Years That Changed History: 1215

Course No. 3323
Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
Purdue University
Share This Course
4.9 out of 5
37 Reviews
91% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 3323
Video Streaming Included Free

What Will You Learn?

  • Delve into the major events of 1215, from the signing of the Magna Carta to Genghis Khan's decisive victory at the Battle of Beijing.
  • Travel the world-from Inca settlements to empires in Ethiopia-to gain a more complete sense of the world in 1215.
  • Meet some of history's most fascinating figures, including King John, Saladin, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.
  • Examine the ramifications of this single year across history-and in our world today.

Course Overview

What is so important about the year 1215? There are some history buffs who may be able to tell you that 1215 is the year the Magna Carta was signed, but there are even fewer who know that King John of England’s acceptance of this charter was only one of four major, world-changing events of this significant year. In fact, the social, cultural, political, geographical, and religious shifts that occurred in this year alone had such a huge impact on the entire world, it warrants an entire course of study for anyone truly interested in the pivotal points of history that brought us to where we are now.

As it turns out, the year 1215 was a major turning point in world history. Although the drafting of the Magna Carta is perhaps the best-known event of 1215, anyone in Europe at the time would have told you the meeting of the Church’s Fourth Lateran Council was much more significant. Meanwhile, in Asia, a Mongol ruffian named Genghis Khan was embarking on a mission for world domination, highlighted by his success at the Battle of Beijing, while Islam was experiencing a Golden Age centered around Baghdad’s House of Wisdom. Other cultures and societies around the globe were also experiencing pivotal moments in their development—from the Americas to Africa and Asia and beyond.

These seismic events were only possible thanks to a confluence of global conditions, starting with the climate. Although we might not be familiar with the specifics, the ripple effect from these events can still be felt all over the world today. Years That Changed History: 1215 is a unique course, offering you the chance to delve into one of the most interesting periods in world history. Over 24 fast-paced lectures, Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University gives you the Big History of this surprisingly impactful year, introducing you to the people, events, and wide-ranging influences of the year 1215.

Among other fascinating discoveries, you will:

  • Investigate how climate changes affected the population of Europe.
  • Explore the circumstances for the Magna Carta, which originally had nothing to do with rights or liberty for everyday people.
  • Find out what a Lateran council is, why the fourth one mattered so much, and what happened at the earlier councils.
  • Tour the world beyond Europe to gain a true sense of global history.

This last point about “global history” is an important one. Most history courses have to select a theme, which by its nature limits the scope of the curriculum. In choosing a year as her theme, Professor Armstrong is able to take you around the world, from the ancient Maya to the House of Baghdad to Shogun Japan.Years That Changed History: 1215 takes the world as its theme—and what a truly captivating world it is!

Explore the Big History of a Little Year

Eight centuries ago, in the span of just 12 short months, the world witnessed a series of historic milestones—from the signing of the Magna Carta to the conquest of China by the Mongols—but history is only as interesting as the context that shapes it. What led to these events? How did they change the world? And why do they matter to us now? The historical approach known as Big History is one that gives context by widening the lens on singular events—and that’s exactly what Professor Armstrong does throughout this course.

To take one example, we think of the Magna Carta today as a powerful document. After all, it’s the Magna Carta—the “Great Charter”—and provides the foundation for English law and the subsequent drive for human rights and democracy. Doesn’t it?

Well, maybe. As you’ll learn early in the course, the Magna Carta was actually a document designed to appease a handful of aristocrats who had taken umbrage at King John. The king and 25 nobles gathered in a field at Runnymede, agreed on the terms laid out in this charter, and—supposedly—settled their differences. Three months later, King John had the pope annul the document, nearly reducing it to what could have been a mere footnote in history.

Of course, that’s not the only story—nor the end of the document. To give you a truly thorough look at the Magna Carta and its impact, Professor Armstrong takes you back to the Battle of Hastings and lays out the post-Conquest development of medieval English society. She then follows the story out of the Middle Ages, through the Early Modern period, and into the Enlightenment to show how the Magna Carta was resurrected, edited, and rewritten to suit the needs of future people over a long period of evolution.

