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HST 141: History of Western Civilization to 1650

Course Prefix

Course Number

Course Title


Credit Hours



History of Western Civilization to 1650



Course Description

Stresses political, social, cultural, economic, and technological developments from prehistoric times and concludes with the last manifestation of essentially medieval ideology, i.e., the Protestant Reformation.

Topical Outline

  1. The Early Ancient World
    1. Pre-history
    2. The Earliest Civilization: Mesopotamia
    3. Egypt (2)
    4. The Era of Small Nations: 1200 - 800 B.C.
    5. The Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian Empires
  2. Greece and Rome
    1. Ancient Greece (3)
    2. Ancient Rome (4)
  3. The Early Middle Ages
    1. Introduction to the Middle Ages
    2. The Rise and Fall of the Carolinian Empire
    3. Feudalism, Manorialism, and Chivalry
    4. The Byzantine Empire
    5. The Byzantine Church and Culture; The Rise of Early Russia
    6. The Rise of Islam
  4. The Later Middle Ages
    1. The West Takes the Offensive: The Crusades
    2. The Rise of Trade and Towns
    3. Nations in the Making: The Genesis of Modern England
    4. The Rise of National States II: England (continued) and France
    5. The Rise of National States III: Spain, Germany, and Italy
    6. The Medieval Church and Papacy (2); The Rise of Universities
  5. The Renaissance and Reformation
    1. The Transition from Medieval to Modern Times (2)
    2. The Italian Renaissance (3); Social Life
    3. The Northern Renaissance
    4. The Protestant Reformation (3); The Spread of Protestantism
    5. The Catholic or Counter Reformation
    6. Religious Turmoil until 1600
    7. Religious Upheaval until 1648

Method of Presentation

  1. Lecture
  2. Discussion

Student Outcomes (The student should…)

  1. be aware of major factors that accompanied the dawn of civilization and be able to compare and contrast the political, economic, social, and religious characteristics of the western world’s earliest civilizations. (I)
  2. become knowledgeable about ancient Greek and Roman times and develop an awareness of the intellectual and political concepts developed by those peoples which continue to exert influence upon the future. (II)
  3. become knowledgeable about early medieval Europe’s cultural and political regression which was accompanied by the growth of the Christian Church. Also, some knowledge about the importance of the Carolinian, Byzantine, and Islamic empires will be required. (III)
  4. become knowledgeable about aggressive military, economic, and political activities undertaken by western Europeans in the late Middle Ages. Also, an understanding of the ability of the Roman Catholic Church to largely dominate Europe during this period will be necessary. (IV)
  5. be aware of political, cultural, economic, and religious issues that accompanied the Renaissance and Reformation eras in Europe. Knowledge about the decline of the medieval Church will be necessary in order to achieve an understanding of the Renaissance and the Reformation. (V)
  6. be required to write a paper on a subject which relates to this course. His/her ability to research, organize, analyze, and write will be taken into account.

Method of Evaluation

  1. Four (4) exams and a final which include both objective and essay questions
  2. Term paper; up to three (3) optional papers for extra credit
  3. Student participation

The student will have the option to select from a prepared list a total of up to three topics about which he/she may write for purposes of extra credit.


Chambers, Western Experience Vol 1, 9th ed., McGraw Hill, 2007.

Prepared by: Michael Harkins

Fall, 2008