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History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration

Follow in the footsteps of history's most ambitious and influential explorers from antiquity through the space age in this captivating course taught by a top-rated professor.
History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 96.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping beginning to the end Absolutely amazing lecture series… not just “the explorers” we learned about in school. Packed with great stories you’ve never heard before.
Date published: 2022-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Most enjoyable I just started this and can't wait to finish the course.
Date published: 2022-11-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gives me hope for the future This was a very inspiring series. These men and women risked everything to see what was over the next hill. Though some exploration was strictly for profit, much of it was to satisfy curiosity. Hopefully, some of us still possess that same curiosity.
Date published: 2022-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Greatest Voyages and greatest explorations This was a Christmas gift which has not been viewed yet.
Date published: 2022-10-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful overview of historical explorations I hadn't thought much of the plethora of explorations since junior high and high school, so this course was a wonderful return to my own past. With so many explorers from which to choose, Dr Liulevicius had his work cut out for him. I think he did a great job of selection to convey the different cultural and political forces involved in human expansion. Well done.
Date published: 2022-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Series from VGL! I have completed twelve of the lectures so far. I have enjoyed this professor more than all of the other professors in the more than forty courses that I have purchased and completed. I taught history in middle and high schools for forty two years. I enjoy a great story teller. This professor is the absolute best one in the Great Courses,in my opinion!
Date published: 2022-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Daring explorations come to life I have been fascinated by this course, taking notes for a book I want to write. I have been doing research on an ancestor who sailed around the world on a sealing expedition in the 19th century, and the maps, paintings, and lectures presented by this University of Tennessee professor have helped me to understand the dangers encountered at that time.
Date published: 2022-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Just like his 'Utopia and Terror' course, it is very well researched, keeps you engaged and wanting to read more. Excellent!
Date published: 2022-06-06
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Overview

Discover the awe-inspiring tales of the world's most influential explorers. From ancient wayfarers to modern astronauts, intrepid individuals bound the continents together, connected isolated peoples, and sparked a cross-fertilization of ideas, technologies, and even foods. Follow history's adventurers to the frozen Poles, Asia, Europe, the Americas, Africa, the ocean's depths, and the final frontier of space.

About

Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius

To study the deepest impulses in human nature, we see the lure of wealth and conquest, the deep-seated urge for fame and glory, the quest for higher ends, a basic human determination.

INSTITUTION

University of Tennessee

Dr. Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius is Lindsay Young Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of War and Society at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He earned his B.A. from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his doctorate, Dr. Liulevicius served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University. Professor Liulevicius has won many awards and honors, including the University of Tennessee's Excellence in Teaching Award and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. At the university he teaches courses on modern German history, Western civilization, European diplomatic history, Nazi Germany, World War I, war and culture, 20th-century Europe, nationalism, and utopian thought. Dr. Liulevicius has published numerous articles and two books: War Land on the Eastern Front: Culture, National Identity, and German Occupation in World War I and The German Myth of the East, 1800 to the Present.

Professor Liulevicius participated in The Great Courses Professor Chat series. Read the chat to learn more about diplomacy and war

By This Professor

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History's Greatest Voyages of Exploration

Trailer

The Earliest Explorers

01: The Earliest Explorers

Begin your study journey with the Vivaldi brothers' ill-fated journey to India. What drove the brothers-or drives any explorer-to take a risk and venture into the unknown? Consider that question as you look at theories on how the Pacific islands became populated starting with an epic movement 7,000 years ago.

32 min
The Scientific Voyage of Pytheas the Greek

02: The Scientific Voyage of Pytheas the Greek

Meet the originator of scientific exploration, who trekked to the edge of the world so that he could see for himself what was there. Put Pytheas the Greek in the context of his time and place, sketching the Mediterranean as a cradle of civilization and examining how word of his voyage influenced later exploration.

