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The Late Middle Ages

Learn how the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance and the modern world in this excellent course by an acclaimed Medievalist and Professor of History.
Late Middle Ages is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 122.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from All 3 courses were excellent! I watched all 3 middle ages courses by this professor over the last 3 months. I learned a lot and was very impressed by the professors presentation and his occasional droll humor. i can't recommend these 3 courses enough
Date published: 2024-06-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well Done This is an interesting companion to The Great Courses (TGC) course on The Italian Renaissance by Dr. Bartlett. They cover the same period (1300-1500 CE) but The Italian Renaissance focuses on the Italian peninsula while this course focuses on the rest of Western Europe. This course takes a standard “major events” approach to the era. It addresses such events as the papal schism (Babylonian Captivity), the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, Humanism, and the Age of Exploration. It also takes a little time to look at special topics such as witchcraft, gunpowder, and the printing press. It also presents biographies of a few people such as John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, Christine de Pizan, and Catherine of Siena. Overall, this creates an engaging and balanced view of the era. Dr. Daileader is a popular teacher in the TGC stable. He speaks in a conversational style with a sprinkling of dry humor. His voice does sound like he has congested sinuses when he speaks. The course guide is average by TGC standards. It is written in extended outline form with each outline point essentially a small paragraph. It averages about 4 pages per lecture, a little more than half of TGC standard. It has no graphics in the pages on lectures. The appendices include a timeline, a glossary, biographical notes, and a bibliography. I used the audio-only version. I doubt that the video or DVD versions would have been significantly better. The course was published in 2007.
Date published: 2024-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Class on the Late Middle Ages A wonderful dive into the late Middle Ages. I learned a lot.
Date published: 2024-04-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Part Three of a Great Series All three of Dr. Philip Daileader’s Great Courses on the European and Near Eastern Middle Ages (Early, High, and Late) are excellent. He is exceptionally good at emphasizing the STORY in HISTORY. He does not neglect to mention the most famous people, nor important dates, events, and trends; but more than anything else, he shares convincingly how life might have felt for individuals, named or unnamed, of various social levels. The current lectures, centred on the 1300s and 1400s, are rich in drama—about royal successions, religious schisms, calamities, conflicts, maritime explorations, innovations such as the printing press, widespread growth in literacy, appalling population decreases, inspiring intellectual movements, the onset of the Renaissance, etc. I was on the edge of my seat as I learned about the kidnapping of Pope Boniface VIII. I applauded the literary career of Christine de Pizan, poetess and author of treatises on society and military theory. I felt deeply moved while hearing accounts of famine and plague. I was fascinated, and still am, by the closing question that the professor poses for us: When did the Middle Ages actually end? Dr. Daileader’s narrative manner of teaching “connects the dots” for me splendidly re: what I had encountered elsewhere about the era. I now have new empathy for the people of those times and places, mindful of their successes, beliefs, and tragedies. Another plus for this professor’s style is that he does not merely read from a teleprompter. He consults notes or an outline on his lectern, but then moves to one side to “tell the story” in a conversational manner. This course, like its two predecessors in the Middle Ages series, deserves the highest recommendation.
Date published: 2024-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Magnificent Conclusion to a Brilliant Series 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 Late Middle Ages begins in approximately 1300 and the 23rd lecture covers the discovery of America at the end of the 15th century. These lectures are far more biographical than the earlier series, and personalities begin to emerge with the existence of more source material. I also want to applaud Professor Dieleader with presenting the Hundred Years War in one hour (two lectures) and wiping out over half the population of Europe in another hour (two lectures on the Black Death.) There were so many delightful tidbits of information nestled in these lectures – the relationship between heresy and witchcraft, the impact of the use of gunpowder on the architecture of castle turrets, and the innovation of combining square and triangular sails on ships, just to cite a few. The final lecture presents Dr. Dieleader at his finest. He presents a personal hypothesis that the Middle Ages did not end until the 18th century. He supports that view with lots of facts and cogent arguments. This is a lecture that doesn’t ask one to absorb knowledge, but to process it. Bravo, Dr. Dieleader! 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 Fantastic. Lots of good information, well delivered. Dr. Daileader also inserts personal and sometime humorous asides from time to time. Really excellent and insightful.
Date published: 2023-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Birth of Humanism Taking Professor Daileader’s courses are always a joy because he weaves facts into stories about major trends in the period. The focus of this 2007 course is quite professional. It is found immediately in the Course Scope: “Scholastic theologians (study) God’s methods for saving humanity, while (Italian Renaissance) Humanists proclaim humanity itself to be the proper object of study." Wow...already sounds boring? Why take such an “esoteric” approach? What does Humanism have to do with the knights, wars, plagues, and the transitions of the High Middle Ages? Actually this revolution in thought (and events occurring after the Late Middle Ages) reveals how many see in the world today. Yet Daileader is not "in bed" with Humanism. As the course progresses, Humanism’s Classical literature anchor is shown to be in gross error as scientific and geographic discoveries irrevocably show its errors. Daileader also shows that its “progressive" successes were accompanied by what we would today refer to as “hate crimes”: lurid Inquisitions (L21) and witch burnings (L13). Given the topic, explains why Lecture 2 (L2) covers the early ”church and state" violent conflicts between Boniface VIII and the French monarch Philip IV “The Fair” as Humanism began its long pathway to dominance over religion. Philip imprisoning Boniface is symbolic of today as secularism slowly politically imprisons religion away from schools, the government and (to a growing extent) the press. Though much of the course backbone describes the rise of Humanism, other topics abound. L6 describes how direct taxation of citizens by central bureaucracy wormed its way into "normalcy”. L7-8 describes the Great Mortality much better than other courses. L9 describes the origin of more violent reactions against rural than urban unrest. Breakaway Scholastic scholars (L10-L12) like Ockham, without evidence, unilaterally decided God “might have created the world in an infinite number of different ways”…and obviously never took the Great Course: “Chemistry & Our Universe by Davis". The “benefits” of cannonry in L15 were: "Before…cannon...sieges often lasted for…sometimes years” and “…used slow and dangerous procedures." L16 showed how printing (surprisingly) standardized spelling. L17-L18 the specific chapters on Humanism point out that its main objective was NOT secularization initially. These chapters also have a conundrum: Daileader posits that Humanism is founded on Classical literature. Yet this foundation was destroyed by both dissection of the human body (L18) and the discovery of the Americas ((L22) that demonstrated gross Classical literature errors. The other principle of Humanism is (L17) “a strong belief in (man's) inherent goodness”. Yet the existence of conservative human beings, wars by “enlightened" humanists (the French Revolution, Stalin, etc), and our current massive suicide count/drug-laced Humanist school system might suggest that inherent human goodness is not a solid concept. While Humanists objected to the “hair-splitting terminal wrangles” of Scholasticism (L17), we now see an educational system with reams of hair-splitting Humanistic regulations. Not unexpectedly, “merchants and nobles found Humanist education attractive” (L18)...a trend continuing today via "its all about me" U.S. consumerism that is slowly morphing into a "right". As L24 states: “Humanism made it possible to conceive of change as essentially good rather than bad.” True in some circumstances, false in others. Absolutely false when its dominance destroys balance. CONCLUSION: Four Great Courses taught by Dr. Harl overlap Philip Daileader’s 3 Great Courses on the Middle Ages to various degrees - all are highly recommended. If you want to be blown away by FACTS, take Dr. Harl - but do it in video to avoid getting lost. If ANALYSIS of the Middle Ages is your goal, start with Daileader’s 3 courses (the audio is sufficient). If you take Daileader, another course to consider is Vishton’s Great Course: “Understanding the Secrets of Perception". Vishton’s clever analysis of the failure of determinism (the basis of the Humanistic approach) is both a scientific extension of Daileader’s insight AND strongly influences the question: “Where does civilization go next?” Finally, the Great Course “Physics and Our Universe" by Wolfson demonstrates that Humanistic scientific reductionism can’t provide a T.O.E. (“Theory of Everything”, L1) nor can Physics explain emergent properties: "Quantum mechanics overthrew classical ideas of determinism and causality." Do Daileader first.
Date published: 2023-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent & Enjoyable Professor Daileader presented a well-organized and informative course. His lectures are clear and sometimes humorous. I look forward to more courses from him.
Date published: 2022-06-25
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What were the Late Middle Ages—medieval or modern? Any period that falls between two eras bears the hallmarks of transition. Witness the medieval carnage of frequent wars, improved weaponry, and the Black Death, and discover the modernity of intellectual and cultural maturing, and philosophical movements that celebrated the individual. Professor Philip Daileader is your guide with The Late Middle Ages, the final course in his excellent trilogy that began with The Early Middle Ages and The High Middle Ages.


