War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000

Course No. 8820
Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
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Course No. 8820
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Course Overview

For much of the past five centuries, the history of the European continent has been a history of chaos, its civilization thrown into turmoil by ferocious wars or bitter religious conflicts—sometimes in combination—that have made and remade borders, created and eliminated entire nations, and left a legacy that is still influencing our world.

Is there an explanation for this chaos that goes beyond the obvious: political ambition, religious intolerance, the pursuit of state power, or the fear of another state's aspirations? Can we discover a hidden logic that could possibly explain the Thirty Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, two World Wars, and other examples of national bloodletting? Is it possible to formulate a meaningful rationale against which to order a history as tumultuous as Europe's, gaining insights that enrich our understanding of Europe's past and future, and perhaps even of ours as well?

In War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500–2000, Professor Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius answers these questions and more as he offers everyone interested in the "why" of history a remarkable look into the evolution of the European continent and the modern state system. In 36 provocative lectures, he allows us to peer through the revealing lens of statecraft to show us its impact on war, peace, and power and how that impact may well be felt in the future—an approach that historians have been using for thousands of years.

"Diplomatic history is one of the oldest varieties of historical analysis," Professor Liulevicius notes. "Indeed, it's sometimes traced back all the way to Thucydides and the vision that he offered of Greek state interaction and politics.

"Diplomatic history offers a tremendously powerful intellectual tool to understand how states relate to one another. Because states are still relating with one another today, it is of undiminished relevance for our own times. ...

"As we conclude our course, we'll be able to ask, 'Where is Europe headed today, and what implications will follow for the world at large?' as we survey what had begun as a European state system [but which] has now become a global system of states in international politics."

Learn How Europe's Most Pivotal Moments Shaped History

Far more than just a history of ambassadorial missions and other diplomatic efforts, this course re-creates Europe's most pivotal historical moments—in the context of their times—showing how contemporary pressures and historical precedent combined to influence individuals, governments, structures, and even non-state organizations.

These events would happen not only on history's bloodiest battlefields but also in quieter settings where so many of the factors that would govern Europe's future would be set into place:

  • You'll see how the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia, negotiated at the first great diplomatic conference of modern times, not only brought to a close the ordeal of the Thirty Years' War but also overthrew existing ideals and claims of universal authority to create the European system of independent sovereign states, setting into motion new concepts of international law that would codify the new politics of power.
  • You'll experience the dawn of Europe's "classical balance of power," as the 1815 Congress of Vienna—amidst the exuberance and glitter of great balls and banquets—responds to the defeat of Napoleon with its creation of the so-called Concert of Europe, a new order opposed to revolution and based on conservative solidarity that would keep Europe from general war for nearly a century.
  • And you'll be in Paris in 1919 for the aftermath of the shattering of the Concert of Europe, as the victorious allies gather to draft a comprehensive Paris Settlement—including the Treaty of Versailles—meant to build a new and lasting European order on the ruins of the old.

Each of these key points on history's timeline represents an attempt to establish a lasting idea of order in the European world, a task with which Europe's states have been wrestling since the birth of modern diplomacy in Renaissance Italy.

Explore the Dynamics of International Politics

In examining how these and other attempts have succeeded or failed, Professor Liulevicius offers a key to understanding the dynamics of international politics, as well as how such key concepts as the balance of power, power itself, sovereignty, and "reason of state"—the raison d'état first enunciated by France's powerful Cardinal Richelieu—fit into those dynamics. There's even a fascinating discussion on the implications of instantaneous communications technology—not only for the practice of diplomacy, but also for whether that technology makes diplomats themselves more important or less so; historians line up on both sides of the debate.

Beginning with a snapshot of where Europe stood at the dawn of the 16th century, Professor Liulevicius weaves his analysis of statecraft into a vast tapestry of international history.

It's a tapestry that includes not only 500 years of military outcomes, the long-term impact of their settlements, and the "grand strategies" of which they were a part but also the many issues against which statecraft and diplomacy cannot help but brush. These include peacemaking; international law; the passions—even wars—so often brought about by intractable religious differences; the defense of human rights and minorities, including the abolition of slavery; the efforts of international organizations like the Red Cross; the challenges smaller states face when trying to implement foreign policy; and the efforts at achieving a stable European order that have culminated in today's European Union.

