The Late Middle Ages - the two centuries from c. 1300 to c. 1500 - might seem like a distant era, but students of history are still trying to reach a consensus about how it should be interpreted. Was it an era of calamity or rebirth? Was it still clearly medieval or the period in which humanity took its first decisive steps into modernity?
These 24 provocative lectures introduce you to the age's major events, personalities, and developments, and arms you with the essentials you need to form your own ideas about this age of extremes - an age that, according to Professor Daileader, "experiences disasters and tragedies of such magnitude that those who survive them cannot remember the like, and doubt that subsequent generations will be capable of believing their descriptions.
"You'll look at the Black Death, the carnage of frequent wars, and the religious turmoil we associate with the Middle Ages." But you'll also look at the beginning of the intellectual and cultural movement known as Humanism, which planted the seeds of modernity. Humanism's precepts, which hearkened back to the moral inspiration inherent in classical artistic values, humans have an enormous capacity for goodness, for creativity, even for the achievement of happiness.
But these were hardly the only forces that tug modern-day historians in multiple directions. The Middle Ages was also a period when the persisting legacy of knights, serfs, and castles coexisted with the cannons and muskets newly made possible by gunpowder. With so many contradictions, it's no wonder that historians have differed widely on how to judge this era-debating even when it ended and modernity began.
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An Excellent Overview of the Late Middle Ages
This was an excellent series, and well worth the listen. Professor Philip Daileader is a great scholar and an excellent lecturer. This is part three in a three part series on the middle ages taught by him and published by the Great Courses. Listening to all three are great, but you can listen to one as a standalone course and also benefit from it.
Professor Daileader takes you on an overview of the late middle ages, which he describes as roughly 1300-1500 AD. You will learn about the major political events and personalities of this time as well as social, intellectual, religious, and economic changes. Learn about the early humanists who gave birth to the Renaissance. Learn about how gunpowder change the weapons, armor, and architecture of Europe. Learn about the final collapse of the Roman Empire in the East with the fall of Constantinople. Learn about the dynamic personalities of Ferdinand and Isabella and their leadership in the reconquest of Spain, the institution of the Spanish inquisition, and the sending of Columbus on his fateful voyage in 1492. This is just a small taste of what you will learn here.
Professor Daileader also takes time to introduce you to the historiographical aspects of studying the middle ages and his personal opinion on the length and impact of the middle ages.
I could not recommend this series more highly, especially as way to learn about the time bridge between the high medieval age and the Renaissance, Reformation, & Enlightenment eras that took the west by storm soon afterwards.
Excellent finale for the course trilogy
- Deep Reader