High Middle Ages

Course No. 869
Professor Philip Daileader, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary
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Course No. 869
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Course Overview

As the last millennium dawned, Europe didn't amount to much. Illiteracy, starvation, and disease were the norm. In fact, Europe in the year 1000 was one of the world's more stagnant regions—an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geopolitically passive backwater. Three short centuries later, all this had changed dramatically. A newly invigorated cluster of European societies revived city life, spawned new spiritual and intellectual movements and educational institutions, and began, for reasons both sacred and profane, to expand at the expense of neighbors who traditionally had expanded at Europe's expense.

The Revival of Europe

In this course you examine how and why Europeans achieved this stunning turnaround. By its conclusion, you will be able to describe and analyze the social, intellectual, religious, and political transformations that underlay this midsummer epoch of the medieval world.

But why were "the Middle Ages"—the period from 1000 to 1300—so designated?

Petrarch, writing in the 1300s, defined the period of "literary and artistic rot" in Europe after the sack of Rome in A.D. 410 as an Age of Darkness. The idea of the Middle Ages originates with Petrarch's concept, even though he did not use the term himself. The Latin term "medium aevum" (the Middle Age) first appeared in the 15th century.

Themes and Topics You'll Cover

The first eight lectures treat medieval society: the warrior aristocracy of knights, castellans, counts, and dukes; the free and unfree peasants whose work in the fields made the existence of medieval society possible; and the townspeople, the artisans and merchants who represented the newest arrivals on the medieval scene.

Lectures 9–16 examine the intellectual and religious history of high medieval Europe. You study monks and the monastic life, charismatic preachers such as Francis of Assisi, and theologians such as Thomas Aquinas. You examine the lives of those who found themselves outside the religious mainstream, especially the heretics and Jews of high medieval Europe.

The final eight lectures discuss the major political developments and events between 1000 and 1300, including the First Crusade, the Norman Conquest of England, and the granting of Magna Carta.

The key events, entities, and personalities you will learn about include:

  • The demographic, climatic, and technological changes that set the stage for Europe's resurgence
  • The three groups—"those who work, those who fight, and those who pray"—who formed the backbone of medieval society
  • An in-depth look at the renewed world of cities, artisans, merchants, and commercial exchange that shaped the high-medieval scene in crucial ways
  • The ongoing struggles between popes and emperors
  • The significance of figures as diverse as William the Conqueror, Pope Gregory VII, Abelard, Emperor Frederick II, King Philip II Augustus of France, Saint Benedict, Bernard of Clairvaux and Hildegard of Bingen
  • The institutions of knighthood, feudalism, the church and monasticism, the Scholastic university, and the urban guild
  • The situations of marginalized groups such as peasants, urban workingfolk, women, Jews, and heretics.

Attention to Detail Makes the Difference

Professor Philip Daileader's course is filled with memorable details as he unfolds this story. For example:

Europe's population doubled between 1000 and 1300. Life expectancies were probably not much higher than age 25 around 1000, but closer to 35 by 1300. In addition to the unexplained disappearance of bubonic plague and dry, warm climatic conditions known as the "little optimum," the most important factors in this growth spurt were simple farming implements—the newly introduced heavy plow and the horse collar. This allowed a growing population to have enough to eat for the first time ever.

The aristocracy's violence, especially its private wars and robbery and treatment of peasantry, was one of the great social problems of the High Middle Ages. To tame and civilize the warrior aristocracy, medieval clergy devised various methods such as the Peace and Truce of God movements, that granted immunity from nobles' violence to certain defenseless groups. Such movements were generally ineffective because clerics had to rely on religious sanctions and, ultimately, the nobles' own consciences—pledges for good behavior were generally forgotten almost immediately.

Around the year 1000, to become a knight one merely had to secure the necessary equipment. The original tournaments for knights were nothing but huge and deadly free-for-alls held in open areas with no regard for any nearby personal property. Chivalry was invented to diminish this violence. By 1300, the European nobility was a largely hereditary class with specific legal privileges. Nobles proudly proclaimed their bloodlines through coats of arms and family names (which had not existed in 1000). Knighthood was restricted to those who had undergone a specific dubbing ceremony.

The first books for manners were called "courtesy books" and written by clergy trying to curb the nobility's revolting table manners. Unfortunately, hardly anyone the books were meant for could read, so they were a complete failure.

Professor Daileader comments on the question: "Why study medieval history?"

"This question might be, and has been, answered in many ways. Let me suggest just one:

"To understand what is truly distinctive about the world in which we live, you need to know what came before.

"The modern world is the product of the medieval world. ... It is impossible to understand the thoughts and actions of Luther, Galileo, or Voltaire, for example, without understanding that in the Middle Ages all were very conscious of medieval history, and the medieval period informed what they wrote and did.

"Likewise, in order to understand such important modern events as the French Revolution or the 19th-century unifications of Germany and Italy, one must understand the Middle Ages as well, because these events were informed by the medieval past and were attempts to deal with its legacy.

"Most importantly, I hope that by the end of this course, you will share my own desire to learn and understand more about the Middle Ages, and that you will use this course as a springboard from which to launch your own deeper investigations into medieval history."

