Study Afternoon "Cultural History of the Middle Ages"

Study afternoon / introductory session for PhD and ReMa students (1 ECTS)

This session will focus on the recently published textbook Cultuurgeschiedenis van de Middeleeuwen [Cultural history of the Middle Ages] by Rob Meens and Carine van Rhijn (eds.), WBooks, Zwolle 2015.

Lecturers: Prof. Peter Hoppenbrouwers/UL, Dr Rob Meens/UU, Dr Carine van Rhijn/UU and Prof. Catrien Santing/RUG.

Time: 8 January, from 1.15 p.m.

Location: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, 3512 BR Utrecht
tel. 030-2536180

Time: 8 January, from 1.15 p.m.

N.B. Please submit your assignment by 20 December at the latest!


The book cover discusses the Dutch phrase middeleeuwse toestanden (literally ‘Medieval situations’), which is used to describe ‘dark’, ‘primitive’, ‘unpleasant’ situations. This image of the period from 500 to 1500 AD is based on Humanist ideas of the ‘Middle Ages’ as a period of stagnation or decline.

However, this period has also been greatly admired by some as it saw the birth of modern European nations. Catholics regarded the Middle Ages as the one period in history in which Europe was truly Christian, whereas others saw it as a period full of superstition – and still do.
The book uses these kinds of opinions and prejudices as a basis for an introduction to the culture of the Middle Ages. It shows how such opinions emerged and how historians today think about this period. The book provides knowledge of Medieval culture as well as reflection on how we think about the Middle Ages.



Please register by 1 December 2015 at the latest by sending an e-mail to the Research School secretariat:

Participants must complete and submit the following assignment in advance.



Read the book and write a 2 to 3-page response based on the question: Does this book represent our image of the Middle Ages, and does it offer a suitable starting point for studying the Middle Ages in the 21st century?

For foreign students: please peruse Wim Blockmans & Peter Hoppenbrouwers, Introduction to Medieval Europe 300-1500, London/New York 2014 (second edition), read in particular Introduction  and Epilogue, and answer the same question.


Please e-mail your response (in Dutch or English) to no later than 20 December 2015. This assignment is part of the Research School’s teaching programme (student workload: 1 ECTS).


The lecturers will read the responses and discuss them after their introduction to the topic. This will be followed by a general discussion. The afternoon will be rounded off with a drinks party.