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Charlemagne: Father of Europe

Examine the life and times of Charlemagne and consider how history has shaped his story to serve various causes and agendas. Who was this ruler many call the “Father of Europe”?

Charlemagne: Father of Europe is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 59.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why does an 8-9th Century political figure matter? At the risk of sounding like a Daileader groupie, I wholeheartedly endorse these lectures. As usual, the choice of subjects, organization and delivery are superb. Every lecture has fascinating information. Lecture 4 covers intriguing family dynamics in which the first- born son is excluded from the crown; the eldest son of Charlemagne’s second wife is overlooked when his younger brothers are anointed kings by the pope, but apparently never shows resentment. And then there are Charlemagne’s daughters! Lecture 6 introduces the missi, a pair of itinerant emissaries and judges, one a layman, the other a cleric. Lecture 7 discusses both the practice of the giving - not taking - hostages and slavery in the empire. I found Dr. Daileader’s analysis of myths arising in the centuries following Charlemagne’s death in Lecture 10 interesting, but it was Lecture 11’s discussion of political thinkers’ and leaders’ views of Charlemagne in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries that I found engrossing. This is not ancient history; this is history that still resonates. The video includes some maps and quite a few paintings and images, but they are not critical to understanding the material. (That being said, there is one image in Lecture 11 of Napoleon Bonaparte that is quite telling.) I enjoy the artwork and watching the video as it helps me stay focused. But I think the audio version would be completely comprehensible, especially because Dr. Daileader’s delivery is well modulated. The guidebook has excellent synopses of each lecture, some b&w artwork, an odd little quiz at the end, timeline, and bibliography.
Date published: 2023-09-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Good, but Not a Great Course If you're looking for a good, basic course on Charlemagne, one in which you get the basics on this interesting figure in history, this could be a good bet. I'm a fan of the professor, having taken and liked his three major courses on the Middle Ages. They gave me a solid grounding in that complex and important period of history that had been largely a blank to me beforehand. To this day, I have a pretty good sense of it because of these TGC courses. You get the basics in this course - first, a quick history of Charlemagne, and then an episode by episode treatment of the key features of his leadership. I've held back a 5th star because I wish the professor had given his own solid assessment of Charlemagne's place in history, with greater depth, rather than relying mostly on others' views. That was disappointing. Still, I recommend the course.
Date published: 2023-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Dive into Details I've enjoyed this professor's other Great Courses on medieval history, but this one is special. It dives into the details of one particular man's life. Charlemagne was by far the most influential ruler in early medieval Europe, and Professor Daileader's expertise makes each of his lectures on Charlemagne's life and legacy 100% fascinating. One caveat: the video version of this course includes a few informative maps, but other than that we see little more than the professor sitting up and talking. Customers may want to save money and just get the audiobook version.
Date published: 2023-01-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Meets Expectations This is a thorough presentation of the elements of Charlemagne's life. It isn't the delivered with great energy but nonetheless is worth the price to those interested in the only king in Dark Age Europe of any note.
Date published: 2022-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A very good and complete overview I loved Prof. Daileader's courses on the Middle Ages, and have a fairly deep knowledge of that time in history. I enjoyed his course on Charlemagne, who was so important and influential in European and therefore world history This course covers the time, the man, the politics and religion, his personality, his family, and more. Prof Daileader seemed more subdued in this course than in his previous ones, but this is well worth getting.
Date published: 2022-10-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Good! I haven't yet seen the whole content but I'm pleased so far. The information is comprehensive while still leaving areas to investigate further. It certainly leaves you inspired to know more. There is a good use of maps etc, which is good for me as I find it helps cement the lecture info.
Date published: 2022-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Superb (and Brief) Introduction This is a superbly done, if brief, introduction to a fascinating and enormously influential figure of western history. Professor Daileader approaches Charlemagne by areas of activity and influence, as the lecture titles make clear, rather than providing a more typical chronological biography. I found this took a bit of getting used to, but it allows for a clearer discussion and assessment of the many aspects of Charlemagne's life and legacy. And our professor does an excellent job of presenting the engrossing material in a clear and organized manner. A truly enjoyable as well as profoundly educational course. My highest recommendation.
Date published: 2022-09-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great course on under-served subject Charlemagne is not as well known here in the US as in Europe where he looms large. This course attempts to correct that by painting a picture of him from a more social viewpoint. This short series of lectures only dedicates a few lectures to the history of the great King with the bulk of it dedicated to more social issues. There are lectures on Charlemagnes efforts in Kingship concerning such topics as religion, finance, culture and family. There is plenty of politics throughout but this series deals with him more as a ruler than a waring King. It all handled well and comprehensively by the Professor making this series well worth the time I spent with it.
Date published: 2022-09-12
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Overview

In Charlemagne: Father of Europe, you will look back on Charlemagne’s rule and the way his dynasty and its influence would affect the world in the centuries that would follow. Join Professor Philip Daileader of William & Mary for this 12-lecture historical journey into the life, times, and complicated legacy of the ruler known as the pater Europae.

