Court Culture Compared

Most of the material culture produced in the lands surrounding the medieval Mediterranean owes its existence to the rise and development of the medieval court. In this seminar, we will examine the cultural milieus of Islamic, Byzantine and western European courts as well as the people, rituals and objects that constituted them. In so doing, we will develop a comparative model for the understanding of the function, life and aspirations of the medieval court. Focusing on materials ranging from ivories to textiles, from regalia to water-clocks, courtly figures from astrologers to eunuchs, emotions such as love and hate, as well as pastimes including hunting, lute playing and dancing, this course will illuminate the material ideals and ideas behind the medieval court in the Islamic and Christian worlds. 3 credits. Satisfies pre-1800 requirement or, based on research paper, the non-Western requirement.