Throughout this course, you’ll encounter event after event that seemed small on the surface—for instance, when Genghis Khan invaded modern-day Beijing, the locals quickly threw in the towel—but that had consequences that echoed through time. You’ll also take time to consider how it was that an uneducated, lower-caste man from the Mongolian steppes was able to become one of the best military strategists the world has ever seen—arguably a singular event in world history.

History Is a Story about People

Great events matter because of the impact they have on the human story, and this course takes you inside some of the most consequential events in world history. If you stepped back in time to 1215 and asked anyone in Europe what the most important event of the year was, everyone would likely answer the Fourth Lateran Council—the convening of Church leaders to hash out the finer points of theological debate.

Professor Armstrong takes you inside this massive gathering, analyzes the debates, and outlines the worldwide repercussions of the Council. Although seldom discussed today, one of the most monumental results of the Council was the elevation of marriage to the level of a sacrament. Other major consequences include attempts at curbing unlicensed religious figures (an attempt that mostly failed, as the appearance of the character of the Pardoner in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales over a century later would attest), the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the celibacy of the priesthood.

Despite the seemingly clear-cut, linear way we often learn history, as you’ll discover, history is the result of messy human affairs and processes. To bring this material to life, Professor Armstrong introduces you to the people behind the headlines. For instance:

  • See why St. Francis of Assisi formed his own religious order.
  • Find out what insights Hildegard of Bingen, Héloïse, and Eleanor of Aquitaine give us about women in the medieval world.
  • Meet Avicenna, Averroës, Saladin, and other figures critical to intellectual life in the Islamic Golden Age.
  • Delve into the players and tensions surrounding the Great Schism of 1054, and the relationship between Rome and Constantinople in 1215.

As you travel around the world during this year, you’ll also explore the culture of the Samurai in Japan, unpack the Catholic Church’s rationale for the Crusades, dive into the weird world of the Icelandic Saga, and so much more.

One of the most fascinating stories you will encounter is that of the Mongols. Because so many of us have experienced history taught from the Western perspective, you were likely led to think of the Mongols as bloodthirsty barbarians who sacked great cities and wreaked havoc on the world. The truth, however, is much more complicated—and more interesting. Professor Armstrong takes you into the Mongolian Empire and shows you how Mongol leaders actually strove to take care of their conquered territories.

Travel the World in 1215

People are indeed at the heart of this powerful history, and Professor Armstrong brings her trademark depth and passion to this truly historic moment across the globe. Leave Europe to explore life in the Pueblo, Inca, and Maya communities in the Americas. Then head to Africa to survey empires in modern-day Ethiopia, Mali, and Zimbabwe—and even travel to the real city of Timbuktu.

The world of 1215 was not connected like it is today, but in surveying so many corners of the globe, you will see common themes that connect us all. Years That Changed History: 1215 is, ultimately, not about a year—but about people.

