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Last modified: 25 May 2018 11:16

Course Overview

Kingship and the Middle Ages seem to go together. In some cultures mediaeval kingship grew powerful, the public embodiment of a people  and the creator of government and (therefore) state.  But this was not so everywhere and at all times. The Germanic-speaking peoples, fearful of leaderly power, were very reluctant to embrace kingship.  The Celtic-speaking peoples inherited a long-lived ideology of kingship but never embraced monarchy. We examine the development of kingship as social institution, taking the Celts as a whole and using the Anglo-Saxons as representative of a larger Germanic history.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 3
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 30 credits (15 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor David Dumville

Qualification Prerequisites

  • Programme Level 3

What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?

  • CE4595 Celtic & Anglo-Saxon Kingship & Exercise of Authority in Earlier Mid (Studied)

Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

At the end of Antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages, Celtic and Germanic kingship had a perhaps superficial structural similarity. Germanic kingship had shallow roots, however. Celtic kingship, on the other hand, enjoyed a very long history and solidly established foundations. The post-colonial situation in Britain (and more generally in western Europe at large) brought great change. Christianity offered new (Jewish and Roman) methods of rulership. For the Gaelic world, on the other hand, in conjunction with a largely peaceful receipt of Christianity, continuity is the watchword. Both practice and theory of kingship in a changing world are abundantly attested in a rich variety of sources, documentary, linguistic, literary, and material: full advantage will be taken of these resources, with close attention given to the intercultural and interdisciplinary study of primary sources.

Further Information & Notes

This course will be available in 2017/18, and is available to Level 3 students in any degree programme, and all visiting students.

The course may not be taken as part of a graduating curriculum with its counterpart in the other Honours year.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Details, including assessments, may be subject to change until 31 August 2023 for 1st half-session courses and 22 December 2023 for 2nd half-session courses.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt

  • 2-hour written examination (60%)
  • 2000-word essay (30%)
  • Seminar participation (10%)


  • 2-hour written examination (100%)

Formative Assessment

Discussion of students' progress in writing and participation will be provided in scheduled individual meetings and/or in the instructor's office hours.


Written feedback is communicated to students using the School of Language and Literature essay cover sheets. Feedback will also be provided in scheduled individual meetings and/or in the instructor's office hours. Students are given weekly feedback in the form of advice delivered verbally in class, both to individuals and to the whole class.

Course Learning Outcomes


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