Site Map


Welcome to Campus des Nations IB DP History Medieval Options - Route 1

Use the Contents link in the left side bar to navigate this wiki. Many pages have their own Table of Contents on the right side of the page.

Nature of the Subject

"History is more than the study of the past. It is theprocess of recording, reconstructing and interpreting the past through the investigation of a variety of sources. It is a discipline that gives people an understanding of themselves and others in relation to the world, both past and present.

Students of history should learn how the discipline works. It is an exploratory subject that poses questions without providing definitive answers. In order to understand the past, students must engage with it both through exposure to primary historical sources and through the work of historians. Historical study involves both selection and interpretation of data and critical evaluation of it. Students of history should appreciate the relative nature of historical knowledge and understanding, as each generation reflects its own world and preoccupations and as more evidence emerges. A study of history both requires and develops an individual’s understanding of, and empathy for, people living in other periods and contexts.

Diploma Programme history consists of a standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) core syllabus comprising an in-depth study of an individual prescribed subject and topics.
Thus Diploma Programme history provides both structure and flexibility, fostering an understanding of major historical events in a global context. It requires students to make comparisons between similar and dissimilar solutions to common human situations, whether they be political, economic or social. It invites comparisons between, but not judgments of, different cultures, political systems and national traditions.
The content of the history course is intrinsically interesting and it is hoped that many students who follow it will become fascinated with the discipline, developing a lasting interest in it, whether or not they continue to study it formally.

The international perspective in Diploma Programme history provides a sound platform for the promotion of international understanding and, inherently, the intercultural awareness necessary to prepare students for global citizenship. Above all, it helps to foster respect and understanding of people and events in a variety of cultures throughout the world." (IB History Subject Guide)

History and theory of knowledge

As with other areas of knowledge, there is a variety of ways of gaining knowledge in group 3 subjects. Archival evidence, data collection, experimentation and observation, inductive and deductive reasoning, for example, can all be used to help explain patterns of behaviour and lead to knowledge claims. Students in group 3 subjects are required to evaluate these knowledge claims by exploring knowledge issues such as validity, reliability, credibility, certainty and individual, as well as cultural, perspectives.

The relationship between each group 3 subject and theory of knowledge is of crucial importance and fundamental to the Diploma Programme. Having followed a course of study in group 3, students should be able to reflect critically on the various ways of knowing and on the methods used in human sciences, and in so doing become “inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people” (IB mission statement).

During the course a number of issues will arise that highlight the relationship between theory of knowledge and history.

  • Why study history?
  • Is knowledge of the past ever certain?
  • Does the study of history widen our knowledge of human nature?
  • Can history help in understanding the present or predicting the future?
  • To what extent does emotion play a role in an historian’s analysis? Is (historical) objectivity possible?
  • Why do accounts of the same historical event differ? Whose history do we study?
  • What determines how historians select evidence and describe/interpret or analyse events?
  • What problems are posed for the study of history by changes in language and culture over time?
  • Can history be considered in any sense “scientific”?

(Taken from the (IB History Subject Guide))

At Campus des Nations there are two teaching groups for this course:
ALL students will follow four periods a week of the standard level topics.
ALL higher level students will follow two periods a week of the higher level topics with Mrs. Davison.

Difference between HL and SL

The difference between the history course at SL and the course at HL can be summarized as follows.
While many of the skills of studying history are common to both SL and HL, the HL student is required, through in-depth study, to synthesize and critically evaluate knowledge. The greater depth of study required for HL, and the greater demands this makes of the student, are exemplified through the nature of the learning outcomes for the HL options. (taken from IB History Subject Guide)

The difference between the history course at SL and the course at HL can be summarized as follows.

While many of the skills of studying history are common to both SL and HL, the HL student is required, through in-depth study, to synthesize and critically evaluate knowledge. The greater depth of study required for HL, and the greater demands this makes of the student, are exemplified through the nature of the learning outcomes for the HL options.

Topics at Standard Level

Prescribed subject 2: The kingdom of Sicily


This prescribed subject covers the rule and culture of Sicily and southern Italy from the kingdom established
by Roger II until the end of the Wars of the Vespers. Areas of focus include: the reign of the Sicilian kings;
the development of ruling institutions; relations with the Papacy; the wars fought by Roger II’s successors
to preserve the kingdom’s integrity. This subject will also consider the multi-ethnic religious and cultural
aspects of this region and how relations between the diverse peoples of the kingdom affected political and
economic developments.

Areas on which the source-based questions will focus are:

• the rule of the following dynasties in the kingdom of Sicily: Norman (1130-94), Hohenstaufen
(1194-1266), Angevin (1266-1302) with particular focus on Roger II (1130-54), William I (1154-66),
William II (1166-89), Tancred (1190-94), Constance and Henry VI (1194-98), Frederick II (1198-1250),
Charles I of Anjou (1266-82)
• government, administration and the law
• internal and external challenges to the crown and succession crises
• relations with foreign powers, including the Papacy
• the diversity of peoples and faiths: Normans, north and south Italians, Greeks, Muslims and Jews
• culture, learning and the transmission of ideas
• agriculture, economy and overseas trade.

