Spring 2008

HUMS 644
Murder in the Cathedral: The Assassinations of Bishop Gaudry, Charles of Flanders, & Thomas Becket

Rider,Jeff

01/28/2008 - 05/10/2008
Tuesday 06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

Romance Languages 106

In the Middle Ages, a church was a particularly effective venue for murder. Once inside a church, a victim would find escape difficult. In addition, by killing somebody in a church, particularly a political figure such as a bishop or a count, assassins could claim that their actions were justified in some way: God wanted the murder committed because He did not prevent it from happening in this sacred and public place. Despite this, targets of assassination, perhaps hoping to be considered martyrs, would often choose to be confronted in a church. This course will study three 12th-century assassinations: Bishop Gaudry of Laon in 1112, Count Charles of Flanders in 1127, and Archbishop Thomas Becket of Canterbury in 1170. The events raise some surprising issues about, among other things, the existence of a medieval "model of behavior" followed by assassins and victims alike, which involved killing the victims in a church at a morning religious service. We will examine these assassinations through the various contemporary historical accounts of the murders and their consequences. Students will learn to recognize and investigate the ways in which historical works render actions intelligible and meaningful, and the ways "instinctive" human behavior, from the Middle Ages to our times, is perhaps more "practiced" and shaped by society than we think.

The readings will include Guibert of Nogent, Memoirs; Suger, The Deeds of Louis the Fat; Herman of Tournai, The Restoration of the Monastery of Saint Martin of Tournai; Walter of Therouanne, The Life of Charles The Good; Galbert of Bruges, The Murder of Charles the Good; Guernes of Pont-Sainte-Maxence, The Life of Saint Thomas the Martyr of Canterbury; Edward Grim, The Life of Saint Thomas.

Students will write three short papers (5-7 pages) or one longer one.

This course may, by petition, count toward the Social Sciences concentration.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
http://www.wesleyan.edu/masters/courses/Spring_2008/spring08_syllabi/syb_hums644.html


Jeff Rider (B.A. Yale University; Diplome d'Etudes Medievales, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Belgium; M.A., Ph.D. University of Chicago) is professor of romance languages and literatures and chair of the Medieval Studies Program. He is a specialist in the history and literature of northern Europe from the 11th through the 13th centuries. His work has focused on the Arthurian legend and the history of northern France in the twelfth century. He has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fulbright Commission, the American Philosophical Society, and the Rotary Foundation. He is currently at work on a variety of projects including a book on Chretien de Troyes, an edition of a thirteenth-century French narrative poem, and a translation of a twelfth-century journal describing the assassination of the count of Flanders in 1127. Click here for more information about Jeff Rider and here for more information about his work.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Guibert of Nogent, A MONK'S CONFESSION: THE MEMOIRS OF GUIBERT OF NOGENT, Paperback

Galbert of Bruges, THE MURDER OF CHARLES THE GOOD, COUNT OF FLANDERS, Paperback

READING MATERIALS ARE AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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