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The High Middle Ages

Better understand the fascinating world of medieval Europe with this engaging course that explores the years 1000-1300.
The High Middle Ages is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 140.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from ‘Woke Mind Virus’ Don’t worry, I am done with great courses. I will not buy anything anymore. You got the ‘Woke Mind Virus”
Date published: 2024-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How Europe Emerged from the Dark Ages This is a very good course in which some pivotal points in European history are put into perspective in the years 1000-1300. Examples include the Crusades, the Norman Conquest, the Great Schism, and Magna Carta. I was surprised that Dr. Daileader structured the course by topics rather than by geography or chronology. This risked suggesting that Germany, Italy, and England all had the same religious principles or that women all had the same social standing throughout Europe throughout the 300 years of the High Middle Ages. However, Dr. Daileader is careful in his approach and I think he pulls it off. Topics include nobles, religion, peasants, feudalism, the status of women, the status of Jews, Scholasticism and the rise of universities, and the struggle between the papacy and the Holy Roman Empire. Dr. Daileader knows his audience and communicates well. He is personable in his presentation style. He presents his material in an accessible manner. The course guide is average by The Great Courses (TGC) standards. It is written in outline format rather than paragraph format. It averages only about four pages per lecture, which is about half of TGC average. It has no graphics. It does have a timeline, a glossary, biographical notes, and a bibliography in the appendix. I used an older audio streaming version. It is currently available only in video or DVD. There may be helpful graphics but I found audio-only to be perfectly fine. The course was published in 2001.
Date published: 2024-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Passionate and very knowledgeable instructor. Professor Philip Daileader is an extraordinary teacher who knows how to make every subject interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed his lectures. He gave sufficient details to make the subjects engaging without getting bogged down in minutia. He definitely has the heart of a teacher. My only criticism of the course (not the instructor) is that it seems like the editors/producers took a minimalist approach in the use of graphics and then frequently would not leave the graphics on the screen long enough to absorb (but that is a big problem with all Wondrium courses, as soon as you realize there's a graphic, it's gone!). That being said, it was a fantastic learning experience. Thank you Professor Daileader.
Date published: 2023-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent! What a wonderful gift, to learn about the past through the lectures of Philip Daileader. The purchase through Wondrium was well worth it! The ability to hear the lectures and then delve into the recommended avenues of continued study are priceless. Daileader's lectures are fully engaging and easy to understand. I also like the humor thrown in. Oh, how I wish I had him as a professor in college!
Date published: 2023-10-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I often found myself binge-watching! The three courses on the Middle Ages by Professor Philip Dieleader is a wonderful series, and I highly recommend all of them. I watched them starting with the Early Middle Ages, then The High Middle Ages, and finally The Late Middle Ages, but that is not the order in which they were produced. The High Middle Ages was produced in 2001, the Early Middle Ages was produced in 2004, and the Late Middle Ages in 2007. The only reason this may be relevant is that watching them as I did was a tiny bit odd since Professor Dieleader appeared even younger in the High Middle Ages without his glasses! In general, this review applies to all three courses. The selection of material is laudable, and the organization facilitates learning. These courses do not have lots of visual material, but they do have portraits of key figures, often drawn centuries after the fact, very useful maps, relevant illustrations often drawn from medieval sources, and virtual chalkboards on which key concepts are written as reinforcement. The professor’s delivery is fluid and occasionally punctuated by a droll sense of humor. I have one observation which may bother some consumers. Professor Dieleader tends to sway back and forth during his delivery, and when one camera follows this motion, it can get rather annoying. The other camera is fixed and doesn’t present this problem. That being said, these courses are not heavily dependent on visual material and just listening to the lectures is enjoyable. The High Middle Ages covers the time span roughly from 1000 to 1300. But the lectures are grouped by subject matter rather than chronology, and I loved the way these lectures were organized. The first set of eight lectures covers medieval society, the roles and relationships between knights and