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European History (Lopes)

HIST 103/104

European History (Lopes)

  • Course ID:HIST 103/104
  • Semesters:2
  • Department:History
  • Course Rank:Required
  • Teachers:Lucas Lopes

Description and Objectives

This course is a philosophical study of Western Civilization by way of some of its most foundational literary and historical texts—from the fall of the Roman Republic to the rise of Napoleon. This course seeks to cultivate praesentia animi, a virtue of classical antiquity prized by medieval and early modern thinkers that translates as “presence of mind.” Through exposure to these great works, students will strengthen their close reading, clear writing, and lucid thinking.

The primary goals of this course:

  1. Acquire comprehensive knowledge of major historical figures and events
  2. Learn to read more carefully and thoughtfully by examining major literary texts
  3. Become more proficient in the art of writing
  4. Develop an understanding of major philosophical positions
  5. Acquire the ability to enter into lucid and mature discussion with classmates and the teacher
  6. Improve presence of mind and grow in prudence and wisdom.


  • Light to the Nations: The History of Christian Civilization by Lasseter et al
  • Compilation of primary sources
  • Compilation of selected secondary sources from Mr. Lopes’ collection of books.

In addition to a reading of the above texts, our survey of medieval and early modern history will cover the following topics:

From Ancient Times to Middle Ages

  • The decline of Rome and the rise of ChristianityFall of the Roman Empire; Augustus; Diocletian and Constantine; the setting for Christianity and its spreading; the early Church; Church controversies; the Church fathers;
  • The Byzantine Empire—Constantinople; Justinian;
  • The Islamic WorldLife of Mohammed; teachings of Islam;  Islamic Spain;

The Middle Ages

  • Europe under pressure—Germanic migrations; the Merovingians; the Carolingian Empire; the Vikings;
  • The Crusades—The medieval context for the Crusades; successes and failures; heroic anecdotes;
  • Medieval Society—Feudalism; manorialism; growth of towns
  • The flowering of medieval civilizationScholasticism; medieval science; literature; architecture;

The Emergence of Nation States

  • EnglandNorman conquest; The Plantagenets; the Magna Carta; origins of Parliament; Hundred Years’ Wars; Wars of the Roses;
  • France—Hundred Years’ Wars; the French nation-states;
  • Spain— The Reconquista; origins of the Cortes; The Catholic Kings.

The Beginnings of Modern Europe

  • Renaissance—Italy; Humanism; the Early and High Renaissance; invention of printing
  • Reformation—Luther; Calvin; the Catholic reformation
  • Politics, Religion, and International Relations—Spain; Tudor England; civil war in France; the Thirty Years’ War
  • European Exploration and Expansion—Portuguese, Spanish, French, Dutch, and English exploration and conquest
  • The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment—Bacon; Descartes; Copernicus; Galileo

The Rise of Nation States

  • France and the age of Louis XIV—His domestic policies and wars
  • Constitutionalism in England—The Stuarts; the Interregnum; the Restoration; the Glorious Revolution; the Hanoverians
  • The French Revolution—Its causes and progression; the rise of Napoleon

Course Requirements

Course Requirements:

Students should expect daily reading assignments, weekly writing assignments and exams, and periodic evaluations of their reading notes.  In addition, students will be required to memorize and to recite key passages from the texts.  

  • The final grade each quarter will be based on the following: History English
    • Exams 40%
    • Essays 0%
    • Homework 15%
    • Quizzes 20%
    • Projects 15%
    • Organization and Participation 10%
  • Exams: exams will require knowledge of objective facts, but they will also evaluate the student’s ability to think and to synthesize material critically. Exams will be composed of the following types of questions:
    • Objective recall: facts, names, dates, etc.
    • Definition/term identification
    • Quotation identification
    • Short answer
    • Document (primary sources) analysis
    • General essay questions
  • Homework: students should expect to be quizzed on the content of every homework assignment the day that it is due. History homework will be assigned roughly twice each week.
  • Quizzes: in addition to homework quizzes, students should expect periodic quizzes. History quizzes will cover important characters, events, and dates from homework and lectures.
  • Projects: Students should expect to create a timeline every quarter, which they will turn in for a grade. 
  • Organization: Students will organize their class materials in a binder/folder, which will be evaluated periodically.  Organization requirements will be specified on the first day of class.  Student’s organization grade will be based on both binder organization and assignment notebook management. 
  • Participation: Class participation is required whether it takes the form of effective insights or the asking of probing questions.  Comportment, attention to detail, and sustained improvement over time in the student’s work will also factor into class participation.  The teacher will keep an account of how well students are participating, and students can approach the teacher at any time to ask about how well they are performing in this respect.  At the end of each grading period, class participation will play a substantial role in improving, maintaining, or decreasing the student’s score for the quarter.

Successful Students

  • The successful student must maintain daily reading and writing schedules and avoid waiting for deadlines to complete work.  Reading and writing, which is spaced out over a proper amount of time, allows for adequate mental digestion, more effective intellectual nourishment, and more advanced writing instruction that is relieved of the burden of discussing simple, preventable errors.
  • Successful students will consult with the instructor frequently to discuss the texts, as well as rough drafts. I am available outside of class and will make myself available for extra help whenever an appointment is needed.  I encourage parents to contact me with any questions or concerns either by email or phone.
  • At the conclusion of the course, the successful student will have a solid grasp of the literary and historical antecedents for our own modern era. He will also be able to speak and write his thoughts more clearly.  The successful student will leave the course after making strides in those virtues especially concerned with presence of mind.