Hide Full Description
24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The World before 1215
    Begin your survey of this amazing year with some context. Europe in the 13th century was experiencing a period of climate warming, which led to a population boom as well as the expansion of urban centers and the growth of cities. Meanwhile, in Asia, the Mongols were finding their ages-old way of life threatened by these same changes. x
  • 2
    The Magna Carta: Patching Up a Squabble
    History buffs likely know that the Magna Carta was drafted in 1215, and that it helped establish English law as we know it. But what was actually in this document? And why was it created in the first place? Here, you’ll discover the surprisingly narrowly-focused origins of a short-lived document—what seemed at the time like a minor footnote in history. x
  • 3
    What's Really in the Magna Carta?
    Continue your study of the Magna Carta by investigating some of its most interesting clauses. As you learned in the previous lecture, the document was meant to appease a group of nobles, and the negotiated settlement is a delightful mix of grand pronouncements and specific requests—including that widows shall not be compelled to remarry. x
  • 4
    The Magna Carta's Legacy
    Although the Magna Carta is revered today as a founding document of British law and a democratic sensibility, it's stunning to reflect on how easily it could have been forgotten. Shortly after it was officially accepted by both king and nobles, the pope annulled the document; yet that isn't the end of the story. Here, trace the Magna Carta's story across the ages. x
  • 5
    What Inspired the Fourth Lateran Council?
    If you went back in time and asked anyone in 1215 what the most important event of the year was, most people in Europe would cite the Fourth Lateran Council. In this lecture, Professor Armstrong surveys the history of Christianity and the events leading up to this pivotal ecclesiastical event. x
  • 6
    Canons for Christian Practice and Belief
    Delve into the canons that were decreed at the Fourth Lateran Council. Find out what Church leaders were trying to accomplish, or what crises they were attempting to address. From heresies to marriage to the nature of the priesthood, the Fourth Lateran Council took on issues that affected nearly everyone in Europe. x
  • 7
    The Canons of Persecution
    Continue your study of the Fourth Lateran Council with this examination of the “canons of persecution.” Whereas the canons you studied in Lecture 6 primarily affected Christians, the canons in this lecture were directed specifically at non-Christians—particularly Muslims and Jews. After exploring these persecution canons, consider the background for the Crusades. x
  • 8
    Civilizations in the Americas in 1215
    Shift your attention from Europe to the Americas, where a number of civilizations were thriving in 1215. Although no single lecture could do justice to all of these civilizations, Professor Armstrong spotlights the Pueblo people, the Incas, and the Maya, providing a solid foundation for what was happening on the American continents at the time. x
  • 9
    Civilizations of Sub-Saharan Africa in 1215
    Africa in 1215 was home to a number of fascinating civilizations, including the Mali Empire, the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, and the Ethiopian Empire. Travel to Sub-Saharan Africa to review the history leading up to these great civilizations, meet some of the major figures, and explore some of their great feats, from mining to dry-stone engineering. x
  • 10
    The Crusading Impulse
    A few lectures ago, you studied the “persecution canons” of the Fourth Lateran Council and saw the tense relationship between the Church and non-Christians. Here, Professor Armstrong unpacks the background to the Crusades, beginning with Pope Urban II’s 1095 call for Christians to take the Holy Land back from the Muslims. x
  • 11
    The Fourth Crusade and the Crusader States
    In the century after Pope Urban II, a “crusading impulse” had taken over medieval western Europe. In this lecture, you will examine the Fourth Crusade, which began in 1198 and culminated with the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Then turn to the Children’s Crusade that followed. x
  • 12
    The Fourth Lateran Council and the Jews
    The Fourth Lateran Council marked a turning point for Jewish communities in medieval Europe. In this first of two lectures on the Jewish experience around 1215, Professor Armstrong provides an overview of anti-Semitism in medieval European society. Reflect on the uneasy relationship between Jews and Christians. x
