How ever you might want to define the Middle Ages (and there are plenty of definitions), one core defining element would be the integration of two powers in the West – the (Catholic) Church and the worldly rulers who sought its sanction. In the East, the Roman Empire continued, of course, until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. This tripartite constellation – a fragmented West held together by the Church, a declining Eastern Roman Empire, and comparatively progressive Muslim states on the Southern Rim and in Spain – is the dominating state of affairs during the Middle Ages.

Week 6: The Transformation of the Ancient World
We’ll review several theoretical explorations about the transition from the Roman world to the Middle Ages, and then continue with Augustine, and introduce the political theory of Thomas Aquinas.

Guiding Discussion Questions:

What is the role of religion in Middle Age politics? Has it changed since Greek and Roman times?
How can you tie back ideas discussed by Aquinas back to Plato and Aristotle?
Now, after having continued to read on the subject matter, do your ideas about the fall of Rome hold up? Do you see more continuities, or more differences between political theory in antiquity vs. the Middle Ages?