nobles, peasants, townspeople, and the emerging class of merchants and artisans. The next eight lectures focus on religious and intellectual developments with two lectures devoted to Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas. Kings, wars, and politics don’t show up until the final eight lectures. I am often bored by recitations of who fought who and where and when battles happened, but Professor Dieleader kept me totally involved in the crusades and the personalities of King Philip II of France and Emperor Frederick II. I wish he had devoted an entire lecture to William, the Conqueror who had to share billing in “The Norman Conquest.” Likewise, King John, whom I always find fascinatingly despicable, had to share the spotlight with his father, King Henry II in “The Magna Carta.” This course’s Guidebook presents lecture material in an outline format. The lectures themselves contain far more information. The questions posed in the guidebook at the conclusion of each lecture are very thought-provoking, not merely a nudge to see if one was paying attention. All guidebooks contain a Timeline, Glossary, and short biographical sketches of major figures.
Date published: 2023-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from High Middle Ages I bought these DVD's a couple of years ago, and I just finished watching them for the second time. Professor Daileader knows his subject well, and I enjoyed listening to him. I'm a retired geologist, and I like learning about subjects outside my area of expertise. I certainly learned a lot about the high middle ages from watching these DVD's. I highly recommend them.
Date published: 2023-08-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright, but Serious Linguistic Issues Content-wise, I didn't have too many issues with it. All pretty basic. What threw me off, was the lack of linguistic training the host displayed. His Latin pronunciation was fine, but his French pronunciation was borderline criminal given how pervasive French is when discussing the subject matter. Particularly egregious was his pronunciation of the word "demesne," which listening to was like nails on a chalk board each time. He pronounces it repeatedly as "de-mez-na." It is pronounced identically to "domain" in English. It is, in fact, the same word and meaning. It's particularly bizarre given his emphasis on pronouncing "seigniorial." There are other examples throughout, but that's probably the most "criminal" mispronunciation. Rather makes me me doubt the value of a Harvard education, if his doctoral mentors didn't call him out on it. It wouldn't have flown in my CSU grad program.
Date published: 2023-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to Understand These are 24 highly recommended lectures on European history of the 11th–13th centuries. Dr. Philip Daileader proves to be an insightful, well-prepared, easy-to-understand, and witty presenter of the course content. Accompanying visual materials are not abundant, though they are appropriate and helpful. The course guidebook is a fine one, complete with glossary, timeline, biographical notes, suggested readings, and an extensive bibliography. With some others of the Great Courses, I’ve felt that it was generally unnecessary for a professor to begin each lecture with a review of what was taught last time, since these are not in-person classes, and I could “rewind” recorded courses for myself anytime I needed to review anything; however, I want to state that Dr. Daileader’s short reviews are so exceptionally good that I welcomed them in this particular case. I thought that I already knew a lot about the Middle Ages, from university courses attended and Great Courses purchased and viewed, but I found myself mentally sending Dr. Daileader frequent thank-yous for surprising me with what seemed like a fresh selection of information and an innovative style of analysis over the first 23 lectures. It was during the 24th lecture, “Looking Back, Looking Forward,” that I understood why this professor’s lectures had seemed so special. He revealed that he had been intentionally trying to present medieval history somewhat differently than through the long-popular approach of academic historians to focus on the stories of famous and powerful individuals and on centuries-old political and cultural developments that still resonate in modern society. While Dr. Daileader didn’t disdain those instructional approaches, he also made sure to share plenty of information about marginalized people of the Middle Ages and about aspects of culture that have, in fact, died out.
Date published: 2023-04-13
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As the last millennium dawned, Europe didn't amount to much. Illiteracy, starvation, and disease were the norm. In fact, Europe in the year 1000 was one of the world's more stagnant regions&;amp;-an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geopolitically passive backwater. Three short centuries later, all this had changed dramatically. The flowering of medieval civilization between the years 1000 and 1300 forms the focus of this series by the gifted historian Professor Philip Daileader. He fascinatingly reveals the concepts and mind-sets of the High Middle Ages and the medieval.