  • 13
    The Jews in 1215 and Beyond
    Continue your study of the Jewish experience in medieval Europe. Examine the aftermath of 1215 and the Fourth Lateran Council's insistence on Christian dominance. In the 13th century, institutional persecution began trickling down to the masses, leading to blood libel accusations, among other abominations. x
  • 14
    Francis of Assisi and the Mendicant Orders
    As you may recall, the Fourth Lateran Council attempted to curb the formation of new monastic orders, yet the Church soon after granted an exception for the Franciscans and the Dominicans. Dive into the background of these orders, meet St. Francis of Assisi, and see how his life inspired the creation of a new religious order. x
  • 15
    The Crusade against the Cathars
    Catharism is a version of Christianity even more revolutionary than the mendicant orders you studied in the last lecture. In fact, Catharism was so radical that some people argued its belief system was not Christianity at all. See why, in the early 13th century, the pope turned his attention away from the Crusades abroad to root out Catharism at home. x
  • 16
    Mongol Culture before Genghis Khan
    Too often, western history books portray the Mongols as bloodthirsty murderers and destroyers hellbent on destroying civilization, but the true story of Mongol society is much different. As Marco Polo relayed after a visit to Kublai Khan, the Mongols did much to stabilize the societies they conquered. Explore the dual identity of the Mongols. x
  • 17
    The Mongols and the Rise of Genghis Khan
    The rise of Genghis Khan is an amazing, unbelievable story. How did a low-ranking man from the Mongolian steppes rise up to be one of the greatest military leaders the world has ever seen? In this lecture, Professor Armstrong surveys the dazzling rise of Genghis Khan, outlines his military strategy, and surveys his conquests across Asia. x
  • 18
    The Battle of Beijing
    By the early 13th century, Genghis Khan had defeated all of his immediate rivals and brought a number of regional tribes under his banner, including the Huns, Turks, and Tatars. His crowning achievement was his success at the Battle of Beijing, when he consolidated his control of China. As you'll discover, the battle was decidedly one-sided from the start. x
  • 19
    What Happened to the Mongols after 1215?
    When Genghis Khan died, his greatest legacies were his tradition of warfare as well as the way he unified so many disparate groups of people. In this final lecture on the Mongols, follow the story of his sons and grandsons, and witness the collapse of the largest, contiguous political entity ever to exist. x
  • 20
    The Status of Women in 1215
    To tackle the subject of what the world was like in general for women in 1215, Professor Armstrong returns to medieval Europe, which was home to many powerful and well-educated women. Explore the lives of three exemplary women of the time: Hildegard of Bingen, Héloïse, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. x
  • 21
    Literary Trends in the Early 13th Century
    Religious writing was flourishing in 1215, and religious tracts and guides provide a crucial window into 13th-century spirituality and behavior. Beyond religion, however, the Norse and Icelandic sagas offer great insight into the myths, events, and stories of a pagan, pre-Christian past, while the Arthurian legend grew in popularity throughout the medieval world. Review this amazing—and sometimes amazingly weird—literature. x
  • 22
    The Islamic World in 1215
    In the 13th century, the Islamic world was experiencing a golden age of art, science, education, and more. From Baghdad’s House of Wisdom to figures such as Avicenna, Averroës, Saladin, and more, take a tour of this grand world. Learn about the foundations of modern medicine and mathematics. x
  • 23
    Japan and Samurai Culture
    Mongol culture affected huge swaths of the world, including Japan. After reflecting on the feudal structure of Japan in the 13th century, Professor Armstrong traces the rise of the shoguns, which is rooted in the 1185 conflict between the Taira and Minamoto clans. Examine the history of shoguns, the samurai, and more. x
  • 24
    The World after 1215
    Much of this course has been about looking back to a watershed year in world history. In this final lecture, Professor Armstrong looks forward to consider how the events from this course shaped the centuries that followed. With a shifting climate, the decline of population, and the catastrophic Black Death in the 14th century, we can look back and see that the year 1215 is truly an anomalous time. x

