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Publisher's Summary

The Middle Ages harshly tested every aspect of human perseverance, imagination, and survival. Living conditions were squalid for almost everyone except the ruling elite, and most of the riches of Western culture were preserved in monasteries and on other continents. And into this setting came widespread famines, prolonged wars, and plagues that marked Europe's late medieval period as one of the most harrowing in recorded history. But Europe was not broken by these crises. Instead, it renewed itself and spawned fundamental artistic, religious, romantic, and political ideas that continue to shape our world to this day. This series of 16 engrossing lectures transports you to 14th-century Europe to experience a hero's tale of cultural trial, suffering, and triumph. It guides you through 200 years of stunning transformations in how people viewed themselves, how they worshiped, and their relationship to land and country, addressing key concepts that include national boundaries, church-state separation, individuality, and sovereignty - all of which find root in the medieval world.

The series is divided into three main sections that provide you a framework for understanding medieval society through detailed descriptions of what life was like for peasants, merchants, and monarchs; show you how this rigid but well-entrenched social structure was shaken to the core by crises like the Hundred Years War and the Black Death, and let you experience the glorious renewal that followed, including the spread of Renaissance ideas and styles; the creation of the modern nation in Castile, France, and England; the "rediscovery" of Plato, and the far-reaching voyages of discovery.

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

©1996 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)1996 The Great Courses

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Average Customer Ratings

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Excellent Course & Presentation

What did you love best about Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal?

The lecturer.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal?

The story about the boy who wanted a girl (geese). The lectures on romantic love.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The blending of high and popular culture. The end of the conclusion. I did not want the lecture to end and wished for more.

Any additional comments?

This lecture changed my life by virtue of expanding my perspective and helping me "tie down" old and hazy ideas that I've had since college and law school. I wish I were younger and a history student at UCLA. I especially liked his lecturing style. I liked that he was not afraid to think out loud. By this not only did he provide the idea but also the road map to it. Because of this, I got way more out of the lecture. He lectures like a grown up. Trust me, I speak in public for a living and this is rare quality indeed. He is a wise man and great and engaging lecturer.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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A great course!

I loved listening to this course! The teacher is excellent, and it's a fascinating topic. It's not just the usual wars and conquerors, although this is included, but all spheres of society. Dr. Ruiz talks a lot about the philosophies and beliefs of the people living in this particular place and time. This is what makes the class so interesting!

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  • Story

A great professor, a very good course

Any additional comments?

This is a great course about the end of the middle ages and the beginnings of the renaissance. On the one hand it is a complicated and complex matter, there are many things to cover so it's kind a big summary on a very specific but rather big subject. This is no a story of names of kings and wars, but instead it is a very interesting approach on how society was changed, how the human mentality of middle ages was transformed in many aspects: social, cultural, economical, political, philosophical, etc. Prof. Ruiz is fantastic, very moving, emotional, telling many great stories and anecdotes. So you will not only learn about history, but also about many great writers, thinkers, philosophers and books that are to be read and known for personal development. This is more than a course of history, it is also a course of culture. The best is the personality and passion of the very great Prof. Ruiz. Thanks to him for all his devotion and clarity.

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3/10 compared to previous 10 Great courses

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

I believe several things prevented from enjoying this course. First, fairly thick accent. Second, inefficient use of time and often repetitive remarks. Third, socialistic / atheistic perspective on the history. Fourth, while Prof. Ruiz attempts to tell quite many illustrations they often appear to be less than scientific: stories are more a hearsay rather than facts based on cited historical documents. I decided to purchase another Medieval Europe course to give it another listen. Hope someone else enjoys this recording more than me.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • mr
  • 12-06-14

Good overview

Good overview, with an emphasis on Spain which was nice. Worth a listen but I wouldn't get too excited.