Rated 5 out of 5 by Challenger Wow!!!
This is my third course in Professor Daileader’s trilogy on th middle ages. This one covers the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries – right up to the eruption of the renaissance and the Columbian exchange which will introduce another phase in human development. This period is so packed with pivotal historical events that it was absolutely stunning.
The first important process, is the strengthening of the secular French leadership in relation to papal authority, under King Phillip the Fair. This was to indirectly cause the papal schism in which there was more than one pope at a time, one in Avignon and one in Rome, at times even three.
A second fascinating topic of that era (lasting more than a hundred years), was the hundred year was between England and France. The war erupted for primarily two reasons: the first was that due to the Norman Conquest of England and the Norman’s accession to the British throne in the 11th century, the British kings came to hold lands in France. These land holdings were in later generations greatly enhanced through marriage alliances and inheritance, primarily through Henry the second’s marriage to Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 12th century. The second reason for the resentment was that since the Norman kings were also French subjects, the British king was in a way the vassal of the French king. This was more a matter of prestige than of any practical importance, but the French kings used it often to yank on the British king’s chains. This came to a head in 1337 when King Edward the 4th refused to pay homage to King Phillip the 6th of France, and thus his French holdings were confiscated. This war, or actually a series of wars and battles with intermittent haphazard diplomatic solutions was to last until 1453. The wars in that era were usually not fought in outright battles, as that was far too dangerous – you may get injured or even killed in battles. Instead, the war was much more about attrition than about anything else. At the beginning, the British would lead harrying assaults through the French countryside, killing peasants, pillaging and burning crops and houses. The French were on the defense. It took French peasant girl from Orleans to change the tides. Joan of Arc by sheer charisma and strength of character managed to convince the French king to allow her to lead an attack on the British army holding siege on the city of Orleans. Miraculously, she was successful. She was later to lead more successful compaigns against the British. She was eventually captured by the British, tried for Heresy and burned at the stake, but from this point on Britain was on the defensive and its countryside was to be harried by French armies.
The next fascinating chapter has to do with the Black Death, peaking between 1346 and 1353. This was to change European demography in an extreme way. The actual numbers and percentage of people who died is really hard to calculate, but some learned estimates say that on average between a third and a half of the European population died with some areas with as much as eighty per cent casualty. Obviously this had many far reaching effects. Many strange religious movement sought to understand and remedy the situation. The most well-known is the religious flagellant movement whose members would whip themselves in order to repent for their sins and thus avoid god’s punishment through plague. Another consequence, was that the usual scapegoats – the Jews, were blamed for the plague and many were massacred in well-orchestrated pogroms. Unbelievably, this was going on at the same time as the Hundred Year War was in full swing. The huge drop in population create very strong economic and sociological reactions. The land owning classes were accustomed to renting their lands out in exchange for rent, or for employing serfs. Now that there was a much smaller population, the demand for land decreased, and the price of land dropped. At the same time, the price of labor was on the rise. Although in Britain the price was to be legally checked by parliament, the market dynamics were just too strong and labor prices did in fact rise. It became much easier and cheaper to acquire land, and this led to the diminishing of serfdom. The British Parliament’s legislation created a huge amount of friction with the peasants and this eventually led among other factors to the peasant’s revolt in 1381.
The course goes on to cover other pivotal events and processes, but Professor Daileader does not cover them into with the same level of detail as with the prior ones mentioned, simply because it would make the course much too long: the invention of gunpowder, the printing press, fall of the Byzantine empire to the Turks, Columbus’ voyage to America, and the beginning of the Humanistic movement. Each of these would probably merit a full course on its own.
Overall this has been a fantastic course, absolutely brimming with content and fascinating insight. Professor Daileader, as I have already come to expect, presented the material in a fascinating manner often seasoning the lectures with much appreciated wit.
November 8, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by rockrat30 always surprising and enlightening
Finally we are given a clear demarkation of the dates and defining characteristics of the Middle Ages. This third part of Professor Daileader's coverage of the Middle Ages surprised me, as did the whole series. First, I am more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these courses. Even Professor Daileader admits to being surprised that there are people out there interested about the middle ages? A big part of my view is that I enjoy the professor's presentation. He is clear, with lots of concise details, and sprinkles professor jokes throughout. Professor jokes are attempts at humor that are cringe inducing, mercifully short, and nonetheless illicit grins. I was surprised at the complex detail about an era that I always thought of as being devoid of interesting history.
Second, I had a misconception of the period dates. The professor gives 300 to 1500 as the generally accepted dates, though he argues that one can use as late as 1850 as the point at which a full transition away from the defining characteristics of the era finally culminated. For me starting at 300CE was particularly surprising. In my own mind I had defined the middle ages as starting after the fall of the Roman Empire whereas the professor uses the start of the fall as the beginning. For me, as one long interested in the history of the Romans, starting in 300 greatly enriched the course. " Early Middle Ages" covers the fall of the Roman Empire better than I had been able to find in other courses. The professors discussion of why he believes the ending date may be much later than normally given occurs in this third part and is very interesting.
Third, my naive view of the Dark Ages was that after the deterioration of central government, the population fell into illiteracy, religious turmoil, war, famine, pestilence and whatever other bad thing you can think of before gradually rising out of the stupor with the renaissance and enlightenment. A lot of that is true but the causes, effects and chronology are much more complex than that. Professor Daileader brings in technical details like the effects of population growth and decline, perhaps more details about the Black Death than you want to know, and details about the academic nature of the period including the church's central role. Chronologically it was the High Middle Ages, as described in the second course, that cover a period of recovery, of rising population, of developments in the higher educational system, and of improving economic conditions. The late middle ages rather than being purely a period of recovery as I had thought started with severe decline associated with the war, papal tumult and the plague and only later brought in the inventions of paper and the printing press, exploration, and the renaissance.
To summarize I do recommend this entire series with a very high recommendation for "The Early Middle Ages".
August 28, 2016
Rated 4 out of 5 by Broomfield Informative and well presented
I'll be briefer than some other reviewers!
I bought all three of these courses in audio only format (Early, HIgh, and Late Middle Ages) and found them all very enjoyable.. History is not like a chemical reaction or a mathematical formula. People are not objective in their accounts of contemporary events and records are often misleading. The passage of time may make events easier or more difficult to understand. Different historians may come to different views, especially if they live in different eras from each other.
However, what I wanted here was an overview of the broad sweep of the MIddle Ages in Western Europe, at a level that would be interesting in 2016 to an intelligent person who is not a historian. That is what I got.
I found the lectures interesting and they filled in some basic ignorance of mine - who was Charlemagne exactly? What was the Holy Roman empire? How come it was still going in relatively modern times? I had absolutely no problem with anything about the course. It may be that some experts might draw different conclusions from the material or that new discoveries have recently changed or will change our ideas in some areas. However, in general I found this course well worth while and I recommend it to anyone who wants a grounding in the subject.
March 27, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by NicC The Late and Extended Middle-Ages
The Late Middle Ages by Professor Philip Daileder encompasses the conventional historical period 13th – 15th century range of events, developments, and personalities. However, it critically questions the quality and direction of whether the “late” of the medieval world should be significantly “later” by extending the periodization towards a SOCIAL TOTALITY that is more expressive of modernism than of medievalism. If correct, then the centuries: 15th Renaissance Humanism, the 16th Reformation, and the 17th Age of Science were still “primarily rooted” in a MEDIEVAL context (essential aspects: agrarian, hereditary monarchs, nobility warriors, ideals of chivalry, feudal serfdom, scholastic logic, Catholicism, ancient texts, etc.); and the centuries: 18th Enlightenment and French Revolution, and 19th Liberalism and Industrialization are posited as the “essential forces” of MODERNITY (aspects: urbanity, mass democracy, individualism, ideals of the courtier, wage labor, humanist literature, Protestantism, modern philosophy, etc.). This critique significantly extends medieval Europe’s TURNING POINT toward 1750 –1850, well beyond the traditional 15th century of most scholars.
The professor invites his listeners to the medieval-modern DEBATES accompanied by the historians: J. Burckhardt (The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy), J. Huizinga (The Waning of the Middle Ages), and B.Tuchman (A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century). These researchers have disagreed over whether medieval Europe is fundamentally DEFINED as a period of growth, decay, or disaster, and whether the periods of the 13th through the 15th centuries accurately DEMARCATE the boundaries of late medieval European civilization.
The following sample of historical narratives, personalities, and developments are offered in the course:
HISTORICAL EVENTS: the Babylonian Captivity, the Great Papal Schism, the 100 years War, the Black Death, the fall of the Byzantine Empire, rise of the Ottoman Turks, the Spanish Inquisition, Jewish and Muslim expulsions, the Age of Exploration, the Columbian Exchange, the New World etc., are analyzed. MAJOR PERSONALITIES: Ockham, Wycliffe, Hus, Joan of Arc, Boniface VIII, Philip IV, Petrarch, Gutenberg, Christine de Pizan, Erasmus, Ferdinand and Isabella, Columbus, etc., are discussed. GENERAL DEVELOPMENTS: scholasticism, humanism, courtier, military gunpowder, caravel ships, print technology, witch trials, general councils, flagellant movement, heresies, pogroms, etc., are considered. From the combined historical narratives, the contributions of major personalities, and the cultural and technological changes during the 13th – 15th centuries, participants can answer for themselves the questions raised above concerning the quality and range of THE LATE MIDDLE AGES.
These lectures complete the professor’s TRILOGY concerning the Early, High, and Late MIDDLE AGES. By participating in these lectures and supplemented with the professor’s course on How the Crusades Changed History, they combine and offer to the mind’s eye – a vast intellectual range of knowledge, the depth of the wisdom of history, and an aesthetic perception of global dimensions -- stimulating the listener’s consciousness, reason, and imagination to another level of awareness. MODERNITY is still very much indebted to yesterday’s medieval European world for its CIVILIZATION and its DISCONTENTS.
*** Very Highly Recommended ***
March 15, 2016