Throughout these lectures, as great and small states feint and clash, as ambitions are realized or thwarted, and as Europe's map is drawn and redrawn several times over—very often in blood—Professor Liulevicius returns to several key themes that tie together this wide-ranging array of material:

  • How earlier experiences and precedents influence later maneuvering, and the ways in which geopolitical problems that have persisted across the centuries have helped shape the world we live in today
  • How elusive the pursuit of the goal of stability can be in an international arena marked by constant change
  • How diplomatic methods, customs, protocols, and approaches can sometimes be as important as the actual substance of international questions and their solutions
  • How critical the impact of the evolving concept of Europe itself is on those participating in this five-century diplomatic drama.

Vivid Images of the Actors Who Shaped Europe

Educated not only in the United States but also in Denmark and Germany—with award-winning teaching skills, tremendous experience in the subject matter of this course, and a wonderful command of both the visual and audio media—Professor Liulevicius creates vivid images of the figures whose actions, whether overt or subtle, onstage or off, helped shape the Europe we know today, including:

  • Prince Klemens von Metternich, the masterful Austrian diplomat known as the "Coachman of Europe," who presided over the Congress of Vienna and orchestrated many of its results
  • Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, the French statesman sometimes called the greatest of diplomats, but whose skills at political survival and reputation for duplicity reportedly led Metternich to remark, when informed of Talleyrand's death, "I wonder what he meant by that?"
  • German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the brilliant, pragmatic, and ruthless inventor of Realpolitik—the "politics of realism"—who spearheaded German unification under Kaiser Wilhelm I but whose complex arrangement of interlocking alliances could not survive his absence after his dismissal by the brash young Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, "the Tiger," who represented his nation during the Paris Settlement and who was so devoted to French security that legend has it he requested his corpse be buried standing up and facing the Germany he so deeply mistrusted, the better to give warning if need be
  • Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, the exiled Russian revolutionary whom the German high command shipped from neutral Switzerland back to Russia by train in order to infect the new Russia with revolution—with Lenin's train car "sealed" and closely guarded to protect Germany from his dangerous ideas
  • George F. Kennan, the American historian and diplomat whose famous 1946 "Long Telegram" from Moscow and anonymous 1947 article in Foreign Affairs magazine became the intellectual foundation of the United States' policy of "containment" of the Soviet Union.

As War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500–2000 underscores, the impact on history of each of these figures—along with many others—was profound. But as Professor Liulevicius notes, our own impact as citizens, even if less momentous, can also be critical.

"Public involvement in and knowledge of foreign affairs—whether by ordinary citizens taking out a passport to travel, or seeking understanding of the past as well as the present in its diplomatic dimension—all of this is perhaps also a diplomatic act of participation and promise for the future.

"This is an undertaking open to all of us: to seek to understand diplomatic history in its past and present as we seek to understand the scourge of war, even when it seems necessary; the profound gift of true peace, when it's achieved; and the potentiality—as well as the perils—of the use of power."

