2023-2024 / HIST0005-2

Medieval and modern paleography, Theory


30h Th

Number of credits

 Master in history of art and archaeology : archeometrics (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : musicology (120 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : general (60 ECTS)5 crédits 
 Master in history of art and archaeology : musicology (60 ECTS)5 crédits 


Julien Maquet

Language(s) of instruction

French language

Organisation and examination

Teaching in the first semester, review in January


Schedule online

Units courses prerequisite and corequisite

Prerequisite or corequisite units are presented within each program

Learning unit contents

While providing an overview of the history of paleography and evolution in writing between the 3rd and 8th centuries, this class involves a significant amount of practical work, directly focussing on the retranscription of manuscripts, based on photocopies of documents distributed in class. Students prepare the decoding before class and the whole class retranscribes the texts together. In order to contextualise these documents, students are directed towards a few basic identifying characteristics (places and people), which will give rise to short presentations. Attendance in class is, more than ever, indispensable, in order to become familiar each week with a new type of writing.

Learning outcomes of the learning unit

Learning how to read writing from the Middle Ages and the Modern era. Learning outcomes
By the end of the course and the exercises, students will be able to :
From a theoretical point of view : 1. Identify the type of writing in a document, and its approximate age
2. Understand the general history of paleography and the brief evolution of writing between the 3rd and 8th centuries.
From a practical point of view :
3. Decipher a previously unseen text with difficulties similar to those seen during the year. This text will be the subject of a written exam at the end of the year
4. Produce a piece of retranscription which is two type-written pages of text (maximum): one will be a retranscription of around twenty lines of the selected previously unseen text (different each year) and the other a commentary on the difficulties encountered and how they were overcome, as well as a general presentation of the source document.
5. Know how to read texts which were previously unseen in class (different each year).

Prerequisite knowledge and skills

If necessary, a specific connection with a curriculum course: - Previously: History of the Middle Ages and the Modern era; ancillary sciences. - Subsequently: Final dissertation Documents are in Latin and ancient French. Although knowledge of Latin makes retranscription easier, it is not essential, because of the nature of the practical exercises, advice and abbreviations which are given.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods

Mode of delivery (face to face, distance learning, hybrid learning)

Face-to-face course

Additional information:

Practical work (repetitions, laboratories): Yes

One session is given outside class, generally in the second term.

Depending on the year, it will be given either in the Public Archives in Liège, in the Liège city library (Salle Ulysse Capitaine), the Seminary Library in Liège or in the University Manuscripts Room.

This session introduces students to places where archives are preserved, and depending on the choice made, enables them to study a document, generally a narrative, of which students should individually retranscribe around twenty lines.

Recommended or required readings

Course notes and reference works: course notes.
J. STIENNON, Paléographie du Moyen Age (various publications presented during class).
Bibliographical guidance and recommendations will be given in class.

1. Continuous assessment during class, through weekly retranscription exercises conducted by students in turn. 2. Continuous assessment during class, through identifying the context in which documents appear. Individual and group presentations. 3. Written exam in June 4. Individual retranscription work involving a one-page chronicle (around twenty lines, depending on the difficulty and the chronicle chosen), to be submitted in May. 5. Oral exam in June.

Work placement(s)

Organisational remarks and main changes to the course


Teaching staff: Ph. George - 04 232 61 32 Secretariat: History. 04 366 53 83

Association of one or more MOOCs