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ME3420 Rich and Poor in the Later Middle Ages

SCOTCAT credits:30
Academic year(s):2017/8
SCQF Level 9
Planned timetable:See

This module will examine the attitudes towards wealth and poverty in the context of medieval western Christianity. It will explain how a religion that preached poverty dealt with wealth and the way of life of its rich faithful. It will also focus on the key role played by charity in order to shorten one's stay in purgatory and achieve salvation. The module will discuss the following topics: the chivalric virtue of largesse, conspicuous consumption, showing status through clothes, banquets (and fasting), the Franciscan ideal of holy poverty, the theological aspects of charity, how charity was practiced, hospitals, categorization of poor people, etc. The objective of the module is twofold: first, offering an overview of how the rich and the poor lived (or managed to survive) in the Middle Ages and, second, explaining how the two groups interacted and needed each other.

Place in programme(s) and relationship to other modules


Optional for History, Mediaeval History, Mediaeval History & Archaeology, Mediaeval Studies and BA (Intl Hons) History.

UG Pre-requisite(s):60 credits from ME1003, ME1006, ME2003, HI2001, MH2002

Learning and teaching methods and delivery

Weekly contact:1 x 2-hour seminar, plus 1 office hour.
Total module hours:
  • Scheduled learning: 22
  • Guided independent study: 278

Assessment pattern

UG As defined by QAA:
  • Written examinations: 60%
  • Practical examinations: 0%
  • Coursework: 40%
UG As used by St Andrews:3-hour Written Examination = 60%, Coursework = 40%
UG Re-assessment:4,000- to 5,000-word essay = 100%


Module coordinator:Dr A Del Campo
Module teaching staff:Dr A Del Campo