of Constantine and the Genesis  of Late Antique Forms’, Papers of the British School at Rome 68 (2000), 149-184.


Week 2:          Difficillima tempora?


      • Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971/1993), 34-47.
      • John Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 (Oxford, 1975), 1-31.
      • Geza Alföldy, “Difficillima tempora: urban life, inscriptions, and mentality in late antique Rome”, in T.S. Burns & J.W. Eadie (eds.), Urban Centers and Rural Contexts in Late Antiquity (East Lansing, Michigan, 2001), 3-24.


Week 3:          The Making of a Christian Aristocracy


      • John Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 260-320.
      • Michele Renee Salzman, The Making of a Christian Aristocracy (Berkeley, 2001), 178-219.


Week 4:          Subterranean Rome – Catacombs and Martyr Cult


      • G.W. Bowersock, Martyrdom and Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 1-57.
      • L.V. Rutgers, Subterranean Rome. In Search of the Roots of Christianity in the Catacombs of the Eternal City (Leuven: Peeters, 2000), 42-117.


Week 5:          Panem et Circenses


      • Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971/1993), 82-95.
      • Michele Renee Salzman, On Roman Time: The Codex-Calendar of 354 and the Rhythms of Urban Life in Late Antiquity (Berkeley, 1990), 193-246.
      • Richard Lim, ‘People as power: games, munificence, and contested topography’, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Urbs Roma in Late Antiquity, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 265-281.
      • John Curran, Pagan City and Christian Capital: Rome in the Fourth Century (Oxford, 2000), 218-259.


Week 6:          The Altar of Victory


      • John Matthews, Western Aristocracies and Imperial Court, A.D. 364-425 (Oxford, 1975), 183-219.
      • T.D. Barnes, ‘Augustine, Symmachus, and Ambrose’, in Joanne McWilliam (ed.), Augustine: From Rhetor to Theologian (Waterloo, Ontario, 1992), 7-13.
      • Neil McLynn, Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital (Berkeley, 1994), 149-157, 263-289.
      • Alan Cameron, ‘The last pagans of Rome’, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Vrbs Roma in Late Antiquity, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 109-121.
      • Michele Renee Salzman, ‘The Christianization of sacred time and sacred space’, in W.V. Harris (ed.), The Transformations of Vrbs Roma in Late Antiquity, Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplementary Series 33 (Portsmouth, Rhode Island, 1999), 123-134.


Week 9:          Decline and Fall?


      • Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity (London, 1971/1993), 115-135.
      • Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (London, 1776-1788; London: Everyman’s Library, 1994), vol. 4, 117-127.
      • John Matthews, ‘Gibbon and the later Roman Empire: causes and circumstances’, in R. McKitterick & R. Quinault (eds.), Edward Gibbon and Empire (Cambridge, 1997), 12-33.
      • Peter Garnsey and Caroline Humfress, The Evolution of the Late Antique World (Cambridge, 2001), 216-227.
      • Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilisation (Oxford, 2005), 138-168.


Week 10:        Alaric and the Sack of Rome


      • Michael Kulikowski, Rome’s Gothic Wars: From the Third Century to Alaric (Cambridge 2008), 144-177.
      • Carlos Machado, ‘The Roman Aristocracy and the Imperial Court, before and after the Sack’, in Joachim Lipps, Carlos Machado, and Philipp von Rummel (eds.), The Sack of Rome in 410 AD: The Event, its Context, and its Impact (Wiesbaden 2013), 49-78.
      • Ralph W. Mathisen, ‘Roma a Gothis Alarico duce capta est: Ancient Accounts of the Sack of Rome in 410 CE’, in Lipps, Machado, and von Rummel (eds.), The Sack of Rome in 410 AD, 87-102.
      • Peter Van Nuffelen, ‘Review Article: Not Much Happened: 410 and All That’, Journal of Roman Studies 105 (2015), 322-329.


Week 9:          Rome in the Fifth Century


      • Andrew Gillett, ‘Rome, Ravenna and the Last Western Emperors’, Papers of the British School at Rome 59 (2001), 131-167.
      • Mark Humphries, ‘Valentinian III and the City of Rome (425-55): Patronage, Politics, Power’, in Lucy Grig & Gavin Kelly (eds.), Two Romes: Rome and Constantinople in Late Antiquity (Oxford 2012), 161-182.
      • Michele Renee Salzman, ‘Leo the Great: Responses to Crisis and the Shaping of a Christian Cosmopolis’, in Claudia Rapp & H.A. Drake (eds.) The City in the Classical and Post-Classical World: Changing Contexts of Power and Identity (Cambridge 2014), 183-201.
      • Susan Wessel, ‘Religious doctrine and ecclesiastical change in the time of Leo the Great’, in Michael Maas (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila (Cambridge 2014), 327-343.


Week 10:        Theodoric and Rome – a Barbarian on the Throne?


      • Mark J. Johnson, ‘Toward a history of Theoderic’s building program’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 42 (1988), 73-96.
      • John Moorhead, Theodoric in Italy (Oxford, 1992), 66-113, 140-172.
      • Peter Heather, The Goths (Oxford, 1996/2006), 216-258.


Week 11:        Gregory the Great – Aristocrat and Bishop: the birth of the Papal State


      • Jeffrey Richards, The Popes and the Papacy in the Early Middle Ages 476-752
        (London, 1979), 339-362.
      • Richard Krautheimer, Rome: Profile of a City, 312–1308 (Princeton, 1980/2000), 59-87.
      • Robert A. Markus, Gregory the Great and His World (Cambridge, 1997), 1-16, 83-124.


Week 12:        The Republic of St. Peter


      • Thomas F.X. Noble, The Republic of St. Peter: The Birth of the Papal State, 680-825 (Philadelphia, 1984), 15-60, 94-98, 185-211.
      • P. Delogu, ‘The papacy, Rome and the wider world in the seventh and eighth centuries’, in: Julia M.H. Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough (Leiden, 2000), 197-221.
      • Thomas F.X. Noble, ‘Topography, celebration, and power: the making of a papal Rome in the eighth and ninth centuries’, in Mayke de Jong, Frans Theuws, Carine van Rhijn (eds.), Topographies of Power in the Early Middle Ages (Leiden, 2001), 45-91.


Week 13:        Charlemagne’s Rome


      • Janet L. Nelson, ‘Kingship and empire in the Carolingian world’, in: Rosamond McKitterick (ed.), Carolingian Culture: Emulation and Innovation (Cambridge, 1997), 52-87.
      • Roger Collins, Charlemagne (Toronto, 1998), 23-42, 141-159.
      • Rudolf Schieffer, ‘Charlemagne and ’ome', in Julia M.H. Smith (ed.), Early Medieval Rome and the Christian West: Essays in Honour of Donald A. Bullough (Leiden, 2000), 279-295.
      • Roger Collins, ‘Charlemagne’s imperial coronation and the Annals of Lorsch’, in Joanna Story (ed.), Charlemagne: Empire ad Society (Manchester, 2005), 52-70.