Reading Medieval Latin Charters (Palaeography) II

Course Description: 

The course provides an introduction to the deciphering and understanding of medieval Latin documents of mainly legal, administrative and economic contents, through the reading of selected examples from the tenth to the sixteenth century. The main emphasis will be on developing practical skills: understanding special forms and usages of medieval Latin and getting acquainted with the basic concepts of diplomatics and its terminology in English scholarship. Each class will consist of a shorter introductory part when theoretical issues will be presented, and a longer practical session with the common reading and interpretation of a document. The texts will be made available in advance before each class and students are expected to prepare by consulting dictionaries and handbooks and submit the transcription of a part of the text. Individual research interests of the course participants will be accommodated by the participants suggesting documents for common reading. Please note that the document types indicated in the syllabus may change according to these suggestions.

Learning Outcomes: 

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- read and analyze primary source materials in the source language (Latin)
- resolve the common abbreviations in the text of the documents
- identify the principles of text edition and compare edited versions of a document with the original manuscript
- identify the parts of a document and use the relevant terminology of diplomatics and formulas in the documents
- use reference works and auxiliary materials (dictionaries, finding aids, chronological handbooks, databases, critical editions of documents).


(1)    Uploading the transcription of a selected part of the document to the e-learning site each week before it is discussed in class. Grading will reward punctual submission and fair effort to transcribe the texts. (25 % of the final grade)
(2)    Short in-class tests based on the material discussed in the previous weeks at the beginning of the classes on Weeks 3, 5, 7, 9, 11. Grading will reward correct answers. (20 % of the final grade)
(3)    Participation in common readings and in-class transcription. Grading will reward active presence and correct reading, as well as selection and presentation of a document for common reading. (25 % of the final grade)
(4)    Transcription and summary of a selected document at the end of the course. Grading will reward correct transcription and the comprehension of the main argument in the text. (30 % of the final grade)
Regular attendance (at least 10 classes out of twelve) and preparation is required.


The precondition of participating in the course is the knowledge of Latin on at least intermediate level.