What does it mean to talk about “European” culture? Where did this culture come from and how did it develop into its present-day form? This course explores these questions and more as we explore the history of Europe from the first to the sixteenth century.  We will begin with the period of the “Pax Romana” (or “Roman Peace,” which lasted from 27 BC until 180 AD) and trace the disintegration and transformation of the Roman Empire.  We end when European kingdoms established distinctive national identities and began colonizing Africa and the Americas.  The “Middle Ages” or the medieval period, covers a thousand years of history from about 500 until 1500 AD, and it is with the history of this period with which most of our course will be concerned. We will place the emergence of Europe within the context of developments in the Islamic World and Byzantium (the former Roman Empire in the east). We will trace the transformation of elites from Germanic warlords to mounted warriors with chivalric pretensions and the emergence of monarchs with authority over extensive royal courts and bureaucracies. We will explore the key religious, commercial, technological, and intellectual developments of medieval Europe such as the rise of monasticism, cathedral schools, the papacy, international trade and cities, and the birth of universities with their advances in science and philosophy. We will reconstruct the everyday experiences of medieval men and women of various social ranks, religious backgrounds, ethnicities, nationalities, “races,” and of the free and enslaved.