Other 1492: Ferdinand, Isabella, and the Making of an Empire

Course No. 899
Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
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114 Reviews
74% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 899
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Course Overview

In 1492, there was no country called Spain and no language called Spanish. The biggest event of the year, in the region that would become Spain, was the surrender of the last Muslim stronghold, Granada. The Edict of Expulsion gave Jews three months to either convert to Christianity or leave the Kingdom of Castile and the Crown of Aragon.

In other words, there is a different 1492, than the one most of us know, one that is more complete and more complex.

This 12-lecture course uses 1492 as a focal point to follow events that enabled Spain to become a country and then an empire. It examines centuries of developments that led up to that pivotal date in Spanish history, and analyzes the consequences of the events that took place in 1492 for both Spain and the New World.

A Year that Symbolizes Spanish History

Presented by Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz, a foremost authority on Spanish history and an award-winning teacher and author, this course paints a portrait of 1492 as the centerpiece of the transformation of Spanish society by tying together several key themes:

  • The rise of Castile as the strongest of the Spanish realms, and the reforms of Ferdinand and Isabella. Catholic monarchs built a popular and stable monarchy in Castile—through such measures as new taxes, control of the military, and reform of the church—that enabled Spain to emerge as the most powerful nation in Europe.
  • The end of pluralism. For centuries, the Iberian Peninsula had been a multicultural mix of Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Beginning with the Christian victory over Muslim forces at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, and continuing with developments such as the conquest of Granada and the Edict of Expulsion, both in 1492, Muslims and Jews were either forced to convert to Christianity or sent into exile.
  • The world of Christopher Columbus. Developments such as the recovery of classical knowledge of geography and astronomy, and new knowledge of maps and the use of the compass and astrolabe, enabled Columbus to set sail confidently across the Ocean Sea (Atlantic). Columbus's discoveries gave Spain a foothold in the Caribbean that it used to test colonial institutions, and to explore and conquer Mexico and Central America.

The Experience of Muslims, Jews, and Native Americans: 1492 from "Below"

Today, we associate 1492 with a sense of wonder and discovery. But a major theme of this course is to look at history not only from "above"—the perspective of a victorious Castilian and Christian society—but from below, from the view of the defeated, the outsiders, those seen as "other." For many people of the time, 1492 inspired only despair and terror.

Professor Ruiz conveys a palpable sense of the experiences of Muslims and Jews as they faced the choice of renouncing their religious beliefs or leaving lands that they had called home for centuries. This discussion touches on topics such as the Muslim sense that their civilization was ultimately doomed after the defeat by Christian forces at Toledo in 1085, and the confusion felt by Conversos—Jewish converts to Christianity—who tried to mix elements of Judaism with their new religion and became prime targets of the Inquisition.

You will see how Castilian attitudes toward others were exported to the New World. Spanish accounts of native peoples were ambivalent. They praised natives' simplicity and seeming closeness to God, but labeled them with the same stereotypes that had been applied to Muslims and Jews, and questioned whether they were truly human.

Throughout, these lectures are an opportunity to understand the events of 1492 as they were perceived by people of the time, and to correct misconceptions that linger today. For example, you will learn why Columbus's voyages were not seen as the greatest of his time, that he and his fellow Europeans did not believe the Earth was flat, and that his first voyage did not produce doubts and fear among those who sailed with him.

