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 122.
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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
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Chilling immorality My first grievance is that 90% of the lectures are not about history as is but about history of the Church. But most appalling is the professor's absolutely subjective attitude toward whatever the Church did, even to Inquisition! Just one example: when he talks about existence of two kinds of Inquisition he light-heartedly proclaims, "The Papal Inquisition was much more efficient at identifying heretics than Episcopal." What a chilling immorality! It's the same like saying that Gestapo was much more efficient than SS! How I regret buying this course. Not only I wasted money but also had my human feelings were so often hurt.
Date published: 2021-09-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Highs and Lows As Prof Daileader says in Lecture 1, the Middle Ages are full of highs and lows; I also found this course to have highs and lows. Yes, I learned new information and refreshed my knowledge of Middle Ages events. Those were the high points. The low points began when I started "High Middle Ages" immediately following TGC's "Early Middle Ages" also by Prof Daileader, which is a fairly good course with him. Unfortunately, TGC's "High Middle Ages" was recorded first, before Prof Daileader had perfected his lectures and style. Several lectures are long history stories with too many small details, while others are in an erudite Harvard historian style - he mentions more than once his degree is from Harvard. Enough about his style. I love reading and hearing about the Middle Ages time period, so I completed all the lectures, although I re-worked the viewing order to hear the historical lectures earlier. In my opinion, this course would work well for students and academics, not as much for a general Great Course public. Better to take TGC's "Medieval World" course with Prof. Armstrong.
Date published: 2021-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not the Dark Ages, But An Age of Great Achievement Dear Professor Daileader: I finished your Great Course titled The High Middle Ages and wanted to express how much I enjoyed it. You did a great job of showing how the Middle Ages, frequently written off as simply the dark ages with little innovation, actually served as the bedrock of our modern culture including our laws, bill of rights, and our constitution. I enjoyed your enthusiasm and teaching style combined with great overviews and recaps that really tied the information together. I wish many of my University professors had your teaching style.
Date published: 2021-06-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting Content, Good Delivery This course went by quickly and each lecture was full of interesting content. Many years ago I read a book about the middle ages written by a professor at Cornell University. I was surprised at the time by how lively was the book. The same could be said for this course. I appreciated the passion that the professor brought to the topic, which made delving into specific topics easier to do. I had no trouble with the presenter's delivery, as I saw commented on elsewhere. In fact it was well done. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in medieval history. Disclaimer: I enrolled in this course in part as research on this era and how I could bring knowledge of real world history into table top roleplaying games. When running a game in a campaign world, I found that my lack of knowledge about the setting hurt the realism I was trying to be bring to the experience.
Date published: 2021-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from GREAT REVIEW COURSE FOR THE LATER Middle Ages This course is a nice review of the later period of the Middle Ages. Dr. Daileader reviews a lot of aspects of this period with a general overview. This is a good primer for anyone wanting information on this time.
Date published: 2021-04-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Which Course to Take? And Why? Daileader covers much the same time period as TGC’s “Era of the Crusades" (Harl) and frequently overlaps parts of TGC’s “Story of Medieval England" (Paxton). His style is reminiscent of TGC's Rufus Fears, the now deceased and much loved historical philosopher. All three courses have advantages. Harl is a machine, disseminating prodigious amounts of accurate information logically. His course focuses on Mediterranean populations from Italy to Constantinople to the Middle East while well covering the European characters that drove events. His guidebook is one of TGC’s best. Paxton’s coverage of England’s historical leadership also contains 10 lectures clearly describing medieval life, though at times gets a bit "gossipy". Paxton before or after Daileader would work. I would recommend Harl’s course BEFORE Daileader as a "base” for what Daileader is going to talk about. Supporting this, Daileader labels his course level as “intermediate". This course is much like going out to a café with the Professor after you’ve done (Harl's) classroom structure. Daileader, in his relaxed, but challenging, “cafe conversations” will ask such questions as “did feudalism happen or was it a construct of Marxist historians (L5)? Was there even a concept of class struggle (L3-9)? His course is people-centered and you will definitely understand why those who judge ancestors based on today’s views are far off base. Excellent examples are his discussion of urban guilt and the flaws of scholasticism. Both of these provide enormous insight into today's troubles (L14, L15). L24 is an outstanding unexpected treat. It records how globalization has changed historical analysis over time from Haskin’s POV to historians of various ethnic, sex, and religious backgrounds. Daileader makes it obvious why “historians have become dissatisfied with history that examined each region of the world in isolation.” He has a sense of humor, including his comments on Aristotle’s superior god (at the expense of Harvard University, L15) and the wonderful time period when students (who pay for education) actually controlled their professors’ salaries and time off (L16). CONS: Guidebook has 105 pages of lecture summaries with 20% of those pages involved in redundant prequel “scope” & end-lecture summaries. It therefore requires a lot of note taking or purchase of a Transcript. SUMMARY: Daileader's “Parisian café” conversational style is part of what makes this course outstanding for a divided world. Though the course was produced in 2001, his attention to Moore’s “The Formation of a Persecuting Society: Power & Deviance in Western Europe, 950-1250" presages today's persecutory "Critical Race Theory". As the European descendants age out of the work force and other races take up the lead, discussions with open-minded professors like Daileader may lead to better resolutions. The audio version works very well as the course is more about ideas than maps.
Date published: 2021-03-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Much better than Early Middle Ages Hello. I appreciate that Professor Daileader has polished his style to look at the camera more often and gesture less frequently. Even his speech patterns and delivery have changed! One little mistake in the part about population growth (lecture 2): "Brakes" is misspelled as "breaks" in the titles. The professor is speaking in terms of car parts - he mentions brakes and engine - so this really should be corrected.
Date published: 2021-03-01
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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
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
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