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36 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Foundations of Diplomacy
    This lecture defines key concepts—such as power, reason of state, and balance of power—and introduces the debates that repeatedly resonate in international history, including the competing schools of Realism and Idealism and the question of who or what ultimately steers the foreign policy choices of states. x
  • 2
    Europe in 1500—Ancient and New Monarchies
    We set the historical stage of early modern Europe, including Europe's encounter with a wider world in the form of trade, diplomacy, and an expanding Ottoman Empire; the challenge to older authority represented by the "new monarchies"; and the emergence of an embryonic diplomacy. x
  • 3
    Renaissance Statecraft in Italy
    The city-states of Renaissance Italy pioneer patterns of modern diplomacy that will be of lasting significance to this day, including representation by resident ambassadors. The balance of power among these states lasts from the 1454 Peace of Lodi until the invasion by outside powers in 1494, a year so important that some historians date the modern age from it. x
  • 4
    Religion and Empire
    From 1500 to 1618, the battle to rule the European continent begins to shape the modern European state system. We look at the intense rivalry between the Habsburg dynasty of Austria and Spain and the Valois royal family of France, as well as the challenge of the Protestant Reformation. x
  • 5
    The Thirty Years' War
    The Thirty Years' War rages across the center of Europe from 1618 to 1648, intertwining explosive elements of religion and politics and drawing in an ever-increasing number of major powers. The resulting exhaustion produces an epochal change in how international politics is understood and practiced. x
  • 6
    The Peace of Westphalia, 1648—A New Era
    The Thirty Years' War ends with the first of the great diplomatic peace conferences of modern times, creating the European system of sovereign states, setting the stage for the rise of France as a superpower, and establishing new concepts of international law. x
  • 7
    French Superpower
    France takes on the role of the strongest European power, and neighboring kingdoms seize on coalition diplomacy to contain it, asserting a European balance of power that would be ratified in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. x
  • 8
    The Great Powers
    We survey the other great powers of the day from 1648 to 1740, focusing first on the evolving profession of the diplomat and then on the fortunes of the Dutch Republic, Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, and Spain, tracing the distinctive styles and approaches of each of these states to the dangerous international scene. x
  • 9
    Northern Earthquake
    From 1648 to the 1770s, political convulsions in northern and eastern Europe bring new dynamic players—Sweden, the Commonwealth of Poland–Lithuania, and Russia—into the European state system as additional factors in diplomatic calculation. x
  • 10
    18th-Century Competition
    We explore how the paradoxes of the Age of Enlightenment affect international relations. On the one hand, Enlightenment thinkers craft plans for a permanent peace based on reason, tolerance, and international law. At the same time, military and diplomatic competition achieve a new level of cynicism. x
  • 11
    Revolutions
    The era of the American and French Revolutions transforms the European continent. Nationalism and mass politics are unleashed, and the French Revolution of 1789 touches off a quarter-century of war in Europe that will reorder politics and redraw the diplomatic map. x
  • 12
    Napoleon's Glory and Defeat
    This lecture follows the Emperor Napoleon's remarkable career to his ultimate defeat in 1815. Bestriding the European mainland, Napoleon establishes both his Grand Empire and a system of allied states linked in the Continental System, even as guerrilla war in Spain portends trouble. x
  • 13
    The Congress of Vienna
    The Congress gathers the powers that had triumphed over Napoleon (joined by the restored French kingdom) to construct a new order founded on conservative solidarity and the values of legitimacy and opposition to revolution. This new "Concert of Europe" will enjoy remarkable success for close to a century. x
  • 14
    The Concert of Europe System
    We focus on the operations of the Concert of Europe from 1815 to 1848, with special attention to the periodic international congresses convened under its auspices and their determined efforts to stamp out what they considered the dark and dangerous forces of Nationalism and Liberalism. x
  • 15
    Eastern and Western Questions
    We examine the problems posed by events and dynamics at the margins of the European arena from 1815 to 1848, including the fate of the Ottoman Empire, U.S. resistance to an expansion of the balance of power system across the Atlantic, and the beginnings of renewed European Imperialism overseas. x
  • 16
    The Challenge of 1848 and Napoleon III
    We cover the period from 1848 to 1870 and examine two diplomatic surprises: the lack of widespread war caused by the revolutions of 1848—in contrast to the French Revolution—and the rise to power of a new Napoleon, an enigmatic figure who champions Nationalism and Liberalism while hatching diplomatic conspiracies to redraw Europe's map. x
  • 17
    Britain's Empire
    This lecture examines the waxing and waning of the British Empire over the course of the 19th century, including its industrial and economic might, its liberal advocacy of international free trade and the abolition of slavery, and its fateful dominion over India. x
  • 18
    The Crimean War