Philip Daileader

Making courses over the 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.


William & Mary

Philip Daileader is a Professor of History at William & Mary. He earned his PhD in History from Harvard University. He is the author of two historical monographs: True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162–1397, and the award-winning Saint Vincent Ferrer, His World and Life: Religion and Society in Late Medieval Europe. He is the coeditor of French Historians 1900–2000: New Historical Writing in Twentieth-Century France, and The Princeton Review named him one of the 300 best professors in the US.

By This Professor

How the Crusades Changed History
The Early Middle Ages
Charlemagne: Father of Europe
Why the Middle Ages?

01: Why the Middle Ages?

Europeans living between 1000 and 1300 would have been shocked to hear that they were living in the "Middle" Ages. So where does the term come from? What does it tell us about the topic of this course?

33 min
Demography and the Commercial Revolution

02: Demography and the Commercial Revolution

One of history's most potent forces is demography. In the Middle Ages, when the line between sufficiency and dearth was so thin, small innovations and events could and did have huge effects.

31 min
Those Who Fought-The Nobles

03: Those Who Fought-The Nobles

Perched atop the society of high medieval Europe was a group of mounted, armored warriors who came to form a hereditary aristocracy with unique legal privileges.

30 min
The Chivalric Code

04: The Chivalric Code

When clerics sought to refine rough-hewn knights with literature, the result was the emergence of new genres such as the chivalric romance. How far did such books go to change actual behavior?

31 min

05: Feudalism

Few words are so closely associated with the Middle Ages as "feudalism." Yet historians have argued ceaselessly over its meaning. So what is "feudalism," and how can we use the term to further our understanding?

31 min
Those Who Worked-The Peasants

06: Those Who Worked-The Peasants

Although most medieval people were peasants, a lack of written records makes them hard to study. It seems clear that the rights of lords weighed upon peasants, though less so in 1300 than in 1000.

30 min
Those Who Worked-The Townspeople

07: Those Who Worked-The Townspeople

Revived urban life made townspeople a prominent part of medieval society. But was their outlook "bourgeois," or still characteristically "feudal"?

31 min
Women in Medieval Society

08: Women in Medieval Society

Long marginalized by political and military history, women's history and gender history have become two of the fastest growing fields in medieval studies.

31 min
Those Who Prayed-The Monks

09: Those Who Prayed-The Monks

Monks formed a spiritual elite, living lives of work, study, and prayer under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The High Middle Ages saw a number of monastic reform movements, including the Cluniac and the Cistercian.

31 min
Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement

10: Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement

How did this Italian merchant's son create a new religious order that mixed monastic elements with his own ministry of itinerant preaching, evangelical poverty, and a mixed critique and affirmation of urban spirituality?

31 min
Heretics and Heresy

11: Heretics and Heresy

During the High Middle Ages, heresy and heretical movements spread across much of Europe. Why did this happen? How did authorities respond?

31 min
The Medieval Inquisitions

12: The Medieval Inquisitions

What were the various "Inquisitions" that existed in medieval and early modern Europe? What did they actually do? This lecture separates legend from documented historical fact.

31 min
Jews and Christians

13: Jews and Christians

Jews were the largest religious minority in high medieval Europe. Curiously, despite the relative prosperity of the times, the treatment of Jews became noticeably harsher. Why?

30 min
The Origins of Scholasticism

14: The Origins of Scholasticism

Explore the bold and innovative intellectual methods of the Scholastics, and meet a key early figure in this pioneering movement in European thought.

31 min
Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle

15: Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle

What was the project of Aquinas and his fellow Scholastics, and what made their work a focus of controversy amid their contemporaries?

31 min
The First Universities

16: The First Universities

The High Middle Ages gave birth to a new educational institution: the university. Of all the institutions to which high medieval Europe gave rise, the university is the most vibrant today.

31 min
The People's Crusade

17: The People's Crusade

The First Crusade, which ended with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, demonstrated the rising power of Europe. How did this combination of holy war and pilgrimage begin?

31 min
The Conquest of Jerusalem

18: The Conquest of Jerusalem

Despite internecine quarrels, crusading barons took Jerusalem in 1099 and carved out "crusader states" in Syria and Palestine that would last for nearly 200 years.

31 min
The Norman Conquest

19: The Norman Conquest

Broad, impersonal forces may shape history, but contingencies play a role as well. The conquest of Saxon England by Gallicized Norsemen on 1066 offers an excellent example.

30 min
Philip II of France

20: Philip II of France

The French monarchy is one of the era's great comeback stories. The king most responsible for this turnaround was Philip II Augustus (1180-1223). A combat-averse hypochondriac, he outwitted rivals and laid the basis for French greatness.

31 min
Magna Carta

21: Magna Carta

Having early developed a powerful monarchy, the English also early developed instruments for restraining it. The Great Charter was such a tool, and its long-range consequences would be considerable indeed.

31 min
Empire versus Papacy

22: Empire versus Papacy

The conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the Church that is known as the Investiture Controversy would last two generations and leave imperial authority weakened for good.

30 min
Emperor Frederick II

23: Emperor Frederick II

Nicknamed stupor mundi, or "the wonder of the world," Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1211-50) was one of the most controversial figures of his age. Yet even he could not reverse the fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire....

31 min
Looking Back, Looking Forward

24: Looking Back, Looking Forward

By 1300, Europe had assumed an economic and political importance that would have been unimaginable in 1000. Although much of the world was as yet untouched, the European hand had begun to stretch forth.

32 min