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The High Middle Ages

Better understand the fascinating world of medieval Europe with this engaging course that explores the years 1000-1300.
The High Middle Ages is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 131.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Survey This is my second course with Professor Daileader and I really enjoyed this follow-up to his Early Middle Ages. (Though the Teaching Company released this course in 2001, the second in a three part series on the Middle Ages, the Early Middle Ages course was actually released much later, in 2004.) The High Middle Ages course, like that on the Early Middle Ages, is full of very interesting and often fascinating information, conveyed by a presenter who is easy to follow and understand. The lectures just move along so well and left me looking forward to the next one. The Early Middle Ages course covers the period 300-1000 AD; this one deals with 1000-1300AD. What a change in circumstances! Professor Daileader does so well from beginning to end, starting off with the favorable reversal in fortunes from the earlier period. High on the list is the unusual doubling of population, the basis for so many other changes, most notably urbanization. Moreover, not only is Europe freed from the depredations of the plague and invasions, but also benefits from a changing climate that is warmer and drier than in the perilous period. I find most interesting Professor Daileader’s comments on the status of women (not all bad); the treatment of heresy; the impact of technology (including the important development of the horse collar that facilities plowing); the pointing out of myths and realities of the inquisition; students comprising a “criminal element” in the new university towns; the significance and development of the Investiture controversy in church/state relations; and the First Crusade. While Professor Daidleader excels in breathing life into the subject by supplying fine biographical details, he does really well in the treatment of Phillip II of France and, especially, the Holy Roman Emperor (also known as the “wonder of the world”), Frederick II. There is a lot more in this course that provides a good overview of life in the period. An interesting aspect of this course is Professor Daileader’s treatment of the field of study, including how the “Middle Ages” came to be known as such, and how and why scholarship developed and changed focus over the past century. He also mentions throughout the course how little we have to document many aspects of life during that time and how scholars cope, that understanding might change significantly with more sources. In this regard, Professor Daileader recounts how a prominent medieval historian found employment with the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1950s likely due in part to his ability as a medievalist “to draw conclusions from very fragmentary evidence”! The 123-page course guidebook has fine lecture summaries, a timeline, glossary, biographical notes, and an annotated bibliography. There are no maps. While I mostly listened to the lectures on my walks, I also viewed some of the lectures on my Wondrium account, so I did have the advantage of viewing some of the illustrations and maps presented. I now look forward to the third installment in Professor Daileader’s series, The Late Middle Ages. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2023-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great! I watched the course on the early medieval ages before this one. Excellent professor, very clear on what the main points of each episode are, I would love to see more from him. This course is from 2001, as such is does not have much in terms of visuals and the audio version should work well.
Date published: 2022-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Positively Top-Hole Loved the storytelling, the delivery, the reinforcement of key points for those of us commuting, the jokes and the honesty about editorial choices. Need more courses from this prof.
Date published: 2022-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great focus on demographics and kinds of people I listened to this class while running, and found the audio version worked perfectly well. I had known some events fro this period, but there was a whole lot I did not know. Prof. Daileader, whom I had for his "Early Middle Ages" class - has a great sense of humor about his material, and he clearly knows a great deal about the topic. I really enjoyed his focus on demographics - both on how demographics drove change during this period, and also about the various kinds of people who lived during this time. The part I enjoyed most was him talking about how knights really behaved, which was different than the legends we hear about them.
Date published: 2022-04-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding course! I am binge watching Professor Daileader's courses and have to date watched the Early Middle Ages, How the Crusades Changed History, and the High Middle Ages. Next up is the Late Middle Ages and Charlemagne, also by Dr. Daileader. Where the Early Middle Ages was primarily a chronological presentation of the political history of the period, this course is presented in a more thematic fashion which was an excellent change of pace. The early lecture on the etiologies for demography changes and economic flowery was outstanding and concise. other topics on Heresy, inquisitions, women, and Jew in the Middle Ages were excellent. Dr. Daileader is an excellent lecturer and the course and materials are well organized and pressed. I would encourage all to take these courses as they will readily help any novice better understand this fascinating period of history.
Date published: 2022-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just finished this course recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. We gained a much clearer understanding of the period of the middle ages covered. The course topics were well organized and the flow of information told an intriguing story. Professor Daileader's style of lecturing and his dry wit made the course material that more appealing. We enjoyed the course so much that we have since purchased his remaining two courses on the Middle Ages.
Date published: 2021-11-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting and Enjoyable Coming out of High School, all I knew about the Middle Ages was feudalism, crusades, and three field crop rotation. Probably none of that was very accurate. I was curious about how Western Civilization bridged the gap from the disintegration of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance. In that respect, this course was very satisfying. Professor Daileader has a plain spoken and charming manner. My only recommendation would be to skip the lecture on the inquisition. There was a little too much detail there about torture.
Date published: 2021-10-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from As a budding lover of history: My obsession with the Middle Ages started as a child. Now a manchild, I decided I needed to know more. I started my Middle Ages studies a few years ago. Learning from free sources on the internet I developed some basic understanding. A basic understanding with many gaps... Gaps that became chasms as I'd delve deeper and consistently derail myself from my originally intended target for the day. Then I discovered The Great Courses Plus on one of my many sporadic history sources. Thus began my learning in earnest. Under the tutelage of Philip Daileader Many gaps now have bridges, some are now not even gaps at all. A great course for beginners. Some lectures were information heavy with foundation blocks for understanding. With some lectures telling stories of the time that help paint these landscapes in the colors of the people that lived the time. As a Novice: Highly Recommend
Date published: 2021-09-20
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As the last millennium dawned, Europe didn't amount to much. Illiteracy, starvation, and disease were the norm. In fact, Europe in the year 1000 was one of the world's more stagnant regions&;amp;-an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geopolitically passive backwater. Three short centuries later, all this had changed dramatically. The flowering of medieval civilization between the years 1000 and 1300 forms the focus of this series by the gifted historian Professor Philip Daileader. He fascinatingly reveals the concepts and mind-sets of the High Middle Ages and the medieval.