    The Crimean War of 1853–1856 reflects even deeper tensions and diplomatic problems in the European order. We see how Russia's defeat batters the Concert of Europe and its vision of conservative solidarity and sets the stage for dramatic changes. x
  • 19
    Italian Unification
    The 1858–1861 unification of Italy as a nation-state fulfills a long-standing dream. But the achievement also relies on changes on the international scene and assistance from France, skillfully engineered by Count Camillo di Cavour, the prime minister of Piedmont. x
  • 20
    German Unification
    The 1862–1871 unification of the German Empire—steered by the Prussian "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck—upsets political certainties. Will this new power at the center of the continent anchor peace or disrupt stability? x
  • 21
    The Bismarckian System
    Bismarck's challenge is to reconcile the new empire's neighbors to the fact of the "German revolution" and to present Germany as a guarantor of stability. We follow the building, functioning, and eventual breakdown of the Bismarckian system of diplomacy from 1871 to 1894. x
  • 22
    High Imperialism
    The European powers launch a scramble for empire, cruelly carving up entire continents. We examine the wave of High Imperialism from the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the "Scramble for Africa" to 1898, with France and Britain on the brink of a colonial war. x
  • 23
    The Reconfigured World of 1900
    New alignments emerge, with decisive changes in diplomatic patterns. Telling trends include popular movements for peace while Europe arms on land and sea, Japan's defeat of the Russian Empire, greater American presence in international venues, and increasing regional crises. x
  • 24
    Balkan Instability
    This lecture, covering the years 1900 to 1913, returns to the long-standing "Eastern Question" concerning the future of the Ottoman territories. With the Turkish realm perceived as being in terminal decline, the question has now reached a critical stage. x
  • 25
    The Outbreak of World War I
    The outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914 is the object of one of the biggest debates in modern history. How did European diplomats and statesmen bring the continent to the brink and then plunge it into an ever-widening war? x
  • 26
    World War I—Total War
    World War I, with its all-encompassing mobilization of mass armies, entire economies, domestic societies, and vitally needed allies, produces extraordinary changes, including the overturning of long-standing diplomatic patterns, the collapse of four empires, and the emergence of two future superpowers: the United States and Soviet Russia. x
  • 27
    The Paris Settlement
    After four years of devastating war, the victors of World War I gather in Paris in 1919 to draft a comprehensive settlement and create a new international order, replacing that of the Congress of Vienna. The controversial results will alter the balance of the century. x
  • 28
    Interwar Europe
    At the dawn of the postwar decade, Europe has a new map, and great hopes have been vested in the League of Nations. Yet relations between France and Germany remain tense, the new states of eastern Europe are arguing over borders, and the United States has withdrawn from European politics. x
  • 29
    Europe into Crisis
    The Great Depression of 1929 and the shift toward Authoritarianism and Fascism in European politics move the continent toward another disaster. We track the rise to power of Mussolini in Fascist Italy and Hitler in Nazi Germany and the calculations of Stalin in the Soviet Union. x
  • 30
    World War II
    We examine the diplomatic bombshell that paved the way to war—the Nazi–Soviet Pact of August 1939; outline Hitler's ambitions and their culmination in his invasion of his Soviet ally; and discuss the complicated alliance among the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union x
  • 31
    Aftermath and Peace Plans
    This lecture devotes special attention to the immediate aftermath of World War II, including the lack of a final, comprehensive settlement; the founding of the United Nations; the Potsdam Conference; Stalin's reimposition of harsh personal powers; and growing tensions among the victors. x
  • 32
    The Cold War Begins
    In the key years from 1946 to 1949, the split between former allies—the United States and Great Britain on one hand and the Soviet Union on the other—widens, and the so-called "Cold War" begins, bringing with it a distinctive brand of crisis diplomacy. x
  • 33
    Blocs and Decolonization
    We look at two key processes from 1949 to 1956. The first is decolonization, with Europe's powers losing most of their once-huge imperial holdings. The other is the increasing Cold War polarization of Europe, configured into the military alliances of NATO and the Warsaw Pact. x
  • 34
    The European Project
    In response to a half-century of war and tension, Europe's leaders depart from the competitive politics of statehood inaugurated at the Treaty of Westphalia to take a new direction. The European project of unity from 1957 onward will culminate in today's European Union. x
  • 35
    The Fall of the Wall
    With unexpected rapidity, the Communist states of eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself collapse near the end of the 20th century. This lecture, covering the years 1980–1991, discusses the deeper causes leading to this startling transformation. x
  • 36
    Post–Cold War to the Present
    This lecture covers the years from 1991 to the beginning of the present century, including the expansion of NATO and the European Union, renewed Balkan violence, and Russia's search for its new international role. We end by considering several questions—including whether Europe is now entering a fundamentally new era of statecraft, or if the historical dynamics of war, peace, and power still apply. x

