How the Crusades Changed History

Course No. 3931
Professor Philip Daileader, Ph.D.
The College of William and Mary
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Course No. 3931
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Course Overview

Hundreds of years have passed since the last crusader knight laid down his sword, but the centuries of medieval warfare we collectively call the Crusades continue to hold powerful sway over our modern world and the tense conflicts between religions and entire civilizations.

Just how powerful was the impact of the Crusades on the spiritual and political landscape of the medieval world?

  • They provided a central rallying point for Christianity, strengthening the power of Christendom and spreading its authority throughout Europe and the Near East.
  • They led to the West’s vast expansion of geographical territory across new parts of Europe, an expansion not seen since the height of the Roman Empire.
  • They represented a paradigm shift that fused religion and warfare in a new way.
  • They contributed to a cultural and intellectual awakening that brought about a deeper Western interest in and knowledge of Islam.

And this impact has resonated through the centuries, contributing to everything from the rise of the Ottoman Empire to the Protestant Reformation and infiltrating other aspects of life, including

  • military strategies,
  • political ideologies,
  • theological issues, and
  • international trade and commerce.

Because the Crusades were so consequential to history—both then and now—it’s essential that we understand the context, motivations, and preconditions of these military campaigns. And in doing so, you’ll get a fresher understanding of an era in history with which we’re still trying to come to terms.

How the Crusades Changed History plunges you into the series of Crusades to the Holy Land (and elsewhere), from the calling of the First Crusade in November 1095 until the collapse of the last crusader state, the Kingdom of Jerusalem, in 1291. Delivered by master medieval historian and award-winning professor Philip Daileader of The College of William & Mary, these 24 lectures are more than just an enriching recount of captivating historical events. They’re an intellectually rewarding exploration of the ways in which the Crusades shaped the history of the medieval world—and laid the seeds for our own.

Dispel Misconceptions about the Crusades

The Crusades remain lively topics of debate among historians and scholars, and they’re rife with contradictions and misconceptions that require us to peel back layers of history and confront some startling truths that go against what we traditionally think about medieval crusading.

Take, for example, these points:

  • Most Christians weren’t motivated to join the Crusades out of economic considerations but in hopes of gaining indulgences from the Catholic Church to decrease or eliminate time in purgatory.
  • Crusading campaigns reached far beyond Jerusalem and the surrounding Holy Land, extending all along the Mediterranean and throughout much of northern Europe.
  • The Crusades were not universally supported; rather, the period saw critics who questioned particular campaigns—many of which were disastrous failures.

As you’ll learn with this course, these and other truths about the Crusades demonstrate that, rather than being grand wars, many of these military campaigns were tangled misadventures. And yet you’ll see that, for all their messiness, the Crusades made an indelible impact on the identity of Western civilization.

A Fascinating, In-Depth History

Professor Daileader spends the first 17 lectures of the course delivering a riveting in-depth narrative history of the Crusades that takes you in and around the medieval world and sweeps you up in the crusading fervor that led to some of the era’s most intriguing—and disastrous—campaigns. You’ll immerse yourself in the causes, battles, and consequences of the period’s major crusades—as well as some campaigns often overlooked.

  • The First Crusade: Rather than a single expedition, the First Crusade was a series of loosely coordinated waves that left Europe over the space of several years after Pope Urban II’s initial call in 1095. More than 90% of those who were part of the First Crusade were not professional knights; rather, they were the populous, peasants and craftsmen led by a smattering of minor nobles and a popular preacher named Peter the Hermit.
  • The Northern Crusades: Crusading was not just relegated to the Holy Land. Crusading campaigns also took place in parts of Europe. The Northern Crusades facilitated German and Christian expansion into eastern Europe and opened up a theater of war that was easier for crusaders to access than Syria and Palestine, but they siphoned off crusaders who might otherwise have worked to reclaim Jerusalem from the Ottoman Turks.
  • The Children’s Crusade: One of the period’s oddest crusades, the Children’s Crusade of 1212 consisted primarily of processions of French youths—many between the ages of 6 and 14—carrying religious symbols toward Jerusalem to reclaim it for Christendom. More peaceful than other crusades, the Children’s Crusade lacked the militaristic overtones of other campaigns; medieval chroniclers make no mention of its participants bearing arms.

View the Era with a More Inquisitive Eye

Once you reach the end of the major crusading period in the late 13th century, you take a step back in a series of thematic lectures that treat a host of topics with an inquisitive eye. Professor Daileader’s goal with this section of the course: to clarify your picture of the Crusades and to provide you with a stronger grasp of their broader historical consequences.

You’ll get a chance to probe issues and questions that have intrigued historians for centuries:

  • What did contemporary religious thinkers and critics say about the Crusades? What effects did their views have?
  • What was the experience like for individuals who took up the crusader’s call? Why did they go? What did they take with them? How did they live day to day?
  • How did everyday life in western Europe compare with that in the vulnerable crusader states?
  • How did medieval Islam respond to the Crusades?

