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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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 115.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying, in-depth coverage This was a really good course, one that unexpectedly piqued my interest in several areas. Considering there are only 12 lectures, you get more than adequate coverage of events leading up to 1492 and the years that follow. The scope is indeed broad (race, religion, civil war, diplomacy and politics, economics, conquest, exploration and science, literature, genealogy of the royal house of Spain, etc.); however, because of the narrow context of the Iberian peninsula, it’s detailed enough to be considered deeper than a survey course. With this in mind, you’ll have to judge whether the topic is of interest to you. I like history and I really enjoy TGC courses that go into detail. If you do to, you’ll probably like it as well. It covers late medieval times through the Renaissance period, though ending in the 1520s with the reign of Charles I. This course also provides a very good complement to what you may know of medieval England and the Italian Renaissance. It’s also worth pointing out that listeners should be open to a “critical history” perspective that this course takes. Dr. Ruiz does have a Spanish accent, but he was easy to understand and I had no trouble comprehending him. By the 2nd lecture you feel immersed in content. Sometimes he references book titles or other names, and those I didn’t catch because he spoke in Spanish too quickly. For me, overall, I think the accent added to my overall experience and enjoyment. The fact that he researched so many documents and personal letters dating from the period is evident and adds to the course’s scholarship and authority. The lectures are not organized neatly in chronological order; it’s much more thematic so it tends to bounce around a bit. You still get the big picture, but it’s harder to synthesize on your own. This arrangement keeps you on your toes and makes you think more as you progress through the course trying to tie together events and relationships. Very satisfied and glad I had the opportunity to hear these lectures.
Date published: 2011-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from spanish history from the losers’ point of view as someone who knows relatively little about spanish history i found this to be a very interesting course. it nicely summarizes the trends which lead up to 1492, the events surrounding the year itself, and some of its aftermath. professor ruiz nicely makes the point that what we think of as the central event of 1492 was really the last thing on anyone’s mind at the time. the course is also peppered with intriguing factoids, such as the fact that there was no serfdom in medieval castille, or that the early navigators knew full well that the earth isn’t flat. given the potentially controversial nature of the subject matter it’s worth reporting that the course is presented from a progressive or even leftist point of view. in other words it’s centrally concerned with bringing out the experiences of the dispossessed and marginalized, be they jew, muslim, native american, or even non-castilian spanish, rather than with glorifying the triumphs of church and crown. this approach suited me just fine, since the whole point of such a course is to correct the imbalances left by traditional histories. spanish nationalists and traditional catholics however might find themselves quite challenged by the content. the professor has a thick spanish accent, but the english behind it is quite good and i had completely adjusted by the second lecture. he nonetheless does speak relatively slowly. i often found that the outline didn’t quite match the content of the lectures, and this was bothersome when the outline hinted at things that i would have liked to have heard developed more fully. overall i found myself wanting more detail on basically all the topics covered, the sort of detail that would require a complete survey of spanish history. nonetheless in the absence of that this was an engaging and eye-opening excursion into an often neglected corner of european history.
Date published: 2011-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Splendid Course In my view, this course has all the elements of a 5-star course - a distinguished professor with great expertise and authority in the field of the course, a fascinating theme, a deep exploration of the crucial questions around the theme, and valued learning of possible answers to those questions. After a brief but solid introduction, the professor goes straight to the heart of the mystery of the historical development of the land we today call Spain. Balanced, nuanced, and rich, the lessons quickly come to the rise of Castile. And it's a remarkable journey - the amazing story of Muslim life in Iberia, the stunning flowering of Jewish thought, the transition from a medieval Europe to the early modern world as it evolved in Iberia. We see a new economy developing and the special contribution of language, geography, and climate to the birthing of this new world. Through the re-conquest, crusade, a restructuring of cultural values, and the ascent of the Catholic Monarchy, we see the rise of the powerful nation-state and its dominance not only in Iberia but also in Europe and, of course, later in the New World. After 1492, for about 150 years, extending through its Golden Age, Spain was the center of the world. On the one hand, 1492 was a date that led to glorious art and culture, economic development, and domination. It was, of course, also the date by which we remember the "founding" of the New World by Columbus as well as a marker for the age of exploration. But, it was also, as the professor shows vividly and beautifully and tragically the door of time that led to the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain, the subjugation of native peoples and the introduction of slavery in the New World, and the Inquisition in Spain. This dark side - the construction of the notion of "the Other" and the utter dedication within society, supported by church and state, to its expulsion or destruction - is the flip side of 1492, the other 1492, that is so crucial for us to understand. So, whether one wants to understand the history of Spain or, more broadly, to learn of how this forward motion in history can get paired with such powerful and frightening and ugly backward motion, this course is a marvelous learning opportunity. I commend it highly.