31 min
St. Brendan-The Travels of an Irish Monk

03: St. Brendan-The Travels of an Irish Monk

Consider religious motivations for exploration. Men like the Irish monk St. Brendan-who sailed the Atlantic in a tiny leather boat-sought God and fled the world's corruptions, some searching for paradise and some merely for seclusion. Examine how legendary re-workings of such real adventures left a surprising legacy that would affect later exploration.

29 min
Xuanzang's Journey to the West

04: Xuanzang's Journey to the West

Alarmed at inconsistencies in the Buddhist texts available to him, Xuanzang embarked on an illegal holy pilgrimage to acquire authoritative teachings. See how, in the process of the monk's travels, he brought Buddhist traditions to the Confucian Chinese, achieved celebrity status, and became the central character in the greatest classical Chinese novel.

30 min
Leif Eriksson the Lucky

05: Leif Eriksson the Lucky

While the story of Leif Eriksson and the Vikings is relatively well known, Professor Liulevicius takes you deeper into the question of why the Vikings, or Norsemen, explored, as evidenced by their broader culture of adventure and values that pressed them onwards in often violent ways.

31 min
Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville

06: Marco Polo and Sir John Mandeville

Although traders had traveled the Silk Road since the Roman Empire, there was little awareness of what existed at the other end-until Marco Polo's accounts of China opened Europeans' eyes to a mysterious, advanced civilization. Start with background on the medieval world, then look closely at Polo's travels and legacy.

31 min
Ibn Battuta-Never the Same Route Twice

07: Ibn Battuta-Never the Same Route Twice

Examine the life and legacy of Ibn Battuta, who left Morocco in 1325 to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, but discovered a craving for spiritual travel and returned home 24 years later after covering 75,000 miles in the network woven by Muslim civilization.

30 min
Portugal's Great Leap Forward

08: Portugal's Great Leap Forward

How and why did tiny Portugal, a poor country, take to the seas, round the continent of Africa, hijack the Indian Ocean, and create a global empire? Find out here, with a look at Portugal's rise to superpower status, from Prince Henry the Navigator's call for exploration to Vasco da Gama's successful voyage to Asia.

31 min
The Enigmatic Christopher Columbus

09: The Enigmatic Christopher Columbus

Understand the complexities of Christopher Columbus who, in stumbling upon the Americas while attempting to reach Asia by heading West, touched off the massive Columbian Exchange of peoples, plants, commodities, and diseases. Dispel enduring myths, and explore Columbus's religious motives for launching what he called "The Enterprise of the Indies."

30 min
Magellan and the Advent of Globalization

10: Magellan and the Advent of Globalization

Follow the path of Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, whose expedition in service of Spain became the first to circumnavigate the world, inaugurating our ability to think globally and accomplishing what Columbus had promised to do-reaching Asia by sailing west from Europe. See how his journey bound together the world economy, creating consequences down to our own times.

30 min
The Ruthless Ambition of the Conquistadors

11: The Ruthless Ambition of the Conquistadors

Consider the most brutal of explorers, the conquistadors-Spanish military entrepreneurs including Cortés, Pizarro, and de Soto, who were not directly controlled by the monarchy, but royally sanctioned to seize wealth and lands in the New World. How did they topple civilizations using only a handful of men? What impact did they have on native societies? Find out here.

29 min
Henry Hudson-Death on the Ice

12: Henry Hudson-Death on the Ice

Switch gears from voyages of fruitful discovery to a tragic failure ending in mutiny, murder, and a mystery that endures to this day: Henry Hudson's 1610 voyage in search of the Northwest Passage to Asia, funded by two of the first multinational corporations.

30 min
The Jesuits on a Global Mission

13: The Jesuits on a Global Mission

Founded in 1540, the order of the Jesuits used global cultural exploration as a means to proselytize to local cultures across the world, from India and China to the Americas. Examine their controversial method of inculturation, and place the Jesuit project in the context of a larger intellectual shift towards cultural relativism.