Harold McFarland, editor of Readers Preference Reviews, writes: "In a series of 24 well-crafted lectures, Philip Daileader, a professor at the College of William and Mary, leads the listener on a fascinating trip through the facts and fables of the history of the High Middle Ages. An excellent lecturer whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject shows through at all times, it was a pleasure to listen to the lectures."

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Why the Middle Ages?
    Europeans living between 1000 and 1300 would have been shocked to hear that they were living in the "Middle" Ages. So where does the term come from? What does it tell us about the topic of this course? x
  • 2
    Demography and the Commercial Revolution
    One of history's most potent forces is demography. In the Middle Ages, when the line between sufficiency and dearth was so thin, small innovations and events could and did have huge effects. x
  • 3
    Those Who Fought—The Nobles
    Perched atop the society of high medieval Europe was a group of mounted, armored warriors who came to form a hereditary aristocracy with unique legal privileges. x
  • 4
    The Chivalric Code
    When clerics sought to refine rough-hewn knights with literature, the result was the emergence of new genres such as the chivalric romance. How far did such books go to change actual behavior? x
  • 5
    Feudalism
    Few words are so closely associated with the Middle Ages as "feudalism." Yet historians have argued ceaselessly over its meaning. So what is "feudalism," and how can we use the term to further our understanding? x
  • 6
    Those Who Worked—The Peasants
    Although most medieval people were peasants, a lack of written records makes them hard to study. It seems clear that the rights of lords weighed upon peasants, though less so in 1300 than in 1000. x
  • 7
    Those Who Worked—The Townspeople
    Revived urban life made townspeople a prominent part of medieval society. But was their outlook "bourgeois," or still characteristically "feudal"? x
  • 8
    Women in Medieval Society
    Long marginalized by political and military history, women's history and gender history have become two of the fastest growing fields in medieval studies. x
  • 9
    Those Who Prayed—The Monks
    Monks formed a spiritual elite, living lives of work, study, and prayer under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The High Middle Ages saw a number of monastic reform movements, including the Cluniac and the Cistercian. x
  • 10
    Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement
    How did this Italian merchant's son create a new religious order that mixed monastic elements with his own ministry of itinerant preaching, evangelical poverty, and a mixed critique and affirmation of urban spirituality? x
  • 11
    Heretics and Heresy
    During the High Middle Ages, heresy and heretical movements spread across much of Europe. Why did this happen? How did authorities respond? x
  • 12
    The Medieval Inquisitions
    What were the various "Inquisitions" that existed in medieval and early modern Europe? What did they actually do? This lecture separates legend from documented historical fact. x
  • 13
    Jews and Christians
    Jews were the largest religious minority in high medieval Europe. Curiously, despite the relative prosperity of the times, the treatment of Jews became noticeably harsher. Why? x
  • 14
    The Origins of Scholasticism
    Explore the bold and innovative intellectual methods of the Scholastics, and meet a key early figure in this pioneering movement in European thought. x
  • 15
    Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle
    What was the project of Aquinas and his fellow Scholastics, and what made their work a focus of controversy amid their contemporaries? x
  • 16
    The First Universities
    The High Middle Ages gave birth to a new educational institution: the university. Of all the institutions to which high medieval Europe gave rise, the university is the most vibrant today. x
  • 17
    The People's Crusade
    The First Crusade, which ended with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, demonstrated the rising power of Europe. How did this combination of holy war and pilgrimage begin? x
  • 18
    The Conquest of Jerusalem
    Despite internecine quarrels, crusading barons took Jerusalem in 1099 and carved out "crusader states" in Syria and Palestine that would last for nearly 200 years. x
  • 19
    The Norman Conquest
    Broad, impersonal forces may shape history, but contingencies play a role as well. The conquest of Saxon England by Gallicized Norsemen on 1066 offers an excellent example. x
  • 20
    Philip II of France
    The French monarchy is one of the era's great comeback stories. The king most responsible for this turnaround was Philip II Augustus (1180-1223). A combat-averse hypochondriac, he outwitted rivals and laid the basis for French greatness. x
  • 21
    Magna Carta
    Having early developed a powerful monarchy, the English also early developed instruments for restraining it. The Great Charter was such a tool, and its long-range consequences would be considerable indeed. x
  • 22
    Empire versus Papacy
    The conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the Church that is known as the Investiture Controversy would last two generations and leave imperial authority weakened for good. x
  • 23
    Emperor Frederick II
    Nicknamed stupor mundi, or "the wonder of the world," Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1211-50) was one of the most controversial figures of his age. Yet even he could not reverse the fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire. x
  • 24
    Looking Back, Looking Forward
    By 1300, Europe had assumed an economic and political importance that would have been unimaginable in 1000. Although much of the world was as yet untouched, the European hand had begun to stretch forth. x

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Your professor

Philip Daileader

About Your Professor

Philip Daileader, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary
Dr. Philip Daileader is Associate Professor of History at The College of William and Mary. He earned his B.A. in History from Johns Hopkins University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Before taking his position at William and Mary, he taught at the University of Alabama and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Professor Daileader received William and Mary's 2004 Alumni Fellowship Award...
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Reviews