By taking this approach, you’ll come to see how this frenetic period of warfare paved the way for subsequent historical movements and moments, including the centuries-long dominance of the Ottoman Empire, the Protestant Reformation, the prevalence of missionary campaigns around the world, and more.

Learn from One of America’s Best Professors

How the Crusades Changed History places you in the hands of a historian and teacher named one of the best professors in the United States by The Princeton Review and a four-time winner of Harvard University’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching.

Just minutes into the first lecture of this engaging course, you’ll find out why Professor Daileader’s lecturing style—filled with eye-opening insights, clear-cut explanations, gripping stories, and touches of ironic humor—has been praised by so many of our customers around the world.

“Whether the Crusades deserve admiration, opprobrium, or something else entirely is a matter for individuals to decide for themselves,” notes Professor Daileader at the start of his engrossing lecture series. “Our goals are to understand the Crusades and to assess their consequences.”

And by doing so with this course, you’ll have the knowledge necessary to come to your own conclusions about just how important and consequential these centuries of warfare were to Western civilization.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 29 minutes each
  • 1
    What Were the Crusades?
    Why do the Crusades still matter, more than 900 years after they began? Here, take a close look at the word “crusade” itself, and some of the many ways it is invoked today. Then, explore some religious ideas that paved the way for the crusading environment and discover who “invented” this fusion of pilgrimage and holy war. x
  • 2
    Before the Crusades—Deep Background
    Examine the long-term historical developments (led by Pope Urban II) that launched the First Crusade in 1095. Make sense of the fragmented politics of the Byzantine Empire and medieval Europe; chart the remarkable expansion and conquests of the Islamic Empire; ponder Islamic and Christian conceptions of holy war; and more. x
  • 3
    Before the Crusades—Immediate Circumstances
    Turn to the immediate events that destabilized peace between the Islamic and Byzantine empires and medieval Europe. Focus on the uncontrolled Turkish migration and Byzantine territorial losses that led to Pope Urban II’s call for a crusade. Also, consider the reasons everyday people responded—and why Jerusalem became the ultimate goal. x
  • 4
    The First Crusade and Conquest of Jerusalem
    The First Crusade was, in a sense, a success—but a messy one. Professor Daileader takes you from the apocalyptic expectations triggered by the expedition and the loosely coordinated waves of Europeans who participated in the critical conquests of Nicaea and Antioch, to the capture of Jerusalem and the massacre of thousands of its inhabitants in 1099. x
  • 5
    The Rise of the Templars
    Encounter a great institutional innovation to arise from the First Crusade: the Templar Order. You’ll learn how the Templars fused the ethics of knighthood and monasticism; how they amassed wealth and property by building churches and acquiring holy relics; and how they came into sometimes vicious conflict with other military orders, including the Hospitallers. x
  • 6
    Defending the Crusader States, 1099–1144
    Jerusalem. Antioch. Edessa. Tripoli. Investigate the early history of these four crusader states (without which there would have been no subsequent crusades). Some states faced Byzantine diplomatic pressure; all faced the threat of an Islamic counterattack. The lecture ends with the Muslim leader Zengi’s fateful capture of Edessa in December 1144. x
  • 7
    The Second Crusade—False Steps and Failure
    The story continues with a look at the tumultuous Second Crusade. Why did this campaign to rescue the crusader states fail? How did Bernard of Clairvaux inspire this next wave of crusaders? How did tangled geopolitics steer where crusading troops traveled? What made the dramatic siege of Damascus such a military debacle? x
  • 8
    Saladin—General and Sultan
    Meet Saladin, the sultan who became one of the most enigmatic figures in the saga of the Crusades. Chart his rise within the ranks of power in Egypt and Syria, witness his conquest of Jerusalem in 1187, and learn how this victory irrevocably changed the geopolitical landscape of the Near East. x
  • 9
    The Third Crusade—We Three Kings
    Go inside the drama of the crusade that pitted two titans of the Middle Ages against one another: Saladin and King Richard the Lionheart of England. As you’ll discover, the aftermath—with Jerusalem still in Saladin’s hands but with surrounding territory restored to Christendom—only escalated tensions even further. x
  • 10
    The Fourth Crusade—Conquest of Constantinople
    Why is the Fourth Crusade considered by historians to be so controversial? How did the expedition get its start? What made the conquest of Constantinople such an unprecedented military success? How did it exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions between Europeans and Byzantines? Find answers to these and other questions here. x
  • 11
    Crusades in Spain
    Travel to the Iberian Peninsula to see the influence of the Crusades in Spain. You’ll learn why the Spanish elevated their wars to the status of “crusades”; how this hurt crusading projects in the Near East; how the crusading attitude shaped the Christian Reconquista of Spain’s Muslims and Jews; and more. x
  • 12
    The Northern Crusades
    Follow the spread of crusading fever to the frontiers of central and northeastern Europe. In what would come to be known as the Northern Crusades, Christian warriors clashed not with Muslims but with the region’s pagan Slavs and Balts in a long, grinding, and brutal affair that would last centuries. x
  • 13
    The Children’s and Albigensian Crusades
    Continue looking at the crusading movement in Europe with a close look at two intriguing campaigns and their aftershocks. The first is the Albigensian Crusade, fought in southern France against heretics. The second is the Children’s Crusade of 1212, a youthful and almost completely peaceful crusade that fizzled after just months. x
