The High Middle Ages
01: Why the Middle Ages?
Europeans living between 1000 and 1300 would have been shocked to hear that they were living in the "Middle" Ages. So where does the term come from? What does it tell us about the topic of this course?
02: Demography and the Commercial Revolution
One of history's most potent forces is demography. In the Middle Ages, when the line between sufficiency and dearth was so thin, small innovations and events could and did have huge effects.
03: Those Who Fought-The Nobles
Perched atop the society of high medieval Europe was a group of mounted, armored warriors who came to form a hereditary aristocracy with unique legal privileges.
04: The Chivalric Code
When clerics sought to refine rough-hewn knights with literature, the result was the emergence of new genres such as the chivalric romance. How far did such books go to change actual behavior?
Few words are so closely associated with the Middle Ages as "feudalism." Yet historians have argued ceaselessly over its meaning. So what is "feudalism," and how can we use the term to further our understanding?
06: Those Who Worked-The Peasants
Although most medieval people were peasants, a lack of written records makes them hard to study. It seems clear that the rights of lords weighed upon peasants, though less so in 1300 than in 1000.
07: Those Who Worked-The Townspeople
Revived urban life made townspeople a prominent part of medieval society. But was their outlook "bourgeois," or still characteristically "feudal"?
08: Women in Medieval Society
Long marginalized by political and military history, women's history and gender history have become two of the fastest growing fields in medieval studies.
09: Those Who Prayed-The Monks
Monks formed a spiritual elite, living lives of work, study, and prayer under the Rule of Saint Benedict. The High Middle Ages saw a number of monastic reform movements, including the Cluniac and the Cistercian.
10: Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement
How did this Italian merchant's son create a new religious order that mixed monastic elements with his own ministry of itinerant preaching, evangelical poverty, and a mixed critique and affirmation of urban spirituality?
11: Heretics and Heresy
During the High Middle Ages, heresy and heretical movements spread across much of Europe. Why did this happen? How did authorities respond?
12: The Medieval Inquisitions
What were the various "Inquisitions" that existed in medieval and early modern Europe? What did they actually do? This lecture separates legend from documented historical fact.
13: Jews and Christians
Jews were the largest religious minority in high medieval Europe. Curiously, despite the relative prosperity of the times, the treatment of Jews became noticeably harsher. Why?
14: The Origins of Scholasticism
Explore the bold and innovative intellectual methods of the Scholastics, and meet a key early figure in this pioneering movement in European thought.
15: Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle
What was the project of Aquinas and his fellow Scholastics, and what made their work a focus of controversy amid their contemporaries?
16: The First Universities
The High Middle Ages gave birth to a new educational institution: the university. Of all the institutions to which high medieval Europe gave rise, the university is the most vibrant today.
17: The People's Crusade
The First Crusade, which ended with the capture of Jerusalem in 1099, demonstrated the rising power of Europe. How did this combination of holy war and pilgrimage begin?
18: The Conquest of Jerusalem
Despite internecine quarrels, crusading barons took Jerusalem in 1099 and carved out "crusader states" in Syria and Palestine that would last for nearly 200 years.
19: The Norman Conquest
Broad, impersonal forces may shape history, but contingencies play a role as well. The conquest of Saxon England by Gallicized Norsemen on 1066 offers an excellent example.
20: Philip II of France
The French monarchy is one of the era's great comeback stories. The king most responsible for this turnaround was Philip II Augustus (1180-1223). A combat-averse hypochondriac, he outwitted rivals and laid the basis for French greatness.
21: Magna Carta
Having early developed a powerful monarchy, the English also early developed instruments for restraining it. The Great Charter was such a tool, and its long-range consequences would be considerable indeed.
22: Empire versus Papacy
The conflict between the Holy Roman Empire and the Church that is known as the Investiture Controversy would last two generations and leave imperial authority weakened for good.
23: Emperor Frederick II
Nicknamed stupor mundi, or "the wonder of the world," Frederick II Hohenstaufen (1211-50) was one of the most controversial figures of his age. Yet even he could not reverse the fragmentation of the Holy Roman Empire....
24: Looking Back, Looking Forward
By 1300, Europe had assumed an economic and political importance that would have been unimaginable in 1000. Although much of the world was as yet untouched, the European hand had begun to stretch forth.