High Middle Ages is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 101.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good overview but not particularly deep Overall, this is a good course. The professor blends social history and political history in a generally even balance. While both are valid, I wish this course had more focus on the political history, which was given too little attention. My personal theory is that you can't understand the social issues without having a firm background in the broader political world. I don't consider this course perfect, but it was still worth my time, enjoyable, and informative.
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Middle Ages Bought all three: Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. Great lecturer. Well organized and topically on target from a number of perspectives.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Take the Sting Out os Errands I have almost finished all three courses in this series, and I've enjoyed every lecture. Some I already knew. Some is new to me. Some I knew once but have long forgotten. It all makes sense out of history, not an easy task.
Date published: 2017-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Middle of the Middle Ages video download version While Professor Daileader's "High Middle Ages" comes after his "Early Middle Ages" chronologically, this one was actually the first of his trilogy on the Middle Ages to be filmed. Unlike the mostly straight timeline approach he takes in his other two courses, this one is divided into three, logical societal sections. The first to be covered concerns society itself. The nobles, peasants and townspeople such as the merchants and artisans The second section examines the religious and intellectual portions of the High Middle Ages, while the third deals with the politics of the time.. Each of these divisions is treated more or less chronologically. Although some reviews have objected to this structure, I found it to be easy to follow and following, for example the history of the Kings and other nobles, along with the Norman Conquest and the and disintegration of the Holy Roman Empire easier to follow than if Francis of Assisi and others were thrown into the mix, disrupting the narrative flow. While Dr. Daileader does not cover every major player over the 300 years of the period, he does put together many of the main personalities and how they interacted. For me there was new insight into Frederick II and the Popes (notably Innocent III), as well as William the Conqueror, I loved the section on the rise of Scholasticism and the founding of universities, spiced with a fair bit of student, faculty and townspeople life. Further I was completely unaware of the status of some women in that society. And more, many more gems to be found. Highly recommended
Date published: 2016-07-02
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing Professor Daileader's research is, in many cases, out of date. For example, recent research into the Inquisition by, for example, Edward Peters, blows long-standing legends out of the water. Similarly, I was surprised to hear Dailaeder quoting legends about the Crusades that research has also disproved. Daileader's treatment of the clergy and Crusaders also reveals a lack of understanding of the Medieval mindset regarding faith. For example, he doesn't appear to accept the possibility that a person of the period could have been motivated by religious reasons to enter a convent or monastery, or to fight to regain Jerusalem for the Christian world. He attributes it either to a desire for wealth, or "a challenge," or something resorted to by those lacking other options in life. Unlike today, faith was integral in medieval life and that era cannot be understood or taught about without an understanding and acceptance of that fact. I am aware that modern man does not look at the world through the eyes of faith and it does take some imagination to place ourselves in medieval shoes. But we can't get an accurate picture of the time period without doing so. It doesn't work to impose upon that time period the modern views of religion, culture and political correctness. I would recommend Professor Thomas Noble's courses on medieval history. He makes more of an attempt to present the medieval world in context.
Date published: 2016-03-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Medieval Social-Cultural-Political Dimensions The HIGH MIDDLE AGES (HMA 1000 – 1300) by Professor Philip Daileader offers chronological history, conceptual analysis, and research historiographies on this crucial period of Western history. Looking through SOCIAL, CULTURAL, and POLITICAL spectacles, the IDEA of the Middle Age(s) itself is sketched out and brought into sharper focus by Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, Romantic, and contemporary historians. The comprehensive explanations, deeper understandings, and evaluative conceptual constructions of the HMA are scholarly and artistically portrayed and point toward future areas of research. From 1000 to 1300, SOCIETAL institutions and processes undergo radical changes mainly from a rural to an URBANIZED orientation: DEMOGRAPHIC numbers and movements greatly increase; a re-urbanization of Europe accompanied with the rising of commercial towns and city life not seen since the fall of the Roman Empire; a process of DECLINE in landed feudalism, the warrior aristocracy, chivalric code of ethics, and agricultural serfdom; a process of GROWTH in urban communes and guilds accompanying the rise of a new middle class of numeric literate merchants and artisans altering the feudal model and mentality of the three estates and plant the seeds for the Renaissance vision of society. The CULTURAL changes during the HMA are equally radical in its RELIGIOUS and INTELLECTUAL dynamism: the monastic life of St. Benedict’s Rule is transformed through reform movements and the rise of the Franciscan friars and the Benedictine preaching MENDICANTS; religious doctrine and ritual becomes increasingly threatened with the growth of various movements and HERESIES generating the Episcopal and Papal INQUISITIONS; the rise of the scholastic method will shift the emphasis from monastic literary reflections on the Bible and the Church Fathers (Augustine) to argumentative disputations concerning the logical and philological analysis of apparent religious contradictions and re-discovered ARISTOTELIAN and pagan texts (Anselm, Averroes, Aquinas, Abelard, etc.); the rising university system is the new context of the medieval philosophy of faith seeking reason as the mission of SCHOLASTICISM. The POLITICAL dimensions of the HMA will dramatically change the internal composition of the city-states of Europe while its external expansion begins planting the seeds of Western civilization’s future colonial