A200 - Block 1 is ending

I'm now a month into (officially) A200: Exploring History, Medieval to Modern. Unofficially, I'm about six weeks in - 3 months in if you count reading 'Wallace'. Having initially been ahead of schedule, after one block I am bang on schedule. This is slightly worrying as it implies that I will soon be behind schedule.

Next week, the task is to write the TMA, the tutor marked assessment. Fortunately, I am already half way there, so I'm hoping to be able to rebuild a little slack into the system by pressing ahead with block 2 (due to start on the 20th march).

The course has been interesting, but very involved. I'm not a historian and it's tricky separating the 'interesting' from the 'important'. When is a detail vital, when is it just 'colour'? Obviously, each and every detail is important for some later study, but until you get 'later' you can't tell which you need - so I'm finding it tough when reading something for the first time to pick out the key points.

Having said that, if I re-read something, it gets easier as I have a framework in place and I'm not operating from a position of total ignorance.

The four units in module 1 to date are:

  1. When England ruled France (i.e. Charles VI of France and Henry V of England giving way to Henry VI having a claim on the French throne, and Charles VII not liking this one bit.
  2. Power and Consumption (i.e. The dukes of Burgundy - and Burgundy as a power in its own right)
  3. English Society in the later middle ages (the end of the French Wars leading into the Wars of the Roses
  4. Belief and Religion in Burgundy, England and France

The latter is the topic I'm looking at now. I'm about as irreligious a person as you could meet - I don't understand the mindset, especially when history shows us that religions change - but I cannot deny that religion has an important place in the history of the world.

The unit primarily looks at Catholicism and we see how that came about from humble beginnings - and how it mutated over time, with purgatory, satan and even ideas of the trinity being 'bolt on' additions. It also looks at the religious neighbours - the Greek Orthodox Church (which came about due to the Roman empire splitting into East and West, with the eastern empire surviving as Byzantium), and it looks at Islam, the incredible rise of the Moslem Empire which went from being in the Arabian peninsula at the death of the Prophet to spanning a huge area in about eighty years - reaching from Asia to the Atlantic coast of Africa, as well as gaining a European foothold. Granada was the last European vestige of this empire in 1492 (Christopher Columbus saw the surrender).

The unit also looks at the Great Schism, where for a time there were three Popes, the third being created to try and unify the two factions.

It's all interesting stuff - obviously as the course focusses on European history and so Catholicism is central. I'm loving the politics and intrigue of it all - and am struggling with the religion itself - I'm simply unfamiliar with a lot of the terms. Fortunately that doesn't matter too much as I'm picking it up as I go.

What I'm finding interesting is the thought that despite the historical evidence that much of the church is man-made, often the result of a debate or decree, people still take things at face value. I suppose, this was the point of the reformers like Calvin and Luther, going back to scripture as the Catholic church had 'distorted' Christianity.

For the assignment, I have to focus on unit 3 (it's tempting to skip unit 4 - but I don't want to!) - the assignment is to write a short piece about a painting showing the Trial of the Duke of Alençon in 15th century France, as well as a short piece on a document, a letter to William Stonor written in England in 1476. I've done the writing about the painting, I need to draft the piece about the letter - and then I need to edit both pieces to form a complete response. It should be fine.