Medieval London

MVST 4654: Medieval London
Prof. Maryanne Kowaleski
Fordham London Centre: Spring 2015

Required Texts:

  • Barron, Caroline. Medieval London: Government and the People, 1200-1500. Oxford University Press, 2011
  • FitzStephen, William. Norman London. New York: Italica Press, 1990, 2nd edn 2008
  • McIntosh, Jane R. The Practical Archaeologist: How We Know What We Know about the Past. New York: Checkmark Books, second edition only, 1999
  • John Schofield. London 1100-1600: The Archaeology of a Capital City. Equinox Publishing, 2011
  • Primary Source Reader on Medieval London: will be made available a week in advance of each assignment
  • Other Texts:Other reading assignments will be available on ERes (marked with *) or Google Drive (marked with +) in Readings).

Medieval Object and Site Reports: Each student is required to post on the course online exhibition website, using the Omeka digital platform, two short (c. 500-750 words) reports. See the Report instructions and bibliography for more information. The website is at

Quizzes: Two to four 10 minute pop quizzes will be given based on the lectures and readings.

Presentations: Each student is required to do one 8-10 minute oral presentation on topics related to but not covered in depth during a particular class. See the Presentation instructions for more information.

Final Paper: Students will be given a choice of four questions to address, each of which requires you to compare and contrast archaeological and documentary evidence on some aspect of medieval London. You will need to draw on at least six different sources (most will be available online) and the final paper should be 8-10 double-spaced pages long excluding footnotes and bibliography of works cited). Further guidelines about the questions, readings, and format of the final paper will be distributed in class.

Lectures, Discussion Sections, Presentations, and Excursions:

Jan. 13 Discussion Groups: William FitzStephen's A Description of London

Jan. 14: The Topographical Development of London from Roman to Medieval Times

Jan. 16: Friday excursion: Museum of London, tour of the medieval gallery. Meet at 10 a.m. at the entrance

Jan. 20: Excursion: Museum of London Archaeological Data Service, 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Jan. 21: Introduction to Archaeological Techniques and Assessment

Jan. 27 Discussion Groups: Interpreting Archaeological Finds: Methods and Techniques

Presentation: Faunal Analysis: How it Works

Presentation: DNA Analysis: How it Works

Jan. 28: Domesticity in Medieval London: The Material Culture of Everyday Life

Feb. 3 Discussion Groups: Documentary Evidence for Everyday Life in Medieval London

Presentation: Stable Isotope Analysis

Presentation: Diet in Medieval London

Feb. 4: London and the Crown

Feb. 10 Discussion Groups: City and Crown: The Reality of Royal Power

Presentation: The Manufacture of Arms and Armor

Presentation: Chronicles of Medieval London

Feb 11: Excursion to the Tower of London

Feb. 17 Discussion Groups: London as the Capital

Presentation: Who Murdered the Princes in the Tower?

Feb.18: Governing London: Mayors, Aldermen, the Common Council, and Wards

Feb. 24 Discussion Groups: Government and the Civic Bureaucracy

Presentation: The 1381 Revolt in London

Feb. 25: Making Money in Medieval London: Guilds, Trade, and Finance

Mar. 3 - 4: Mid-semester break (no classes)

Mar. 10 Discussion Groups: The Merchant Class of Medieval London

Presentation: Geoffrey Chaucer as a Londoner

Presentation: Education in Medieval London

Mar. 11: Working in Medieval London: The Other 90%

Mar. 17 Discussion Groups: The Manufacturing, Retail, and Service Sectors of the London Economy

Presentation: Children in Medieval London

Mar. 18: The Urban Environment: Buildings, Pollution, and Sanitation

Mar. 24 Discussion Groups: The Urban Environment

Presentation: The Suburb of Southwark

Presentation: The Inns and Houses of the Wealthy in Medieval London

Mar. 25: Worshiping in Medieval London: The Clergy, Laity and Medieval Devotion

Mar. 31 Discussion Groups: Religion in Medieval London

Presentation: Entertainment and Social Life in the Medieval Parish

Presentation: The Jews in Medieval London

Apr. 1: Excursion to Westminster Abbey

Apr. 7 Discussion Groups: Monasteries and Hospitals in Medieval London

Presentation: Almshouses and Changing Attitudes towards Poverty

Apr. 8: Living and Dying in Medieval London: Reading Human Bones

Apr. 17, Friday: Excursion to Canterbury and Canterbury Cathedral

Apr. 21 Discussion Groups: Living and Dying in Medieval London

Presentation: Medieval Burial Practices

Presentation: Determining if the Bubonic Plague was Yersina Pestis

Apr. 22: Crime and the Underworld in Medieval London (Lecture and Discussion)

Apr. 28: Discussion Groups: London and the Thames

Presentation: London Bridge in History and Archaeology

Apr. 29: Excursion: Thames River cruise

To be followed by a Farewell Dinner at a restaurant to be determined.