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Module HPS-4009:
Normandy under the Normans

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Mark Hagger

Overall aims and purpose

This module provides students with: 1. training in the use of primary sources both printed and unprinted, and both in their original Latin and in translation; 2. development of independent historical thought through criticism of the historiography on the subject; 3. an understanding of broader medieval political and symbolic contexts and subtexts; 4. an opportunity to enhance research skills by learning about the various research tools available on the Internet, such as the BnF's `Gallica' database, as well as by the provision of some practical guidance about researching in the French archives; and 5. a greater depth of knowledge about Normandy, the Anglo-Norman regnum (from 1066) and its European context from the tenth to the twelfth centuries

Course content

This course will examine the role of the dukes of Normandy, the growth of their authority and the institutions that they used to rule the duchy. Students will trace the growth of the dukes' authority through the chronicles and the written instruments issued in their name; they will examine the extent to which the conquest of England affected Norman government and vice versa; and they will discuss the ways in which ducal authority might be helped or hindered by the Norman aristocracy, the Norman church, or Normandy's neighbours. A wide range of sources will be used, both published and unpublished. A comparative approach will be adopted throughout, putting Normandy, its laws, and its institutions within a broad context rather than treating it in isolation

Assessment Criteria


Good students (B- to B+) will demonstrate a solid level of achievement and depth of knowledge in all the criteria in the C- to C+ range, and will in addition exhibit constructive engagement with different types of historical writing and historiographical interpretation. Ideas will be communicated effectively and written work will include a good range of sources/reading and demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues and of the existing interpretations expressed in a well-structured, relevant, and focused argument. Students at the top end of this band will engage with and critique the ideas that they come across, and synthesise the various interpretations they find to reach their own considered conclusions. Written work will be correctly presented with references and bibliography where appropriate.


Excellent students (A- and above) will show strong achievement across all the criteria combined with particularly impressive depths of knowledge and/or subtlety of analysis. In written work, they will support their arguments with a wealth of relevant detail/examples. They will also demonstrate an acute awareness of the relevant historiography and give an account of why the conclusions reached are important within a particular historical debate. They may show a particularly subtle approach to possible objections, nuancing their argument in the light of counter-examples, or producing an interesting synthesis of various contrasting positions. Overall, the standards of content, argument, and analysis expected will be consistently superior to top upper-second work. Standards of presentation will also be high.


Threshold students (D- and D) will have done only a minimum of reading, and their work will often be based on basic textbooks alone. They will demonstrate in their written assessments some knowledge of at least parts of the relevant field, and will make at least partially-successful attempts to frame an argument which engages with historical controversies, but they will fail to discuss some large and vital aspects of a topic; and/or deploy only some relevant material but partly fail to combine it into a coherent whole; and/or deploy some evidence to support individual points but often fail to do so and/or show difficulty weighing evidence (thereby relying on unsuitable or irrelevant evidence when making a point). Alternatively or additionally, the presentation of the work might also be poor, with bad grammar and/or punctuation, careless typos and spelling errors, and a lack of effective and correct referencing.

C- to C+

Students in this band (C- to C+) will demonstrate a satisfactory range of achievement or depth of knowledge of most parts of the module, and will make successful, if occasionally inconsistent, attempts to develop those skills appropriate to the study of History at undergraduate level. In the case of the written assessments, the answers will attempt to focus on the question, although might drift into narrative, and will show some evidence of solid reading and research. The argument might lose direction and might not be adequately clear at the bottom of this category. Written work will be presented reasonably well with only limited errors in grammar, punctuation, and referencing, and not to the extent that they obscure meaning.

Learning outcomes

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge of Normandy, its place in the Anglo-Norman regnum (from 1066), and its European context from the tenth to the twelfth centuries;

  2. develop an understanding of broader medieval political and symbolic contexts and subtexts;

  3. undertake research more efficiently and more effectively

  4. use and critically evaluate published and unpublished primary sources and be aware of the relevant diplomatic, archival history and contemporary issues which might affect the source;

  5. develop their own views and opinions on those areas covered by the course as a result of their criticism of the relevant sources and historiography;

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Comment Paper

Students will write a commentary on one or two primary sources. The source/s will be selected from a short list. Students will be expected to discuss the content of the extract concerned, and to discuss how it differs from or supports other evidence relating to the same event/issue; how historians have interpreted the source; and any debates that concern the source.

ESSAY Degree essay of 3000 words

Students should write an answer to one of the questions set out in the module handbook. Answers should demonstrate a good knowledge of both the primary and secondary sources relevant to the question and develop a logical and focused argument that is informed by those materials.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Private study

Including reading in preparation for seminar discussions, critiquing the historiography, digesting (and translating) primary sources, and research for the degree essays.


