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The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean Lecture

The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean

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Publisher's Summary

Take a riveting tour of the Italian peninsula, from the glittering canals of Venice to the lavish papal apartments and ancient ruins of Rome.

In these 24 lectures, Professor Bartlett traces the development of the Italian city-states of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, showing how the modern nation of Italy was forged out of the rivalries, allegiances, and traditions of a vibrant and diverse people.

This comprehensive portrait of Italian history opens an exciting new world-a grand mosaic of lustrous and storied cultures as distinctive as the people who helped build them. As you come to know these many "Italys," you'll see how the Italian states defined themselves against the others, competing for territory, trade, and artistic supremacy - and how the vestiges of these interactions are visible even today.

Among other things, you'll consider the rivalry between the Genoese and the Pisans, which stems from a nearly 800-year-old grudge; examine how the crusades influenced the development of Genoa, Pisa, and Venice; and explore Italy's troubled relationship with the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

You'll also get a glimpse into the lives of the powerful and influential, including Pope Paul IV, who championed the Roman Inquisition, and Luigi Gonzaga, who cut out the hearts of his enemies and nailed them to the doors of their palaces as a warning to others who might challenge his power.

As you get to know the distinctive personalities and events that define the peninsula, you'll gain fresh insights into the Italy of today. Surprising, enriching, always engaging, this course offers a unique perspective on one of the most dynamic and creative cultures of the modern world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2007 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2007 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Quaker United States 02-27-15
    Quaker United States 02-27-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "European political history taken to the next level"
    Where does The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is a higher level, more in depth study than most of The Great Courses on Audible. I suppose it ranks lower than others on the "entertaining" scale, but higher on the depth of information scale.


    What other book might you compare The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean to and why?

    Other related series by the great courses would include Foundations of Western Civilization I & II (both excellent), Europe and Western Civilization in the Modern Age, and The Middle Ages series: Early Middle Ages, High Middle Ages, Late Middle Ages


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Professor Bartlett also teaches The Great Courses series on European Civilization and the Italian Renaissance, plus their video series The Great Tours: Experiencing Medieval Europe. He is extremely knowledgeable. The other courses are less focused on the political evolution of Italy and more focused on civilization, art, and historic sites. It all depends on what you're interested in.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No. This is a long and detailed title with 24 lectures. I listened to about an hour a day over a couple of weeks.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a series for those who know European history and want to delve deeper re the politics of the Italian city states. Prof. Bartlett assumes that the listener knows European history, particularly of the middle ages. It is assumed you already know about the Byzantines, the Holy Roman Empire, the Turkish empire, the royal houses of Anjou, Habsburg, etc. With that as background, this series provides a survey of all the city states and their political (more than cultural) evolution, particularly vis a vis their relationships with Rome and the rest of Europe.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 09-13-14
    Andrew 09-13-14
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    "Great prep for a 2-week trip to Italy"

    History with context!

    The professor has a superb job putting everything in context. Italy is such a complex place which such a diverse set of historical drivers, and so it's tough to do right.

    Most tour guide histories are just a list of "then this happened, then this king did this."

    In contrast, this professor ably articulates the trends and particulars, so that the names, places, and events make sense.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher BROOKLYN, NY, United States 05-05-16
    Christopher BROOKLYN, NY, United States 05-05-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Could've Used More Culture + Color"

    There is a lot of detailed information here, but it is very dry: old-school history focused on political and military matters – to the exclusion of all else.

    Professor Bartlett has a difficult task, as Italy between the fall of Rome and the Risorgimento was divided into many states, each with their own history and identity. He chooses to organize these lectures regionally more than chronologically. This has its drawbacks: many historical figures (like the Borgias) or international events (like the Plague) appear in the narrative of multiple states, and so we hear about them again and again, but only in little snippets each time – it can be disorienting.

    This approach would make much more sense if he spent any time describing the states' individual cultures – he says over and over again that they were unique, but does little to illustrate what made them distinct beyond political organization. When he does mention something cultural, it's still dry: he might say that the Sienese developed their own painting style, but not say anything about what that style was or what made it special.