  • 14
    Fifth and Sixth Crusades—Tragedy and Oddity
    Turn now to the Fifth and Sixth Crusades in the eastern Mediterranean. You’ll examine why the Fifth Crusade was defeated in a way no Eastern crusade had been before; how the Sixth Crusade gained the (short-lived) recovery of Jerusalem with little fighting; and how both created deep rifts between political and religious leaders. x
  • 15
    Louis IX—The Crusader Saint
    Make sense of the Seventh and Eighth Crusades of King Louis IX of France. As you’ll learn, both Eastern crusades, despite excellent funding and organization, failed; the Seventh Crusade with the capture of the king in Egypt in 1250, and the Eighth Crusade with his death near Tunis in 1270. x
  • 16
    The Hohenstaufen and Shepherds’ Crusades
    Investigate the continued proliferation of crusades to the European interior. Your focus here is the crusade against the Hohenstaufen rulers of Germany (which lasted almost 30 years) and two illicit outbursts of popular crusading enthusiasm against the clergy known as the Shepherds’ Crusades of 1251 and 1320. x
  • 17
    The Fall—1291
    Professor Daileader takes you inside the eventual downfall of each of the crusader states. How did the situation deteriorate so quickly? Why were the Seventh and Eighth Crusades such lackluster failures for crusading troops? Why is 1291 the perfect point at which to assess the consequences and legacy of the Crusades? x
  • 18
    The Crusades and Their Critics
    Almost from their start, the Crusades had their critics. Here, explore contemporary criticism of these military campaigns and the effects (or lack thereof) on the medieval world. You’ll also learn how such criticism helped pave the way for historical events such as the suppression of the Templars. x
  • 19
    War and Travel—The Experience of Crusading
    What was going on a crusade actually like? This lecture reveals what it was like for the average crusader to set out for the Holy Land. You’ll see how crusaders dealt with fear, illness, and financial problems—but also found camaraderie and were changed by their encounters with new places, peoples, and cultures. x
  • 20
    Life in the Crusader East
    Turn now to the experiences of those individuals who lived in the crusader states. You’ll examine the cordial and tense relations between Frankish settlers and local peoples; see how legal distinctions were drawn between Catholic Franks and their descendants; and consider whether the Crusades should be considered a colonial enterprise. x
  • 21
    Cultural Contact and Exchange
    Learn how the Crusades actually worked to promote cultural exchange and exploration between East and West. As you’ll discover, Westerners began to understand the prevalence of Islam throughout the world, which changed previously held notions of geopolitical power. But they also overcame their fear of Islamic culture and embraced aspects of it. x
  • 22
    Crusade and Mission
    Another aspect of the clash between East and West: European missionary efforts among Muslims. Join the contemporary debate over the nature and purpose of missionizing while crusading. Were they a part of the same project or not? Should they be? What was the ultimate decision reached by the Catholic Church? x
  • 23
    The Crusades and the Course of History, Part 1
    In the first of two lectures on the legacy of the Crusades, examine how these controversial campaigns shaped the political, religious, and cultural configuration of southeastern Europe and the Near East—specifically through the emergence of the Ottoman Empire and the final collapse of the Byzantine Empire. x
  • 24
    The Crusades and the Course of History, Part 2
    The spiritual and political influence of indulgences is an often overlooked consequence of the Crusades. Here, see how their corruptive use for personal gain—which skyrocketed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries—spurred the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent period that historians call the Age of Religious Wars. 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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How the Crusades Changed History is rated 3.9 out of 5 by 43.
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Unsuitable for audio. Daileader is THE BEST, but this course needs to be available on video. It is too hard to follow the geography w/o maps. Get his 3 Middle Ages courses instead.
Date published: 2018-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Ambitious Topic and Difficult to Get Right Depending on your world-view this topic is like handling hot coals. Especially in our present world of politics, culture and religion you have multiple and very determined views on this topic. There is no doubt the large period of time that comprise "The Crusades" had an impact on history but what I feel most lectures and presenters fail to properly explain in the global context of such events. While this professor did a admirable job in trying to get the listeners hands around the "big picture" he falls victim to his biases pre-setting him to downplaying the historical importance of certain key and global events. On a plus the information is deep and he tackles a good bit of the different movers and players as well as the political implications that sparked Crusading and the odd mix of people and cultures that occurred over the generations. I found this to be a good lecture and to be fair this topic is one where you will not be able to please everyone so I commend TGC for taking on the subject and giving us a presentation that was mostly fair and well researched.
Date published: 2017-11-02
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It's not quite as titled I bought this hoping to learn about the EFFECTS of the crusades, as the title implies, but most of it is just crusade after crusade, Pope after Pope, King after King....It's not really how they changed history....
Date published: 2017-08-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A lotta detail, not much analysis I was a bit disappointed. I think I had hoped for more sense of the implications of the Crusades, maybe more use of primary sources so that I could get a better sense of the motivation of the participants.
