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Rome and the Medieval World: Art and Pilgrimage to the City of the Popes in the Middle Ages

Instructor: Prof. Cristina Filippini [see profile]
Disciplines: Art History, Architecture, History

The millennium following the collapse of the Roman Empire saw the development in Europe of a radically new form of civilization that we now call “medieval.” With its nuns and monks, knights and nobles, troubadours and artists, plagues and famines, crusades and cathedrals, cities and castles, the Middle Ages left an indelible mark on the Western world. Rome, the city of the Popes, played a key role in medieval western civilization and was the center of a long-lasting tradition of pilgrimage to the apostles’ and martyrs’ relics preserved in its many churches.

This course is intended as a broad survey of medieval culture and history with a specific emphasis on Rome—taking advantage of the city’s abundance of medieval monuments and works of art: mosaics and paintings, sculptures, and religious architecture. These works will also be analyzed in comparison to the artistic production of the rest of Europe, the Byzantine East and other cultural contexts as, for example, the Islamic world. Roman culture and history will also be considered in the larger framework of medieval culture and history, and the reading of relevant historical and literary texts will complete the course.


  • a midterm 
  • a research paper (8-10 pages)
  • a final exam