This 1492, the "other" 1492, will greatly expand and often revise your understanding of one of history's most crucial dates.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Europe and the New World in 1492
    The historian Walter Benjamin wrote that "every document of civilization is also a document of barbarity." This lecture broadly evaluates 1492 as an era of great creativity and great destruction, and describes the governing institutions that enabled Castile to take the lead role in both processes. x
  • 2
    Reconquest, Pilgrimage, Crusade, Repopulation
    A religious relic in the small town of Compostela drew a cascade of pilgrims across the Pyrenees to northwest Iberia, many of whom eventually settled along the pilgrimage path. As these Europeans moved further south, Muslim kingdoms called up reinforcements from North Africa, sparking the first real conflict between militant Islam and the Christian West. x
  • 3
    The Transformation of Values
    In the 13th century, the idea of private property evolved from a concept of land jurisdiction to the idea of owning physically bounded space. Laws limiting charitable giving weakened the church and buttressed family wealth. The idea of purgatory allowed the rich to negotiate or "bargain" for salvation, creating a new attitude toward the poor. x
  • 4
    An Age of Crisis
    Isabella's ascent to the throne found the monarchy's power at low tide. Nobles had encroached upon royal lands. Tyrannical elites extorted income from the peasantry, and rival clans warred in the streets. Devout and determined, Isabella tamed the nobility, bringing law and order to a grateful people. x
  • 5
    Isabella and Ferdinand—An Age of Reform
    The monarchy's reform of the church and establishment of a vast, university-trained bureaucracy led to a blossoming of culture in the 16th century. A new class of royal administrators loyal to the crown seized control of municipal power, and the cortes was reduced to a rubber-stamp body. A centralized state in Castile with a "monopoly of legalized violence" was created. x
  • 6
    Iberian Culture in the Fifteenth Century
    15th-century Iberian culture was saturated with Italian humanist thought and strengthened by the growth of a lettered nobility. Conventions of grammar, etiquette, and chivalry informed the popular genre of romance novels, and hierarchically arranged festivals became part of the art of ruling. x
  • 7
    The Conquest of Granada—Muslim Life in Iberia
    The rule of the Caliphate of Cordoba was peaceful and tolerant. Jews, Christians, and Muslims lived, worked, and wrote in a "garden protected by the spears of Islam." The Caliphate's 1031 collapse gave Christian armies the upper hand, and foretold the end of convivencia between the faiths. x
  • 8
    The Edict of Expulsion—Jewish Life in Iberia
    Historians today suggest a range of motivations behind the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Some cite militant Christianity and a hatred of Jews dating back to Visigothic times. Others argue that economic elites, jealous of Jewish influence at court and in commerce, simply wished to remove the competition. x
  • 9
    Jews, Conversos, and the Inquisition
    The horrific pogroms of 1391 were followed by unprecedented levels of Jewish conversion to Christianity. Upper and middle-class Conversos blended comfortably into society, while the lower classes remained segregated at the bottom. The Spanish Inquisition, designed to ferret out "secret" Jews, sought to remove the last visible traces of Judaism from Iberia. x
  • 10
    The World of Christopher Columbus
    By 1492, the stated purpose of Columbus's trip was irrelevant. The Portuguese had already passed the Cape of Good Hope, and Vasco da Gama would soon return from his profitable Indian voyage. Columbus, a brilliant sailor, an apocalyptic zealot, and an incompetent administrator, returned from the New World believing he had ushered in a new age. x
  • 11
    The Shock of the New
    The Spanish treatment of the New World's inhabitants was riddled with contradictions, a result of Castile's fundamental failure to comprehend them. The eventual conclusion that they were human beings capable of salvation mitigated the brutality of the conquest. To their credit, the Spanish people were open to mixing and blending with the people of the Americas to build a new society and culture. x
  • 12
    Spain and Its Empire—The Aftermath of 1492
    The legacy of 1492 would be Spain's wrenching entry into world affairs. The ascent of Charles I to the throne of Castile and his election as Holy Roman Emperor committed Spain to a role in the political conflicts of Western Europe. Spain would endure foreign wars, civil unrest, absolute despotism, and economic decline as the cost of empire, but also import its institutions all over the Americas and reap the cultural rewards of a new Golden Age. x

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Your professor

Teofilo F. Ruiz

About Your Professor

Teofilo F. Ruiz, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Teofilo F. Ruiz is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. A student of Joseph R. Strayer, Dr. Ruiz earned his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Prior to taking his post at UCLA, he held teaching positions at Brooklyn College, the City University of New York Graduate Center, the University of Michigan, the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences in Paris, and Princeton University-as the...
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Reviews

