The Terror of History: Mystics, Heretics, and Witches in the Western Tradition : The Great Courses: Renaissance & Early Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Teofilo F. Ruiz
  • Series: The Great Courses: Renaissance & Early Modern History
  • 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

Western civilization is closely associated with reason and science, and with exceptional accomplishments in art, architecture, music, and literature.Yet it has also been characterized by widespread belief in the supernatural and the irrational - with mystics who have visions of the divine and entire movements of people who wait in fervent anticipation of the apocalypse.
Moreover, Western culture has also been the setting for repeated acts of barbaric reaction to those beliefs, including persecutions of certain groups, such as Jews, or of people accused as heretics and witches.
This series of 24 intriguing lectures explores the concept of what has been called the "terror of history," a deeply held ancient belief that human beings live constantly on the edge of doom- a doom against which we must protect ourselves, sometimes by scapegoating an "other" whom we blame for this catastrophic plight.
The lectures explore this belief through a study of mysticism, heresy, apocalyptic movements, and the witch-hunting craze that bloomed in Europe from 1000 to 1700. You'll examine sources you may be unfamiliar with, learn to think in new ways, and gain a fresh perspective on how social, economic, political, and religious climates - especially during times of change and stress - exert tremendous influence on the prevalence of irrational attitudes and persecutions.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

For those who wonder why

I picked up this lecture because of curiosity over witch burnings and religious inquisitions. How did people enact such cruel tortures upon others and what does that say about the human species?

Professor Teo does an amazing job recreating an image of life in the Middle Ages to explain the context of the events in history. I was fascinated by the rich detail of the time period and of his description of people's lives, culture, fears and beliefs.

In addition, Professor Teo is such an interesting, expressive speaker, that it was easy to get immersed in his lectures. I encourage history fans and anyone who has a curiosity about the time period to take a listen.
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- Christina

What's in a name

Any additional comments?

"The Terror of History" a haunting title that makes more sense after finishing the lectures. The lectures are interesting and have a personal feel, I did not find Ruiz's accent a distraction, as some comments warned. One of the most memorable TGC lectures.

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- Allyson B. Wilson

Book Details

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