and imperial energies -- from prey to predator as some historians claim. The CRUSADES slowly transforms Europe while redirecting the aristocracies’ warrior destructiveness between European city-states, toward the BYZANTINE Empire, and against the ISLAMIC world which earlier transformed Roman Mediterranean civilization during the Early Middle Ages of late antiquity; CHIVALRY as a code of ethics re-channels the weakness of the internal truce and peace of God movements of the clerics as a restraint against warrior violence and re-directs its energies East; the NORMAN CONQUEST changes England’s orientation from northern Scandinavia toward the European continent; the MAGNA CARTA and the birth of PARLIAMENT changes the power relations between the monarchy and nobility; the INVESTITURE CONTROVERSY alters the relations between the Emperor and the Papacy while contributing to the decline of the Holy Roman Empire. In summary, the combined social, cultural, and political changes transformed Europe of the HMA onto the world stage of the Renaissance and toward the modern world. The HISTORIOGRAPHY from the professor’s Early and High Middle Ages courses are true treasures of the HISTORIAN’S CRAFT … Thanks to the professor and the TC for a first rate scholarly and artistic portrayal of the HMA. *** VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Mid Point in Our Journey " Philip Daileader's Middle Ages Trilogy had been on my wishlist for over a year, but upon completing Dorsey Armstrong's courses on the Medieval World and the Medieval Mind, I bought this as soon as it was on sale. In total, Daileader's trilogy gives 72 lectures that bring European Civilization form the Late Antiquity Crisis and Transformation to the Dawn of the Renaissance. Part one covered the Dark Ages, a term that both Daileader and Armstrong protest vehemently. Part two, this part, is about what most people imagine when they think of the Middle Ages. It is here in part two that the greatest emphasis is given to medieval society. An unfortunate consequence of this is that far less information is given to the overall narrative of history during this time period. Though you may come away richer in knowledge about the people and customs of the time period, it is a little poorer than either part one or part two in the realm of political transitions. Nevertheless, what is taught is among the most fascinating - particularly the rise of France and the decline of Germany. The lecture on Frederick II Hohenstaufen to date remains my favorite lecture from any Medieval course. Where to go from here? I highly recommend completing Philip Daileader's trilogy. Assuming you've started from the beginning, there is just one more to go after this one. Once again, to provide a different perspective I would recommend Professor Armstrong's Medieval World course. Professor Harl's Era of the Crusades does a great deal to expand upon the crusades and its historical context, and as a consequence becomes another resource on the broader Medieval period. To take a diversion to the specific, Professor Paxton's Story of Medieval England is among the most well done I have listened to in years. All three of these courses should expand upon your understanding of the Middle Ages and expose you to alternative perspectives.
Date published: 2015-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Presented and good content. I have listen to this course about 10 times. I have all three course in the series in my car. I listen to them in the car going back and forth to work. He Does an excellent job in preresent the the content. It is well though out and organized. It is simple to follow even while driving. The course material was also helpful.
Date published: 2015-09-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Poor quality DVD. The information contained in this course was interesting and well presented. However the quality of the DVD was very poor. The frames often had white streaks on each side, the picture itself was very dark, the presenter often had what looked like a milk mustache, and his ears and hands were sometimes a ghastly white. These defects were very distracting from what was otherwise a very well done course. Because of these defects I had to downgrade the rating of this course; it certainly did not meet the standards that I expect from Great Courses. The presenter does have some tics that are distracting from the presentation. I probably would not have commented on them if not for the very poor quality of the DVD. I hope that any future reproductions of this course are of higher quality.
Date published: 2015-09-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Scholarship I have all 3 of Philip Daileader's courses on the Middle Ages, and each of them is excellent. Daileader sets the tone in the first lecture by explaining prevailing theories and themes on the high middle ages. As he proceeds through the lectures, he is careful to explain his sources and why we know certain facts. He provides his own ideas, and he also provides ideas that are different from his own ideas. He also displays a wonderful dry sense of humor. His final lecture relates what we have learned back to prevailing theories and themes in the profession. This course is excellent in every way.
Date published: 2015-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course I have bought all three of Professor Daileader's 'Middle Ages' courses. He is a passionate and engaging lecturer, who occasionally inserts humour into his presentation. While I bought these courses some years ago, I have just watched them all for the third time. I learn something new each time I watch them.
Date published: 2015-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Middle Ages Set Just finished watching the whole series that Professor Daileader has created (The Early, High and Late Middle Ages). Wow! I highly recommend all three to anyone who is interested in this period. They are detailed, highly interesting and well balanced. The arc of history that this period represents is presented in the context of prevailing scholarly opinion and covers social, economic and theological thinking and historical events in a sweeping narrative. Professor Daileader has a rather sly wit which shows up at various times during the lectures and never fails to keep one's attention. After watching these 72 lectures, I am hopeful he will devise and record more courses.
