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The Early Middle Ages

Shed light on the Dark Ages with this absorbing course that relates the often surprising true story of how Rome ended and Western civilization began.
The Early Middle Ages is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 230.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Loved All Three "Middle Ages" courses. There are so many glowing reviews of Dr.Daileader's courses that I thought it would be superfluous to write another one. But I was moved to do so after reading a couple of middling to negative reviews that were focused solely on his delivery style and not on his knowledge or the substance of the courses. There is no doubt that this Dr. Phil is deeply immersed in and enthusiastic about his subject. He made me see the Middle Ages in a new light – I felt I had a better understanding of the key players and what life was like at that time. As just one example of his many insights, he said think of the kings of the Middle Ages not as men of honor who were concerned about their subjects, but more like Tony Soprano. Of course! Now I can understand why Charlemagne, who ruled most of Europe, divided it into three separate kingdoms at his death, one to each son. He was not concerned about future regional and national rivalries, or world wars, he was just dividing up the family business among his sons. If you're interested in European history during the Middle Ages, get all three courses, early, middle and late. Dr. Phil's courses will give you a fresh perspective.
Date published: 2021-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engrossing This is my first course with Professor Daileader. He delivery is quite good, and the course is well-developed, moves along well and is brimming with useful detail and insights. The period covered is 300 to 1000 A.D., the first half really being late Antiquity as background, and is a companion to two other of Professor Daileader’s TC courses, ‘The High Middle Ages’ and the ‘The Late Middle Ages’. I especially appreciate the interesting biographical detail that is incorporated throughout the lectures. Noteworthy, also, is the attention to older as well as more recent scholarship on the era. Professor Daileader’s treatment of Edward Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ and the contributions of other important, but less well-known, scholars, are very useful in understanding the early Middle Ages. The era presented here is not the ‘Dark Ages’ of popular reputation. While other TC courses cover some of the same ground or overlap this one, ‘The Early Middle Ages’ is an excellent course on its own, important for understanding the how and why of European development after the fall of the Roman Empire (with the Eastern portion, the Byzantine Empire, continuing for nearly 1,000 more years!). As Professor Daidleader notes, the course is pitched to an “intermediate academic level” rather than as an “and introductory survey’ (Course Guidebook, Page 2). There is much that I found interesting. For instance, I finally have a better understanding of the Carolingians, or, at least, I have a better appreciation of their complicated history. Likewise, the treatment of Islamic Spain is quite good. Especially rewarding is Professor Daileader’s discussion of how the Roman Catholic Church came to change Roman and barbarian marriage and family practices. Above all, however, there are the Vikings. I did not have much understanding of them and their wide and substantial impact on this era. That is probably the biggest contribution this course has made for me. I now have Professor Kenneth Harl’s thirty-six lecture TC course, ‘The Vikings’, in my sights. Though I listened to nearly all of the twenty-four lectures while on walks, I also watched a few of them on video format through my Wondrium account. I do not think there is much lost in the audio version, though it is good to see the extensive illustrative material, especially maps, in the video. Fortunately, six maps and other selected illustrative material are reproduced in the 126-page course guidebook. The guidebook is a very useful resource, containing not only fine lecture summaries and maps, but also a timeline, glossary, biographical notes, and annotated bibliography. I am eagerly looking forward to Professor Daileader’s companion courses ‘The High Middle Ages’ and ‘The Late Middle Ages’. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2021-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Welcome back ! I shelved these CDs in 2010 for a rainy day. Then, on a sunny day, dare I say while painting my fence, I fell in love with this well structured and concise narrative of a period I knew little about. Here we have a broader overview than national histories, like Rome, France or England. Having worked with nice people from Tennessee, the professor's stretched nasal conjunction ("aaaand") automatically struck a friendly chord. I'm now buying the DVDs in 2021 to have the (actually very helpful) visuals. Plus I get to see this affable teacher speaking passionately about one of my favorite periods. If I were to raise a criticism, it would be the length of the series. One definition of "dark ages" points to our scant sources on the subject, yet there is so much more material to cover! Some other courses have 36 episodes, and this course would definitely benefit from expanding on 12 more overlooked topics. Even then, one has to make choices and not everything can be covered in detail in a single course. Some comments have been critical of the focus on Christian religion, or the focus on the decline of the Roman empire. The intro says that one of the main reasons to study the Early Middle Ages is to understand how Christianity became the dominant religion of Europe. And the intro presents both Pirenne and Gibbon's views on the transition between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, which justifies half of the episodes being dedicated to the decline of the Western half of the Roman Empire. Professor Daileader's delivery is very coherent with the broad lines he's conveying, while keeping things into context. But again, so much more could be said! I recommend this as a baseline, and then everything else you can get your hands on. PS: over the last decade, "Welcome back !" (his opening phrase) has become affectionately synonymous with Philip Daileader in my house.
Date published: 2021-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Early Middle Ages were full of Light! I started watching these lectures by Professor Daileader because i was interested in Charlemagne. I was pleasantly surprised when there was so much more that wet my interest and subsequently got stuck right in sometimes watching 3 lectures a evening. The viking history of Brittan and the continent really stood out. I really didn't know the far reaching effects of the Viking Invasions and how much we are dependent on the North men for our history. Again you see the theory's of Christian haters debunked with those blaming Christians for the fall of the Empire ignoring 1000 years of the greatest Christian Empire ever to have been the Byzantine Empire. Augustine had to refute them and today we have to refute them as well. In fact there would not be much to critic if it wasn't for Christians as there would be no written history. This was so pointedly brought up with the history of Anglo Saxon England. Then it would have been really the dark ages! Thanks for filling in all these blanks. Our true history is so important in this age of relativism.
Date published: 2021-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A solid overview of a time period not known by man Dr. Daileader makes the early Middle Ages understandable as so much is going on throughout the kingdom at this time. He's interesting, and has a bit of humor in there too.
Date published: 2021-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unusual style but his understated wit won me over It took me a few lectures to warm up to his teaching style in "The Early Middle Ages", but I wound up buying "The Late Middle Ages" DVD when I found that this was not offered on Wondrium.
Date published: 2021-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from So Interesting I really enjoyed this series. Professor Daileader seems passionate and excited about the changes that recent archaeological finds are bringing to our preconceived notions about history, which made me excited to research more. I particularly enjoyed that he seemed to be addressing his lectures to students seated in front of him as he paced and consulted his notes - I found it far more appealing than those polished lecturers who read directly from auto cues, standing or seating in one position and turning to face a different camera every so often. This was more like a class than a televised lecture series.
Date published: 2021-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very interesting I found this course to be very informative since I did not know much about this period. Professor did a nice job of presenting the information.
Date published: 2021-08-17
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Overview