Date published: 2017-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I enjoyed this course! Awesome course. I loved the professor and the course content. A real winner!
Date published: 2017-07-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical historical presentations As an ordained Clergy of 40+ years, serving nearly 20 years as Pastor and then 25 as an Evangelist & Ministry Coach, these courses are wonderful. I'm a seminary graduate with a Masters of Divinity and additional Graduate School training after seminary. And though I've heard of some of these lectures - listening to them again on audio has truly filled in some major "gaps" and given me a whole new picture of our Christian heritage and history - good and bad. Thanks Great Courses!
Date published: 2017-06-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from How the Crusades Changed History I was very excited to see that I could order another series by Professor Phillip Daileader. I have listened to his three volume on the Middle Ages THREE TIMES.. The Early Middle Ages, The High Middle Ages and the Late Middle ages. He is a WONDERFUL PRESENTER. However, the material as presented was not consistent with the title of the series. I was very disappointed. I just finished it today. His closing statements were the best content in series.
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and comprehensive The lecturer draws from a wide array of sources to provide background and understanding to the topic. i think anyone with an interest in history and particularly medieval history will find this an engaging and worthwhile course
Date published: 2017-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Course opens up the subject to a whole new world Great presentation and detailed information that is well paced and worth the time. I learned that I didn't really know this subject. Definitely worth the time and money
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from An ok course This course is packed full of information. I think it would be better understood in video form than audio. Lots of names, dates, places, and events are crammed into each lecture and this, combined with his lecture style, made the course kind of boring to me. I glazed over many, many times during each lecture. It will require many listens, as I purchased this in audio form, to get this. I was unaware of the numerous crusades into various parts of Europe or the crusades of the western church against the eastern church. On a critical note, this set of lectures is only about the crusades and what happened in the crusades and has very little about the motivations, i.e., external motivations. He does not at all mention the dhimmi, the exorbitant taxes, the required special clothing (Jewish star, borrowed by Hitler, or belts for Christians), or other persecution of non-Muslims and desire to rescue them from the aggressors that drove the Crusades. In the lecture about the Spanish crusades, suddenly and with little or no explanation, Muslims occupy southern Spain. In the end, his presentation of the material is strictly about the Crusades and skips over motivations and outside influences. He presents what the popes, kings, noblemen did with clarity and presents some internal motivations, i.e., within the church and nobility, but says very little about the external forces that drove them. Overall, I recommend this course.
Date published: 2017-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great example of Dr Daileader's wonderful courses I own all 4 of Dr Daileader's courses and the Crusades lived up to my high expectations. It's both informative and entertaining. His dry wit contributes so much to the fascinating content. I have more than 4 dozen Great Courses and haven't had a bad one yet and Dr Daileader is my favorite professor. I would love it if he would teach more subjects about the Middle Ages or anything else, for that matter.
Date published: 2016-09-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Average Good chronology on all of the Crusades and their main events but the professor’s style did not make this course very interesting or refreshing Pluses: • Good chronology on all of the Crusades and their main events Minuses: • The professor’s style was bland and without emotion • A little more time spent on the historical powers at the time would help set good context (assumptions seemed to be made) • I’m not sure the title of the course was adequately answered or at least not hammered home
Date published: 2016-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good although not Prof Daileader's best I like everything by Prof Daileader, but I preferred his Early, High and Late Middle Ages due to more interesting content. As Daileader admits, the answer to "How the crusades changed history" is "Not very much." There is plenty of sound and fury, signifying little. I again enjoyed Daileader's humour - it's dry, and rare enough that it always catches me by surprise. This time almost every lecture made me laugh out loud. As always, Daileader shows medieval people as real people, with thoughts and concerns sometimes like our own, sometimes different. Christian Europe in those centuries was a savage and backward place compared to its neighbors, and it is interesting to hear the mutual observations and reactions when they force themselves upon the middle east.
Date published: 2016-03-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Overall Poor. I returned this course as unsatisfactory. The presentation was relatively boring, the analysis of the primary question poor and trite, and often the facts presented were questionable. Well known and documented information was either barely touched upon or left out completely. The presenter either dwelt upon justification of Islam or anti-roman prejudice. The basic premise of the title "How the Crusades Changed History" was only briefly and superficially addressed in the last of the 24 lectures. Over all totally unsat.