Date published: 2014-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Middle - Middle ages This is the second course I have heard of Professor Daileader’s Trilogy on the Medieval era, the first being “Early Middle Ages”. It covers the period from the beginning of the 11th century CE to the end of the 14th century. Unlike the first course which was primarily narrative in nature, this course is more thematic and analytical; though it does discuss some of the narratives of this era. One aspect that marks out the High Middle ages, is that unlike the Early and Late Medieval periods, this period experienced unusually high demographic growth and as a direct consequence, growth in many other respects as well. Professor Daileader tells us that there three distinct classes of people in the era: those who worked, those who fought and those who prayed. Those who fought were the nobility. There was a vassal system in which a lower ranking noble (a knight) would get land from a higher ranking noble, and he would be allowed to live off the land (using peasants – not physically working it of course), in return for his rendering of services to his lord in fighting adversaries and in counsel. We are told that the knights did not formally own the land, but in fact they were the side with the stronger position in this symbiosis because they physically held the land. Usually, it did end up being passed to their offspring - although this was not formally part of the deal. At some stage, there was diminishing demand for fighting, and the knights who thought it below their dignity to work, used their military skills to raid and rob other knights and peasants. This is known as the noble violence. The Chivalric codes of the knights were created to syphon those destructive energies to good uses, or at least less destructive ones. We are told the rather odd and almost comic aspects of the Chivalric knight codes of the era: how the knights were supposed to be of great military prowess on the one hand while being great humanitarians and protectors of the weak on the other. Particularly, it was their duty to protect Christianity against outside assaults – particularly in Crusades. The workers were mostly peasants with a relatively small minority of urban artisans. Unlike the classical era in which most of the agricultural work was carried out by slaves, in this era slavery is less prevalent and the institution of serfdom is its replacement. Under this new deal, the peasants are not slaves but they are not exactly free either. They are better off in the sense that unlike in the slave regimes they live in family cells and live in private houses instead of communal sleeping quarters, and they cannot be sold as property. However, their status is still inherited by their offspring and they are not free to leave the land. Another negative aspect is that they have to provide free labor and part of their yields to their lords. They are still highly dependent on the lords in matters of marriage. So it is a bit of an improvement. Not all of the peasants were serfs. Some were free; but we are told that sometimes free peasants elected to become serfs again so as to gain protection of their lords. Serfdom was much less prevalent towards the end of the period than it was at the beginning, and there was a trend towards free peasants. The third class were those who prayed: in the High Middle age era it was considered quite prestigious to be a monk and many made this rigorous way of life their choice. The era saw a few monastic movements such as the Clunaic, Cistercian, and Franciscan movements. These movements had similar cycles: they would start out by leading an extremely austere prescription on how daily life should be run. This usually included extreme material poverty, celibacy and as little food as possible. The more extreme they were, the more popular with the public, and the ones that were most popular usually received huge donations that made them rich. In almost all cases, this material wealth corrupted them, and brought down the level of their self-prescribed austerity. Similar to the monastic movements, there were also heretical movements. These were religious movements that did not get the consent of the pope. Practicing heresy became a hazardous business during the High middle Ages, because it was in this era that the papal inquisition first appeared. The role of the inquisition was to insure that nobody practiced heresy, and they had very extensive authorization from the pope to carry this out. We are told, however, that it was probably much less of a terror regime than we imagine it today. The Church is in a very, very strong position politically during this period, and the Crusades are prescribed for the first time in the 11th century in order to help the Byzantine Empire with its problems with the Turks. It is in fact in such a strong position that a lot of friction is generated between popes and secular leaders, sometimes erupting into conflict. We have two big historical events during this era that will effect history four centuries: the first is the writing of the Magna Carta by Richard the third. Many consider it to be the first document that deals with human rights, though at the time it did not presume at all to be as humanistic and was designed to insure certain rights of nobles relative to the King. The second is the Norman invasion of England by William of Normandy - which is to change the British population mix forever, as with William came to the British Island many Normans that later Assimilated with the English. Professor Daileader did a fantastic job in presenting this era. The lectures were clear, interesting and entertaining. His subtle tinge of ironic humor did much animate the lectures. Overall a very interesting course - well worthwhile and fun to listen to.
Date published: 2014-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Riviting Presentation This review will cover the audio CD version, This is my second course by Dr. Daileader. Several years back, I completed his course on the Early Middle Ages. Here are my observations about this course: 1) The manner of presenting the material is excellent. First of all, an overview of medieval society is presented, by examining various groups: Lords, Knights, Peasants, Townspeople, and Monks. The middle section of the course gives an intellectual and religious history of medieval Europe from about 100o to 1300. The course concludes with an examination and evaluation of key developments and events during this time period, such as The People's Crusade, The Norman Conquest of 1066, and Magna Carta. 2# Dr. Daileader is an excellent teacher. Other reviewers have commented on his speech habits, however, I found that this did not hinder my progress in any way at all. I feel that this halting way of speaking is due to the fact that his mind is running in overdrive, as he carefully chooses his words and phrases. He does have a sly sense of humor. One example of this is found in the lecture on the University. At one point, he is comparing medieval student behavior to now. He makes the comment, that I found quite amusing: " If this sort of thing were practiced today, no 7-11 would be safe, after college students got finished with it." The professor also spends the beginning few minutes of each lesson with a quick review of the prior lecture. This is great, for listeners, like me, that might not have listened for a few days. Also, at the end of each lecture, he also spends a few minutes drawing conclusions, and preparing what will be coming in the next lecture. 