Between 1348 and 1715, western Europe was fraught with turmoil, beset by the Black Plague, numerous and bitter religious wars, and frequent political revolutions and upheavals.
Yet the Europe that emerged from this was vastly different from the Europe that entered it. By the start of the 18th century, Europe had been revitalized and reborn in a radical break with the past that would have untold ramifications for human civilization.
This comprehensive series of 48 lectures by an award-winning teacher and scholar sheds new light on this critical period by exploring the political, social, cultural, and economic revolutions that transformed Europe between the arrival of the Black Death in the 14th century to the onset of the Enlightenment in the 18th century.
Professor Fix covers a remarkable breadth of subjects relating to European history from 1348 to 1715. While religion, politics, wars, and economics dominate this period, he also pays close attention to art, exploration, science, and technology.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
No idea. I didn't read the print version.
The narration is very good, the organization of the lectures is excellent. Key points are well emphasized so you end the course with a solid "big picture" perspective of several centuries. The ending was disappointing however. I'm not sure why, but I was caught up in the political and religious themes that dominate most of the course, and when science came towards the end it was a difficult transition. For me the best parts were Professor Fix's deep dive into the drama of the Reformation, as well as the reasons why different political traditions formed in each European nation during the Renaissance. You'll swear it's Bill Clinton speaking to you at times...uncanny how much he and Professor Fix sound alike! But then at the very end it just seems...to end. No summary of the course, wrap up of key points made over the 30 odd hours you spent listening. I wish there had been a final 30 minute session devoted just to summarizing the course. Hint hint...
Just a naturally good lecturing style. Emphasis at the right points. Not overly dramatic. Very easy to listen to. I'm struggling to get through "The English Novel" now simply because of the narration style...so it drives home the point of how important the narration is for these courses.
The entire discussion around the Reformation. Speaking as a non-practicing Protestant, it made me uncomfortable with all Protestant denominations not to mention the Catholic Church. Professor Fix makes it crystal clear why Luther and others like the Calvinists found a ripe audience for their movements against Catholicism. When you hear about the "Indulgences Crisis" you'll see just how much the Catholic Church deserved the Reformation! But every movement was corrupted and became to some degree intolerant and oppressive. The only characters that, for me, emerge from this entire narrative as "noble" are the political minds that formed the Dutch republic. I had never really considered how remarkable Holland was for its ability to form Europe's (the world's) first republic. I'd like an entire course now on the political history of the Netherlands!
Excellent experience, excellent value. Would really suggest a final session that summarizes the course...not just this course but all the Great Courses.
Irrational, but True
I just started this course, so this is only an initial reaction.
I'm a big fan of history and this period in European history is one I've tended to veer away from because it seemed to me to always come across so dull. More recently I've become quite interested in events like the 30 Years War, the Northern Wars, and the power struggles between the Italian city-states prior to unification of Italy. So, I was quite excited to start this course.
I love the Great Courses by the Teaching company, but I'm not very impressed with Prof. Andrew C. Fix. I'm admittedly only 4 lectures in, but it's very slow going and the lectures seem very poorly structured. The first lecture ends seemingly out of nowhere. He just stops and then the lecture ends and he starts again in the next. Worse, his delivery is poor. Prof. Fix has a very... homely... style of speaking. I found him inarticulate and vague in his description of the crises of the 14th century leading up to the Renaissance and his description of the Milanese and Venetian contests for power in Northern Italy, he twice used the phrase "went on the warpath" to describe the military expansionism of the two nations. He uses very ambiguous language at times like in describing a city state as having "not a huge army". His coverage of the 100 Years War was choppy and incomplete--granted it was only a brief overview to provide some backdrop to the content of the course, but even in that context I found it lacking. His attempt to explain the Black Death was really poor. He often seems to just avoid detail and use
I'm going to continue with the course, and hopefully I'll get enough out of it to make the time worth it. Maybe it gets better. I might update this review after I've finished the course to give a more complete opinion.
Informative and easy to read, indeed. Little in-depth analysis, but with the sheer amount of data, no wonder. I felt it failed to tie a few knots, but overall a good read.
Informative, engaging, and memorable
I listened to this download while traveling in France for six weeks. It is a fantastic series of lectures, and helps get both historical and modern Europe in focus. The professor is engaging, full of humanity, and I am far more confident now of both the linear history and the intertwining strands through the continent. I hope there is another series coming from Professor Fix.
Recommended for people who may be touring Europe and looking at historical sites - they will get so much more out of the trip
I'm not a professional historian, but even I can stop obvious mistakes.
Joan of Arc did not go to the dauphin to Orleans, he resided in a different city. There is no solid evidence that Lucrezia Borgia had children with her father (stated here as fact). And finally, Henry VIII's brother Arthur definately didn't die in a shipwreck!
Thats just the horribly obvious errors. I'm wary about trusting anything else this professor says.
