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
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.
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
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.
No. This is a long and detailed title with 24 lectures. I listened to about an hour a day over a couple of weeks.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes and no. See my comment below.
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.
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.
I enjoyed learning more about Italy before its modern single state status about one hundred and fifty years ago. The speakers knowledge of the subject was outstanding. The speakers speech impediment was very annoying however, whether this was done on purpose or a limitation of his speaking. The best example of this is his tortured speaking of the word peninsula as something like penin sha la.
This is a decent overview of the subject at hand. However, the delivery is exceptionally dry and the narrator/author doesn't explain things very well. He frequently uses context specific terms or names that he doesn't define and tends to make startling comments about people and events that he never justifies.
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