Date published: 2011-04-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from truly academic quality At last the teaching company course that truly focuses and specializes on one subject,Prof Ruiz has to be one of the most passionate lecturers I have enjoyed whilst being a customer of the teaching company.
Date published: 2011-03-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Other 1492 This is one terrific course by one terrific professor who definitely knows his subject matter. And I love the courtly manner, as one reviewer emphasized, of Dr Ruiz. I've traveled a lot in Spain and thought I knew some Spanish history, but what a laugh that is after all the new angles Dr. Ruiz brought out. He truly digs deeply.
Date published: 2011-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Presentation I found this course to be very helpful to me in understanding Moorish Spain, as well as the Reconquest. I had many confusions and was dissatisfied with the superficial stuff in the history books. I found Ruiz to be very clear, even through his accent, about the culture of Spain on the ground before 1492 and the expulsion of the Jews. My late husband was from Spain and used to tell people that he was descended from both Moors and Jews. His hometown had a Juderia and a street called "La Synagoga." I now have a much better appreciation of Spanish history and culture as a consequence of watching this course. How is it that when it comes to Spain, people are so biased and intent upon taking sides? Spain is real, unique, and more complex than ideologues would like. Ruiz does a good job of bringing out the stuff others slouch around.
Date published: 2011-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent unique course I have read all the reviews of this course, and, even though most were very positive, a few were negative, and I would like to start by addressing these. The most common complaint is Prof. Ruiz's thick Spanish accent. It is true that he has a heavy accent, but this should not be a reason for lowering a rating!!! This is equivalent to not liking somebody because he/she is black, Muslim, or any of this sort! For a Spanish speaker not to have an accent, he/she should have moved to the US at a young age. I am from Spain, have been in the US for 22 years, and still have it, even though I have been married to an American for 19 years! Another amazing comment I read is someone criticizing Dr. Ruiz for being a Marxist, just because he focuses his study on regular people (peasants and other lower class Spanish citizens), instead of on kings, nobles, military people, etc.! This is outrageous!!! Professor Ruiz does an outstanding job describing what Spain was like in 1492 from within. We learn not only history, but also (and in more detail) culture, society, economy, literature, and other aspects of Spain. He especially analyzes what life was like for Christians, Muslims, and Jews during the Spanish Reconquest in the different areas of Spain. And he does all this with great enthusiasm. Not only this, but he even gives away his e-mail address to his listeners (or viewers), and invites them to write him if they have any questions. This is the only course I have listened to in which the professor does this, and I have listened to 7 or 8 already. I took him up on that and asked him a couple of questions, and he was extremely generous and gracious at answering them. Now that is going above and beyond what is expected of a teacher from the Great Courses!
Date published: 2011-02-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Worst Purchase Ever I have 25+ courses from TTC. This is one of the few that I have returned; and the worst of all the returned courses. Ultimately, my dissatisfaction boils down to this: Ruiz exudes an overpowering sense of dislike/disdain/aversion to all things Christian or Western. The following quote, from the recently deceased writer Joseph Sobran illustrates what is singularly lacking from this course: "More and more I find myself thinking that a conservative is someone who regards this world with a basic affection, and wants to appreciate it as it is before he goes on to the always necessary work of making some rearrangements....we have no right to reform the world unless we cherish some aspects of it; and that is the attitude of many of the best conservative thinkers." Instead of appreciation, what you get from Ruiz, instead, is bitterness. If this had been the first course purchased from TTC; it would have also been the last.
Date published: 2010-10-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Fascinating There are many delightful things about learning - acquiring new information that you find fascinating; seeing things that you understood from one perspective being presented in a completely different perspective, or simply being impressed or entertained by the style or skill of the teacher. This course provided me (and my wife) with all three. Although I have been to Spain, and have studied Spanish history, language and the arts, I was amazed (read appalled) at my ignorance in all these areas. I am thankful to Professor Ruiz for filling in some of these gaping holes. I will admit to wondering if the good professor hailed from the Critical Theory school of thought - (i.e. Marxist) but no matter - I thought he gave a balanced and nuanced perspective. I was also delighted with his eloquence, energy and passion - he is a highly articulate and persuasive speaker. I am a part-time teacher and can only admire his style of delivery - no one would be falling asleep in his class! My only regret was that the scope was fairly narrow - I would be interested in a broader discussion of Spain and the Spanish contribution to our world.