Date published: 2016-03-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A European, Byzantine, & Islamic Reformation The course by Professor Philip Daileader on HOW THE CRUSADE CHANGED HISTORY (1095 – 1291) is not framed as a question but offered as a scientific paradigm of explanation and understanding. The narrative lectures cover the official 1st to the 8th crusade in the Middle East and North Africa. Beginning with Pope Urban II’s call in 1095 to the LATIN WEST to take up the cross and aid emperor Alexius I Comnenus’ BYZANTINE EAST where Islamic Seljuk-Turk migrations and jihads were threatening territories in Asia Minor. Implicit in this request was the possibility of ending the SCHISM between the Roman see and Constantinople and re-uniting Christendom theologically and politically. The narrative lectures end with the fall in 1291 of the last of the crusader states in the Holy Land. Also discussed are Western European crusades in Islamic Spain (Reconquista), the frontier regions of North Central and Eastern Europe (paganism), the interior of France against heresy (Catharism), and various other popular and political crusades with the Holy Roman Empire. The professor’s critical HISTORIOGRAPHY is excellent but controversial among medieval scholars. Issues concerning CONCEPTS: the crusades, pilgrimage, holy war, plenary indulgence, penance, purgatory, mission; SCHISMS: papal primacy, orthodox patriarch, iconoclasm, theologies, formation of Latin crusader states; INSTITUTIONS: chivalry, monk-warrior, Templar-Hospitaller-Teutonic religious orders, heresies; GEO-POLITICS: aid to Asia Minor, military oaths to Byzantium, recapture of Jerusalem, East-West colonialism, cultural contacts, etc. No one simple definition or explanation answers these unsettled issues. But the professor’s research, knowledge, and articulate delivery brings to light the crusades in all of its varied manifestations, the plurality of social characters including popes, emperors, kings, sultans, merchants, theologians, missionaries, peasants, etc., and moves the listener through the civilizations of medieval Europe, Byzantium, and the House of Islam. “How the Crusades Changed History” offers an interpretative understanding of the causes and consequences of this critical historical period. In the human sciences, CAUSES need to be qualified and CONSEQUENCES are often observed to diverge from intended plans. The original call to aid the Byzantine Empire from threatening Turkish migrations and Islamic expansion into Asia Minor launched the crusades with the possibility of ending the schism and reunifying Christendom under one faith and empire; but it unintentionally facilitated MUSLIM expansion into southeastern Europe. And with the popular imagination of an approaching apocalypse, the following millennium paradise, the spreading fears of paganism and heresy, the re-capturing of Jerusalem, and the creation of crusader states and new religious orders, these all combined and contributed to the increasing threats and growing mistrust between the CATHOLIC WEST and the ORTHODOX EAST. With the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the 4th crusade further divided the Empire with an exodus of population and wealth simultaneously weakening Byzantine defenses against future Islamic advances as if foreshadowing the fall of Constantinople in 1453 with the exodus of intellectuals, manuscripts, and art treasures toward the emerging Italian RENAISSANCE. Finally, the rise of corruption associated with the mass distribution, growing commercialization, and metaphysical status of the plenary indulgence for questionable financial ends contributed according to the professor’s final words “to the dissolution of European Christendom itself.” Luther and the coming REFORMATION can be seen on the horizon. The worldview offered by participating in these series of lectures sheds much clarity and insight on the crusades, its historical consequences, and contemporary East-West relations and conflicts. Note: Speculative but rationally sound, the Reconquista experience in Spain may have shaped COLONIAL experiences in the Americas, and the crusades in general may have influenced European IMPERIALISM in the age of exploration around the globe. *** A SCHOLARY, ARTISTIC, & ENLIGHTENING EXPERIENCE ***
Date published: 2016-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Three of a Kind Professor Philip Daileader presented courses on "Early Medieval" and "High Medieval" that I enjoyed thoroughly mostly because of his combined depth of knowledge and surprising wit, which combination enlivened the subject and maintained my attention. So, when I saw his course focusing on the Crusades, I figured, why not make it a full house. He did not disappoint and moreover, he tops the lectures with interpretation and insight that make those days so long ago feel fresh and relevant in our current day. At first, some may think Medieval studies will be boring but I urge you to try these courses and see how your view will change.
Date published: 2016-01-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good walk through the Crusades I really enjoyed Professor Daileader's courses on the Middle Ages so I looked forward to learning about the Crusades from him. I just finished the course and enjoyed it a lot. It gives a good overview of what happened in the Crusades and in the last few lectures puts the information to discuss the effects of the Crusades on history. I gave this course four stars rather than the five that I would give to the Middle Ages courses just because of the nature of the material. Because the Crusades were a series of events rather than an era, the course is mostly chronological, walking through lots of events. What I likes about the Middle Ages courses was the explanation of how changes in technology and living changed things. There is some of that in the background in the first lecture or so and in the aftermath at the end, but in between you have a lot of crusades and crusaders to go through. Still, I learned a lot and enjoyed the course, getting through it fairly quickly.