About

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.

INSTITUTION

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

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Charlemagne: Father of Europe

Trailer

The Making of Emperor Charles the Great

01: The Making of Emperor Charles the Great

Meet Charles the Great, the Carolingian king who would become Charlemagne. Why was Charlemagne’s rule so different than the kings who came before him? How did the political and religious climate of Western Europe shape his kingship and his imperial ambitions? Why is there so much controversy about his reputation? Start your search for answers here.

31 min
Charlemagne as Heir and King, 748–800

02: Charlemagne as Heir and King, 748–800

To get the full picture of Charlemagne as both man and king, Professor Daileader takes you back to the formative years of Charlemagne’s life before he ascended to the imperial throne. As you look back on this period, you will also discover the way historians are constantly discovering and reevaluating information to create a clearer picture of this time in European history.

31 min
Charlemagne as Emperor, 800–814

03: Charlemagne as Emperor, 800–814

Charlemagne’s ascension to emperor at the age of 52 ushered in a new era in Europe. You will see how Charlemagne’s rule altered the European landscape and how this transformation shaped his reputation for generations to come. You will also see how hindsight can shape history in interesting—and not always terribly accurate—ways.

31 min
Charlemagne as Head of Family and Dynasty

04: Charlemagne as Head of Family and Dynasty

Although he was “Father of Europe,” Charlemagne was also the father of at least 19 children. Charlemagne’s family life powerfully affected all aspects of his life, and it influenced how future generations regarded him, both as a leader and as a person. As you will see, the king’s relations with his wives and children had important and long-lasting political repercussions.

30 min
Charlemagne as War Leader

05: Charlemagne as War Leader

As king and then as emperor, Charlemagne united disparate kingdoms in Europe through warfare, and many of his early victories helped to shape his image well into the future. Why was Charlemagne so often at war? What kinds of tactics and strategies did he use to win? And how did medieval social structures affect his choices?

32 min
Charlemagne as Ruler: Justice and Salvation

06: Charlemagne as Ruler: Justice and Salvation

Success in dynastic politics and war brought Charlemagne power. But what did Charlemagne do with this power? How did Charlemagne govern the territories under his control? First, consider the place of Charlemagne’s government in the broader sweep of European history. Then, see how Charlemagne governed in the pursuit of lofty goals, focused especially on secular justice and spiritual salvation.

32 min
Charlemagne’s World: Britain to Baghdad

07: Charlemagne’s World: Britain to Baghdad

Turn to Charlemagne’s relations with the rulers and peoples beyond his empire, stretching from Britain to Baghdad. Charlemagne’s reputation for greatness has often rested on his diplomacy as much as anything else. So, how did Charlemagne’s kingdom fit into the larger world? And how did his diplomatic relationships shape both his reputation and the political landscape of Europe and beyond?

33 min
Charlemagne as Patron of a Renaissance

08: Charlemagne as Patron of a Renaissance

Significant contributors to the notion of Charlemagne as “Father of Europe” are the scholarly and educational activities that he promoted. Charlemagne’s reign falls into the period many consider part of the “dark ages” in Europe—but were they truly as intellectually dark as some suggest? Here, examine Charlemagne’s contributions to what is called the Carolingian Renaissance.

33 min
Charlemagne as Religious Reformer

09: Charlemagne as Religious Reformer

Turn now to Charlemagne’s religious faith, which was fervent in many respects, but relaxed in others. Explore Charlemagne’s relationships with religious authorities—especially the papacy—which had a particularly strong impact on his later reputation. Also, look closely at the religious reforms that Charlemagne sought to institute throughout his reign.

33 min
Charlemagne in Medieval Legend

10: Charlemagne in Medieval Legend

Charlemagne mattered to later generations for many reasons: his complex and colorful family life; his military success; his aspirations in matters of government, education, and the Christian faith; and his international standing. However, to fully understand his significance, you will examine Charlemagne as others remembered him—or imagined him to have been.

32 min
Claims to Charlemagne across History

11: Claims to Charlemagne across History

Memories of Charlemagne have influenced 12 centuries of subsequent history. Here, you will look at the broad spectrum of historical opinion on Charlemagne from both his most ardent fans and his greatest detractors. You’ll note that as times changed, the ways in which people used and understood Charlemagne also evolved.

35 min
The Enduring Fascination with Charlemagne

12: The Enduring Fascination with Charlemagne

Now that you know more about Charlemagne himself and the role that his memory played in subsequent European history, consider more closely the question of whether, and to what extent, Charlemagne merits the title “Father of Europe.” And complete your picture of his life and his reign by reexamining how Charlemagne saw himself.

34 min