3) The last lecture really helps one to put everything into historical context. As another reviewer mentioned, I also enjoyed hearing about the preparation that one has to go through, if choosing a career in medieval history. I always thought that being able to read texts in foreign languages was essential, but the professor describes just how essential, and involved this really is. 3) The material presented here fits in nicely as a complement, and supplement, to other TTC courses on the medieval world. I have recently listened to the lectures on "1066," and "Turning Points in Medieval History" and found that, all together, I learned a great deal. The TTC course on "A History of Science, Antiquity to 1700," also has a section within it, that covers the medieval period from 100 to 1300. I found that much of that particular material is also a good review for Dr. Daileader's course. In conclusion, if one is looking to enrich understanding during this time frame, there is much to be gleaned here. I look forward to taking the last course in this trilogy, "The Late Middle Ages" #I" have previously written a review for the Early Middle Ages: course#
Date published: 2014-05-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended and Insightful Having completed the "Early Middle Ages" course I moved straight into this course and it is highly recommended to anyone wishing to gain an appreciation of the period 1000-1300 in Europe. The Professor was very clear in his explanations and weaved a compelling narrative which linked the 24 lectures together. It was also very helpful indeed that at the end and beginning of each lecture he summarised the points covered which meant it was easy to "flow" into each lecture seamlessly. The Professor also displayed a lovely sense of humour which was engaging. The insights into the way society was ordered were fascinating and the intellectual history of the period was very revealing dealing with the creation of universities as well as the rise of Scholasticism. The political coverage was also clearly explained-no mean feat given the manifold changes taking place during this period-in respect of the developments in England, France and German speaking parts of Europe. Having an understanding of the entire Middle Ages is crucial to appreciate the rise of the modern world and I am looking forward to the final part of the Daileader trilogy.
Date published: 2013-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good A nice mixture of "old style" political history (that is, kings and wars) and the details of everyday ordinary peoples lives.
Date published: 2013-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from THOROUGH, COMPREHENSIVE, REWARDING This review refers to the DVD's to which I upgraded from CD's. As I said in a previous review of this lecturer, the visuals are much better since one is not distracted by Dr Daileader's unusual speech pattern. This series is an excellent introduction to this period of Europe's history with a broad inclusion of societal changes along with the usual narration of rulers, popes, and military actions one finds in most histories. This approach made the period, for me, more interesting and understandable as opposed to the undergraduate course I took. There are some highlights that led me to laugh out loud with delight as when Dr Daileader described Frederick the Second's struggles with various popes, for example. This is a serious contribution to TGC inventory, and should be of interest to anyone concerned about the Western World in general, and Europe in particular. As an added feature, which caught me by surprise, the final lecture was a brief history and update on the academic world of Medieval scholarship in the English speaking portion. He confined it to just English in recognition of his audience although he pointed out a Medieval scholar must be equipped to handle several languages. This series is highly recommended to everyone.
Date published: 2013-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Daileader Course I already knew a lot about the middle ages before I bought this course, but all three of Prof. Daileader's courses taught me tidbits that I didn't know or gave me insights about how to communicate the important trends of the middle ages to my students. This professor's lecturing style is informative and appropriately paced without verbal tics or distractions—an important consideration when one is working from an audio-only version, as I was. I found his style engaging and witty without undue artifice. I listened to all 3 of his medieval courses (Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, Late Middle Ages) and got lots of ideas about how to restructure the private-school world-history course that I teach. I was also able to incorporate some of the primary sources he mentions into class content. I'm on my second listen now and enjoying the courses as much as I did the first time, and picking up subtleties based on my follow-up reading and research that I didn't notice the first time. On the whole, the EMA / HMA / LMA triads had been one of my favorite Great Courses series, and I'm almost embarrassed to admit how many of these courses I've ordered and enjoyed. (I'll just say it's somewhere between 80 and 100, which says something about the breadth of my interests and the length of my commute.) This is a stellar series and an engaging professor whose narrative is informative without calling attention to itself by syntactical or rhetorical anomalies—the closest one can get to a thoroughly immersive lecture course or an accessible and engaging text on the subject.
