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20. Intellectuals and the Court of Charlemagne
Yale, Paul Freedman
44:01 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2164 | 5 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Carolingian Renaissance, the revival of learning sponsored by Charlemagne and his successors. The period before the Carolingians saw a decline in learning, evidenced in part by the loss of lay literacy. As literacy became the purview of clerics, monasteries set up scriptoria in order to copy manuscripts on a larger scale. In this context, the Carolingians sponsored a revival of learning both for the sake of bringing educated people into the government and in order to encourage the piety of the people. Professor Freedman ends the lecture by discussing Einhard's writings on Sts Marcellinus and Peter. Their story illustrates how, in this period, the piety of the well-educated was not all that different from that of the common people.
22. Vikings / The European Prospect, 1000
Yale, Paul Freedman
48:58 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2411 | 2 Likes | 0 Comments
In the first part of this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the emergence of the Vikings from Scandinavia in the ninth and tenth centuries. The Vikings were highly adaptive, raiding (the Carolingian Empire), trading (Byzantium and the Caliphate) or settling (Greenland and Iceland) depending on local conditions. Through their wide-ranging travels, the Vikings created networks bringing into contact parts of the world that were previously either not connected or minimally so. Professor Freedman concludes the lecture, and the course, by considering what's been accomplished between 284 and 1000. Although Europe in the year 1000 experienced many of the same problems as did the Roman Empire 284 where we began -- population decline and lack of urbanization, among others -- the end of the early Middle Ages also arguable heralds the emergence of Europe and Christendom as cultural constructs and sets the stage for the rise of the West.
21. Crisis of the Carolingians
Yale, Paul Freedman
46:01 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2686 | 2 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the crisis and decline of Charlemagne's empire. Increasingly faced with external threats -- particularly the Viking invasions -- the Carolingian Empire ultimately collapsed from internal causes, because its rulers were unable effectively to manage such a large empire. In the absence of strong social infrastructure and an idea of loyalty to the ruler, government servants strove to make their positions hereditary and nobles sought to set up independent kingdoms. Although it only lasted for a short time, the Carolingian Empire helped shape the face of Europe, especially through the partitions of the Treaty of Verdun which created territories roughly equivalent to France and Germany.
19. Charlemagne
Yale, Paul Freedman
46:14 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2265 | 3 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Carolingian dynasty from its origins through its culmination in the figure of Charlemagne. The Carolingians sought to overthrow the much weakened Merovingian dynasty by establishing their political legitimacy on three bases: war leadership, Christian rule, and the legacy of Rome. Charlemagne's grandfather Charles Martel won a major victory over the Muslims in 733 at the Battle of Poitiers. Charlemagne's father Pepin the Short allied the Carolingians with the papacy at a time when the latter was looking for a new protector. Charlemagne, crowned emperor in Rome by Pope Leo III in 800, made strides in reestablishing the Roman Empire; although, being centered in northern Europe, his was not an exact imitation of the Roman Empire. Professor Freedman concludes the lecture with the observation that Charlemagne can be considered the founder of Europe as a political and cultural expression.
18. The Splendor of Byzantium
Yale, Paul Freedman
48:39 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 3632 | 1 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman surveys major trends in Byzantine history from the sixth to eleventh century, dividing the era into four periods. In the sixth century, under Justinian's rule, the Byzantine Empire experienced a period of expansion (532-565). However, the Empire was unable to hold on to Justinian's hard won territories and so contracted for over a century of crisis that threatened its survival (565-717). In the next period, (717-843), the Byzantine army was reorganized and the Empire was able to regain some lost territory. At the same time, the empire was wracked by the conflicts accompanying theological controversies over artistic representations of the sacred (the Iconoclast controversy). Finally, with the religious situation smoothed over, the Byzantine Empire was able to expand further from 843 to 1071.
17. The Crucial Seventh Century
Yale, Paul Freedman
45:17 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2827 | 3 Likes | 0 Comments
In the first half of this lecture, Professor Freedman continues the previous lecture's discussion of the Abbasids. He highlights their ability to assimilate other cultures, before turning to their decline in the tenth century. In the second half of the lecture, Professor Freedman considers the seventh century, the crucial turning point in the history of early medieval Europe. The seventh century shaped medieval Europe; the period saw the rise of Islam and Northern Europe, fundamental changes in Byzantium, the reorientation of Persia, and the end of the secular elite in the west. Professor Freedman concludes with a few remarks on the Pirenne thesis, which states that the rise of Islam broke up the Mediterranean and paved the way for the rise of northern Europe.
16. The Splendor of the Abbasid Period
Yale, Paul Freedman
44:10 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2277 | 3 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Abbasid dynasty, which ruled the Islamic Caliphate beginning in 750. The Abbasids moved the capitol of the Caliphate to the newly-built city of Baghdad and created a state characterized by a strong administration and well-organized tax system. The state sponsored a cultural flowering, based in part on the translation of classical Greek and Roman texts. Professor Freedman ends the lecture by focusing on developments in mathematics and astronomy.
15. Islamic Conquests and Civil War
Yale, Paul Freedman
49:43 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2268 | 2 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Islamic conquests. Although they were in some sense religiously motivated, Arab did not attempt to forcibly convert or eradicate Jews, Christians, or other non-Muslims. The conquests began as raids, but quickly escalated when the invaders discovered that Byzantium and Persia were too weak to withstand their assault. In a relatively short period of time, the Arabs were able to conquer an area stretching from Spain to India. Against this background of successful conquests, Islam began to experience deep internal divisions. These began as criticisms of the election of Mohammed's successors, but broadened to criticize the Caliphate and the ruling family. Out of this strife came the division between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Professor Freedman concludes the lecture with observations on the increasingly non-Arab Muslim populations.
14. Mohammed and the Arab Conquests
Yale, Paul Freedman
43:14 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2949 | 2 Likes | 0 Comments
In this lecture, Professor Freedman introduces Islam. He begins with a discussion of its geographical context: the dry desert lands of the Arabian peninsula. The Bedouins, or nomadic Arabs of the region, lived in a tribal society somewhat similar to the Germanic tribes discussed earlier in the course. Their raids against the Byzantine and the Persian Empire, for lack of strong opposition, would lead to the Arab conquests. The second half of the lecture focuses on the life of Mohammed (570/580 -- 632) and the early years of Islam. Mohammed's revelation was one of the unity of God and a progressive interpretation of God's prophets, with Mohammed as the last of these. Early Islam was slow to differentiate itself for Christianity and Judaism, though this process accelerated after Mohammed's flight to Medina in 622. Professor Freedman ends with a discussion of the tenets of Islam and anticipates the discussion of the Arab conquests in the next lecture.
13. Monasticism
Yale, Paul Freedman
45:49 | Posted : 2012 Jul | Views 2423 | 4 Likes | 0 Comments
Professor Freedman discusses some of the paradoxes of monasticism in the Early Middle Ages. To the modern mind, monks and learning make a natural pair. However, this combination is not an obvious outcome of early monasticism, which emphasized asceticism and renunciation of the world. As it moved west, monasticism shifted away from its eremetic beginnings in Egypt and Syria to more communal way of life under the Rule of St Benedict. In addition to communal life, the Rule emphasized prayer and labor; the latter of which was interpreted to include reading and eventually the copying of manuscripts.
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