Other 1492: Ferdinand, Isabella, and the Making of an Empire is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 114.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview of a pivotal period I bought this course in preparation for a vacation in Spain and it greatly increased my appreciation of so much that I saw there. Professor Ruiz presents the material in a lively and clear manner. I loved it! I only wish video had been available.
Date published: 2017-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Dense Analysis It took me a long time to get through this course. I have an appreciation for the Spanish, speak some Spanish. Most people seem to feel that, well, the Brits won, the Spanish were done, way back when. This is a sad story, this course. It's about persecuting Muslims and Jews, genocide. It's about how meaningless, or destructive, the Columbus voyages were. We live with delusional versions of history. But this is what modernity turns out to be. This is a remarkable story, but it drives home the point that there are very few constraints on human behavior. We do what works for us, in the short term, and that's it. We can't fix that kind of thinking. If you want to be a decent human being, it is going to be very hard.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I'm currently walking the Camino de Santiago through Spain and listening to these lectures along this incredible path of history. Very informative and a great help in understanding the cultural history of this land and it's people. Viva Espania
Date published: 2017-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic This course is excellent. Professor Ruiz presents not commonly known history of the Iberian Peninsula that led to the empire which accomplished so much. His knowledge and passion about the subject matter is impressive. He presents his information clearly, and does so with regard to context and significance. The course succeeds 100% in presenting information in a way that includes the impact on people who lived through the era. I like his teaching style. He's concise, moves at a pace that is interesting and easy to retain, and at the beginning of every lecture summarizes the previous one. Even the course outline book is way above average!
Date published: 2017-03-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course The professor is fantastic in every way. He has an enthusiasm that is contagious and subject knowledge that is second to none. I could listen to him all day. The information I received was a complete surprise to me . I always associated 1492 completely with Columbus' voyage and had little idea of the rich history of the Iberian peninsula. This course exceeded all of my expectations .
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fascinating But Biased AUDIO DOWNLOAD This is my second TC course with Professor Ruiz, the first being the equally fascinating ‘Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal’. I found this subject so interesting that I listened twice to the twelve lectures of this 2002 TC course. Professor Ruiz’s accent can be confusing at times (is he the TC Ricardo Montalban?), but that should not detract from his very interesting account. 1492 for us today looms large as the year of Columbus’ sailing to the New World, “a mythical year in Spanish and world history” (Course Guidebook, Page 3). Professor Ruiz rightly contends that for Columbus’ contemporaries there were many more important developments in1492. It is a much more significant marker, for example, for the fall of Muslim Granada and the expulsion of the Jews. Professor Ruiz’s major point is that “Late medieval Spain was a multicultural and multilingual society. Toleration of religious minorities and respect for other linguistic groups were practiced … until the mid-fourteenth century. By then, conflict between different groups increased dramatically. By the early sixteenth century, this plurality had been erased from Spanish society, and Castilian emerged as the dominant language” (Page 4). He provides good detail to support his positions and does so in a quite engaging manner. Along the way, he references the work of other scholars, not only for support but also to point out areas of disagreement, as well as areas that will likely never be known with certainty. Professor Ruiz is especially good at explaining the changes in cultural values and mentality (social history being his strong point), as well as the standard economic, political, and military “antecedents”/ developments. He reaches back into Visigoth Spain, the Muslim invasion of 711, developments in the centuries leading up to 1492 and into the early sixteenth century, and Spain’s activities in the New World. Despite my overall satisfaction with this course, I have some personal concerns. As he notes early on, Professor Ruiz’s is a view “from below” (Page 3), not just from the perspective of the “victors”. While this provides an interesting story, it often signals suspicion of motives of those “above” and a focus on issues of power and control. There is quite a bit of those perspectives in this course, often well-justified, but sometimes heavy-handed or one-sided. (I have come to think of Professor Ruiz as my favorite TC lefty, since his revisionism is quite apparent and above board.) While Professor Ruiz does an excellent job on the condition and plight of Jews in Spain, including the Inquisition (set up to deal with converted Jews, Conversos or New Christians), I would have appreciated more on Moorish or Muslim Spain. There is little on the conflicts within this territory and how the conflicts with Spanish Christians fit into the larger picture of contemporary Muslim expansion/conquest. While the Muslim religion practiced in Moorish Spain was historically tolerant of others, there is only passing reference to the “more orthodox” and “fundamentalist” North African Muslims who invaded Spain in the twelfth century and no mention of their particularly harsh treatment of non-converting Jews and Christians. Also, while Professor Ruiz highlights the “international” (Page 7) character of the forces commanded by Alfonso VIII of Castile at the decisive battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, he does not mention that Alfonso lost the support of a sizable contingent of French and other European forces before the battle due, in part, to his comparatively lenient policy toward Jews and Muslims. I am not sure if passing over matters such as these can be attributed to lack of time, or that they just do not fit in well with Professor Ruiz’s overall narrative of the Reconquista, privileging one side (those “below”) over the other (the “victors”). In fact, for Professor Ruiz, “Reconquista” is a misnomer, as the Christians were not so much reconquering as conquering territory that had never really been theirs (even though they might see themselves as inheritors of the Christian Visigoths overthrown by the 711 Muslim invasion). Nevertheless, despite my concerns, I still find Professor Ruiz’s treatment of the Reconquista illuminating and as such it added appreciably to my understanding. Professor Ruiz casts his lot with much prevailing trendy scholarship and even popular opinion critical of Christopher Columbus. While lecture ten is a good treatment of Columbus within the context of European voyages of discovery, it is marred for me by Professor Ruiz’s not being content with taking Columbus’ achievement down a few pegs but also charging him, in the audio lecture, with being a “religious fanatic” whose voyage “was not a great deal, not essentially a big deal”. I got the feeling from the lecture that Columbus was quite disreputable, and that generations of historians had puffed his accomplishment way out of proportion. The audio of lecture eleven, however, dials this back in starting out by saying “…please allow me not to diminish [Columbus’] accomplishment”. Not an elegant treatment, but it does prod one to wonder what the truth may be about Columbus between supposed uncritical admirers and the present-day debunkers. The sixty-seven page course guidebook is fine, with all of the usual components. I do, however, wish that there were more maps. The one for Spain in 1491 is barely adequate for the audio course. I assume the video version has many more maps and other supporting visuals to offer.
Date published: 2016-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An important history not to be missed Within decades of the joining of the crowns of Castile and Aragon, "Spain" as we more commonly know it, emerged not only as a leading European power but set the stage for a century or more as the global superpower. Because Ferdinand and Isabella are often presented solely as supporting characters in the Columbus saga, their story, and the story of their nascent kingdom is often overlooked. Isabella particularly is a fascinating historical figure in her own right and deserves a closer look. Professor Ruiz does a great job exploring and explaining this often untold history. He has an excellent command of the topic and delivers a succinct, evenly delivered series of lectures. If you have any interest in European history and the origins of the Spanish Empire, this is an excellent course not to be missed. Finally, in response to other reviews, anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of this epoch, most likely, will not find anything particularly "controversial" in these lectures, and for what it's worth, i found Professor Ruiz's accent to be, if anything, charming.
Date published: 2016-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Christians, Jews, Muslims, Conversos, and more audio download version Professor Ruiz gives an amplified meaning (for me) to Iberia in the 15th Century. Not just the mu;ti-ethnic mix, but we get cultural and religious aspects along with the shifting movement of who is in charge of which parts of the peninsula when and for how long;. Having just finished Bill Bryson's book on Barcelona his description of what what was happening not only in Catalonia, but in Aragon, Castile, and so on fit in very nicely with Dr. Ruiz's lecturers. While I knew full well the treatment of Christians and Jews by the Muslims before and during this time period, it was a revelation to me, that until the reconquest was far along, everyone managed to keep their livelihood and possessions regardless who happened to be in charge on the day (or year). And more. You never expect the Spanish Inquisition, And more. Professor Ruiz gives just a small bit of Columbus and his New World voyages, both the good (navigator, seaman, etc.) and the less than good (wrong concept on how big the world really was and his administration). Some of this I knew, but I had no idea that the Crown financed the trip because it was so cheap that they might as well. Really just one insight after another. Some reviewers have commented on Dr. Ruiz's Spanish accent. True enough,, but I* had no trouble at all in understanding him, and as an aside, although he is from Cuba, when he read parts of text in Spanish, his Spanish was not at all a Caribbean accent. Very good Spanish. Further his command of English appears to be complete as well as his ability to make subtle asides in English about English practices. For example when he comments on the ned for and the high prices of spices during this period, he makes the point that if you want to know what food tastes like without those spices, just go to England. Sis-Boom-Bah! Highly Recommended
Date published: 2016-06-14
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Just like a previous reviewer I have degrees in Spanish, and thought this would be a fun course to take since I enjoy the field so much. But I just couldn't get into it, His accent didn't bother me, bit his presentation did. It seemed as though he was going out of his way to try and "bust"/challenge e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g we think we know about this subject. I'm not saying there aren't stories that need to be challenged and changed; I just got a little tired of feeling like he was trying to assign blame and hammer us over the head with his position on things.
Date published: 2016-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally unexpected spin on the flat earth myth These 12 lectures discussed the initial population and monarchy in Castile before the larger area became formally “Spanish”. He explained the layered Jewish situations prior to their (partial) expulsion. Since Portugal gained sea access to India, he refuted the myth that seafaring nations treated the world as flat. They navigated down the African coast. Columbus already sailed that same coast “over the horizon”. Isabella did not sell her jewels to finance his trip. The pace of this course keeps the presentation alive. It could have been drawn out and detailed (and drowsy), but I far preferred this succinct walk through the era.
Date published: 2016-03-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Such Great Purchase Maybe course better with DVD where map of Iberia can be constantly referred to, but CD version is difficult to follow chronologically and organizationally. Professor's English vocabulary is superb, but his pronunciation is lacking.
Date published: 2016-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Historical Research/Interpretation Very well presented nterpretation of this period in the history of Spain based upon the professors own research.
Date published: 2016-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent addition This course is excellent in providing information to fill in The Late Middle ages course. I recommend it as an addition to that course. It expands on the information in the Late Middle Ages course, providing a more complete picture of Spain (Al-Andalus) in the period.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Lecture I greatly enjoyed this course and learned an enormous amount of history that wasn't covered in my public education. Dr. Ruiz' accent requires concentration on the part of the listener.i found I needed to turn off the CD when I was in heavy traffic which is certainly not a bad thing. I am looking forward to more lectures by Dr. Ruiz.
Date published: 2015-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Two Kingdoms, One King, One Faith “My Fair Lady” was wrong; the rain in Spain does NOT fall mainly on the plain, but on the highlands. That’s one thing Professor Teofilo Ruiz wanted viewers to know when he made this enjoyable series on Spain, or more accurately Castile and Aragon, in the Late Middle Ages, extending until after Columbus’s famous 1492 voyage. In the era that this course covers, the Spanish kingdoms passed from the near anarchy of over-mighty barons and self-governing towns to strong royal government and from multi-religious states with Catholic (i.e. Christian), Muslim and Jewish communities to a mono-religious Catholic state policed by the Inquisition. Part of this process was of course the conquest of independent Granada in 1492, which for Spaniards was THE event of that year, since Columbus didn’t return until 1493 and even then the results of his first voyage weren’t very impressive. I give this course a positive recommendation. I've marked it for four stars under presentation only because one of the lectures--I think it was the An Age of Crisis lecture (#4)--left me somewhat confused by a large number of royal and aristocratic players. I would give the course content an unofficial 4.75 stars, because I wish Professor Ruiz would have said a little more about Portugal and its failure to join "Spain," though in fact the Portuguese Crown was united with the crowns of Castile and Aragon from 1580 until 1640. One off-putting feature for some might be Professor Ruiz’s heavy Spanish accent, which leads him, for example, to mispronounce Spain as Espain and “majority” as “mayority.” I spotted an amusing typo in one slide; in remarking that medieval society was divided into the orders of nobility, peasantry, and clergy--those who fight, those who work, and those who pray--“pray” was misspelled as “prey.” Many commoners at the time, owing tithes to the Church and perhaps rents to ecclesiastical lords, or those persecuted by the Inquisition, would certainly have agreed that the clergy do in fact prey. See also Professor Ruiz's other courses, which I have linked here.
Date published: 2015-07-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Social Studies of the Oppressed Imagine buying a course on World War 2 and discovering that the overarching theme was, and over a quarter of the course dealt exclusively with, the Holocaust. The expulsion of the Muslims and Jews from Spain and the treatment of Native Americans clearly colors Professor Ruiz view of Spain in this period. Colors it so completely that it becomes the focal point of this course to the exclusion of the actual history. The rise of the Catholic monarchs, the Reconquista and the world changing discovery of America become backdrops against which to tell the story of the oppressed. To be fair this is a story that is important and the instructor tells it in a fairly compelling if biased way This course feels very out of place in a Great Courses history catalog that tends shot straight down the historical barrel. If you tend to feel that GC history is too conservative or it don't include enough politically correct content, then you should appreciate this course. If you want to avoid social studies courses told from the viewpoint of Marx (Karl not the Brothers), head toward the many other fine historical offerings from GC.
