G. Past Examination Questions

2007-2008

Answer THREE questions: ONE from Section A, ONE from Section B, and ONE from Section C.

SECTION A

  1. 'Although the Germanic peoples did not intend it, their invasions, the disruption these caused, and the consequent dismembering of the Roman state were undoubtedly the principal cause of the death of the Roman economy' (Ward-Perkins, Fall of Rome, p. 134). Discuss.
  2. 'My treasury is always empty. All our wealth has fallen into the hands of the Church. There is no one with any power left except the bishops. Nobody respects me as king: all respect has passed to the bishops in their cities.' (Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks, vi.49.) Why was Chilperic I [561-84]'s treasury always empty? To what extent were his complaints about the Church valid?
  3. 'The principal concern of articulate bishops in the sixth century was not how to suppress paganism. It was how to impose a "correct" interpretation on a bewildering range of religious practices, most of which claimed to be "Christian".' (Peter Brown). Discuss.
  4. 'Female violence [was] a normal feature of Merovingian society, especially where single women had no immediate male protectors, but did have a great deal of personal honour to defend' (Gradowicz-Pancer, 'De-Gendering Female Violence', p. 1). Discuss.
  5. Were the achievements of the Carolingians adequate compensation for the terrible costs incurred during their rise to power? Justify your answer.

SECTION B

  1. What significance should historians of the Frankish world attach to the reign of Louis the Pious, emperor of the Romans and king of the Franks (814-40)? Justify your answer.
  2. How, why and to what effect did EITHER the Vikings OR the Magyars become involved with the Franks?
  3. Why did the political order created by the Charlemagne, king of the Franks (768-814), disintegrate in the second half of the ninth century? Justify your answer.
  4. 'Before anything else, the castla’s job was to force (forcare) peasants, that is to say, to prepare them to submit to banal exactions by subjecting them to a regime of measured terror. Judiciously conditioned, they would pose no further resistance to the requisitions which the bailiffs might seek from them in complete contempt of their [former] status as free men.' (Bonnassie, 'Banal Seigneury', p. 132.) Discuss.
  5. 'Are you not my Romans? Because of you, I [Otto III, king of the Eastern Franks (983-1002)] have abandoned my homeland and my kinsmen. For love of you, I have cast off my Saxons and all of the Germans, my own blood. I led you to distant regions of our empire, where your fathers never set foot, even when they held the world in subjection. All of this, that I might spread your name and glory to the ends of the earth. I adopted you as sons and favoured you above all others. For your sake, as you were placed above everyone else, I was universally hated and resented.' (Thangmar, Life of the Bernwald, bishop of Hildesheim, § 25). Amongst whom and why was Otto III 'universally hated and resented'? Why has Thangmar attributed these words to Otto III?

SECTION C

  1. What implications did the shift in the fifth to sixth centuries from an aristocracy largely comprised of civilians to one largely comprised of military men have for the long-term development of the Frankish world?
  2. Explain why the Franks became and remained the dominant ethnic group in early medieval Europe, c.500 and c.1025.
  3. To what extent and in what ways did the practice and ideology of kingship evolve in the Frankish world between c.500 and c.1025?
  4. In what ways did the religious beliefs of the Franks influence the development of political life in the Frankish world between c.500 and c.1025?
  5. What is the central theme of the history of the Frankish world between c.500 and c.1025? Justify your answer.

2006-2007

Answer THREE questions: ONE from Section A, ONE from Section B, and ONE from Section C.

SECTION A

  1. To which elements in Merovingian society did the label'Frank' refer between the fourth and eighth centuries?
  2. Account for the profound changes in social and political organisation which took place in fifth- and sixth-century Gaul?
  3. To what extent was the practice of kingship under the Merovingians driven by the needs of a wider political community as opposed to the interests of the rulers themselves?
  4. What major contributions did the Church make to the political culture of Merovingian Gaul, c.500-751?
  5. Identify the obstacles that stood in way of Pippinid ambitions in the first half of the eighth century and explain how the family's leaders overcame them.

SECTION B

  1. Explain why Scandinavia became a base for so much piracy and why the Carolingian Empire, in spite of its vast military resources, became the target for so much Viking activity?
  2. Did the Vikings represent a more serious threat to the Frankish kingdoms than the Magyars?
  3. What was the 'Christian Empire' of Louis the Pious and why did this project fail?
  4. What original contributions did the Ottonians make to the development of kingship among the Franks? Justify your answer.
  5. What was the so-called 'Feudal Revolution'? Justify your answer.

SECTION C

  1. To what extent did the advantages conferred by class and rank compensate for the disadvantages of being a woman in Frankish society, c.500-1025?
  2. Who was the most significant historical figure to hold authority among the Franks during the early Middle Ages? Justify your choice.
  3. What were the most important ingredients for successful kingship in the Frankish world, and how did these change between c.500 and c.1025?
  4. What were the major influences on the development of monasticism in the Frankish world, and how did these change between c.500 and c.1025?
  5. Is the period from 476 to c.1025 better described as the 'sub-Roman' rather than as the 'early medieval' period in the history of western Europe?

2004-2005

Answer THREE questions, at least ONE from Section A, and ONE from Section B and the OTHER from EITHER Section A or B or C.

SECTION A

  1. Did the social and economic catastrophes of the sixth century have a greater impact on the life and culture of the Gallo-Roman aristocracy than the imperial collapse and Barbarian takeover of the fifth century?
  2. In what ways did the style and ideology of Frankish kingship evolve between the time of Clovis I (c.473-511) and Childebert III (694-711)? Account for these changes.
  3. 'The Merovingian civil wars did not pose a threat to the survival of the kingdom. Indeed, in a sense, they were a unifying part of the structure of the Frankish state in the sixth century and for much of the seventh' (Wood, The Merovingian Kingdoms). Discuss.
  4. Explain why the Frankish aristocracy took an increasing interest in the cult of saints, Irish monasticism and/or missionary activity in the sixth and seventh centuries.
  5. To what extent was the king's wife a figure of real power in Merovingian society and political life?
  6. Identify and explain the ways in which the Carolingian takeover of Frankia, c.687 to 800, transformed the nature of Frankish government?

SECTION B

  1. Were the Vikings so very different from the Franks?
  2. To what extent was Charlemagne's revival of the imperial title and Louis the Pious's project for a 'Christian Empire' the factor that wrecked the Carolingian Empire?
  3. Why did the eastern Frankish and western Frankish kingdoms pursue divergent courses of development, c.840 to 1000? You may focus your discussion mainly on either the eastern or the western Frankish kingdoms.
  4. What were the distinguishing characteristics of the Ottonian style of kingship?
  5. In what ways and to what extent did the society found in western Frankia around the millennium differ from that over which the Merovingian and Carolingian kings had presided between c.600 and c.900 A.D.?

SECTION C

  1. What do the material artefacts, artworks and buildings produced by and for early medieval kings tell us about them and the peoples they ruled?
  2. What was the most decisive development in the rise of western Christendom, c.450 to c.1025?
  3. Identify and explain the most significant changes in religious thought and practice during the long period between c.450 to c.1025.

2003-2004

Answer THREE questions.

  1. In what ways and to what extent were the structures of social, economic and political life in Gaul transformed by the coming of the barbarians in the fifth century?
  2. In what ways did the situation and aspirations of the Merovingian aristocracy differ from that of their later Roman counterparts?
  3. Account for the deepening spiral of violence that afflicted the Merovingian kingdoms in the sixth and early seventh centuries.
  4. Why did the cult of saints become such a prominent element in Frankish Christianity?
  5. If the Merovingian royal house was a spent force by the early seventh century, how can we explain its survival until 751?
  6. In what ways was EITHER the reign of Charlemagne OR the reign of Louis the Pious a turning point in the history of the Franks?
  7. What significance should historians attach to the appearance of the Vikings, their raids and their settlements in western Frankia?
  8. Account for the decline of royal authority in the western Carolingian kingdom(s) in the late ninth century and tenth centuries.
  9. Was there a 'feudal revolution' in western Frankia, c.850-1050?
  10. Why was the eastern Frankish kingdom so much more successful than its western counterpart?
  11. Explain why early medieval kings invested so much of their time and material wealth in religious projects, such as in the foundation and reform of churches.
  12. Can we detect significant changes in the role that women played in the government of the Frankish kingdoms, c.500-1000? If so, what were they and how can we account for them? If not, why did the role that women played remain essentially the same?

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