Date published: 2010-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Columbus is a footnote to 1492! I found this overall a rewarding short lecture series which, rather than presenting a comprehensive portrait, whetted my curiousity about early modern/late medieval Spain. Actually, the first several discs of the series were somewhat dry, filled with detail about the municipal governing systems, ruling families, etc., to such an extent that I began to tire of the course, but the second half of the series fully justified the material presented in the first portion. In particular, there are a couple of lectures dealing with the literature and culture of the period (Don Quixote, Amadis of Gaul, etc.), describing how literature and culture interacted to shape history, which were worth the price of the entire series to me, personally. The Prof. does a good job of expositing the unique melange of 1492, capturing the interactions and conflicts of the colliding, roiling cultrues of Christendom, Judaism, and Islamic Spain. Spain's unique position in geography and history as the boundary point of so many traditions and cultures reminds me of my own native Louisiana. As a point of criticism, I suspect that a certain leftist leaning somewhat colors the professor's outlook. He quotes Walter Benjamin, a Marxist thinker of the Frankfurt School, and makes several assertions that seem politically motivated. For example, he claims that there was no apparent racial distinction between Spanish Muslims, Jews and Christians, a claim which may be true, but seems like a stretch. How does he know this? Nevertheless, a guarded mind will find much of fascination in this course.
Date published: 2010-06-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sheds a new light Excellent course, covers an era that is very rarely discussed in detail. Presented with obvious passion and desire to communicate to the audience. I now have a much richer understanding of an era and the forces that shaped Spain and all of Europe and the Americas at a critical time in history. Well done.
Date published: 2010-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Short Course in the Catalog This course does a great job of putting the year 1492 into context, but more importantly, it provides an in-depth look into the course of Spanish history through the Reconquista. The dynamics of power in Spain are fascinating, and Professor Ruiz does a first-rate job of communicating his subject matter. Moreover, he packs more information into these twelve lectures than you might expect in a course twice its length.
Date published: 2010-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course! Dr. Ruiz does a great job. I am not a historian but am well acquainted with this period and he does a superb job. His descriptions are clear and he has a great style. He clearly knows the subject well. I think however that this course will do OK in CD as I do not think the visual aids are that good (and they are few), so no problem with the CD version. I would recommend this course without hesitation!
Date published: 2010-04-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A dedicated communicator This course would be ideal to take prior to traveling to Spain. My husband and I learned a lot, and found that the material filled in many holes in our knowledge that we didn't realize we had. The Professor's accent was initially distracting, but like other reviewers, we came to find it charming. One thing that was very impressive to me was that he gave us his email address and invited follow-up questions and communication from his audience. How many college professors open themselves up to that potential extra work? I would say good ones.
Date published: 2010-03-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprisingly good I began this course after having read that Professor Teofilo has a heavy accent. He does have a Spanish accent of someone who learned British English and some idiosyncratic words, but it is very easy to get used. After a while it becomes charming. At first I was afraid that this was a course by an ardent atheist and/or radical with an agenda, but listening further it is obvious that he is passionate, well-informed, and balanced in his presentation. It has been decades since I last took a course in Iberian History, so maybe I have forgotten a lot. I was surprised by how much I learned, especially about the ambivalence of the populace and monarchs towards both the Jews and the Islamics, and the duration of the "Reconquest." I believe this course would be valuable both to students of history and to those planning a trip to Spain. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2009-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a great job! This was one of our first courses and Dr. Ruiz did a great job presenting the year 1492 - and what a pivotal year it turned out to be. Prior to this we only knew about Columbus not all the other events that make the year so famous in history. At first we had trouble understanding the professors heavy accent but became accustomed to it in short order. He is very knowledgable on his subject so the effort was worth it. We have fond memories of the course and what we learned with Dr. Ruiz has helped in our understanding of many other history and even art courses by the Teaching Company. Excellent course.
Date published: 2009-07-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good course, interesting approach, heavy accent I bought this course on a whim, and was surprised at how much I learned: so much was happening in the Iberian Peninsula during 1492 than just Columbus! Professor Ruiz covers the material in excellent detail; by the time you finish the course, you'll have a much greater appreciation of one place and time in history. Ruiz is not the most dynamic speaker from The Teaching Company, but he does get the job done. I also enjoyed the change of pace from a "typical" history course: you won't great a broad sweep of history, but rather an detailed look at the events occurring essentially over one region, one year. But make no mistake: they were interesting and important events, with important characters and diverse groups of people. One thing you'll want to consider before buying this course is that Dr. Ruiz speaks with a very thick accent. I don't normally read other people's reviews before writing my own, but I was curious to see what other people made of it. Of those who mention his accent, a few thought it added atmosphere, but others found it distracting. I admit, I am in the latter group. I feel slightly guilty that I'm rating the course lower than I otherwise would simply because of his accent, but it is true that I sometimes found the course a bit hard to follow, and occasionally even found my mind wandering, all because of the lecturer's heavy accent. So do ask yourself whether you require a clear English or American accent to truly enjoy the course. I would recommend this course to a friend... but with a strong caveat.