Date published: 2015-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best! Only half-way through, and this is an outstanding course: passionate professor; coherent presentation; enlightening!
Date published: 2015-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great The course focuses on Spain both before and after the year 1492, and the fascinating point made is that to contemporaries there were events that seemed much more significant at the time than Columbus' "discovery" of the new world. The course is really more thematic than narrative in nature, much more focused on social and cultural transformations than on specific events and dates and such. I was delighted with Professor Ruiz's teaching style. Yes, as other reviewers have mentioned he does often quote his own work. I did not find this irritating however. Instead it made me feel like I was getting the word "from the horse's mouth". Moreover, he quoted other scholars extensively. I found him to be full of profound insight, demonstrating well the points he is trying to make and often saying that some of the points are his own personal point of view and that they are controversial. He does have a thick Spanish accent, but I did not find it hard at all to understand him. He makes the point that there was no Spanish nation or kingdoms in 1492 and certainly not before that. The Peninsula was composed of many smaller kingdoms, most often at war with each other. The most significant being Portugal, Aragon and Castile. A major transformation of the period was the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabella: this marriage would put two highly competent monarchs in charge of the two strongest and most dominant kingdoms in Iberia, and though they continued to rule their two kingdoms Aragon and Castile respectively, the two kingdoms cooperated one with the other extensively. The history of coexistence between the three religions is then discussed. When the Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the early 8th century from the Visigoths, they established a highly tolerant culture in which Jews and Christians were treated as "people of the book" meaning they could practice their faith but had to pay a tax for "not being Muslim". Nevertheless, Jews and Christians assumed key positions in the Muslim rule. The Christian kingdoms of Iberia, that were initially confined to the north of the Peninsula followed this leadership and were also tolerant. For many centuries, there was constant military conflict between the Muslim and Christian kingdoms over land and it was not clear at all in which direction the tides were going to take. In fact there was an unwritten agreement between the two forces in the Peninsula that they should treat other well after battle, because the tides may change very quickly and you would want your foe to reciprocate. The Wane of power of the Iberian caliphate in the early 11th century was the first sign of tide reversal. The Iberian Muslims called to their North African Coreligionists to help them win ground against the Christians in their military campaigns, but these latter ones were much more hardline Muslim than the Iberian ones and tension soon developed within the Muslims. By the 13th century it was obvious that the Christians were going to eventually win over the entire Iberian Peninsula, and the Christians felt that they no longer had to be tolerant of Muslims since they were winning anyway. Professor Ruiz sets out from the start to show how Spain transformed between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries from a tolerant land – where Christians, Jews and Muslims coexisted over many centuries to one where the Christian state became absolutely intolerant to others – eventually expelling all of its Jews and Muslims and treating the ones who converted with high suspicion. This background serves to understand the huge transformations that manifested themselves fully in 1492 and thereabouts: the conquest of the last Muslim stronghold Granada and shortly afterwards the expulsion of the Jews and Muslims that refused to convert. Many "conversos" were subjected to investigations by the Spanish inquisition that was also instituted in this very intolerant climate in 1478 primarily to investigate if the converted Jews were in fact really converted. About 2000 of them were eventually executed. Finally, Professor Ruiz discussed the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, and how this intolerant Spanish Catholic culture would have absolutely critical importance in the way the Spanish chose to govern and exploit the newly found treasure trove. Most of the South American Indians would end up dying of European disease that they were not immune to, and many of the rest would end up as slaves. Eventually using local South American Indians as slaves became illegal and so a huge trade in slaves from Africa, which we are all very familiar with became its substitute. I deeply enjoyed this course. It brought a me depth of knowledge about the cultural and sociological transformation of the Iberian Peninsula that I did not have before and helped get a much wider perspective on the transformations that were occurring right before the Columbian exchange. Obviously this is very important in understanding the Columbian exchange itself – which is perhaps THE watershed event of all of history in the last two millennia. So overall great thanks to Professor Ruiz for this very fine fascinating and enjoyable course.
Date published: 2015-03-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The other 1492 Professor is very informed and can recall dates and situations with ease. However, his accent does not help in understanding what he is saying. I dislike rapping him but I must be truthful.