One 2-hour session every week for 11 weeks comprising one introductory class and 10 topic sessions.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • Articulacy in identifying underlying issues in a wide variety of debates.
  • Precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.
  • problem solving to develop solutions to understand the past
  • understanding the complexity of change over time; in specific contexts and chronologies
  • being sensitive to the differences, or the "otherness" of the past, and the difficulty to using it as a guide to present or future action
  • being sensitive to the role of perceptions of the past in contemporary cultures
  • producing logical and structured arguments supported by relevant evidence
  • planning, designing, executing and documenting a programme of research, working independently
  • marshalling and critically appraising other people's arguments, including listening and questioning
  • demonstrating a positive and can-do approach to practical problems
  • making effective and appropriate forms of visual presentation
  • making effective and appropriate use of relevant information technology
  • making critical and effective use of information retrieval skills using paper-based and electronic resources
  • appreciating and being sensitive to different cultures and dealing with unfamiliar situations
  • critical evaluation of one's own and others' opinions


Resource implications for students

The purchase of one or two of the key texts would be useful.

Reading list

Recueil des actes des ducs de Normandie de 911 à 1066, ed. M. Fauroux, Mémoires de la Société des Antiquaires de Normandie, xxxvi (1961); Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum, the Acta of William I (1066–1087), ed. D. Bates (1998); Regesta Regum Anglo-Normannorum 1066–1154: ii. Regesta Henrici primi 1100–1135, ed. C. Johnson and H. A. Cronne (1956); G. Bessin, Concilia Rotomagensis Provincia, 2 vols (Rouen, 1717); V. Bourienne, ed., Antiquus cartularius ecclesiæ Baiocensis (Livre Noir), 2 vols (Rouen, 1902–3); A. Deville, ed., 'Cartulaire de la Sainte-Trinité-du-Mont', in B. Guérard, ed., Cartulaire de Saint-Bertin (Paris, 1840), 403-87; K. S. B. Keats-Rohan, ed., The Cartulary of Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel (Donington, 2006); L. Musset, ed., Les actes de Guillaume le Conquérant et de la Reine Mathilde por les abbayes Caennaises (Caen, 1967); D. Rouet, ed., Le Cartulaire de l’Abbaye Bénédictine de Saint-Pierre-de-Préaux (1034–1227), Editions du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques (Paris, 2005); J. J. Vernier, ed., Chartes de l’abbaye de Jumièges, vol 1(Rouen, 1916); J. Walmsley, ed., Charters and Custumals of the Abbey of Holy Trinity, Caen: Part 2. The French Estates (Oxford, 1994); Dudo of Saint-Quentin, Dudo of Saint-Quentin: History of the Normans. Translation with Introduction and Notes, trans. Eric Christiansen (Woodbridge, 1998); Orderic Vitalis, Historia ecclesiastica, ed. and trans. M. Chibnall, 6 vols (Oxford, 1968–81); Richer of Saint-Rémi, Histories, ed. and trans. J. Lake, 2 vols (Cambridge, MA and London, 2011); Suger of Saint-Denis, Suger: The Deeds of Louis the Fat, trans. Richard Cusimano and John Moorhead (Washington D.C., 1992); Wace, The History of the Norman People: Wace’s Roman de Rou, trans. Glyn S. Burgess (Woodbridge, 2004); William of Jumièges, Orderic Vitalis and Robert of Torigni, Gesta Normannorum ducum, ed. and trans. E. M. C. van Houts, 2 vols (Oxford, 1992–95); William of Poitiers, Gesta Guillelmi, ed. and trans. R. H. C. Davis and M. Chibnall (Oxford, 1998) Some Secondary Sources: D. Bates, Normandy before 1066 (London, 1982); D. Bates, ‘The rise and fall of Normandy, c. 911-1204’, in England and Normandy in the Middle Ages, ed. D. Bates and A. Curry (London, 1994), 19-36; D. Bates, ‘West Francia: the northern principalities’, in The New Cambridge Medieval History, vol 3, ed. T. Reuter (Cambridge, 1999), pp. 398-419; Pierre Bauduin, La première Normandie (Xe–XIe siècles). Sur les frontières de la Haute Normandie: Identité et construction d’une principauté (Caen, 2004); R. A. Brown, The Normans (Woodbridge, 1984); M. Chibnall, The World of Orderic Vitalis: Norman Monks and Norman Knights (Woodbridge, 1984); M. Chibnall, The Normans (Oxford, 2001); D. C. Douglas, William the Conqueror (London, 1964); D. C. Douglas, The Norman Achievement, 1050-1100 (Berkeley, 1969); D. C. Douglas, The Norman Fate, 1100-1154 (Berkeley, 1976); C. H. Haskins, Norman Institutions (Cambridge, Mass,1918); J. Le Patourel, The Norman Empire (Oxford, 1976); D. Power, The Norman Frontier in the Twelfth and Early Thirteenth Centuries (Cambridge, 2004); E. Searle, Predatory Kinship and the Creation of Norman Power,840–1066 (Berkeley and London, 1988)

More detailed reading lists for the various topics studied may be found in the module handbook.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: