Course syllabus




History 268: Norman Conquests, Norman Voices, c. 900-1215

Summer School, 2018

15 points


Course Convenor: 

Lindsay Diggelmann

Room 733, level 7, Humanities, 14A Symonds St (building 206)

Office phone 9237099


Course Delivery Format:

Students should attend TWO two-hour lecture blocks and ONE tutorial each week during Summer School. Lectures are on Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm and on Fridays from 10am to 12pm. Tutorials are on Fridays at  1pm. Attendance is expected at lectures and tutorials.

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

Course Description:              

1066 continues to be the most well-known date in medieval history. William of Normandy’s victory at the Battle of Hastings, so memorably recorded in the Bayeux Tapestry, introduced a new dynasty and a new ruling elite to England. But who were these conquerors? This course examines the achievements and self-perception of the Normans from their origins as Norse settlers in tenth-century France. Beginning c. 900 CE, it looks not just at the imposition of power over England by means of extraordinary documents such as the Domesday Book, but also at Norman expansion into the Mediterranean where Norman rulers established regimes in southern Italy, Sicily and the Crusading principality of Antioch. Alongside the political narrative, which will take the story of the Norman dynasty and its Angevin (or Plantagenet) successors down to the creation of Magna Carta in 1215, the course offers a thematic approach. Students will engage with a number of significant historiographical debates which have taken place in recent decades over the nature of Norman ‘empires’, the question of identity, the structure of the Norman family and the role of women, and the extent of Norman cultural achievements. The course is structured around a series of important primary sources which can give us access to Norman ‘voices’ telling their stories from their own perspective. Each weekly lecture and tutorial topic focuses on one or two written or visual sources.

View the Courseguide here: HISTORY268-368 Courseguide 2018.pdf


Course Outcomes:

It is intended that students who complete History 268 / 368 successfully will:

  • Improve their knowledge of Norman society and culture c.900-1215.
  • Gain familiarity with a number of significant primary sources (textual, visual, and documentary) from the period and learn how historians have interpreted them.
  • Engage with and critically evaluate historiography on major issues and debates in the field.
  • Have fun and enjoy the course.

More broadly, in line with the Graduate Profile for students in the Bachelor of Arts degree, History 268 / 368 seeks to develop transferable skills valuable for employability by helping students to:

  • Enhance their aptitude in critical thinking, rational debate and analysis, effective academic communication and presentation of ideas.
  • Seek solutions to problems of historical interpretation through discussion of primary sources and relevant academic literature, both in written and oral formats.
  • Demonstrate personal academic integrity and efficiency through the timely submission of assignments based on their own research and writing.


Assessment Summary:

Tutorial exercises:   24% (3 x 8% each, due weeks 2, 3 and 4)

Essay:                         36%, 1800 words, due Monday 5 February (week 6)

Exam:                         40%, two essays, two hours. Date and time to be advised


Weekly Topics:


Week 1

Fri 5 January

1A Introduction / The History of Norman History

1B Origins of the Duchy of Normandy / Primary Source: Dudo of Saint-Quentin, History of the Normans


Week 2

Wed 10 January

2A William the Conqueror and 1066
2B Primary Source: The Bayeux Tapestry


Fri 12 January
3A Ruling England
3B Primary Source: Domesday Book


Week 3

Wed 17 January
4A Normans in Italy and Sicily
4B Primary Sources: Historians of Norman Italy


Fri 19 January
5A Norman Empires?
5B Primary Source: Orderic Vitalis, Ecclesiastical History


Week 4

Wed 24 January

6A Identities – A Gens Normannorum?
6B Primary Sources: William of Malmesbury and Gerald of Wales

Fri 26 January
7A Cultural Achievements
7B Primary Source: Wace, Roman de Brut


Week 5

Wed 31 January

8A Norman Families
8B Primary Source: Rotuli de dominabus (Ladies’ Rolls)


Fri 2 February
9A Normans on Crusade
9B Primary Sources: Norman Crusade Chronicles


Week 6

Wed 7 February

10A The End of the Anglo-Norman World
10B Primary Source: The History of William Marshal


Fri 9 February
11A Magna Carta
11B Norman Legacies / Course Conclusion


Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – check course information for details.

Course summary:

Date Details