Introduction to route 1 topics


(Topic 1)
This topic focuses on the dynasties, kings, caliphs and emperors, their status, power and position and how
they came to govern and sustain their rule. The question of how Christian and Islamic states emerged will be a
central focus of this topic.

What powers did individual rulers hold and lay claim to? How did they govern their states and legitamise their
rule? What institutions emerged?

States and their boundaries

  • Invasion and settlement
  • Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid Empires
  • Carolingian and Holy Roman Empire
  • European Kingdoms

Law, governing institutions and administration

  • The sources of religious and secular law codes
  • Administration and interpretation of law in the Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires and Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties
  • Nature of power and rule of monarchs and caliphs
  • Role and duties of officials, role of nobility and elites

Models of Islamic, imperial and monarchical government

  • The evolution of governance in the Islamic world
  • Carolingian and Holy Roman Empires
  • Monarchies in England (Norman and Angevin) and France (Capetian)
  • Caliph and monarchical duties, domestic and foreign

Material for detailed study

  • Mu'awiya (661-80), Abd al Malik (685-705), Harun al-Raschid (786-809), al-Mu-izz (953-75). Abd al-Rahman III of Spain (912-61)
  • Emperors Charlemagne (768-814), Otto I (962-73), Frederik I (Barbarossa) (1155-90)
  • Louis Vi of France (1108-37)
  • William I (1066-87), Henry II of England (1154-89)
  • Female rulers: Matilda (1102-67), Eleanor of Aquitaine (1137-1204), Blanche of Castile (Regent of France 1226-34)

Wars and Warfare

(Topic 3)
War, either among or between communities, and military expansion played a crucial role in shaping Europe
and the Islamic world. Types of war, their causes, methods and consequences are studied.
Version:1.0 StartHTML:0000000223 EndHTML:0000011655 StartFragment:0000004694 EndFragment:0000011619 SourceURL:file://localhost/Users/Kathy/Desktop/Standard%20Level%20topics%20-%20Mrs.%20Gould%20and%20Mr.%20Aston.docx

Causes of wars

  • Dynastic
  • Territorial
  • Religious
  • Competition for resources
  • Demographic changes and population movement

Development of warfare

  • Logistics, tactics, organization of warfare on land and at sea
  • Raising armies:knighthood, military service and mercenaries
  • Cavalry, infantry, weapons, armour
  • Castles, siege warfare
  • Booty and spoils of war
  • Women and war

Effects and results

  • Conquest, boundary and dynastic changes
  • Treaties and truces
  • Taxation and ransom
  • Political, economic, social, religious, cultural changes

Material for detailed study

  • The Ridda Wars or ‘Wars of Apostasy’ (632-3)
  • Civil wars (fitna) in early Islamic history (656-61 and 683-5)
  • The Crusades (1096-1291)
  • Norman conquest of England (1066)
  • England and France at war (1337-96)
  • War leaders:Khalid ibn al-Walid, Nur al-Din, Salah al Din, William I, Richard I, John, Edward III of England, Louis VII, Philip Augustus and Charles V of France
  • Importance of battles:al-Qadisiyya (636/7), Hastings (1066), Manzikert (1071), Ascalon (1099), Hattin (1187), Bounvines (1214), Poitiers (1356).


(Topic 4)
While the medieval period was undoubtedly a cultural golden age in the Islamic world, the West experienced a similar flowering in areas such as religious thought, architecture and sculpture. This was also an era when ideas were transmitted and shared via art, learning and scholarship, both within and between Islamic and Christian worlds.

Intellectual Developments

  • Literacy and Written sources
  • Establishment and development of centres of learning
  • Muslim engagement with the classical heritage: translations, commentaries and original works
  • The transmission and impact of classical ideas from the Islamic world to Western Europe
  • Christian scholarship:role of monasteries, cathedral schools
  • 12th century renaissance
  • Wider developments in science: medicine, cartography, philosophy

Artistic and Cultural Developments

  • Influences on, and of, Christian and Islamic culture, religious buildings
  • Cultural activities, festivals, rituals, calendars
  • Philosophy, literature, poetry
  • Calligraphy, manuscripts and books
  • Art and sculpture

Material for detailed study

  • The great mosques of medieval Islam: Umayyad Mosque in Damascus; the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem; the mosque of Ibn Tulun in Cairo; the great mosque of Cordoba
  • Cathedrals, churches and places of pilgrimage: Rome, Compostella, Canterbury Cathedral, Vezelay
  • Universities and monastic centres of learning: Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo, Paris, Bologna, Oxford
  • Muslim scholars: Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), al-Ghazali (1058-1111), Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (1126-98), Ibn 'Arabi (1165-1240), Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406); Rabi'a al-Adawiyya (c717-801)
  • Christian scholars: Peter Abelard (1079-1142), Roger Bacon (1220-92), William of Ockham (c1285-1349), Thomas Aquinas (1225-74), Hildegard of Bingen (d 1178), Adelard of Bath (d1160), Robert Grosseteste (d1253)
  • Literary figures: al-Ma'arri (973-1057), Umar Khayyam (1048-c1131)
  • Vernacular writers: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Geoffrey Chaucer (c1340-c1400), Christine de Pisan (c1363-1431).