It is a lecture series.
As a medievalist - that is, a historian specialising in medieval history (specifically, the Hundred Years War) I strongly urge you to totally discount everything in this lecture series pertaining to the 14th and 15th centuries. It is almost entirely wrong.
Perhaps the accuracy improves as the course moves into the Early Modern Period (beginning around 1500, although opinions on this do differ, but it absolutely does not begin in the mid 14th century as this course puts forwards), or perhaps Professor Fix continues misreading the evidence and not doing his due diligence in reading what actual scholars on the periods and areas he is talking about say. Either way, I will not be continuing to listen to this course, which is a shame because I was looking forward to fleshing out my knowledge of the late 16th and 17th centuries, which I confess is patchy outside of a few areas.
In addition to this, the production is incredibly sloppy. Professor Fix stumbles over his words numerous times and talks very quietly.
I cannot stress enough - do not read this. Unless you have done significant reading already, you will be misled.
I'm at least somewhat familiar with most areas of history that this course covers, and unfortunately didn't learn much of anything new listening to Prof. Fix except for a few bits here and there related to the Reformation. Overall not worth the many hours of listening. There were a few points that were just factually incorrect and some odd pronunciation.
Prof Fix's area of expertise lies with the Netherlands and its religious history, and you can hear him perk up and really sink his teeth into it in those sections. Everything else is rather bland and just a surface level summary of events for the most part without any real analysis or explanation. If you're looking to learn about the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, the rise of Absolutism, or the English Civil War, there are better lecture courses and books out there. I did enjoy his lectures focused on the Reformation in the German states and the Low Countries, but overall his ability to lecture on all the areas covered by the title of this course was lacking.
Only if the course was limited to his area of expertise.
I'm constantly amazed at what you can get for the cost of a monthly membership. I think I'll go back to this and listen again several times over.
I like to listen when I'm doing other stuff - gym, cooking, driving, falling asleep etc. I tend to judge an audio book on how well I can absorb it when my attention is divided. While I definitely found myself having to rewind over some key sections quite a few times, it passed my listenability test with flying colours. It became one of those 'can't put it down' titles.
I was almost totally ignorant of the Renaissance before I listened to this. I just had a rough idea of the dates, where it all kicked off and a few of the major players. I thought, I really should know at least a little about the Renaissance. After one listen I'm sure I now know more about it and the profound ways it influenced the Western world than anyone I know, and almost anyone I'm likely to meet.
Prof. Fix's delivery is not as polished as some of the other history lecturers contributing to this series. Quite a few ums and errs. He has a more casual and perhaps irreverent style. He's very engaging nevertheless, while giving a deep, scholarly set of lectures covering some complicated issues.
I really like the way he manages to keep it light and easy going for the most part. Never stuffy or boring.
One thing I've come to appreciate about audio history lectures is that the pace at which material is presented and how it's then referred back to is important. I've listened to a few where I've not been able to keep up. This is well paced and I don't recall struggling to recall people and events from earlier lectures he referred back to.
He tells great stories, gives really deep insights and does a marvellous job of piecing together many pieces of a complicated jigsaw puzzle.
A major theme of the lectures is the religious feuding that gripped post medieval Europe, the fragmentation of Christendom and the birth of the various Protestant branches.
If you're at all interested in the history of Christianity and how it influenced national boundaries and government you'll love it.
Even if you've studied the Renaissance I think you'll learn heaps from it. I certainly did.
l'enfer c'est les autres
History in it's proper context is always relative to current times and is the best antidote to the stupidity in which I routinely see happening around especially during the political season.
This lecture starts the Renaissance with Florence and even will tell you practically the day that the Renaissance started. In 1382, Florence was in the process of losing a war with one of their weaker neighbors and the General leading the assault against Florence died and thereby saved Florence from defeat.
The city fathers decided to look at what had gone wrong and one of the things is they realized that their scholasticism was only geared towards producing Lawyers, Doctors and Theologians and not critical thinkers able to generalize from the particular to the universal (science and philosophy previously was not inductive, but deductive, from the universal to the particular).
The city fathers made a concerted effort to teach the people how to think critically and to conceptualize beyond the old standards. By rejecting the old ways of scholasticism, they led to providing a modern perspective which will ultimately lead to the Enlightenment. The Florentine city fathers would have realized how nothing could be more stupid than to have a politician be cheered when he says that "a welder is worth more than a philosopher" (this is an actual example from this current political season, and highlights the stupidity currently going on). That statement is wrong for multiple reasons. A person's worth doesn't come from what he does for a living, welders make good philosophers, and teaching one how to think critically is always a good thing to do. In the case of Florence it's going to ultimately lead to the creation of an Isaac Newton.
I don't want to imply that the reformation and nation building parts of this lecture are not relevant to today's times for they are and were just as entertaining as the Renaissance parts were. I just wish people who cheered such stupid statements as the one cited above would read (or listen) to history and science books and lectures and start to think beyond what they see on their TVs and blogs and get themselves out of the scholastic mindset and start to learn to think critically.
The lecturer does devote two hours to the development of science up to Isaac Newton and explains the Aristotelian Ptolemaic system better than most books I've read on the development of science. He'll end the lecture at the early Enlightenment, and he covers all the steps that are necessary for the creation of an Isaac Newton and a Pierre Bayle (one of my all time favorite people and I'm glad this lecture gives him his proper place within the Enlightenment, if only briefly).
The narrator has a great voice and tone, almost that of a Southern storyteller, and it keeps you wanting to listen.
Content-wise, the great thing about these lectures is the level of detail they go into regarding the Renaissance. I've taken college courses on the topic, but never really understood how the Renaissance was borne out of a very specific political situation in Italy at the time. Part of this lecture series almost sounds like a history of Italy in the 1400s and 1500s, but the lecturer does an amazing job of relating why these details are so integral to cultural innovations we now know so well.
Someone with little grasp of any history and who enjoys a very homespun delivery with limited analysis.
These courses could have been better written, the context better understood and conveyed to the listener. Analysis needed to reach a higher standard. There were a number of historical howlers and was very poor on the English Reformation.
Not applicable for this work.
Suggest the lecturer go back to basics and rewrite the whole thing.
"Detailed and Fascinating"
This course covers (loosely) Western European history from the 14th-16th century. The central theme of the course is the reformation and the birth of protestantism and the fallout from this.
The first section of the course deals with a brief overview of the medieval period and the state the continent was in at the start of the renaissance. The renaissance lectures were like a scaled down version of the Great Courses on the Italian renaissance so I would suggest following up with that if you find it interesting. These lectures deal with humanism and are important for understanding the context of the reformation.
The main bulk of the course is the reformation. This means that some time is spent on the history of the Catholic church and the papacy, before going on to the various protestant sects that emerge around the continent. This is amazing stuff, well written and detailed without ever being dull. The descriptions of both the theology and the religious wars that follow are interesting and equally well laid out. There was no dull theology at all, all of the theology was kept simple and relevant.
A couple of times the course spends a few lectures on each of the major protestant European powers and how the reformation affected them. This was good but did not really live up to the 'birth of nations' in the title. If you want an understanding of the development of the theory of the nation state this course will leave you wanting.
The final section deals with the scientific revolution. This was a real change of pace but still fascinating and well worth knowing. It feels like it should probably have been a separate course and made longer though.
The lecturer is great, the writing is great, the content is great. Wholeheartedly recommend.
"An interesting overview"
The lectures give a good overview of what happened and why. Some aspects are obviously simplified but a lot of ground is covered.
It takes some time to get used to the professor's voice, a bit of Bill Clinton. But after a while, it feels good.
The professor feels strongly about his subject an knows a lot about it but the references to modern times fall flat and are sometimes inaccurate. Still, the era in question is covered well.
As the lectures are a total of 24 hours, not a one-off book but I do recommend more than one lecture at a time as some lectures are closely related to each other and should be listened to in one sitting.
"Well, despite myself, I loved it"
For history right at the top. Not because it was the best history, or even particularly good, insightful history; but just because it was a rattling good story. And it was far better than a history book to listen to; I love history, but cannot get on with history audiobooks. So this was a real find.
Monking. I howled. Andrew Fisk was describing the relationship between Luther and his Dad, and Andrew had his father cry out in outrage 'there's no money in monking!'. A real treat.
No I've not; this thing is I agree with another comment that there were hideous generalisations, inaccuracies, and a very traditional view - the view of the pre-reformation church, for example could have been written 30 years ago. And although Andrew Fisk rather stumbled and repeated himself - I really, really enjoyed his style in the end. I suspect repeating the same point is simply good teaching.
Heartily recommended. Not the best history, but a superb way to get into the subject.
"Over simplification, inaccuracies & annoying style"
Better quality material in the lectures and a better presentation style.
I did not like the style of his presentation, it was far to 'chatty' and often used inapropiate modern words or comparisons which I think give at times a misleading impression of the period of history he was covering. Though I did not mind to much I expect some will also find his american pronunciation of the papacy annoying.
In the parts of the history covered that I know something the over simplification of what was happening often lead to in my opinion an inaccurate impression of the period what is worse I also noticed quite a lot of things that I think where simple wrong.
Of course not everything was wrong and part of the problem was undoubtedly trying to cover to big a span of history in to short a time but I still feel that Andrew Fix grasp of the style and grasp of the subject matter was not good enough.
It's a "101" kind of course but I found it informative and enjoyable. As a series of half hour lectures it's easier to complete than a book I think. The delivery is natural and the language is informal but the content is thorough and orderly, with the right balance between the amount of data and analysis. I wish I had more teachers like professor Fix at school.
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