30 min
Captain Cook Maps the World

14: Captain Cook Maps the World

Look closely at Captain Cook, an explorer who in many ways epitomized the age of scientific discovery, which lauded exploration for the sake of knowledge. See how his methods and voyages embodied new attitudes toward foreign peoples, and why it's what Cook didn't find that helped give us the complete world picture we have today.

30 min
Alexander von Humboldt-Explorer Genius

15: Alexander von Humboldt-Explorer Genius

Learn how the scientific explorer Alexander von Humboldt-sometimes called a "second Columbus"-taught us to see the world as an interrelated ecological unit. Trace his five-year exploration of the Americas with French botanist Aimé Bonpland, in which they covered 5,950 miles and catalogued 6,300 species of plants and animals.

30 min
Jefferson Dispatches Lewis and Clark

16: Jefferson Dispatches Lewis and Clark

On President Jefferson's (originally secret) orders, the U.S. Corps of Discovery led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set out to chart the new territories gained by the Louisiana Purchase, while recording its people, flora, and fauna. How did they cross Native American-occupied lands peacefully? What was the expedition's political significance? Find out here.

29 min
Sir John Franklin's Epic Disaster

17: Sir John Franklin's Epic Disaster

Consider a tragic episode: the doomed expedition of Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in 1845 along with his crew while searching for the Northwest Passage. Compare theories on the fate of the men, and see how the mystery captured the imagination of Franklin's contemporaries, helping to create a culture of adventure.

30 min
Ida Pfeiffer-Victorian Extreme Traveler

18: Ida Pfeiffer-Victorian Extreme Traveler

Meet Ida Pfeiffer, a Victorian women who defied expectations by traveling around the world twice and becoming a best-selling author describing her experiences. Follow her extraordinary journeys to exotic locales and learn how she deftly escaped some perilous situations-including cannibalistic Batak warriors in the jungles of Sumatra.

30 min
Japan Discovers the West

19: Japan Discovers the West

Faced with Western imperialism after 200 years of self containment, Japan discovered the West through a series of exploratory diplomatic missions abroad to America and Europe towards the end of the 19th century. Which features of Western culture did they find worth emulating? Which unfamiliar Western practices did they reject?

30 min
Dr. Livingstone and Mary Kingsley in Africa

20: Dr. Livingstone and Mary Kingsley in Africa

First, consider how the most famous PR stunt in the history of exploration-journalist Henry Stanley finding ailing Scottish explorer Dr. Livingstone in a remote town in Africa-reveals how Africa long remained the "Dark Continent" to the outside world. Then, turn to Mary Kingsley, an Englishwoman whose writing revealed West Africa to a European audience.

30 min
Arctic Feats and Fates

21: Arctic Feats and Fates

Who was first to make it to the North Pole? Wade into the debate while examining the fascinating but lesser-known moments and figures of the race, including pilot Umberto Nobile flying a hydrogen-filled semi-rigid airship over the Pole in 1926, then crashing on a second trip, unleashing an international rescue operation.

29 min
Antarctic Rivalries

22: Antarctic Rivalries

Now, focus on the race to the South Pole and the bitter rivalries surrounding it. Witness how Norwegian Roald Amundsen outdistanced his rival, English explorer Captain Robert Scott, whose return voyage took a tragic turn. Then, follow the hardships of British explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose expedition to cross the punishing Antarctic also met disaster.

30 min
A Deep-Sea Dive into the Mariana Trench

23: A Deep-Sea Dive into the Mariana Trench

Take a breathtaking look at a historic descent into the deepest place on earth-the Mariana Trench in the Pacific-by Swiss oceanographer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh. But first, discover some of the highlights of ocean exploration in the centuries before this 1960 expedition.

30 min
The Race to Outer Space

24: The Race to Outer Space

Why have humans ventured beyond Earth? Does the future of space exploration lie with commercial interests? Is humanity's future in space? Consider these questions as you consider the past, present, and future of space exploration, starting with the moment Apollo 8's astronauts first witnessed earthrise on Christmas Eve 1968.

31 min