Date published: 2015-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Narrative of the Crusades This is the fourth course I have taken given by Professor Dialeader, the other three being his excellent trilogy on the middle ages which I had enjoyed immensely. This one, as it turned out, was no exception. The course is primarily narrative in nature. The first three lectures present the background to the crusades: professor Daileader presents the three major entities that were to interact during the crusades – the Byzantine Empire, the Muslim world and the emerging Western European culture. Professor Daileader describes in these first lectures the cultural background and immediate political circumstances that made the crusades seem like a good idea to Western Europeans towards the end of the Eleventh century. The next fourteen lectures are a narrative account of all of the crusades that took place – both those to the Mediterranean, and those that were eventually to target other areas unimagined by Urban II (the pope who ordered the first Crusade) such as the Baltic region, Germany, Southern France and the Iberian Peninsula. The first Crusade was ordered to help the Byzantines with their troubles with the Seljuk Turks, who were gaining more and more control of regions in Asia Minor. Pope Urban II was really hoping that this gesture would help patch things up with the Byzantines, but as it happened that was not to be. The Main Crusaders were noblemen, most of which were not firstborns and so did not inherit the estates of their fathers and so – were left to find their own way in the world. The first Crusade was not a Monarch's Crusade. As it happened, the first Crusade was fantastically successful, much beyond what anyone had expected. Four independent Crusading states were conquered and then established: Antioch, Eddesa, Tripoli and Jeruslaem, jointly called Outremer. The Crusades did little to help the Byzantines with the Turks, and in fact the tension in relationship between the West and Byzantium was greatly exacerbated by the Crusades, a key point in the Crusades to follow. The following Crusades to Outremer, were aimed at enabling reinforcements and defending the Crusading states, and after Saladin conquered Jerusalem back from the Crusaders, to gain it back and revive the glory days of the first Crusades. In fact, it turned out that the Crusading states were never as strong as when they were first established – it was all downhill from there. Some of the most famous Western Monarchs would eventually go on Crusade, and some were to die during it. The third Crusade, also called the King's crusade, was to include Wesern Europe's three greatest kings. King Richard Lion-Heart of England was to spend a large part of his Monarchy in Outremer. Phillip II of France also went on this Crusade, but took on a rather minor role unlike Richard Lion-Heart. He proved to be a lesser Crusader, but probably a better Monarch. He went back to France and set up a strong bureaucracy and economic infrastructure that would make France stronger than it had ever been since Charlemagne. The Third Monarch, Frederick Barbarosa of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany), drowned on his way to Jerusalem ending his contribution with a huge anti-climax. If the third Crusade did little to help the situation in Outremer, the fourth Crusade was really not much more than a hi-jacking. Since the beginning of the Crusades, the Italian city states took on the important role of transporting the Crusaders to Outremer, thus saving the huge effort of the Crusaders to make the huge land crossing as the first Crusaders had. As a consequence the Italian city states, primarily Venice and Genoa, became extremely rich and over time used their maritime skills not only to transport Crusaders to Outremer, but also to establish strong trade connection with the Muslims. As such they were not as enthusiastic about the Crusades as they had been at the beginning and the fourth Crusade was in a way hi-jacked and turned against Byzantium. Constantinople was sacked by the Crusaders of the fourth Crusade and Byzantium lost forever its place as the rich, direct continuation of the ancient Roman Empire. It would be reestablished some sixty years later but will never rise to the same heights. Other fascinating topics are discussed including the North Crusades, the Children's Crusades and the Albegencian Crusade in Southern France. The final seven lectures shift perspective and are analytical instead of narrative in nature, studying for example who the Crusaders were, who the Western Europeans who settled in Outremer were, and who were those who opposed the Crusades. I found these lectures to be particularly fascinating. Overall this has been a fantastic course. I did not have much knowledge about the crusades before, and being an Israeli it actually shed a lot of light on some of the most important Archaeological sites in Israel primarily in the Galilee, Acre and Jerusalem. I agree with some of the other reviewers that the name is not terribly appropriate: the course did not focus so much on how the Crusades changed history, but simply on what the Crusades were. Still, it was extremely informative for me, and professor Daileader was as delighting to listen to in this course as he was in the previous three courses of his that I have heard. Overall, I feel that I learned a lot and the course was easily worth the time and effort.
Date published: 2015-02-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How the Crusades Changed History This is the first course I've taken from the Great Courses where I relied solely on the audio and purchased it on CD rather than my usual DVD's. I've learned that it's best to contact the company to find out the number of illustrations in a course before I make the purchase. Having said that, it is clear that Professor Daileader is very knowledgeable about the subject matter; his course was presented in a chronologic and understandable way. He highlighted important people from the period and this course has added to my understanding of the middle ages and the impact of the Crusades on the politics of the period. In contrast to other professors, I found the lectures themselves not particularly inspiring which is to say the manner of presentation was not as 'intense' -more matter of fact-than many of the other lecturers I have seen in the Great Courses. Overall I was satisfied with the course but I've seen many better - -and some worse.
Date published: 2015-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best Yet This course was one of the best I have purchased. It was detailed, with appropriate authority. It seemed to be sufficiently broad and encompassing, but yet provide the detail I wanted.
