The Early Middle Ages
01: 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.
02: 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.
03: 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.
04: 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.
05: 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.
06: 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.
07: 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.
08: 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.
09: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.