Lecture Titles

Clone Content from Your Professor tab

What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 24 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 215-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 215-page printed course guidebook
  • Portraits & illustrations
  • Historical artworks
  • Suggested readings

Enjoy This Course On-the-Go with Our Mobile Apps!*

  • App store App store iPhone + iPad
  • Google Play Google Play Android Devices
  • Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Kindle Fire Tablet + Firephone
*Courses can be streamed from anywhere you have an internet connection. Standard carrier data rates may apply in areas that do not have wifi connections pursuant to your carrier contract.

Your professor

Dorsey Armstrong

About Your Professor

Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
Purdue University
Dr. Dorsey Armstrong is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she has taught since 2002. The holder of an A.B. in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Duke University, she also taught at Centenary College of Louisiana and at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include medieval women writers,...
Learn More About This Professor
Also By This Professor


Years That Changed History: 1215 is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 37.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The professor makes history come alive! I like how she tells what's going on all around the world, not just in the two major places.
Date published: 2019-10-16
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lacking Intellectual Depth and Care in Details From a historical point of view, the material presented is interesting only in a superficial manner. Other courses covering the same material have been far more mentally stimulating. Moreover, I have already sent in comments (attached to other reviews) on two glaring errors: the lecturer's incorrect statement in Lecture 8 that Machu Picchu is above Cusco, whereas the UNESCO ruins are over three thousand feet LOWER in elevation than Cusco; then, in Lecture 9, the confusion of the MODERN state of Ghana, located in what used to be the Gold Coast in colonial times, with ANCIENT Ghana, a territory that was some 500 miles to the northwest (think roughly below Morocco on a map of Africa), and was absorbed by the Mali Empire in the 13th century. Today, having reached Lecture 11, I am frustrated by yet another error: A slide depicting Count Baldwin of Flanders storming the walls of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade of 1204 gives his dates as "c.1012-1067", a glaringly incorrect addition to the slide. And there are thirteen more lectures yet to be 'attended'.
Date published: 2019-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Years that Changed History: 1215 Dr. Armstrong is a professor of Medieval Literature, but is also very knowledgeable about the history of the time. She is one of the few lecturers that I want to listen to continuously until the course is over (and I'm sorry when it is over). She is up there with the best (right along with Dr. Robert Greenberg and a very few others).
Date published: 2019-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Total blast... Having had one of Dorsey's other lecture series, and being interested in alternative interpretations of history, I thought this might be an interesting course. My wife and I were not disappointed. She may have been recovering from a cold, because she has a problem with flicking her nose, but, in no way, does this detract from an impressive set of lectures; elements of which can be usefully reviewed later, as personal investigative needs arise. Her face, gestures, witty asides, and overall delivery are wonderfully animated, and contribute to a lecturer-student relationship which is exhilarating. Her discussion of events before and after 1215 add richness and depth to the lectures. Moreover, her efforts to look at what was happening in other world regions in the same period provides another dimension - the sort of thing that Greg Aldrete did in the excellent course #3850. I cannot recommend this course too highly...
Date published: 2019-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Putting things into perspective I enjoyed every single lesson. The instructor delivers the material in a no-nonsense style and is very thorough. She not only discusses the two big events of 1215 (Magna Carta and fourth Lateran Council), but also what is going on at this time in other parts of the world. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2019-10-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Years That Changed History: 1215 My wife and I both enjoyed watching the course. The presentation is refreshingly lively and the content offered interesting aspects new to us. Though identifying 1215 as THE year of change for all cultures discussed would be somewhat of a stretch, that does not matter as AROUND that time profound changes did take place which the course identifies clearly.
Date published: 2019-09-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unique way of looking at history I never would have thought one year of history could have such an impact. I enjoyed the way Professor Armstrong wove together the disparate civilizations and cultures together emphasizing their influence on each other. I highly recommend this course for all students of history. And having viewed this one I recommend Professor Armstrong's other courses too.
Date published: 2019-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great features I bought this about a month or so ago and so glad that I did!
Date published: 2019-09-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Lecture Presentation I have taught graduate students for 50 years and have taken many courses from the Teaching Company. This professor does not know how to lecture.