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Your professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

About Your Professor

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius, Ph.D.
University of Tennessee
Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford...
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Reviews

War, Peace, and Power: Diplomatic History of Europe, 1500-2000 is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 69.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent I don't know how Prof. L got all this material in 36 lectures, but he did it with style and grace, keeping my attention throughout his presentation of 500 years of tumultuous history.
Date published: 2011-05-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo Like many others who have seen this lecture, series, I wondered how so much could be reasonably covered in so few lectures. Even if one knows something of the history coverd in these lectures, one has to be amazed as to how much detail is given. Great illustrations and photographs. The lectures are given in a logical, chronological, cause-effect method that is easy to follow. What makes the series so unqiue, is that Prof. Liuevicius gives us many sides of various topicis throughout. Be prepared for a lot of information coming at your very fast. If I had any problem it is that at times, it appeared that Prof Liuevicius was clearly reading from a prompter. One of the best from the Teaching Company. I certainly will be looking for other work by Dr. Liuevicius.
Date published: 2010-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Ambitious in Coverage, but Skillfully Presented When I first saw this course advertised, I wondered how 500 years of European history possibly could be covered in any depth in a 36-lecture TC course. The answer, as the title suggests, is that the focus is on diplomatic history, a complex assortment of treaties, congresses, alliances, conventions, ententes and settlements. These diplomatic instruments resulted from centuries of political intrigue, imperial expansion and military adventurism by various European powers, which fostered the concept of a balance of power among nations designed to prevent discord and wars, but which often had the opposite effect. Foremost among the diplomatic landmarks covered in the course are the Treaties of Westphalia, Utrecht, and Versailles, the Congress of Vienna, as well as 20th Century political, economic and military alliances such as NATO, the EEC and the European Union. We are reminded why familiar historical names such as Richelieu, Talleyrand, Machiavelli, Metternich, Bismarck and Disraeli deserve star treatment in the political and diplomatic history of Europe. Even with its concentration on diplomatic events and personalities, it is no mean feat to cover 500 years of European history. Inevitably, important aspects are treated lightly and only in passing, but Prof. Liulevicius has skillfully weaved a coherent narrative. Perhaps there is a bit too much emphasis on the second half of the 20th century, a period that many in his audience have directly experienced, yet such a review is not without value. There are 14 lectures on the 20th century but only 11 on the turbulent and vitally important 19th. Many Americans don’t realize, for example, that major historic European powers prominent since ancient times like Germany and Italy only became unified as modern nations in the second half of the 19th century. This course is very much worth viewing and listening to carefully, even for a second time for several key lectures. In retrospect, it would have been a good candidate for a 48-lecture course, or divided into two separate courses of 24 and 36 lectures, respectively, with the late 18th century events leading up the French Revolution as the dividing point. This would have permitted greater emphasis on the very eventful 19th century, which set the stage for much that has unfolded in our own time.
Date published: 2010-08-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from For beginners only I give this course an A for effort, but in the end found it came up short and I didn't learn much from it. Professor Liulevicius, a lively enough speaker but not very assured in his delivery, does what he can to give some shape to five centuries of narrative, picking up main themes like the balance of power and idealism vs. realism in diplomacy, but in the end there was just too much here to make the discussion anything but frustratingly superficial. In particular, despite the fact that a third of the course is on the twentieth century, you get the feeling he's just running through recent developments, only naming important names and dates. In other words, what you gain from a sense of a big picture you lose when it comes to the details. So: I would only recommend this course for people who really don't have much previous acquaintance with the subject. If you've already read around a bit in modern European history, I think you will be disappointed. Even the bibliography, I thought, was questionable. Major popular works dealing with this subject and period are left out, and odd academic titles tend to predominate. I might also add that I haven't seen any other TC history course so dependent on a single text. That text is Henry Kissinger's "Diplomacy" (Professor Liulevicius references Kissinger's "controversial" status a couple of times, but never offers any explanation of the controversy). Pages from "Diplomacy" are the essential reading, and often the only essential reading, for most of the lectures. As an alternative to this course I would suggest just reading Kissinger and maybe Kennedy's "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" (another frequently recommended text). That would pretty much cover it.
