Early Middle Ages
By Paul H. Freedman
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Major developments in the political, social, and religious history of western Europe from the accession of Diocletian to the feudal transformation. Topics include the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Arabs, the "Dark Ages," Charlemagne and the Carolingian renaissance, and the Viking and Hungarian invasions.
||01. Course Introduction: Rome’s Greatness and First Crises||Professor Freedman introduces the major themes of the course: the crisis of the Roman Empire, the rise of Christianity, the threats from barbarian invasions, and the continuity of the Byzantine Empire.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||02. The Crisis of the Third Century and the Diocletianic Reforms||Professor Freedman outlines the problems facing the Roman Empire in the third century. The Persian Sassanid dynasty in the East and various Germanic tribes in the West threatened the Empire as never before.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||03. Constantine and the Early Church||Professor Freedman examines how Christianity came to be the official religion of the Roman Empire.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||04. The Christian Roman Empire||The emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity brought change to the Roman Empire as its population gradually abandoned the old religions in favor of Christianity.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||05. St. Augustine’s Confessions||Professor Freedman begins the lecture by considering the ways historians read the Confessions.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||06. Transformation of the Roman Empire||The Roman Empire in the West collapsed as a political entity in the fifth century although the Eastern part survived the crisis.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||07. Barbarian Kingdoms||In this lecture, Professor Freedman considers the various barbarian kingdoms that replaced the Western Roman Empire.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||08. Survival in the East||Professor Freedman focuses on the question of how the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire survived, while the West collapsed in the fifth century.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||09. The Reign of Justinian||Professor Freedman opens by discussing why historians use the writings of Procopius and Gregory of Tours, a sixth century bishop whose history of the Merovingian kings is discussed the following week.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||10. Clovis and the Franks||Professor Freedman begins his discussion of Gregory of Tours’ history of the Merovingian kings. This history differs markedly from the classical invective style used by Procopius.||5/13/2013||Free||View in iTunes|
||11. Frankish Society||Professor Freedman considers the Merovingians as an example of barbarian kingship in the post-Roman world.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||12. Britain and Ireland||In this lecture, Professor Freedman considers the importance of the British Isles in the early Middle Ages, both in their own right and as an example of a post-Roman frontier society.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||13. Monasticism||Professor Freedman discusses some of the paradoxes of monasticism in the Early Middle Ages.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||14. Mohammed and the Arab Conquests||In this lecture, Professor Freedman introduces Islam. He begins with a discussion of its geographical context: the dry desert lands of the Arabian peninsula.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||15. Islamic Conquests and Civil War||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.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||16. Splendor of the Abbasid Period||In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Abbasid dynasty, which ruled the Islamic Caliphate beginning in 750.||6/17/2013||Free||View in iTunes|
||17. The Crucial Seventh Century||In the first half of this lecture, Professor Freedman continues the previous lecture’s discussion of the Abbasids.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||18. The Splendor of Byzantium||In this lecture, Professor Freedman surveys major trends in Byzantine history from the sixth to eleventh century, dividing the era into four periods.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||19. Charlemagne||In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Carolingian dynasty from its origins through its culmination in the figure of Charlemagne.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||20. Intellectuals and the Court of Charlemagne||In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the Carolingian Renaissance, the revival of learning sponsored by Charlemagne and his successors.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||21. Crisis of the Carolingians||In this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the crisis and decline of Charlemagne’s empire.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
||22. Vikings / The European Prospect, 1000||In the first part of this lecture, Professor Freedman discusses the emergence of the Vikings from Scandinavia in the ninth and tenth centuries.||4/2/2012||Free||View in iTunes|
Perfect for the blue stocking mother
This course has enriched our homeschooling this year, as I teach medieval and Renaissance history to elementary students. The lectures are filling in grad school gaps and providing both depth and breadth to a fascinating subject. Doses of clever wit are appreciated.
LOVE Professor Freedman!
I’ve listened to The Early Middle Ages podcast for two full days in a row, all while painting my porch in a heatwave. Professor Freedman’s way of recounting history has me enthralled. I love how he focuses on the thoughts of the time, and how they develop and change, especially in the realm of religion. I’m learning so many interesting things. He has a natural style and often finds pithy connections between how people behaved then and now. This is so important in teaching young people, and he does it with humor and accuracy. The chance to hear Yale lectures is just amazing!! Makes me want to return to school to go further than my BA in Art History. I love learning about the Middle Ages, and the art of the time is so meaningful. Thanks to Yale for letting the public hear these lectures. Grateful.
Informative and Entertaining
I love listening to History lectures and this one became a quick favorite of mine. The professor has a wonderful speaking voice, clearly has a solid grasp on his subject matter, and sprinkles little injokes in (the Shire comaparison had me laughing) thus making it a great lecture. If I didn't live in the Mid-West and could afford Yale I would definitely sit in on this class and hope it still continues to this day.