Date published: 2019-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fascinating though Professor Armstrong is not quite as dispassionate as one would expect of an academic, in that she has no trouble telling us the good guys from the bad guys, nor among them her favourites, her information is expansive, detailed, and fascinating, entirely worth the price of admission
Date published: 2019-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The key to this title is the word "Years". Professor Armstrong, once again, presents the background of what was going on in th medieval world in the years surrounding 1215.
Date published: 2019-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Years that changed History: 1215 Dorsey Armstrong gave a very engaging history. She is an outstanding professor of history. I will purchase more of courses that she delivers.
Date published: 2019-08-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Presentation, Great Course Well done! Taking a notable date in history, focusing in on major one historic event AND then doing a quick global scan of what else was going on at that time was a wonderful approach to take. Presenter was engaging. Written notes and video were complimentary.
Date published: 2019-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very nice storytelling Great course, a lot of wonderful unknown details. Especially good is the Mongolian part. Please, keep this professor busy.
Date published: 2019-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 1215 - what a surprise ! I delayed taking this course, not another sentinel year review. To my surprise this was one of the outstanding history GC's I have taken. Professor Armstrong convinced me the events of 1215 and surrounding years truly changed the world. The Magna Carta, 4th Lateran, Cathars, sack of Istanbul, and of course a completely reimagined Genghis Khan, all told with flair and stage presence.
Date published: 2019-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I’m not quite finished, but I have filled almost 2 exercise books of notes. This is a completely new time period for my study of history, but I so enjoyed Dorsey’s course on the Great Plague, that I wanted more. Last week I had a moment of wondering if I could go to Purdue (from my tiny island on the west coast of B.C.), to actually be in one of her classrooms. Thank you Dorsey for awakening my interest in this time. You sent me to my bookshelves, where I found The New Knighthood, by Malcolm Barber and now I’m wondering if there was a crossover between the Mongol Empire and the Knights Templar. I don’t find it easy reading, but your course has allowed me to be a bit more open-minded about it all. Thank you, Sandra
Date published: 2019-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect Title My husband and I completed the course in less than a week. We were so into the course, we hated for it to end. We absolutely loved it. It did a super job of bringing all prior knowledge together into one neat package. I would recommend this to everyone regardless of prior classes. Wonderful.
Date published: 2019-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course and instructor This is a wonderful course about one year in history, taught by a very engaging and enthusiastic instructor. Dorsey Armstrong truly loves her profession as a teacher. 1215 was a remarkable year in history and worth the study. Highly recommend.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Year that Changed Everything I just finished this course by Dr. Dorsey Armstrong, the second of hers that I took and was spurred to take another. She gives very useful information employing an excellent sense of humor in her presentation that keeps you engaged and wanting more. The course expertly wove the history of medieval Europe with that of Asia, Africa and the Americas in a way to put this time into a perspective often not used by others. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Date published: 2019-07-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Anything by This Professor is Great! This was a fascinating course. It is the third course I’ve taken from professor Armstrong. She’s a fantastic lecturer. I learned a lot.
Date published: 2019-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Assembling the historical pieces When I was in school, I learned bits of history in music classes, literature classes, French classes, and of course history classes. The problem with that segmented style of learning is that you don’t often confront the big picture: the intricate crossover between all these different pieces. That’s what makes courses like this one so valuable: they bring together ideas and events from a variety of sources and show how they interacted in a particular period of history. The Prof focuses on three big events of 1215: the signing of the Magna Carta, the Fourth Lateran Council, and the Battle of Beijing. The first of these I knew well (and I’ve seen the copy at Salisbury Cathedral). The second I knew by name, although I didn’t know the details since most of my studies have focused on the early ecumenical councils and on the later Reformation/Counter-Reformation period. The third event I didn’t know at all. In fact, it was in the lengthy segment on the rise of Genghis Khan and the Mongols that I found most interesting, because it was mostly new to me. Although these three events are the lynchpins of the course, the Prof wanders through time in both directions in order to provide background, or to prove her points. Sometimes you may forget that you’re no longer in 1215, but a century or more later, because that’s where the story plays out. I am a fan of Prof. Dorsey, and have taken most of her TGC courses. I enjoy her breezy, non-stuffy approach to lecturing. This course intersects with several of her previous offerings, including the grim Black Death