Date published: 2013-03-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from One of the Few I Listen to Over and Over The best courses as far as I am concerned are those that not only teach me what I don't know, but show me what I know that isn't so. Prof. Daileader succeeds on both counts. Covering roughly the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, The High Middle Ages paints a clear and vivid picture of what happened, and more importantly, why it happened. Daileader's grasp of social history serves this course well. Many history courses focus on personalities (usually kings) and events (usually wars). Daileader doesn't skimp on these, but he neatly fills in the background as well. Who were the merchants in the Middle Ages? Who were the knights? Who were the priests? Who were the townspeople? Who lived in the countryside? What were their lives like? How did they see and interact with their world, their leaders, their faith, each other? Daileader brings the answers to all these questions into clear, colorful focus. Daileader's presentation can take a bit of getting used to for some listeners. His enthusiasm sometimes gets in the way of his diction. "Christianity," for example, often comes out something like "Krish-annie." A-a-a-a-a-a-and he has a verbal tic of stretching syllables, perhaps while collecting his thoughts. There are a handful of peas in the mattress for those who consider themselves versed in history, such as his persistent mispronunciation of "Magyar." But these are the worst one can say about The High Middle Ages. The course is packed with mythbusting and aha-moment insights. Why did the king of England gradually cede power to parliamentary bodies, while Europe moved in the other direction? How did Germany go from strong and united to a shattered patchwork of duchies, kingdoms, counties and bishoprics? What put the Crusades in motion? How did the guilds put a brake on both technological innovation and economic development? No matter how well you know your history, the answers may surprise you.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fives for the High Middle Ages, too. This has been an excellent course on CD. Very interesting, informative, and Prof. Daileader has just the right touch for sprinkling a little humor among the facts. I listened to all three segments, Early, High, and Late Middle ages, and I was surprised to find that I thought the Late period was the most interesting. Lots of good information here, and I suppose it could be called a survey course, but there was plenty of detail. I was previously unaware of the divisions of society of the time into those who work, fight, pray, etc. He even covered some architectural details of the time, letting us know why corner turrets on castles were rounded only after the introduction of gunpowder. All three periods were equally good.
Date published: 2012-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent It took awhile, but the birth of the modern world can be found in the high middle ages. I watched all of Professor Daileader's courses and got a good general understanding of the period. Thank you Professor Daileader!
Date published: 2012-10-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing! Sadly, this series of lectures on the High Middle Ages does not match the very high standard set by the course on the Early Middle Ages, also by Professor Daileader. Strangely, the former seems to have been taped before the latter. Thus, the course on the High Middle Ages starts off with an explanation on why the whole medieval period is of interest for a contemporary audience. That is obviously out of place for anyone who has already listened to the series dealing with the period that comes first chronologically. The approach in dealing with the High Middle Ages is strictly thematic and not chronological. This leads to minor repetitions and makes it difficult at times to reconstruct the sequence of things. Some themes are overly developed, for instance the creation of universities that is embellished with a comparison of present day campus life that is of little interest to a Teach12 audience. What is truly astonishing is that there is absolutely no discussion of cathedrals, certainly the most impressive tangible legacy of the period.
Date published: 2012-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from You'll love it Great course. Approachable material. Interesting lecturing. The two people who wouldn't recommend this to their friends certainly never sat through any lectures delivered by my teachers.
Date published: 2012-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Could be a lot better Pros: The presentation of the different aspects relevant to this period is adequate, if not that complete. The descriptions of towns, the importance of guilds, the differences between orders, etc., all this is, in terms of the content, good. The course is valuable as it gives the points necessary to pass an exam. Cons: 1) The information is given as a static picture. There is no historical fluency. The lecturer explains how things worked but there is always a vacuum as to why they did. 2) There is almost no mention of the movers of this period. The historical figures that are the real reason for anything to have been the way it was, are, with a few exceptions, not even named. 3) The lecturer spends a lot of time repeating, in different ways, what he already said. He then finishes every lecture with a summary of what was presented. If this wasn't enough, he starts every new lecture with a review of the previous lecture. All this repetition uses a lot of time and becomes irritating. There is a lecture where at least 20 minutes are used to discuss the difference of opinion scholars have about the term 'feudal'. I almost turned the thing off as it seemed to me totally unimportant and not interesting at all. A passing note should have been enough. 4) The delivery is halting and full of pauses that convey the idea of a bad reader. The lecturer doesn't have a natural gift for public speech and that was tiresome to this listener. Summary: Although I had to force myself to stick with the lectures for the reasons given above, I think there's still a lot of good material in them. The professor knows his stuff and the information presented is interesting. His focus is rather the problem. He does have some personal points of view that nicely illuminates aspects of this period that I have not read or heard before. I came to these lectures after the Vikings, by professor Harl (I have most of professor's Kenneth Harl lectures) and so I am very spoiled. Prof. Harl is so brilliant and knowledgeable that it is probably unfair to expect anyone to get even close to him. But for the same reason, the shortcomings of these lectures were painfully evident to me.
Date published: 2012-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating! I thought this was an excellent presentation. It looked at the culture of this time in history as well as the interesting individuals who made an impression on they history of this time. I watched this as part of the 3-series sets (the Early MA, the High MA, and the Late MA) and have just thoroughly enjoyed them all.
Date published: 2012-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Introduction audio version Prof. Daileader does a nice job of introducing us to the High Middle Ages (1000 - 1300) in this course. It is impossible to cover all of the material for 300 years of history for an entire continent in 12 hours, but Prof. Daileader selected his topics well to give us a flavor of what went on during this period. Prof. Daileader used his sense of humor well for this course. He was organized. He lectured clearly. He provided a nice bibliography. I particulary enjoyed his discussions of the beginnings of universities and his discussions of the various classes of people. This course is part of a three-part set by Prof. Daileader. This course can be used as a stand-alone course -- the three courses do not have to be listened to in sequence. However, if one is interested in learning more about the middle ages, just buy and enjoy all three courses. Thanks again to TTC and Prof. Daileader -- perhaps the professor can be convinced to do some more courses for TTC.
