The Early Middle Ages

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful coverage of a little known time. I recently finished "The Early Middle Ages", and it was quite a revealing course. I had never studied this time period before so most of this was new information. Most of European history that I have read mentions the fall of the Roman Empire, glosses over the period of the Dark Ages, then picks up again with the Renaissance. Prof. Philip Daileader helps fill in that gap. He is very knowledgeable about the entire time period. He does not just cover the historical dates, with a list of leaders, but delves into the social, economic, and religious issues of the era. He not only covers European civilization of the time, but also the Byzantine Empire, and their impact on the area that was to become Spain. Even though this was a pre-nationalist time, Prof. Daileader shows that this time period lays the foundation for nationalism that was to shape Europe in the centuries to come. I really enjoyed this lecture series, and look forward to continuing with the the High Middle Ages. I recommend this course to anyone who loves history and wants to know more about the period known as the Dark Ages
Date published: 2020-04-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding from start to finish This is one of the very best courses I’ve listened to: an extremely informative survey of European history from 300 AD to 1000 AD, delivered by Daileader in very clear lectures laced with delightfully subtle humor. He divides this period into two parts: Late Antiquity, from 300-650, during which Roman and “barbarian” institutions co-existed and co-mingled; and 650-1000, during which the first medieval kingdoms developed, the Merovingians and Carolingians.There is much I could say about this course, but one of the most interesting aspects was Daileader’s succinct and very interesting commentary on the so-called “the fall of the Roman Empire.” I highly recommend this course to anyone wanting to get a handle on the mysteriously fascinating transition from Roman Empire to Medieval Europe.
Date published: 2020-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Which Course Should You Buy? What are the differences between this 24 L course ("The Early Middle Ages") and Noble’s 36 L "Late Antiquity"? In brief, they both cover 330 to 1000 AD, but were designed for different audiences. Daileader is more concise. Noble has deeper insights, at times bordering on TMI. Listening to Daileader first would provide an excellent framework for the more academic Noble. There are other differences: Daileader’s guide has helpful maps. Noble, whose shifting focus can be distracting, needs maps but has none. Daileader has a more instructive Timeline. Daileader's chapters tell stories whereas Noble’s chapters are academic. Daileader’s L1, L12, and L21 describe Islam more accurately than Noble for reasons noted in my review of "Late Antiquity”. There is a great deal to enjoy in Daileader. Perhaps my favorite teaching point was that the Roman Empire really didn't collapse (L24). Rather: barbarian invasions, new diseases, and good old “Climate Change” probably gradually eroded it away. In summary, this course is an entertaining, factual study of this time period.
Date published: 2020-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Myriad Range of Topics! I recently bought a set of the Early, High and Late Middle ages taught by Professor Philip Daileader. I am extremely pleased with the lectures! I have learned a lot from this series, and feel I made a good investment.
Date published: 2019-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyed learning about this time period I enjoyed learning about the middle ages of Europe in this course and the other courses by the same instructor. This broadened my knowledge and understanding of this time period.
Date published: 2019-03-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great Content; Can't Watch I purchased both Middle Ages courses at the same time. After watching several of the Early Middle Ages courses, I had to stop. The content is excellent, but I find it impossible to watch or even listen to the presenter. He doesn't make eye contact and moves around unpredictably, and his voice is just not suited to the task. If I want to finish the course, I'll have to purchase the transcript. Too bad.
Date published: 2019-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Such a great teacher. I have watched all three of his Middle Ages classes now and they are fascinating.
Date published: 2018-12-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn’t wait for next chapter! A frequent listener to Great Courses. Professor does a fantastic job of giving us the landscape and the issues with a lively, engaging, yet authoritative perspective. I could not recommend it more highly. I am not sure I went into this course with an appreciation of this era. But I am not excited to get more courses bout this era and this Professor.
Date published: 2018-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating and Entertaining! I purchased this course to fill a void in a knowledge of European History. The course content and the manner of presentation exceeded all my expectations. Professor Daileader does not presume any prior knowledge of the time period The material could be very dry, but Daileader manages to make each session, to a large extent, a self contained entity. His knowldedge of the material is obvious but what I enjoyed most is his occasional inserts of subtle humor. The way he covers a time period not only dwells on the key dates and events, but focuses on the people both famous and not so famous, that make this time period of history unique. I enjoyed the course so much I have purchased the HIgh MIddle Ages and Late Middle Ages as well. I have been a customer of The Great Courses for a number of years and this professor is a good as it gets!
Date published: 2018-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Detailed overview Very good overview of the period of Western Civilization that we have have been taught the least about. Professor Daileader provides both a political and social history of the "Dark Ages" and how they laid the foundation for the High Middle Ages and the modern world. He doesn't presuppose much knowledge on the part of the learner. It may take a little time to become used to his speaking style, which is a little halting at times.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WOW!! A lot of non-fiction reading and DVDs I explore is information which fills the gap between the Fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of European civilization. What was in between? This course is EXCELLENT in filling in the gaps about not just the rulers and the wars, but also about the lives of people and the migrations which shaped what followed. The professor is so engaging......factual, humorous, and speaking in a very conversational manner, as he conveys so much information. His style makes it so easy to remember the information which is presented. I recommend this course for everyone who has curiosity about the gaps in general historical knowledge. Whatever ones level of education is, there is much to be learned in this exciting and engaging course.
Date published: 2018-06-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Deceptively Interesting Probably the least-studied of all the histories. After a few minutes of viewing you get pulled in hook, line, and sinker
Date published: 2018-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The First Course I ever Got! This was the first course I ever listen to and the beginning of a lifelong love of the Great Courses. I was excited to take this course when I first got it and it did not disappoint. There is so much to learn about this misunderstood period of history. Professor Philip Daileader is a gifted lecturer and I learned so much from him. This course is the reason I love history.
Date published: 2018-03-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Presentation is not smooth. Content is not interesting.
Date published: 2018-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course and well done Dr. Daileader did a great job in presenting the material. My understanding of the early middle ages has changed for the better. While it appears that this course was prepared some years ago, it is still effective. Thanks...
Date published: 2018-02-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Course on Middle Ages Simply one of the best courses I have ever taken. Professor Daileader is outstanding. His wit makes the course incredibly interesting. I wish I had professors like him when I was in college and graduate school. I took the course after my son, who is in high school, asked me about the dark ages. I realized I knew almost nothing about that period of history. I started watching The Early Middle Ages by Professor Daileader and couldn't stop. It is a fascinating period that is often overlooked in history classes. I wish I could have given the course a 10.
