Rated 5 out of 5 by red72 Superb Presentation
This is by far the best history course I've ever taken and it's taught by a passionate charismatic, very erudite professor. You can't ask for anything more.
I was impressed that it was so intellectually stimulating rather than being 'dumbed' down as some other TC offerings are. Yes, some lectures are hard but isn't that the whole purpose here, education rather than entertainment, or if we're lucky both in the same presentation?
The fact that he covers the social history rather than political history as written by the 'winners' is a definite plus, so much more interesting and informative than conventional courses.
Some reviewers called him a communist, he is not, but even if he was - can we not entertain a different point of view? And can we not then make up our own minds? Or are we stuck in the rhetoric of the 50's.
And what other history course includes discussions of Dante, Boccaccio and Chaucer as a guide to the way society deals with illness and other slings and arrows of 'history'? His lecture on Dante alone is worth the entire course.
I would like to see him teach a course on the Golden Age of Spanish Literature & Art, Cervantes, Goya, the poets, etc. With his insightful observations and passionate love for his subject this would be a mind-blowing presentation.
In all other respects, I agree wholeheartedly with Silberg whose review is among the ones at the top.
This course is one to watch again and again there is so much to absorb and to enjoy. Professor Ruiz is one of the very best lecturers in the Teaching Company roster, along with Daniel Robinson and Elizabeth Vandiver. I would like to see more by him along the lines I've already suggested to the Teaching Company. He sets the bar so high it's difficult to know who and what to watch following his courses.
November 18, 2011
Rated 5 out of 5 by PilgramMarpeck Really understanding Medieval Europe!
I just finished listening to the audio of this course and wanted to write some words about how great it is. Professor Ruiz really knows the subject well, and this course helped me have a much greater understanding of this time period and its pivotal nature in history. He tackled a huge subject and made so many good points -- I know I will want to listen to his lectures multiple times to digest all he said. I came away with so many insights into what life was like during the time period discussed. I wish he had been able to have more time. Having enjoyed this course, I am encouraged to look up his other Teaching Company courses, and I certainly will give them much higher consideration when deciding which courses I can afford to purchase.
I think Professor Ruiz is really gracious to offer to answer any questions we may have if we write him care of The Teaching Company. How many professors are willing to give of their time in this way?
To be fair, I will admit that Professor Ruiz has an accent, but I believe it is well worth the slightly extra effort to understand him (it did not take me long to get used how he speaks) in exchange for all the benefits of this course has to offer. I applaud the efforts of The Teaching Company in capturing and preserving lectures such as these for many to benefit from.
November 30, 2010
Rated 5 out of 5 by msalvatore Middle Ages Explained
I have listened to this course several times over the years - it was one of the first TC courses I bought. After hearing the TC's trilogy on the Middle Ages by Dr Daileader this course, which I always thought of as excellent, seemed even better. Dr D's course provides the story of the Middle Ages wonderfully told. Dr Ruiz gives an elegant explanation of the medieval period. This course enriches the understanding of both the medieval period and the times that followed.
Some reviewer's found Dr R's accent distracting - I did not.
This subject matter and presenation will enhance your knowledge the Middle ages and Western History. Like its topic this is a course that has aged well.
June 5, 2009
Rated 5 out of 5 by GermanHistoryFan Disaster, Disease and Death!
This is my favorite of Teofilo Ruiz’s three courses for the Teaching Company. Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal has a simple four-part structure. The first part examines Europe in 1300 on the eve of the great crises of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the second the great crises themselves, the third late medieval society, and the fourth late medieval culture. Medieval Europe was a place with sharp social distinctions (in theory) between those who fought (the horseback aristocracy), those who worked (peasants and craftsmen), and those who prayed (the secular and regular clergy). The overwhelmingly mass of Christians were orthodox, respecting a Pope-governed church that provided salvation, order and scholarship. Commerce and town growth had already been under way for three centuries. The merchant class stood at the top of urban society, while craftsmen organized guilds to protect their economic and social position.
After 1300 four great crises devastated Christian Europe. The first was a series of famines in Western Europe. The peasants had run out of marginal land to bring into production, and had no way to increase productivity, so when endless rains ruined crops in 1315-17, there was mass starvation. Malnutrition among survivors may have made them more susceptible to the Black Death thirty years later. The second crisis was the outbreak of the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) between England and France. The war kept France in disorder and discredited old-style aristocratic warfare, and eventually guns arrived on European battlefields. The third crisis was the Black Death, which killed a third of Europe’s population and put upward pressure on wages. The fourth was popular rebellion, in France, Florence, England, as some peasants and townsmen raged against inequality. There was also a fifth crisis, in which the reputation of the papacy declined during the Babylonian Captivity in Avignon (1307-78) and the papal schism (1378-1414).
Important trends came out of this terrible period. Royal power gained at the expense of church and nobility; Ruiz uses 15th century Castile as a case study. Dissident clergy and lay people increasingly gravitated toward heretical movements, the best known ones under the leadership of John Wycliffe and John Hus, who pointed the way toward the Reformation. Though knights and ladies remained popular in literature, the idealization of highborn women increasingly gave way to misogyny (woman-hatred) that fed witch hunts that became common in the new “persecuting society” that also went after Jews and lepers. It was also during this time that Portuguese explorers found their way around Africa to the Indian Ocean and Columbus inadvertently discovered America for Spain and then began its brutal conquest. And of course this was also the era of the Italian Renaissance, of humanism, and the invention of printing.
I’m only sorry that this course is available only as an audio download, not video. There is a little overlap with his other two courses, The Other 1492 and The Terror of History, but I would not let that stop you from buying this one.
September 2, 2015