Date published: 2012-04-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitely not the "dark" ages I have purchased all three of Prof. Daileader's courses on the Middle Ages and am working my way through chronologically. This course is the second of three, and explores the period between 1000-1300, which contains several events that most of us learned something about in school: the Norman Conquest, Magna Carta, and the Crusades. All those topics are dealt with in this course, but as you'll discover, there was much more going on in these turbulent decades. Daileader explores the main "classes" of people during this period, the development of chivalry, the conflicts between religious reformers and heretics, wars between the major European powers (including the papacy), ideas of medieval philosophers, and key players in medieval history. Clearly, he had to leave a lot out, but you'll get a good flavor of the period in this 24-lecture course. (For instance, I can't recall much if anything about developments in music or art, although some period art - such as the Bayeux tapestry - are used as illustrations.) The prof has a fine, dry sense of humor that livens up his discussions, and he clearly knows his subject. This course has a weaker visual element than others I have watched, but there are occasional portraits and maps, or onscreen notes. I'm looking forward to finishing the series with set three on the Late Middle Ages.
Date published: 2012-03-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a better cultural than narrative history this was a very satisfying course. i was initially uncertain about the thematic versus historical treatment, but it actually worked fairly well. it allowed the professor to bring out all sorts of interesting pieces of information about medieval society, such as the surprising issue of noble violence. it turns out that far from being the gallant and chivalrous heroes we usually imagine them to be, knights and nobles were in fact often little more than thugs, and several of the lectures discuss the various fascinating ways in which society tried to solve this problem of violence from the top. as many people have pointed out, prof. daileader is often quite funny. discussing a heresy founded by a guy named waldo was a great deal of fun. another thing i appreciated was the way he would begin each lecture with a quick review of the previous one and end each lecture with a summary. basic though this approach is, one finds it infrequently in teaching company lectures, and i felt it was a helpful way to bookend each talk. and i also appreciated the fact that whenever he came to a controversial point the professor would not seek to smooth it over, but would rather present the various opposing views. this approach both respects the ability of students to make up their own minds and gives us intriguing glimpses into the state of modern scholarship. on the subject of religion he’s pretty even-handed. one does occasionally suspect that his sympathies lie with the institutional church, as for example in the lecture on heresy where he routinely uses the terms “heretic” and “heresy” throughout, as if these were objective descriptions and not value judgements privileging one side. he’s also strangely apologetic about the inquisition, even while describing how awful it was, and in the lecture on jews he asserts that jews themselves often asked to have walls built around their neighbourhoods, as if jewish preferences were as much the cause as christian violence. nonetheless you’d have to be as highly sensitive about religion as i am to pick these things out: most of the time he’s quite fair and balanced. with only seven lectures the actual history section of the course is fairly cursory, and covers some topics, such as the norman conquest of england, which are commonly discussed. it also, as usual, limits coverage to england, france, and germany. personally i would have liked more detail overall, as well as some mention of what was going on in places like spain, poland, or hungary, and this is why i rated the course content “good” rather than “excellent.” nonetheless the topics he did cover were quite interesting, particularly the the way in which the consolidation of france contrasted with the disintegration of the holy roman empire. in short, this was a great course for getting the feel of the middle ages. to get a blow-by-blow of events however you’ll probably need to keep studying.
Date published: 2012-03-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from High Middle Ages Although the instructor knows his topic, his smugness and self love is distracting and irritating. This has been the worse course I have bought from this company.
Date published: 2011-10-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Very Fine Survey Course Professor Daileader once again has succeeded in teaching several centuries of medieval history with both good focus and thoroughness. His organization of the course in three parts - society, intellectual and religious highlights, and major political developments - is solid and gives the student firm ground to study the history of Europe between 1000 and 1300. His lectures on the First Crusade, Magna Carta, and Empire Versus Papacy are particularly fine - sharp, deep, and enlightening. Where Daileader falls short, in my view, is in the inadequate attention he gives to the cultural and intellectual side. He does a fair job with Francis and Aquinas. He covers scholasticism and the development of universities. But I don't think these elements of the course can be considered excellent. The professor spends as much time on the odd perversities of Abelard's life as his intellectual contribution. And, surprisingly, he spends no time on the hugely important Roger Bacon. In art and architecture, there is no attention to the glorious medieval cathedrals or the revolutionary turn in painting achieved by Giotto and his master, Cimabue. I suspect one could argue that these philosophers, architects, and artists didn't affect daily life as much as the political leaders and the nobles. That may be so. But, as the good professor says in his final lecture, history, at its best, must cover all important dimensions. Shortchanging the cultural and intellectual dimensions is the main flaw, and a serious one, in this otherwise fine course.
Date published: 2011-09-26
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