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
Late Middle Ages—Rebirth, Waning, Calamity?

01: Late Middle Ages—Rebirth, Waning, Calamity?

This lecture introduces the course and its focus on two major questions debated by historians for centuries: Did the 14th and 15th centuries mark the turning point between the medieval and the modern? Was this period a high or a low point in European history?

30 min
Philip the Fair versus Boniface VIII

02: Philip the Fair versus Boniface VIII

You'll examine the conflict between the king of France and the papacy. The results—a growth of French influence and a weakened papacy—will shape the religious history of 14th-century Europe.

30 min
Fall of the Templars and the Avignon Papacy

03: Fall of the Templars and the Avignon Papacy

Continued French defiance of papal authority generates a perception of French influence that—even though exaggerated by influential foreign voices such as Petrarch's—can only diminish the authority of an institution that aspires to universality.

30 min
The Great Papal Schism

04: The Great Papal Schism

Two unusual papal elections produce two popes, one in Rome and the other in Avignon, with each claiming legitimacy. The resulting split, complete with competing lines of popes, will divide Christian Europe for nearly two generations.

31 min
The Hundred Years War, Part 1

05: The Hundred Years War, Part 1

The political history of 14th-century Europe will be dominated by more than a century of continual conflict between France and England over the latter's claims to the French throne.