Date published: 2010-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best Professor Liuevicius hits one out of the park with this course. He tees up the ball and hits it long and straight. He...well, you get the idea. This course does three things, and does them well. First, it is a whirlwind tour of five hundred years of European history. Next it acts as a primer on the development of diplomatic institutions (resident ambassadors, diplomatic immunity,etc.). Finally, it uses the first two to explore the dominant themes and questions in international relations. To what extent are states guided by pragmatism (Realpolitik), and by what extent are they guided by idealism? When do internal politics influence foreign relations? What is meant by "balance of power," and how does it operate? These are some of the issues explored, with vivid examples from European history. Amid the sweep of historical events, the lecturer throws in portraits of major statesmen who influenced those events, ranging from Talleyrand to Churchill. The quips and quirks revealed liven up and personalize the goings on at the larger scale. This has been one of the best Teaching Company courses I have purchased. I wholeheartedly recommend it to others.
Date published: 2010-03-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly Recommended! I couldn't praise this course enough, the professor's knowledge is awe inspiring and his fast paced but perfectly articulated lectures are exciting and addictive. When I first started this course knew very little about this time period, other than the basics from high-school and a few books I had read since then. I had just finished Paul Kennedy's The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (also highly recommended!) and wanted to learn more about the subject. This proved an excellent companion in more ways than I ever dreamed. I have listened to a handful of other courses and I have to say this has been my favorite, both in terms of the material and the professor's presentation. Bravo!
Date published: 2009-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from To Put It DiplomaticallyThis Is A Great Course This course delivers as advertised: it is a thorough and enjoyable coverage of the major politcial and mliitary events of the almost modern and modern periods of Western Civilization or as one reviewed put it,"Western Civilization, Part2." But it does more than recapitulate Dr Bucholz's course on Western Civ II - it expands and augments the coverage of this period and no prerequiste is necessary for Dr L's course. The course presents a cavalcade of personages and events that will enrich anyone's knowledge of European and American history. These lectures strengthened the notion that individuals make history not ideas though there is no shortage of the impact of ideology during this historical era. This course covers a vast swath of history and complements other TC courses that cover certain periods that overlap with Dr L's lectures including:Dr Steinberg's European History and European Lives, Dr Bucholz's History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts, Dr Weiner's The Long 19th Century, Dr Childer's Europe and Western Civilization in the Modern Age, as well as, Dr L's course on The Great War. This is not just a good history course but it is also a great story well told. This course is also a great resource to refer to for specific periods of history, e.g, the Congess of Vienna and it's eccentric participants. This course teaches, informs, and entertains. I recommmend this and Dr L's other courses, as well as the courses I have mentioned above. The TC has a great lineup of courses on European and American history and this course is one of it's best.
Date published: 2009-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course I enjoyed this course. Prof Liulevicius is an excellent lecturer. It gives the diplomatic slant to a European history that many know, but need to understand where it came from and how we got where we are today.
Date published: 2009-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Works well on many levels This course works well on many levels. The diplomatic lens through which the professor analyzes the Europe in the years 1500-2000 is a nice complement to other views (domestic political, military, economic, social, etc.). It is also a great foundation for the study of international relations, as this period of Europe's history provided the best laboratory the world has seen to observe fundamental concepts like the balance of power and raison d'état. Finally, as someone who knew many isolated events in modern European history but had never been presented with a comprehensive view, this course served nicely as a survey which helped me tie many things together in my own mind. Maps and pictures were used effectively, and the professor's presentation was highly engaging and understandable (in fact I discovered I could watch the lectures at 1.5x speed and understand them perfectly). Highly recommended.
Date published: 2009-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the Best of the Best This is a uniformly outstanding course, very highly recommended for anyone with an interest in European history. Prof. Liulevicius is a terrific lecturer. The course's density of information is higher than most, and it needs to be to give this complete a picture of 500 years of diplomatic history. The lectures are extraordinarily well organized and presented, and paint a vivid picture of people and events. There is also (contrary to another review) significant discussion of overarching concepts, general trends, and lessons to be learned. (One of these, unfortunately, is that the lessons of history are very rarely learned.) Given the sheer volume of facts, Prof. Liulevicius's ability to provide insight and coherent organization is remarkable. This is a traditional history of big people and big events, exactly as advertised, but attention is frequently also drawn to the effects of these mega-happenings on the lives of ordinary people. I can find no faults here - a great course.
Date published: 2009-05-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Foundations of Western Civ. (2nd Half) Teaching Company has many courses that cover the standard Western Civ. Part II material. This is one of them. It's not bad, but it's kind of basic. There's a better option: Get the Long 19th Century.