Professor Philip Daileader of The College of William and Mary returns in this 24-lecture series to give you new insight into the Dark Ages, the era which spanned the decline and fall of Rome's western empire and lingered for centuries. Discover what findings modern archaeology has unearthed, and look into the fascinating personalities and events of this once-lost era.

About

Philip Daileader
Philip Daileader

Making four courses over the last thirteen 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.

Dr. Philip Daileader is Associate Professor of History at The College of William and Mary. He earned his B.A. in History from Johns Hopkins University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Before taking his position at William and Mary, he taught at the University of Alabama and the State University of New York at New Paltz. Professor Daileader received William and Mary's 2004 Alumni Fellowship Award for excellence in teaching. As a graduate student, he was a four-time winner of the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching. Dr. Daileader is the author of True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162-1397. His research focuses on the social, cultural, and religious history of Mediterranean Europe.

By This Professor

The Early Middle Ages
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The Early Middle Ages

Trailer

Long Shadows and the Dark 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.

32 min
Diocletian and the Crises of the Third Century

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.

31 min
Constantine the Great-Christian Emperor

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.

31 min
Pagans and Christians in the Fourth Century

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.

30 min
Athletes of God

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.

31 min
Augustine, Part One

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.

31 min
Augustine, Part Two

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.

31 min
Barbarians at the Gate

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.

31 min
Franks and Goths

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.

31 min
Arthur's England

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.

31 min
Justinian and the Byzantine Empire

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.

31 min
The House of Islam

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.

31 min
Rise of the Carolingians

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.

31 min
Charlemagne

14: Charlemagne

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.

31 min
Carolingian Christianity

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.

31 min
The Carolingian Renaissance

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.

31 min
Fury of the Northmen

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.

31 min
Collapse of the Carolingian Empire

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.

31 min
The Birth of France and Germany

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.

31 min
England in the Age of Alfred

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.

30 min
Al-Andalus-Islamic Spain

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.

31 min
Carolingian Europe-Gateway to the Middle Ages

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.

31 min
Family Life-How Then Became Now

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.

31 min
Long Shadows and the Dark Ages Revisited

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.

33 min