Religion and the state

(Topic 5)
The majority of the population in Europe and the Islamic world was either Christian or Muslim, with a relatively small Jewish community. Paganism and other minority religions were practiced but are not addressed here. Aspects of religion including doctrine, belief and rituals should be understood, as well as their impact on individuals and the state. The main focus of the topic is historical rather than doctrinal and theological.


  • Christianity:Papacy, dioceses, parishes; monastic orders
  • Islam:caliphate, jurists and the Sufi Orders

Religion, the state and the people

  • The Papacy as a temporal power
  • Patronage of religious institutions
  • Role of clerics and ulama in government and administration
  • Disputes between rulers and religious leaders
  • Heresy and religious persecution
  • Impact of religious institutions on social change and political development

Material for detailed study

  • The Sunni/Shia divide; the establishment of Sunni Orthodoxy
  • Popes Gregory VII (1073-85), Urban II (1088-99), Innocent III (1198-1216), Gregory IX (1227-41)
  • Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), Francis of Assisi (c1182-1226), Dominic Guzman (1170-1221
  • Monastic and religious life:case study of life in one monastic order and one itinerant order
  • Sufi Orders and Islamic schools of law: Sunni-Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi’l; Shia-Zaydi, Ja’fari
  • The rise and fall of opposition movements: Muslim – the Kharijites, the Camathians;Christian-Cathars (Albigensians), Waldensians
  • Henry II and Thomas Becket (dispute 1162-70)
  • Anti-sematism in England, France and Germany

Topics at Higher Level

14th Century Famine, Pestilence and Social Change

(Topic 9)
This section examines the impact of famine and plague on the population and society with particular emphasis on Western Europe. Environmental disaster and demographic collapse had significant political and socio-economic consequences for the dynamics of labour and lordship in both towns and the countryside.
  • Famines of the early 14th century, for example, Northern Europe (1315-17)
  • Origins and spread of the Black Death (1348-9)
  • Evidence of the varying impact on trade in towns, cities and countryside; long-term population change
  • Social change in the countryside: wage inflation, wasteland, abandonment of the countryside; contraction of economic life; decline of serfdom and beginning of enclosures
  • Religious responses to the Black Death: massacres of Jews in Germany; religious revival; flagellants
  • Popular insurrection:14th century Flanders; England 1381: the Peasant's Revolt

Monarchies in England and France 1066 1223

(Topic 3)
This section deals with the establishment, characteristics and changing nature of royal government in England and France. The Norman invasion of England introduced many changes in government and administration. During the second half of the 11th and 12th centuries monarchies in England and France became more sophisticated and powerful by substantiating their claims to increased authority, although noble power remained a key feature in both.
  • Normans in England: William I Duke of Normandy (King of England 1066-87); establishment of authority, domestic and foreign policies; Domesday Book; Henry I (1100-35)
  • Angevin Commonwealth: Henry II (1154-89); policies in England, Ireland and Gascony
  • Duchy of Normandy: development and relations with, and effects on, France
  • Rivralry and wars between the dukes of Normandy, as kings of England, and the kings of France
  • Extension of the royal demesne and power in France under the Capetians: Louis VI (1108-37), Louis VII (1137-80), Philip II (1180-1223)
  • Comparison of the nature of royal government in England and France

The Crusades 1095 - 1291

(Topic 4)
This section deals with the crusading movement and reaction to it from the Islamic world between the calling of the First Crusade and the collapse of the Crusader States. There will be particular emphasis on the events of the first century of the crusading period. The leadership, tactics and strategies of both sides should be examined in order to explain both the outcome of the crusading period as well as its impact on the Western and Islamic worlds.
  • Origins of, and motives for, the Crusades: religious and secular; the holy places; pilgrimage and preaching; theory and practice of jihad
  • The First Crusade (1095-9); reasons for success; results
  • Foundation of the Crusader States: Jerusalem, Antioch, Edessa and Tripoli
  • The Second (1145-9) and Third Crusades (1189-92): causes and consequences
  • Involvement in the Crusades of: Bishop Adhemar, Godfrey de Bouillon, Robert of Normandy, Baldwin of Flanders, Bohemond I of Antioch, Richard I of England, Zengi, Nur al-Din, Salah-Din (Saladin) an Baybars
  • Military aspects of the Crusades: tactics, major battles and weapons;Templars, Hospitallers, Assassins
  • Reasons for successes and failures of both sides throughout the period of the Crusades
  • Impact and importance of the Crusades in medieval Europe, the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world

IB Reference documents