The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations : The Great Courses: Renaissance & Early Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Andrew C. Fix
  • Series: The Great Courses: Renaissance & Early Modern History
  • 24 hrs and 17 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Between 1348 and 1715, western Europe was fraught with turmoil, beset by the Black Plague, numerous and bitter religious wars, and frequent political revolutions and upheavals.
Yet the Europe that emerged from this was vastly different from the Europe that entered it. By the start of the 18th century, Europe had been revitalized and reborn in a radical break with the past that would have untold ramifications for human civilization.
This comprehensive series of 48 lectures by an award-winning teacher and scholar sheds new light on this critical period by exploring the political, social, cultural, and economic revolutions that transformed Europe between the arrival of the Black Death in the 14th century to the onset of the Enlightenment in the 18th century.
It explains


how these startling changes came about;
the social, economic, and political factors that helped steer Europe away from the Middle Ages and into the modern world;
the kinds of patterns we can see during this time; and
how these centuries were critical to the entire narrative of history and have contributed to the Western world we know today.
Professor Fix covers a remarkable breadth of subjects relating to European history from 1348 to 1715. While religion, politics, wars, and economics dominate this period, he also pays close attention to art, exploration, science, and technology.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Underwhelming Presentation

I just started this course, so this is only an initial reaction.

I'm a big fan of history and this period in European history is one I've tended to veer away from because it seemed to me to always come across so dull. More recently I've become quite interested in events like the 30 Years War, the Northern Wars, and the power struggles between the Italian city-states prior to unification of Italy. So, I was quite excited to start this course.

I love the Great Courses by the Teaching company, but I'm not very impressed with Prof. Andrew C. Fix. I'm admittedly only 4 lectures in, but it's very slow going and the lectures seem very poorly structured. The first lecture ends seemingly out of nowhere. He just stops and then the lecture ends and he starts again in the next. Worse, his delivery is poor. Prof. Fix has a very... homely... style of speaking. I found him inarticulate and vague in his description of the crises of the 14th century leading up to the Renaissance and his description of the Milanese and Venetian contests for power in Northern Italy, he twice used the phrase "went on the warpath" to describe the military expansionism of the two nations. He uses very ambiguous language at times like in describing a city state as having "not a huge army". His coverage of the 100 Years War was choppy and incomplete--granted it was only a brief overview to provide some backdrop to the content of the course, but even in that context I found it lacking. His attempt to explain the Black Death was really poor. He often seems to just avoid detail and use

I'm going to continue with the course, and hopefully I'll get enough out of it to make the time worth it. Maybe it gets better. I might update this review after I've finished the course to give a more complete opinion.
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- Logical Paradox "Irrational, but True"

Excellent! (...but the ending could be improved)

Would you consider the audio edition of The Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Rise of Nations to be better than the print version?

No idea. I didn't read the print version.


What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The narration is very good, the organization of the lectures is excellent. Key points are well emphasized so you end the course with a solid "big picture" perspective of several centuries. The ending was disappointing however. I'm not sure why, but I was caught up in the political and religious themes that dominate most of the course, and when science came towards the end it was a difficult transition. For me the best parts were Professor Fix's deep dive into the drama of the Reformation, as well as the reasons why different political traditions formed in each European nation during the Renaissance. You'll swear it's Bill Clinton speaking to you at times...uncanny how much he and Professor Fix sound alike! But then at the very end it just seems...to end. No summary of the course, wrap up of key points made over the 30 odd hours you spent listening. I wish there had been a final 30 minute session devoted just to summarizing the course. Hint hint...


What does Professor Andrew C. Fix bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Just a naturally good lecturing style. Emphasis at the right points. Not overly dramatic. Very easy to listen to. I'm struggling to get through "The English Novel" now simply because of the narration style...so it drives home the point of how important the narration is for these courses.


Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The entire discussion around the Reformation. Speaking as a non-practicing Protestant, it made me uncomfortable with all Protestant denominations not to mention the Catholic Church. Professor Fix makes it crystal clear why Luther and others like the Calvinists found a ripe audience for their movements against Catholicism. When you hear about the "Indulgences Crisis" you'll see just how much the Catholic Church deserved the Reformation! But every movement was corrupted and became to some degree intolerant and oppressive. The only characters that, for me, emerge from this entire narrative as "noble" are the political minds that formed the Dutch republic. I had never really considered how remarkable Holland was for its ability to form Europe's (the world's) first republic. I'd like an entire course now on the political history of the Netherlands!


Any additional comments?

Excellent experience, excellent value. Would really suggest a final session that summarizes the course...not just this course but all the Great Courses.

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- FN2187

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses