Saints, Relics & Churches in Medieval Europe c.500-1500 - HI6058

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2020 to 2021
Autumn and Spring 6 60 (30) DR E Guerry checkmark-circle


Saints were a central feature of the Christian religion in medieval Europe, and they also had a profound influence on culture and society. This module explores the development of the cult of saints from Late Antiquity to the eve of the Reformation. Some of the main topics that will be considered include relics, miracle stories, pilgrimage, and artistic production. In addition to these topics, the module will consider the impact that saints and relics had on the building of churches and the feast days in the calendar. We will look at a wide variety of sources including illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, stained glass, church buildings, and saints’ lives. All texts will be read in translation.



Please note that this module is only available to single-honours and joint-honours students on the BA History and BA War Studies/Military History programmes. It is not available as a Wild module, nor is it available to short-credit students.

Method of assessment

The module will be assessed by coursework and exam on a 40% coursework and 60% exam ratio.

The coursework component will be assessed as follows:

1) 4 x 3,000 word essays, each worth 20% of the coursework mark.
2) 2 x 10 minute in-class presentations, each worth 10% of the coursework mark.
The exam component will be assessed through in 2 x two–hour exams – which will make up 60% (30% each) of the final mark for the module.

Indicative reading

• B. Abou-el-Haj. (1994) The Medieval Cult of Saints: Formations and Transformations. Cambridge:CUP
• R. Bartlett. (2013) Why Can the Dead Do Such Great Things?: Saints and Worshippers from the Martyrs to the Reformation. Princeton: Princeton University Press
• P. Brown. (1981) The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
• E. Duffy. (2005) The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400–1580. New Haven: Yale University Press
• R. Marks. (2004) Image and Devotion in Late Medieval England. Stroud: The History Press
• M. Stouck ed. (1999) Medieval Saints: A Reader. Toronto: University of Toronto Press
• Vauchez. (2005) Sainthood in the Later Middle Ages. Cambridge: CUP

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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