Date published: 2018-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable and Informative I very much enjoyed this course. I found the professor to be very knowledgeable and his presentation was at the right speed, right tone, just right for me. The subject matter of the Dark Ages was brought to light by Professor Daileader. I will say the first lecture is very academic - describing theories from important historians, important, but some might need to persevere through, but it will get way better!
Date published: 2018-01-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great teacher I watched this on Great Course Plus and felt I got my money’s worth and much more. Dr. Dialeader is knowledgeable, articulate, and informative as well as delightfully humorous at points.
Date published: 2018-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great I am enjoying it immensely. And I'm looking for to other courses on the Middle Ages
Date published: 2018-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great teacher! in addition to his erudition and command of the material. the professor has a delightful sense of humor which enlivens the presentation and makes it a pleasure to listen to
Date published: 2018-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent and thought-provoking survey This course is worth taking because it gives an excellent picture of the early middle ages. The period could also be described as the gradual disintegration of the Roman Empire, which, in some ways, lived on after the last Emperor was removed. Professor Daileader is highly knowledgeable and entertaining. He focuses on the social and economic history as well as the political developments of the period. The discussion of the Carolingian empire, and its eventual downfall, was especially memorable. Professor Daileader is well-informed on developments in the early Christian church and explains how the early Viking raids are relevant to a study of the period. Anyone who is interested in how the world changed after the Roman Empire disintegrated and how Europe gradually developed new political organizations to take its place should take this course.
Date published: 2017-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Less ancient and "dark" than once thought! Becoming "old" one's self (I am now, incredibly, 74!) brings with it many gifts, one of which is to understand that what once seemed "long ago" was, in fact, not really that far back. Furthermore, one becomes more aware of how we humans just love to attach characteristics -- that can pass as "knowledge" -- to an entire era -- which we love to denote as an "age" -- of immense complexity and interest. Such is the case of that period that, in this course, is covered by Professor Daileader -- what he calls the "Early Middle Ages" and which many have previously designated as "The Dark Ages." Just for some perspective: What do you think future historians will call the period of the 20th century with its wars and genocides that consumed upwards of 100 million lives? In a sense, studying history is like watching the ebb and flow of ocean tides, for there seems to be a definite rhythm to human history that involves innovation, discovery, growth and flourishing -- and then, sadly, diminishment, conflict, and a fading away. But this last phase is not, as we once thought, a path to oblivion but, rather, the beginning of -- or, more accurately, a merging into -- another story that has more continuity with the past than once understood. So it is with this remarkable period that witnessed the definite decline of western Roman imperial power, but also the continuity of many of its ideas, instruments, and forms for centuries longer among those who succeeded to political dominance in its place. Indeed, if one thinks of the Idea of Rome -- an idealized concept of thriving peace, communication and commerce -- than that Rome never "fell" at all. I especially valued the way in which Professor Daileader narrated the fascinating relationship between political powers and those of the religious sphere, true both of the "Christian" West as well as the quickly spreading power of Muslim-professing Arabs beginning in the 7th century. There is no doubt that, for the average person, this would have been a very difficult period in which to live: successive warring states, the constant threat of famine or plague, and -- for many -- the palpable sense of true loss of what had once been. But it was also a time of visionaries, including some who were warriors first: exploration, conquest, new order, new things, and new understandings. For many wonderful insights into a period more distant in understanding than in time, I recommend this enjoyable course on peoples not so very different from ourselves!
Date published: 2017-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting, I bought the second one, and the vikings set. all good so far, only complaint is not being able to discuss with instructor or other students.
Date published: 2017-06-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is a great buy. content is very informative and the professor is clear, concise and engaging. We have decided that if you are using the material anywhere except your car DVD is the way to go. The maps etc are very helpful in following the content.
Date published: 2017-04-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Look at the "Dark Ages" The Early Middle Ages gave me a glimpse of part of European history that's often skipped over. Professor Daileader is not only knowledgeable but knows when to add a touch of humor that makes listening a pleasure.
Date published: 2017-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course!!! This course is an excellent course, the lecturer is great, very clear, informative, interesting. The course is very well constructed, the points for each sections are clear.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous I never cared for the middle ages until a friend pointed out how much of our current western civilization was established during that period: religious competition, statesman craft, secular vs. religious power, languages, and the long shadow of the black death. Prof Daileader is a wonderful speaker, very clear, always with a salt of humor to make this material come to life. He makes the Middle Ages fascinating, and so relevant to understanding our current age. After listening to this course on the early Middle Ages, I bought his two other courses, High MA and Late MA which are equally wonderful. Just Fabulous. Thank you professor for making all this dense material so accessible.
Date published: 2017-01-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative and Enjoyable This is an informative and enjoyable course. The professor does a good job of walking through both the social and political history of the late Roman empire through the early Middle Ages. It is often hard to blend both social and political history, though this professor does a remarkably good job of covering both. I learned something in every lesson, and I feel better informed about this period of time. My favorite lecture was the one on family structures where he compared Roman traditions with barbarian traditions and described how they combined, with the influence of the Christian Church, into our modern notion of family structure.
Date published: 2017-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course This is a fascinating exposition of a highly interesting subject, delivered in a deeply engaging way. I absolutely loved the lectures. They are focused and succint, and yet cover a lot of ground. They are highly accessible, and yet manages to present the key historiographical issues with wit and insight. They achieve a perfect balance between the 'history of events' and 'history of mentalities', illuminating a 'dark' age. I would recommend this wholeheartedly to anyone considering studying the Middle Ages.
Date published: 2016-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprise! I haven't been interested in the middle ages since early college years. My wife has had no interest at all. We bought several courses for the winter months and flipped to start with this one. It's great. She's especially taken by it. We were thrilled with Ehrman's course on how Jesus became God and this one picks up that story. Wow.
Date published: 2016-11-23
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The Early Middle Ages
Course Trailer
Long Shadows and the Dark Ages
1: Long Shadows and the Dark Ages