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.


William & Mary

Philip Daileader is a Professor of History at William & Mary. He earned his BA in History from Johns Hopkins University and his MA and PhD in History from Harvard University. Philip has won multiple teaching awards throughout his career. As a graduate student, he was a four-time recipient of the Certificate of Distinction in Teaching from the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and in 2016, William & Mary awarded him the Thomas A. Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching. In 2012, The Princeton Review named him one of the 300 best professors in the United States.

Philip is the author of two historical monographs: True Citizens: Violence, Memory, and Identity in the Medieval Community of Perpignan, 1162–1397, which appeared in French translation in 2004, and Saint Vincent Ferrer, His World and Life: Religion and Society in Late Medieval Europe, which appeared in Spanish and Catalan translations in 2019 and won the 2018 La corónica International Book Award for the best monograph published on medieval Hispanic languages, literatures, and cultures. Philip is the coeditor of French Historians 1900–2000: New Historical Writing in Twentieth-Century France, and his articles have been published in journals including Speculum, Annales du Midi, and Archivum Historiae Pontificiae.

By This Professor

The Early Middle Ages
Charlemagne: Father of Europe
Why the 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?

33 min
Demography and the Commercial Revolution

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.

31 min
Those Who Fought-The Nobles

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.

30 min
The Chivalric Code

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?

31 min

05: Feudalism

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?

31 min
Those Who Worked-The Peasants

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.

30 min
Those Who Worked-The Townspeople

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"?

31 min
Women in Medieval Society

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.

31 min
Those Who Prayed-The Monks

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.

31 min
Francis of Assisi and the Franciscan Movement

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?

31 min
Heretics and Heresy

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?

31 min
The Medieval Inquisitions

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.

31 min
Jews and Christians

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?

30 min
The Origins of Scholasticism

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.

31 min
Aquinas and the Problem of Aristotle

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?

31 min
The First Universities

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.

31 min
The People's Crusade

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?

31 min
The Conquest of Jerusalem

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.

31 min
The Norman Conquest

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.

30 min
Philip II of France

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.

31 min
Magna Carta

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.

31 min
Empire versus Papacy

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.

30 min
Emperor Frederick II

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....

31 min
Looking Back, Looking Forward

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.

32 min