30 min
The Hundred Years War, Part 2

06: The Hundred Years War, Part 2

Although the thrones of the combatants ultimately remain unchanged, the war demonstrates the effectiveness of the longbow against knights and contributes to the emergence of larger, infantry-based armies—a trend that will soon have political and social repercussions.

30 min
The Black Death, Part 1

07: The Black Death, Part 1

With its population at a difficult level to sustain, Europe is ill-equipped to confront the calamity that arrives in 1347. Medical and cultural assumptions of the time are limited and the population drops by one-third, perhaps by one-half, in four years.

31 min
The  Black Death, Part 2

08: The Black Death, Part 2

The consequences of the Black Death and subsequent outbreaks of plague include an increase in geographical mobility and wages and a drop in rents, land values, and food prices. The result is a rising gap between rich and poor, increasing the social tensions that sometimes manifested themselves in revolt.

31 min
Revolt in Town and Country

09: Revolt in Town and Country

The Late Middle Ages witnessed a relatively high number of large-scale revolts, and you'll examine both rural and urban examples: the Peasants' Revolt in England of 1381 and the revolt of the Ciompi in Florence in 1378.

31 min
William  Ockham

10: William Ockham

You'll learn about the life and works of a man whose theological views and criticisms of the papacy made him a polarizing figure, not only during his own lifetime but for centuries to come.

31 min
John Wycliffe and the Lollards

11: John Wycliffe and the Lollards

Another controversial English Scholastic theologian has an even greater impact than Ockham, inspiring—through his ideas about the church, priesthood, and spiritual authority—the first large-scale heretical movement to emerge in medieval England.

30 min
Jan  Hus and the Hussite Rebellion

12: Jan Hus and the Hussite Rebellion

The execution of the man willing to defend Wycliffe's ideas in the Holy Roman Empire touches off a series of revolts known as the Hussite Wars, during which the Hussites become the only medieval heretical group to fight successfully for the establishment of their own church.

31 min

13: Witchcraft

Although the 16th and 17th centuries were the great age of European witch hunts, the first European witch trials date to the Late Middle Ages. You'll discover the fusion of the concepts of heresy and "harmful" magic that set the stage for those witch hunts.

30 min
Christine de Pizan and Catherine of Siena

14: Christine de Pizan and Catherine of Siena

You'll look at the work of two of the late-medieval culture's most noteworthy women: one perhaps the first self-supporting female author, the other a mystic who was to become one of the first female Doctors of the Church.

30 min

15: Gunpowder

The introduction of gunpowder and the weapons for it is one of the most important technological developments in late-medieval Europe, altering the balance of power and, together with other changes in military technology, forcing the medieval nobility to function less as warriors and more as courtiers.

31 min
The Printing Press

16: The Printing Press

The printing press greatly increases the efficiency with which knowledge is disseminated, making it easier for subsequent generations to build on and surpass the intellectual achievements of their predecessors.

30 min
Renaissance Humanism, Part 1

17: Renaissance Humanism, Part 1

This first of two lectures on Humanism looks at the emergence of this strong belief in the inherent goodness, intellectual capability, and dignity of the individual, combined with a profound admiration for Classical literature and art and a desire to revive the literary and artistic values of antiquity.

30 min
Renaissance Humanism, Part 2

18: Renaissance Humanism, Part 2

Continuing our discussion of Humanism, you'll look at its differences from the dominant intellectual method of the time—Scholasticism—and the role Humanist ideas were destined to play in European intellectual life.

32 min
The Fall of the Byzantine Empire

19: The Fall of the Byzantine Empire

The eastern half of the Roman Empire outlives the western half by nearly 1,000 years. This lecture traces the fall of that empire, with the resulting migration of Byzantine scholars to Italy, helping to fuel the revival of antiquity's values then taking place in the West.

32 min
Ferdinand and Isabella

20: Ferdinand and Isabella

The marriage of the heir to the throne of Aragon to the heir to the throne of Castile sets the stage for one of the most important political events of the late 15th century: the dynastic unification of most of present-day Spain.

32 min
The Spanish Inquisition

21: The Spanish Inquisition

In 1478, Ferdinand and Isabella establish the Spanish Inquisition. It is a reaction to the large number of Jews converting to Christianity in the aftermath of earlier pogroms and doubts about their sincerity, with Spanish Inquisitors likely playing a role in the decision to expel the Jews in 1492.

31 min
The Age of Exploration

22: The Age of Exploration

During the 15th century, Portuguese and Spanish explorers begin to venture down the west coast of Africa and farther out into the Atlantic Ocean, reaching places where no European, to anyone's knowledge, had ever been before—with enormous economic consequences to Europe.

30 min
Columbus and the Columbian Exchange

23: Columbus and the Columbian Exchange

Christopher Columbus's voyage to the Americas in 1492 marks a turning point not just in European history but in global history. Trading plants, animals, minerals, and diseases between the Americas and Europe quickly changed both continents.

30 min
When Did the Middle Ages End?

24: When Did the Middle Ages End?

Humanists of the Italian Renaissance came to believe they had brought the Middle Ages to an end, but there are several reasons to dispute that claim, as this closing lecture makes clear.

32 min