Date published: 2015-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A real treat I think it is important that the whole western world understand that 1492 is about a lot more than Columbus sailing 'the ocean blue'. Professor Ruiz makes that very clear in 12 enlightening lectures about a fascinating and unique period of European history. Frankly, I purchased this course as background for my upcoming trip to Northern Spain. I got a lot more than i bargained for. The whole story of the Jews and the Muslims in medieval Spain and how and why they were expelled is fascinating and impactful. I would add a caveat to the rating on 'professor presentation'. Professor Ruiz has a very thick accent but once you are in his rhythm he is completely understandable. His knowledge and his passion well override any discomfort with his accent. I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to go a step or so beyond the usual survey course in European history.
Date published: 2015-02-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from stinky this could have been so interesting. instead it has a professor in love w/his own research and his own voice. the only terrible course i gotten from the Great Courses and now i've gotten it twice - so bad i forgot i'd listened to it before.
Date published: 2015-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from persecution this course provides insight into the techniques and practices of persecution and torture which seem to have endured into the present day.
Date published: 2014-12-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Professor was hard to understand and sometimes repetitious
Date published: 2014-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great professor! The professor is great and presents the subject with intelligence and grace. Great course and excellent price!! Can´t miss it.
Date published: 2014-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course Professor Ruiz brings a treasure-chest full of background to this outstanding course. Even though I knew a fair amount about the region's general history in this time period (from previous Great Courses classes on the MIddle Ages), my understanding is now considerably deeper after listening to this course. Ruiz brings in many streams of historical fact, and his final class on the impact of 1492 on the rest of European and American history is especially profound. Well worth any history-lover's attention!
Date published: 2014-10-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from other 1492 disappointing fabrication of a great event in the history of the world. the presenter has a left wing political agenda which distorts the truth of a monumental achievement. coupled with garbled speech and poorly spoken, i had expected more,
Date published: 2014-10-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Pompous course The language of the presentation is very inflated, pompous, dramatic, and more importantly repetitive. After you complete the course you are left with a vague feeling of 1492s significance. The best way I can describe the course is too much drama with little substance. I certainly do not recommend this course to others and especially to my friends with whom I often have great discussions about great courses.
Date published: 2014-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from 1492: Good value, nice general overview After reading some of the negative reviews of this course I was reluctant to make this purchase. However, I am really interested in the topic so I found a good sale and went for it. It seems that the 3 main negatives I gleaned from some reviews were not really noticeable to me. 1) I didn't not think the professor's accent was too hard to understand. Sure he mispronounced some words, but you totally knew what he was talking about. 2) I didn't think he was presenting the times in any sort of biased racism against the Christians of the time. He was just telling it like it really was. And to be fair, he also told of the good things the Christians did and also equally discussed the wrongs and rights of the Muslims and Jews of the time as well. 3) I agree with some reviewers that some of the content was wanting regarding how deep the professor discussed certain points. But I didn't find this to be a negative either. This was certainly an overview. And you are not going to be an expert on the topic after taking this course. But it is only 12 lectures long. I consider this a great primer for further inquiry and I highly recommend it. I bought the audio only version and I thought it was just fine fyi.
Date published: 2014-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from No rain in the Plains...? Audio download...with online help from GoogleEarth. Dr Ruiz's lectures reminded me of the visiting professor lectures I had during graduate school...with lectures less about the 'when' and 'how' and much more about the 'why', of cultural evolution in the 15th century Castile/Spain. Truly, this is a thought-provoking seminar that is congenially presented, with a style that is both different and refreshing. The elimination of pluralism in Iberia had long puzzled me. While I think the effects of the Spanish Inquisition was somewhat downplayed, I found the treatment of the Jews and Muslims somewhat appalling...especially in light of the history of tolerance shown by the 'Moors'. Finally, I enjoyed the treatment of Columbus, largely putting things into a contemporary context. Good job. Makes me want to learn more about the expansion into the Americas, as well as what led to the Spanish Armada...
Date published: 2014-06-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Other 1492 I have had great courses from Great Courses, so I was shocked to receive and listen to this course. I am sure that the instructor Ruiz is a wonderful teacher, a brilliant man, and a skilled conversationalist. Unfortunately for me, his thought processes are so unstructured as to make any substantive learning impossible. I can't imagine this being a Great Course offering.
Date published: 2014-05-09
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