Date published: 2015-01-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good course Fascinating subject well presented. The historical facts flow steadily and are compelling. The summary is a little obvious and politically correct, but that does not diminish the value of the course.
Date published: 2014-11-20
Rated 3 out of 5 by from As others said, does not live up to the title If you are a student of the crusades then you will not gain much from the historical information in these lectures. But you would expect to be engaged by another historian's view on the impact on history of the crusades. Well, you will just barely get that in the last lecture. Although his bibliography is far ranging, the material included is not scattered with unique nuggets regarding the crusades, although I was unaware that the King of France had dysentery to the degree that he allegedly rode with his pant seat cut out. Not sure I needed that bit of information! In any case, the lectures are okay and I admit that I re listened to the entire course three times (I'm not sure if I am a glutton for pain or this is standard for most Great Courses students). That being the case, I'm okay with my discount purchase price since it led me to delve deeper into other sources and isn't that really what any of these course are for? Let us face a is not going to get REALLY smart simply listing to 10 or 12 hours of another person's perspective on a topic. That said, buy it on sale and decide. The refund policy is a breeze so if it's beneath you, simply send it back, as I gladly did with "Turning Points of the Middle Ages," don't get me started with that nonsense.
Date published: 2014-08-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not As Advertised Professor Daileader is deservedly famed for his clarity, thoroughness and wry sense of humor. I loved his three courses on the Middle Ages. In this course, Daileader is thorough and clear in his narration of the history of the crusades, but that is not why I purchased it. I expected a lot more on “How the Crusades Changed History”. In that regard, Daileader did give some lectures on how the weakening of the Byzantine Empire by the Crusaders did make the Empire easier prey for the Ottoman Turks, how the ideology of justification of war against non-believers (if they don’t allow evangelization in their lands, specifically pagans in Europe, and Muslims in the Middle East and Africa) developed and was extended to the Americas in the later wars of conquest and colonization, and how the sale of indulgences induced individuals to join or finance the Crusades, created all sorts of problems for the Church, and contributing to its eventual splitting in the Reformation, but these examples are few compared to the amount of time devoted to the narration of the Crusades themselves. In that sense, I was not satisfied. Still, you will always learn something from Daileader.
Date published: 2014-06-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Content doesn't live up to the title The title of this course led me to believe that it would be a discussion of the impact of the crusades on both the Middle East and Western Europe. We had enjoyed Professor Daileader's Middle Ages courses and so had high hopes for this one. What were the impacts on trade? On learning? On foods? On the economies at home when large groups of men went away for years? Instead the course is a pretty standard recitation of dates, crusades and battles. We slogged through all the lectures hoping for content about the impacts, but it simply never came. This type of history study is why I didn't like history in school. It's the causes and impacts that I find interesting, not a list of events.
Date published: 2014-03-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I love medieval history, BUT... At first, I thought the professor jumped around a lot from one crusade to another. Then I realized my player was on "Shuffle." Even after I solved that problem, he still jumped around a lot, only in smaller chunks. Content: Dr. Dailander tries to pack a huge amount of information into the limited lecture time he has available. What suffers are three things: characters, segues and "whys". Saladin did something in 1187. Saladin did something else in 1188. Were they connected events? What changed for him in that time? What changed in Egypt and Jerusalem over that period? We never learn that. Events are too disconnected: only the briefest sketches of people, dates, places and antagonists. Characters are insufficiently developed. Suddenly somebody appears on the scene, does something significant, and departs. No attempt is made to flesh out these movers and shakers. Saladin, kings of England, France and Spain impacted large over long periods, but the treatment they receive during these lectures is far too brief. Sergeant Joe Friday's "Just the facts, ma'am" springs to mind. Very little cause and effect relationships. Speech mannerisms: Dr. Dailander slurs through names of people and places like he's unsure of how to pronounce them. Or maybe it's a slight speech impediment, I couldn't tell. French names are butchered and unrecognizable; and this from somebody who loves reading medieval history and knows the names of the major players. I almost never give up on courses less than half-way through, but I did on this one. I found it a waste of time that might be better spent with another presenter on the same topic.
Date published: 2014-02-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Indulge yourself.... I find Dr Daileader a very skilled and entertaining lecturer, so I may be a bit biased in my review...but, what the heck, it's just a review. For those thinking of purchasing this series, the lecturer is very well prepared and delivers with an energy and dry wit that is both entertaining and informative. Since I prefer audio lectures (always following along in front of a laptop that I can bring-up real-time specific maps and items that shed more light on particular subjects) I could spend more time using the references and suggested reading (authors) which were quite helpful (and we all watch too many videos anyway). The lectures lay the foundations for how these sometimes awful crusades might have changed the course of history. Not so much for what they accomplished, but for what they did not... Ottoman domination...the reformation...the foundation of prejudices that endure even to today? Makes you think. In the end, isn't that what we all want from these courses? Highly recommend (as always, on sale and with a coupon). Now I want to try the Harl lectures on the same subject.