course, Great Minds of the Medieval World, the Medieval World, and more. Other fans may wish to take bets on how many episodes it takes before the Prof gives us a reading in Middle English. And you may wish to make a drinking game out of the phrase “persecuting society,” one of her hobby-horse theories that I mentioned in a course review back in 2013. Another problem I mentioned back then was the Prof’s tendency to air-brush Islamic history and downplay the long chain of events that led to the Crusades. But overall, it’s an enlightening course that even introduces such ideas about how climate change influenced the course of history (spoiler: it’s not all bad). The course focuses on Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, but there are brief forays into Africa and the Americas as well. I bought the DVD version, which may not have been worth the extra money over mere audio. Outside of maps and some old illustrations, there was not much visual content. (I might comment that the colors chosen for the maps sometimes made it hard to tell what was land and what was water, until the eye became used to the outlines.) The course book is well done, and as with other recent courses, I highly recommend looking at the PDF version, which is well-designed and full of color. The bibliography is helpful, although I would add “Montaillou” by Emmanuel LeRoy Ladurie, which gives an in-depth look at the Cathars (albeit later in the century). And it wouldn’t hurt to listen to “Dominique,” the #1 Top 40 hit from 1963, which contains references to St. Dominic, John Lackland, and the Albigensians – something you don’t always hear on the radio. Thanks to Prof. Dorsey for a course that helps tie together many loose ends of knowledge.
Date published: 2019-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent history of a very turbulent time. Two features of this presentation really impressed me: First, it provided a total view of the history of the entire world at a particularly significant point in time. Most histories restrict themselves to a single region, like Europe, and that approach develops a narrow view of events. Second, the instructor simplified the events to emphasize their causes, effects and especially their connections to other events. In sum, this was one of the best history courses I have every enjoyed.
Date published: 2019-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course! This course is phenomenal, It took this course for me to realize that so many things I knew happened in that single year. Professor Armstrong present the material in an enjoyable and engaging way. I also recommend her other courses. She is one of my favorite professors.
Date published: 2019-06-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A slice in time around the world. What a wonderful and skillful instructor she put a great context to the time period. what stood out to me was the forth Lateran counsel with marriage being made a sacrament in 1215 that should be shouted on mountain tops. Genghis Khan who ever liked him. wow, keep it up Great Courses. This is my first time through, I will pass many times.
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enlightening global history- Fascinating and Fun As soon as I saw this course in the catalog, I bought it- it is, after all, by Dorsey Armstrong- one of the Great Courses best professors. I was not disappointed! This one is a bit different though. The course is about the year 1215, what was happening then - across the world -and why it matters now. It’s not about one particular culture or one particular event, but rather a “global snapshot”. She centers the course on the signing of the Magna Carta, the 4th Lateran Council in Rome , and the Battle of Beijing, all of which took place in.. you guessed it.. 1215. She fleshes these remarkable events out with details, some funny ( did you know the Magna Carta requires that a “pint” of ale be consistent measurement throughout Britain?), and some highly consequential ( that the 4th Lateran Council gave rise to a “society of persecution “ of Jews and other marginalized peoples). And she can explain the “why” of it all. My favorite part of the course was the lectures on Ghengis Khan and the Mongol empire- perhaps because I knew nothing about it before this course, except for some vague idea of murderous hordes of barbarians. Here’s a clue- that impression is incorrect! Dr. Armstrong is fully capable of disabusing you of that notion- with facts, insight, and clarity. The weakest part of the course is when she travels to the Americas to visit the Pueblo Culture in North America ( do NOT call it Anasazi- take the course to know why not- it has to do with the Navajo) and the Maya and Aztec cultures in South America. After that, she hits Zimbabwe, just to be inclusive. She freely admits this is not her strong suit, and I would agree. Nonetheless, it does help us to have an idea of what else was going on in 1215. My only complaint about the course is that, after telling us numerous times that the Mongol Empire and the Battle is Beijing had consequences that ripples down through history to the present day... she never tells us what consequences! Frustrating!! Overall, however, this a great course. I think you will enjoy it and learn something fascinating about world history. I certainly did!
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Professor I love all of professor's Dorsey Armstrong courses. Though I a, well versed in medieval studies, professor Armstrong is always able to teach me something new. Delightful course.
Date published: 2019-06-07
  • y_2020, m_3, d_30, h_12
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.5
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_3, tr_34
  • loc_en_US, sid_3323, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.0
  • CLOUD, getContent, 81.02ms

Questions & Answers

Customers Who Bought This Course Also Bought