Date published: 2009-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Does exactly what it says on the box It is called a Diplomatic History and that is what it delivers. So if you think you need a good grounding in the history of the ups and downs of empires and the famous battles, then a different course may be for you. This concentrates on the history of international deals, agreements and contracts, often behind the scenes, sometimes in secret, sometimes even by telegram! It is not bloodthirsty history, which was part of its appeal. Prof Liulevicius is a very fluent speaker, confident and pleasant sounding, and I was almost sorry that I bought the DVD. As has been said before, there are some maps and pictures, but overall they are not essential. However, if you are not used to people around you "talking with their hands" then you might find the professors constant gesticulating quite distracting. But this is a small quibble. Overall I definitely recommend this course.
Date published: 2009-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A good overview of European History This is a good overview of European history. My only reservation is that I don't feel after taking it that I really understand the various stages of European history. But this could just be me. It concentrates on diplomacy, which is okay, but I'd like to take a European History course which was more general, and gave me the feeling afterward that I could put all events into a framework.
Date published: 2009-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Building Block Course This is an excellent introduction to the field. Professor Liulevicius shows each stage of the unfolding of diplomatic history and how it relates to succeeding periods. Because of the broad sweep of the time period covered, some detail had to be sacrificed, but there is still enough information and content to achieve the course objectives. The professor has arranged the course in clear, well-organized units, and though he races a little in the beginning, the rest of his presentations are kept at an agreeable pace. I think a course on the interaction of Western Europe with Eastern Europe and the Ottomans would augment this diplo. his. course. I highly recommend this course as a " building block" course for a student who needs background, or an adult who desires an overview of the topic.
Date published: 2009-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my very favorite courses This is one of my favorite 4 or 5 courses from the 40 or so I have. The early courses are a little slow, but particularly once the course gets to the Peace of Westphalia, it is a non-stop series of extremely interesting episodes that helps to put history in context.
Date published: 2009-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique approach I think the key to appreciating this series is to see it in relation to its title: Diplomatic History, or "statecraft." The professor's intent is to explore the role of diplomacy, as a subset of politics, in Europe 1500-present. It examines the development of the "modern state" and issues related to maintaining a "balance of power" in the European arena. In that sense, the professor is offering a systemic, almost organic, position on the vagaries and dynamics of power. It helped one see "Europe-as-a-whole" as well as interactions between differing nations. While there are lectures, for example, on Italy, Germany, Balkans, etc., the lecturers keeps the context of the entire continent as a backdrop for understanding the individual country. I found this approach much to my liking, in that it took a slice of history and presented in in a dynamic way. The lecturer has a clear delivery style, as well, which added to my enjoyment. I have liked all of his courses on TTC.
Date published: 2009-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview of Diplomatic History Dr Liulevicius is an excellent and concise speaker and I have enjoyed his other teaching Company Courses as well. I especially enjoyed his covering the period 1500 to 1800 in this course which has not really been covered well in other courses. i obtained the DVD course - I don't think it adds that much over an audio download or CD. Although some maps were included, they were not of excellent quality. Also images of involved participants (e.g, Frederick the Great, etc) were interesting but don't add much to course content. Overall the course is an excellent review of diplomatic history from 1500 to modern times. In the future, better maps would be helpful. I would like to see a Teaching Company course, perhaps by Dr Liulevicius, covering the period 1500 to 1815 of European history in more depth.
Date published: 2009-01-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Tedious and detail-oriented I teetered on the edge of abandoning this series several times, though I did finally listen until the end. There's no big picture here, no lessons drawn; just lots of facts, battles, and diplomatic conferences.
Date published: 2009-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Solid Western Civ. Class This course brought an important topic of Modern Western Civilization to the table by discussing the political/diplomatic aspect of European History over the last 500 years. The course is a good choice if you want to enhance your knowledge of this subject. The professor is clear in the points he wants to get across and he has set the course up very nicely. It was not my favorite class because the course did not hold my absolute interest which is what I'm accustomed to from the Teaching Company, but it was certainly worth listening to.
Date published: 2008-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very please Excelent course, the Professor transmited his enthusistic passion for History, highly recomended.
Date published: 2008-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Liulevicius gave me the many missing pieces of my jigsaw puzzle understanding of European History.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Only shortcoming was superficiality that could not be helped in a course covering 500 years.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course content and outstanding presentation by Prof. Liulevicius. Duration of graphical presentations could have been a bit longer.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Diplomacy almost seems like the canvas on which history is painted.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The professor appeared to use a teleprompter throughout.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Images, maps, and graphics were outstanding, fascinating, highly interesting course material
Date published: 2008-10-17
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