Though the Early Middle Ages and the world of Late Antiquity that preceded them are often little studied, the questions they raise about why Rome fell and why Christianity replaced paganism as Europe's dominant religion remain important and controversial.

32 min
Diocletian and the Crises of the Third Century
2: Diocletian and the Crises of the Third Century

During the 3rd century, the collapse of a reeling Roman Empire is staved off for a few centuries by the transformative changes introduced by an otherwise conservative emperor named Diocletian.

31 min
Constantine the Great-Christian Emperor
3: Constantine the Great-Christian Emperor

Constantine's military victories gain him control of the entire Roman Empire and begin the process of transforming Christianity from a minority, illegal religion to the majority, official religion of the Empire.

31 min
Pagans and Christians in the Fourth Century
4: Pagans and Christians in the Fourth Century

The accession of Julian the Apostate causes brief hopes-or fears-of a pagan restoration. But his reign is short-lived, and by 400 A.D. it is clear that the tide has permanently turned toward Christianity within the Roman Empire.

30 min
Athletes of God
5: Athletes of God

With the conversion of Constantine and the end of imperial persecutions, and with martyrdom no longer readily available, those seeking new ways to excel in their faith turn to new ways of achieving Christian heroism.

31 min
Augustine, Part One
6: Augustine, Part One

This is the first of two lectures about perhaps the most influential thinker of the later Roman Empire, whose life and career encapsulate some of the broad changes that were taking place.

31 min
Augustine, Part Two
7: Augustine, Part Two

In reaction to a theology that argued for the ability of humans to obey God's commands without the assistance of divine grace, Augustine develops a theology that emphasizes human helplessness and the inability to achieve happiness in this world.

31 min
Barbarians at the Gate
8: Barbarians at the Gate

A chain of events set into motion by the Gothic migration of 376 A.D. ultimately leads to the formal end of the western half of the Roman Empire a century later.