Date published: 2013-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent coverage of history and themes I took this course after greatly enjoying Prof. Daileader's three courses on the Middle Ages. I found "How the Crusades Changed History" to be well paced, extremely interesting and quite informative. I like his historical / chronological approach from lectures 1 through 17. He covers the well-known 1st through 4th Crusades and then does justice to the 5th - 8th Crusades, and the very interesting Crusades within Europe (part of the reconquista of Spain from the Moors; the fascinating Crusades in Eastern Europe to Christianize 'pagan' tribes like the Balts; and the Crusades against French heretics such as the Albegensians). Prof. Daileader then ends with 7 thematic lectures about life on crusade, relations with the Muslims, etc. I found his final two lectures -- how the Crusades directly aided the rise of the Ottoman Turks and how the Crusades introduced the idea of indulgences that later corrupted the Catholic Church and led to the Reformation -- extremely interesting. I had also taken and rated as 5 stars Prof. Harl's "Era of the Crusades" course. Taking both is well worthwhile.
Date published: 2013-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A whirlwind audio tour of centuries of warfare Prof. Philip Daileader is one of my favorite TGC profs; if you haven’t followed his three-part series on the Middle Ages, put it on your wish list. This course on the Crusades is unusual in that it’s one of TGC’s recent “audio-only” courses. It’s a bit unfortunate, because Prof. Daileader’s energetic delivery and wry humor don’t have quite the same impact without video. However, if you’re looking for a quick yet satisfying exploration of the Crusades, this course should please you. A few years ago, I read several books on the Crusades, and this course helped refresh my memory of the key events and people. It also enlarged my vision by including other “crusades” which took place elsewhere besides Palestine. Prof. Daileader concludes by linking the crusades to events which followed afterwards, specifically the indulgence controversy and the Reformation. Because the era of the Crusades is complex, and many characters have similar or identical names, an audio-only course can sometimes leave you a bit befuddled. There is a guidebook, but I confess that I did not review it as I often do with the video courses (since I only had it as a PDF and not an actual book). Speaking of the guidebook, it has summaries of each lecture, plus several maps, but no glossary or list of personages. (I wonder if this is a new policy with TGC, since this is the second recent course I have taken where those features were missing.) I own, but haven’t yet watched, Kenneth Harl’s course on the Crusades. I look forward to checking it out and making a comparison with this audio course. I opted for the digital version, which I could download immediately to my iPod for listening during my early morning trips to the gym.
Date published: 2013-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from second excellent crusades course I found this to be an excellent course, just as I did Harl's offering on the Crusades. Prior to listening to GC's courses on the Crusades, I knew 0 about this period of history. I read a couple of books to try to plug the gap and couldn't seem to keep straight what happened in each crusade. I thank the Great Courses for giving me the equivalent of a college course on this topic. I have struggled to differentiate the courses to other customers who may want a strong recommendation as to which course they should prefer. I think both are excellent and if you listen to them a few months apart they will enrich rather than duplicate. I enjoyed this as much as Daileader's other middle ages courses and so recommend it fully.
Date published: 2013-09-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Limited options TTC provides two courses on the Crusades — Dr Harl's longer THE ERA OF THE CRUSADES and Dr Daileader's HOW THE CRUSADES CHANGED HISTORY. How do they compare? 1. NOT PASSIVE ENTERTAINMENT Those of you seeking "you are there" storytelling that builds on our widespread fascination with medieval chivalry and war craft will be sorely disappointed. "Game of Thrones" this is not. Both ERA and HISTORY are sober presentations of the causes and key personalities behind 8 military expeditions over a span of 200 years. ERA in particular devotes the first third of the course to the political, ideological and economic factors behind the First Crusade. These involve distinct geographies and cultures — Byzantium, Western Europe, the Muslim Near East — as well as an invading game-changer: the Seljuk Turks. 2. REQUIRE MAPS It follows that access to maps during the presentation is absolutely necessary. Three geographic areas, many cities that no longer exist, varied trajectories followed by different armies. Audio-only versions will surely frustrate unless you have access to maps as you listen. The DVD of ERA is the ONLY version that gives you that. 3. MODERN REVERBERATIONS IGNORED Despite claims to the contrary, neither ERA nor HISTORY talk about how the Crusades influence the mutual distrust and incomprehension that divides Muslim societies from the West today. Being longer, ERA is more comprehensive. But both are designed for viewers strictly interested in medieval history. CONCLUSION ERA and HISTORY are good overviews from a social history perspective. Neither really dwells on blow-by-blow war stories. To avoid leafing through maps as you listen, the only way to go is the DVD version of ERA. Otherwise, some maps are included in each guidebook — not a practical solution for commuters. I don't understand why HISTORY is only sold in audio form. It is really good if your interest in this topic is more casual."
Date published: 2013-09-11
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