    The lectures are also strangely limited in chronological scope: the (500+ year!) period between the fall of Rome and the first crusade is quickly glossed over (a single lecture!), and the lectures largely stop at the 16th century, long before Italian unification.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Smirk 02-14-16
    Smirk 02-14-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Dull."

    Lists of dates and wars and families fill this book from beginning to end. Even the narrator repeatedly sighs.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Listen 07-04-14
    Listen 07-04-14
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    "Great course with some redundancy"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean to be better than the print version?

    No. With so much information contained in these lectures, one cannot properly gain enough knowledge without some written material. Simple things like, how the names are spelled and which dates related to what events/figures are just part of the reason why written text is necessary for learning history.


    Would you recommend The Italians before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes and no. See my comment below.


    What does Professor Kenneth R. Bartlett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    N/A.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    After I listened to his “The Italian Renaissance”, I became a big fan of Professor Bartlett. History could be full of wars, names and dates tend to be pretty boring, but Bartlett has managed to keep audience interested by personalizing the historical figures, their background, character, journey in the way that you and I can related. He also provided various aspects of the Italian culture that we still can see today when we visit the country. In so doing, ancient history becomes highly relevant to today’s Italy and Italians.

    One thing I am not entirely satisfied with this course is that there are a number of chapters seem to be directly copied from his “The Italian Renaissance”, or vise versa. The material is all great, but if you purchase one, the other doesn’t seem to add much value.

    Another thing I am unhappy about it is the fact that the lack of course outlines in the Great Course series. With the huge amount of information delivered in these lectures, some written material will be most helpful for the students to review and solidify what’s learned. I will have to buy his written book as a suppliment.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jose Gomez-Rivera 07-31-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Good Breakdown of Pre Risorgimento Italian history"

    Professor Barlett gives a good overview of Renaissance history- from the late medieval period to the treaty of Cateau Cambresis that established Spanish Hapsburg dominance. He is well versed in Renaissance politics, the Ghibeline and Guelf schism and the art of the period. There are some generalizations I take issue with but overall it's factual and informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julisa 07-20-16
    Julisa 07-20-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Thorough and engaging"

    I would recommend these lectures to anyone wanting to have a good grasp of Italian history. I like the approach of going through the various city states, as each has a unique style or flavor. The lectures are thorough without being too long. I particularly appreciated his synopsis at the end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 07-10-16
    kwdayboise (Kim Day) Boise, Idaho 07-10-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Dissapointing to irritating"

    I got this to have a better cultural context for a planned trip to Italy. I've already been through Will Durant's The Renaissance, which covers Italy exclusively. While this audio had some new information, and placed it in terms of regional history and attitudes, it also ends at the 15th century. I was hoping it would extend into the 19th century and feature figures on whom it's more difficult to get information, such as Garibaldi.

    Three pronunciations drove me crazy. He constantly references the "Italian peninsula", which he pronounces as pen-in-shoo-lah. He also insists on giving Byzantine it's least used pronunciation with accent on the second syllable. He also pronounces schism as shiz-um. I'd suck it up on the latter two were he British, but he's only Canadian so they're only pretentious or wrong.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Francis D. Byrnes 06-22-16 Member Since 2015
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    "peninsula"
    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Good information. I just can't deal with him saying peninsula and the horrible music. I skipped some of the Rome chapters, because it is a bit byzantine. I would also appreciate more information on the south and Sardinia.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 03-28-16
    Russell Bernard Salt Lake City, Utah United States 03-28-16 Member Since 2014

    Avid Listener of books at 1-1/2 times the normal speed. Trying to make up for all those boring high school teachers that could not reach me.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dig in Deep"

    This course is a very advanced discussion of the city states and convoluted system of government of the Italian peninsula. I was able to tap into some of my Italian heritage and understand why my great grandfather left the southern tip of the nation in the 1890's.
    The professor was fine I felt like sometimes he would get out of breath as he reed the text. part of it might be that I speed up the narration to 1-1/2 speed to get through it.

    Not for the beginner studying European History.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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