Date published: 2009-06-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Course This course, of the dozens to which I have listened, is a perfect example of why I stick with The Teaching Company. The professor is extremely knowledgeable, his theses is well grounded, and he has the capability of bringing it all togther in a way the only the best college level courses can address. The course provides a coherent, erudite set of insights into an era that I knew nothing about, and it is highly recommended. The observations about the Professor's accent in other reviews are absurd.
Date published: 2009-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Different perspective One of Prof. Ruiz's talent's is his ability to present a different point of view. His has a very "gentlemanly, courtly" manner of presentation that suggests a European scholar, which he is. Being Spanish, he is able to discuss the topic of the "Other" 1492 in a unique way. We Americans usually see "1492" as the beginning of "our" history and do not appreciate the context of Columbus' journeys in relation to broader European and world history. We are fortunate to have Ruiz' perspective. I know there are those who criticize Ruiz for his rather heavy Spanish accent. While this is true, it seems to offer even more "atmosphere" for this course. I have found it part of his charm to listen with the accent, and when one transcends that, the content of his lectures is superb. He would especially appeal to those who are interested in the new "social history" approach rather than names/dates/"great man" approach. In spite of Ruiz' somewhat "traditional" Old World style, his content is sparkling, lively and even controversial. Viva Ruiz!
Date published: 2009-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! I really enjoyed the course! Professor Ruiz gives a great presentation. The knowledge of most Americans on this subject is rather weak. Prior to this course, the only thing I knew about Ferdinand and Isabella was that they financed Columbus' voyages, after many other kings had turned him down. The lecture on Columbus, and the reasons for his voyage(s), and why the Castilian throne took a chance on him was very interesting, and dispels some of the folklore about Columbus and his voyage. The discussion of the Spanish royality was also interesting. Like any royal family, the stories of the different kings and queens are full of intrigue and scandal. My only gripe about the course is that a "family tree" or other such "Who's who" chart in the course book would be very helpful in keeping every one sorted out. As Professor Ruiz explains, there are many Juans and Ferdinands who become kings, and it gets a little confusing. After finishing the course, I realize that many of the events in Castile in and around 1492 rippled throughout history, effecting many other nations and cultures, and the settlement of the New World. For this reason, it is inaccurate to describe this as just a "Spanish History" course. Ironically, right after I finished this course, I was at a concert performance of Flamenco artists. Between songs, some of the musicians explained how events in Spanish history influenced the music (Arab influences, the Reconquista, etc.) Professor Ruiz's course had covered many of these same events. One never knows when information from a Teaching Company course will become something to talk about!
Date published: 2009-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thrilling Tour of 1492! Professor Ruiz presents a spellbinding narrative which provides a poignant survey of both well-known and obscure developments in 1492. He takes the listener/viewer through the dramatic fall of Granada to the Christians, the escalation of violence against both Jews and Muslims, the cultural upheaval set in motion by the discovery of the Americas, and the horrors of the Inquisition. The story (as presented by Professor Ruiz) evokes in the listener a broad spectrum of emotions, from awe at the glory of the Spanish monarchy to pity for persecuted minorities within the Iberian Peninsula itself. His presentation of the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, particularly impressed me. Professor Ruiz does not gloss over their faults. Neither does he demonize their human rights record, as is currently the trend in scholastic circles. He emphasizes that, in coming to the throne, they shattered the power of the great Spanish magnates who had been oppressing the people for so long. By eventually recognizing the humanity of the Native Americans, they also put an end to enslavement of the natives. Although some other reviewers were put off by Professor Ruiz's accent, I had the opposite experience. He is not at all difficult to understand. In fact, a native Spaniard accent actually highlights the authenticity of the lecture. I wholeheartedly recommend this course for all those who wish to learn the entire story of 1492 - a year of both shame and glory.