31 min
Franks and Goths
9: Franks and Goths

An examination of the Gothic kingdoms and the kingdom of the Franks shows that while the deposing of the last Roman emperor in the west might have been significant from a political standpoint, the administrative, cultural, social, and economic impacts were minimal.

31 min
Arthur's England
10: Arthur's England

The Anglo-Saxon settlement of England substantially transforms England's language and the god or gods worshipped there. By the 7th and 8th centuries, Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks have become the leading educators and intellectuals of the day.

31 min
Justinian and the Byzantine Empire
11: Justinian and the Byzantine Empire

The eastern half of the Roman Empire-known to historians as the Byzantine Empire-survives the Western Empire by roughly a millennium, managing to preserve classical culture and urban life even as its official language passes from Latin to Greek.

31 min
The House of Islam
12: The House of Islam

An emerging Arab Empire conquers the Persian Empire, large sections of the Byzantine empire, and even parts of continental Europe, including most of the Iberian peninsula. But an Arab raiding party's insignificant defeat provides the key moment in the ascent of Europe's next great dynasty.

31 min
Rise of the Carolingians
13: Rise of the Carolingians

The Carolingians finally depose the last Merovingian king in 751 A.D., bring all of Francia under their control, and even begin to intervene in Italy, reversing the power balance established during the Roman Empire.

31 min
Charlemagne
14: Charlemagne

The Carolingian Empire reaches its territorial and military high watermark during the very long reign of Charlemagne, who makes the Empire the most powerful Christian state on the European continent and gains for himself the revived title of emperor.

31 min
Carolingian Christianity
15: Carolingian Christianity

Carolingian rulers are deeply involved in the affairs of the Christian Church, dictating policy, sponsoring missionaries, and supporting ecclesiastical reform in a number of ways.

31 min
The Carolingian Renaissance
16: The Carolingian Renaissance

The fear that educational deficiencies were jeopardizing the salvation of souls and interfering with the ability of people to call on God for help drives a century-long period of educational reform known as the Carolingian Renaissance, the impact of which is felt to this day.

31 min
Fury of the Northmen
17: Fury of the Northmen

Beginning in the 8th century, Scandinavians fan out from their homeland in a diaspora that stretches from Newfoundland to Russia, involving settlement, the forging of new trading networks, and relentless violence.

31 min
Collapse of the Carolingian Empire
18: Collapse of the Carolingian Empire

Discredited by its inability to deal with Viking attacks, the Carolingian dynasty falls prey to battles over succession and its consequent civil wars and ultimately crumbles.

31 min
The Birth of France and Germany
19: The Birth of France and Germany

The collapse of the Carolingian Empire results in the emergence of the Capetians and Ottonians as the new ruling dynasties in West and East Francia, whose differing paths ultimately reshape them as the Kingdom of France and the Kingdom of Germany.

31 min
England in the Age of Alfred
20: England in the Age of Alfred

Viking attacks on Britain produce very different results from those on the continent, with large sections of England settled. The ultimate result, after the Norman Conquest of 1066, is that a group of Christianized, French-speaking Viking descendents becomes the ruling class in England.

30 min
Al-Andalus-Islamic Spain
21: Al-Andalus-Islamic Spain

Islamic Spain becomes one of the most dynamic and developed areas of the continent. Despite the brutality of its high politics and religious restrictions on Jews and Christians, its flourishing economy, trade, and intellectual ferment make it an important center of cultural exchange.

31 min
Carolingian Europe-Gateway to the Middle Ages
22: Carolingian Europe-Gateway to the Middle Ages

This lecture makes the case that, during the Carolingian period, Europe stepped decisively out of its classical past and into its medieval present.

31 min
Family Life-How Then Became Now
23: Family Life-How Then Became Now

The family underwent a number of structural changes during Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, and these changes illustrate how Roman and Germanic culture fused to become the medieval world.

31 min
Long Shadows and the Dark Ages Revisited
24: Long Shadows and the Dark Ages Revisited

This final lecture examines how historical research has modified the ideas of Gibbon and Pirenne about the transition from the ancient to the medieval world, particularly as they explain the Roman Empire's demise.

33 min
Philip Daileader

Making four courses over the last thirteen years has been an honor, and I'd like to think that as The Teaching Company has grown and developed, I've developed with it.

About Philip Daileader

Dr. Philip Daileader is Associate Professor of History at The College of William and Mary. He earned his B.A. in History from Johns Hopkins University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Before taking his position at William and Mary, he taught at the University of Alabama and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Professor Daileader received William and Mary's 2004 Alumni Fellowship Award for excellence in teaching. As a graduate student, he was a four-time winner of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. Dr. Daileader is the author of True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162-1397. His research focuses on the social, cultural, and religious history of Mediterranean Europe.

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