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Europe in the Middle Ages (Films for Humanities (Firm))
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1.

Monks [electronic resource]: Keepers of Knowledge

As hubs of spiritual and scientific activity, monasteries were the information centers of the Middle Ages. This program explores the varying missions-and the often-cloaked thoughts and feelings-of the medieval monk, within the larger context of the era's highly regulated and intrigue-ridden religious life. With a focus on the interaction of European and Arab cultures, as well as the importance of libraries and pre-Christian texts, the program's discussions of medicine, mathematics, astronomy, law, and philosophy portray monastic life as full and surprisingly worldly: not only the zenith of introspection, but an arena of passion, exploration, and power struggle. Portions are in other languages with English subtitles.
Online
2006; 2004
2.

Knights and Nobles [electronic resource]

This program surveys the courtly culture of armored knights, their duties and privileges, and their significance in the religious and political conflicts of the Middle Ages. Presided over by royalty, knights formed an elite caste with a code of honor steeped in the arts of hand-to-hand combat and chivalry. Knights and Nobles examines their everyday customs, coats of arms, weaponry, and-with the help of an elaborate historical reconstruction-the castles which sheltered them between campaigns. The program climaxes with the Battle of Crecy in 1346, which initiated infantry-style warfare and effectively ended knighthood in the military sense. Portions are in other languages with English subtitles.
Online
2006; 2004
3.

Peasants, Serfs, and Servitude [electronic resource]

During the Middle Ages, most of Europe's inhabitants were illiterate and lived in the shadow of the wealthy; knowledge of peasant culture is therefore limited. This program addresses the historical lack of firsthand written materials, viewing serfs and servants through the eyewitness accounts of a fictitious traveler. Although a peasant farmer's daily existence was indeed oppressive, defined by taxation and compulsory military service to the ruling noble, the program details innovations of the era-including the horse-drawn iron plough and the three-field planting system-amounting to an agricultural revolution that set the stage for a heavily populated, modern Europe. Portions are in other languages with English subtitles.
Online
2006; 2004
4.

Bankers, Builders, and New Beginnings [electronic resource]

This program illustrates life from the perspective of the medieval merchant: urban, financially sophisticated, and revolving around trade and travel. Demonstrating how the growth of European cities prefaced the end of feudal society and the founding of major universities-while unfortunately enabling the spread of the Black Plague-the program reveals surprising facts regarding city planning, banking practices, cartography, and the skyscrapers of the Middle Ages, cathedrals. In essence, a new civilization emerges in this final episode of Europe in the Middle Ages, due in part to the creation of urban centers as bases for global exploration and conquest. Portions are in other languages with English subtitles.
Online
2006; 2004
5.

The Birth of the Middle Ages [electronic resource]

This program provides an introduction to medieval Europe by showing surviving traces to provide a feel of medieval style and practice and by tracing the roots of the fall of civilization and the onset of darkness. Much that is medieval survives, sometimes in unlikely places: in a feudal community in sub-Saharan Africa, where an absolute ruler holds court surrounded by ministers, courtiers, and hangers-on, with paladins in mail and mercenaries who, according to local tradition, are descendants of the crusaders; and in numerous folk festivals held in modern Italy, which reenact the futile battles against the invading nomadic hordes. The program traces the fall of Rome and the development of fortified monasteries and their gradual transformation into centers of prayer, work, and the stu [...]
Online
2006; 1989
6.

The City of God [electronic resource]

Augustine of Hippo is a symbol of humankind in early medieval times, seeking to understand the terror and destruction resulting from the barbarian devastations of the Roman world, seeking to find the hand of God-and finding it in the counterpart to the destroyed city of man in the city of God. The program covers the church resurgence, filling the vacuum left by the collapse of civil government and changing to meet its new obligations and fill its new role in society; the creation of the Vulgate Bible; mass conversions; the rule of Pope Gregory the Great-the last of the Roman popes and the first of the European; monastic life; Romanesque architecture; and the role of the pilgrimage in medieval society.
Online
2008; 1989
7.

The Feudal System [electronic resource]

This program covers the social and economic organization of Europe in the Middle Ages: life in a medieval farming hamlet; the role of the feudal lord, whose role was to defend its inhabitants in return for a share of the produce and other tribute; the role of tenant farmers, indentured servants, and serfs; the economy of the peasant community and the landed estate; construction and organization of the medieval castle; the relationship between lord and vassal; the pyramid of medieval social organization, with pope and king at the apex and impoverished peasants at the base; the concession of lands by the king and the financial and military obligations in return; the role of the church in feudal Europe, and of the clergy; and courtly love and other literary inventions.
Online
2005; 1989
8.

Vikings and Normans [electronic resource]

The Vikings were farmers and food gatherers, fierce and violent in battle, with family and clan loyalties that lasted beyond life. This program covers the Viking sea prowess and explorations: Viking influences in England and Scotland, trade with the Far East 300 years before Marco Polo and the discovery of America 500 years before Columbus, the Viking presence as far as the Black Sea, and encounters between Slavs and Vikings. The program also covers the Normans-Vikings who had conquered northern France and adopted both Christianity and the French language-and their establishment of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily; the Norman conquest of England in 1066; and the Magna Carta and its effects. The program concludes with the final barbarian invasions of Europe by the Magyars.
Online
2006; 1989
9.

Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire [electronic resource]

Out of the ashes of the Roman Empire rose the Holy Roman Empire, born during Christmas of 800 in the Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome. This program covers the antecedents and the life of Charlemagne, shows life at the court, life of the courtiers and of the peasants, recounts the battle of Roncevaux-site of the epic Chanson de Roland-and counterpoints the glories of the Carolingian Renaissance with the everyday realities of hunger, plague, and constant violence. The program concludes with the first of Europe's major confrontations between empire and church, in this instance between Henry IV and Gregory VII.
Online
2005; 1989
10.

Byzantium [electronic resource]: From Splendor to Ruin

This program covers the founding of Constantinople as a second Rome, its flowering when the Roman Empire in the West was shattered, its gradual decline under the impact of Normans, Turks, Venetians, and the Crusades, and finally, its fall in 1453. The program describes the history, art, and religious significance of Byzantium, its attempts to restore the Roman Empire, its influence in the West, and its heritage.
Online
2006; 1989
11.

Christians, Jews, and Moslems in Medieval Spain [electronic resource]

Due partly to the weakness of its Visigothic rulers, partly to its proximity to Africa, the Iberian peninsula was conquered by Berbers and by Arabs belonging to the Ommayad Dynasty of Damascus. This program describes the history of Spain from the time of the first landing in 711, through the nearly 800-year-long war that ended in the expulsion of both Moors and Jews in 1492; the development of a culture whose people spoke various Spanish dialects while the official language was Arabic; the role of the School of Toledo in preserving, translating, and making known the ancient Greek scientific texts as well as Arabic treatises on philosophy and science; the rabbinic center in Toledo; and the history of the Jews in Spain.
Online
2005; 1979