Date published: 2009-05-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Average at best Compared to other Teaching Company courses I own, and I own a lot, this one does not match up to the others. I think the professor rambles through the subject and is not really well organized. Moreover, the lectures are not logically connected, it seems the topics are picked for one reason or another but they are not really flowing from one into another. This entire subject only became clear to me after reading an excellent history magazine about the history of Spain. This course failed to do that. I returned it, my first one.
Date published: 2009-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good tape this is the second Ruiz course I have taken (along with his medieval tape). Daileader and Ruiz both cover middle ages for Teaching Company, both are strong. In 1492 we get more of a marxist pespective. This is very valuabe. He is a caring and interesting lecturer. I knew nothing about europe in 1492 so this was much appreciated
Date published: 2009-04-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not Great There was a lot of interesting information in this course, but it was organized poorly. Professor Ruiz goes off on many tangents and sidelines, sometimes one on top of another, and can thus lose the main point of a lecture. Too much steam of consciousness, and not enough context or strategic overview of the subject matter. But do try his other courses. I really enjoyed his "Medieval Europe" survey, and his "Terror of History" was also quite good.
Date published: 2009-04-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, but... I found this to be an interesting twist on an old date. There is a small language issue. As a student of Spanish and having lived in many places (US and overseas) I would say that it was not a problem, just a distractor at times. There was one word, late in the course (and of course I forget which one) that I did not decipher for several minutes. I would not let this prevent me from buying the course, and I benefited from it. But, someone should know in advance what they will encounter. The professor repeats himself a lot. I suppose this may be necessary for an audio course. But, I think it wastes time. A pet peeve - don't introduce a topic and then tell me how it is impossible to go into detail . I accept that up front, and would rather precious time were not spent with such boiler plate. Just get on with it and use the time to tell me what you can.
Date published: 2009-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 1492: The Big Picture. This course is an overview of the crucial year of 1492 in context.Dr. Ruiz looks at the events that resulted in Columbus and his explorations.His main focus is on the unification of Spain under Ferdinand and Isabella and of the shift in power from Muslim rule to Christian dominance, the so called Reconquista.He examines life under Muslim rule and how it contrasted with the rise of the nation state of Spain. He deals with how Ferdinand and Isabella centralized their rule by reforming various aspects of the Catholic Church, using the Inquisition to define religious orthodoxy and the rise of the Conquistadores.He deals with the expulsion of Muslims and Jews in Spain and how that helped to shape a world view that would lead to the voyages of Columbus and the rise of Spain as a superpower.He tells his story through the eyes of ordinary people and in the halls of power. He is quite excellent in his portrayal of Jews and Muslims who lived in Spain.Dr. Ruiz is a terrific professor with a truly engaging teaching style. He opens the course by saying that if you have any questions you can e- mail him. This is a great course-it situates Columbus in the world he came from.
Date published: 2009-03-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from blah It's hard for someone not really interested in Spanish history to get into this, esp. with the lecturer's accent.
Date published: 2009-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bottom Up Approach Prof Ruiz immediately explains his bottom up approach to history in this and his other medieval history course. This approach succeeds in conveying what it would have been like to live then. It also is a refreshing to experience a Marxist analysis when most history pretends that there was a king, a few rich people, and a great mass of others who are incidental to the timeline of great events wrought by great men. The course shows that history is indeed written by the people and is about people not just leaders.
Date published: 2009-02-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Difficult issues in an important period of history This course is valuable for particular reasons. It satisfactorily explains a particular, but important period of Spanish, European, and Western history (the early period of Spanish imperial history). It is valuable, in particular, for its discussion of relations between the different religions coexisting, precariously, in Spain during the 15th and 16th centuries. This period included the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews from Iberia, and the Spanish inquisition. This course satisfactorily, and engagingly, explains all three historical phenomena. The lectures on these three issues contain information, and perspectives, not found, to the same degree, to my knowledge, in any other courses by The Teaching Company. The degree to which these issues are addressed succinctly, is admirable. (The courses that come closest to addressing these issues would be Prof. Daileader's courses on the Middle Ages.) The lectures on those three phenomena are interesting. I found the other lectures a wee bit on the dull side, and sometimes difficult to concentrate on. But that could be my own concentrational imperfections! Respectfully submitted, mulligan452002.
Date published: 2009-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different Perspective I have a number of Dr. Ruiz's Teaching Company courses because I enjoy that he brings a different perspective to the subject material than one would get from an American-born instructor. To me, he seems to focuses more on human elements of history, rather than just the political or military elements -- i.e., not just what happened during a period of history, but what was it like to live through that period of history. Dr. Ruiz's "The Other 1492" brings a different perspective to this period that is worth seeing.
Date published: 2009-01-10
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