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The Myth of the Holy Grail [electronic resource]

The Holy Grail may be history's most legendary artifact, but did it ever really exist and, if so, was it a chalice or something very different? Filmed at key locations in England and France, this program follows the intriguing efforts of two modern-day Grail hunters, providing along the way a concise account of the Grail story, its role in Arthurian legend, and its enduring fascination. Dramatic reenactments, paintings, and original manuscripts are blended with commentary from scholars, archaeologists, and experts, including Graham Phillips, author of The Search for the Grail, and Henry Lincoln, author of Key to the Secret Pattern and co-author of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
2006; 2003

In the Name of Allah [electronic resource]

Military conflict accompanied the spread of Islam during the Middle Ages. This program reveals the ironies of that union between war and faith: how Islam was adopted rather than marginalized by invading Mongols; how the rise of strict Islamic orthodoxy countered the scholarly advances of Arabic culture, weakening the empire; and how European appreciation of Islamic culture grew after the Christian reconquista of the Iberian peninsula. Interviews with respected scholars-including Drs. Raif Georges Khoury of the University of Heidelberg and Patrick Franke of Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg-illuminate key developments in Islam's Mediterranean dominance.
2006; 2004

In the Name of Christ [electronic resource]

This program examines the forces behind European determination to capture Palestine, linking the belligerence of medieval Crusaders with their piousness. Drs. Klaus Herbers of Friedrich Alexander University and Patrick Franke of Martin Luther University draw surprising parallels between East and West, focusing on martyrdom as a vital component of the Crusader's motivation, interreligious notions of knightly behavior, and cases of negotiation and cultural exchange despite numerous atrocities and military disasters. Without neglecting the harsh realities of the Crusades, In the Name of Christ presents a fresh perspective on the medieval clash of Christian and Islamic powers.
2006; 2004

Christian vs. Christian [electronic resource]

Outlining the provincial causes and ravaging effects of Europe's Thirty Years' War, this program illustrates the ability of religious fervor to inflame nationalism and drive the quest for power. With background on Martin Luther's split with the Catholic Church and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Dr. Helmut Neuhaus of Friedrich Alexander University offers detailed analysis of the Hapsburg-Bohemian conflict, the shifting alliances of Catholics and Protestants, and the mercenary campaigns of Wallenstein-leading to a comparison with large-scale natural disaster. The program clearly identifies the three-decade inferno as an inspiration for later divisions of church and state.
2006; 2004

The Bridge [electronic resource]: How Islam Saved Western Medicine

While it is true that the Greeks invented philosophy, mathematics, and science, it is equally true that after the fall of the Roman Empire, throughout the Dark Ages, much knowledge was preserved by Islamic cultures who later passed it back to the West. This program uses footage shot in the Aegean, Middle East, Iran, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany to explore the process by which medical knowledge was passed on. Throughout the program, the brilliant medieval world of Islam is revealed. Monuments, historical sites and personalities, libraries and universities woven into scenes of everyday Islamic life paint a colorful, vivid picture of the period. This revealing documentary reinforces our debt to the Islamic world and clarifies history.
2005; 1996

Inside the Medieval Mind [electronic resource]: Sex

Although rooted in religious misogyny and crude anatomical knowledge, the sexual mores of the medieval era were surprisingly complex. This program explores the attitudes and behaviors of a sexual culture that was by turns romantic, transactional, and perverse. Documents and historical accounts include the story of Christina of Markyate, who defied marital conventions and maintained a lifelong vow of chastity; the more passionate tale of Peter Abelard and Heloise d'Argenteuil, whose 12th-century love letters transcend the brutality of the age; and a list of intrusive questions compiled to help 11th-century priests steer parishioners away from promiscuity. Troubadour poetry and primitive views of menstruation and fertility are also discussed.
2010; 2008

Inside the Medieval Mind [electronic resource]: Belief

Founded in 1230, Scotland's Pluscarden Abbey still pulses with the prayers and spiritual pursuits of Benedictine monks. Abbot Hugh Gilbert describes their work in reassuringly human terms, framing the Christian battle against Satanic evil as an inner struggle within one's own psyche. But, as this program shows, the culture which brought Pluscarden into existence was rigidly institutional-and entrenched in the cosmology of heaven and hell. The film explores demonic possession and brushes with the afterlife, as recorded in documents of the period; the ways in which wealthy believers sought to "purchase" heavenly redemption; and the sanctity conferred upon the bones of martyrs and other religious relics.
2010; 2008

The Medici, Godfathers of the Renaissance [electronic resource]: The Medici Popes

Once the bloodline of the Medici extended into the clergy, it was perhaps inevitable that at least one Medici pope would appear. This program illustrates the intrigue and open conflict surrounding the rise of Pope Leo X (Giovanni de' Medici) and the subsequent Pope Clement VII (Giovanni's cousin, Giulio) in the early 16th century. Revealing the political and military machinations of both figures, the film also explores the interplay between Medici power-plays and the products of the era's intelligentsia-specifically, Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel frescoes and Machiavelli's The Prince. Part of the series The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance.

Believing [electronic resource]: Pilgrimage to Santiago

Goethe once said, "Europe was made on the pilgrim road to Compostela." Stretching from France to the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela, where the cathedral is said to house the remains of James the Apostle, El Camino - or the Way of St. James - was the first great pilgrims' route. Millions made the long journey in an age when people rarely ventured beyond their village or town. Filmmaker Lina Moreco retraces their steps with her "pilgrim camera." She follows El Camino through the rolling landscape and ancient hill-towns of Galicia in a quest to understand the notion of faith in the closing days of the 20th century. Using the pilgrimage as a metaphor, this classic film explores the phenomenon of faith - in God and religion as well as in oneself. What are the wellsprings of faith? [...]

The Circles of Light [electronic resource]: Divine Comedy

The most celebrated work of Dante Alighieri is certainly the Divina Commedia-a vision of hell, purgatory, and heaven that provides a strangely surrealistic view of medieval attitudes on religious dogma and the price of disobedience. In this program, dramatizations of scenes depicting courtly love, sexual love, love of God, and love of the Virgin Mary are featured.
2009; 1995

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.
2008; 1989

The Jeweled City [electronic resource]: Cathedral of Chartres

The Cathedral of Chartres, built from 1150 to 1220 and widely recognized as a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is now a world heritage site. This program offers a narrated tour of the cathedral, along with a historical portrait of the political and religious fervor of the medieval architects who saw it through to completion.
2005; 1995

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.
2005; 1989

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.
2006; 1989

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.
2005; 1979

The Fires of Faith [electronic resource]: Dissidents and the Church

This program discusses papal reactions to church dissidents. Thirteenth-century fragmentation of religious orders into various sects is examined. Discussions include St. Francis of Assisi; the French Albigenses sect and the Albigensean Crusade; the fall of Albi; the Cathars and their extermination by the Inquisition; Pope Innocent III; the founding of the Dominican order; and the Ecumenical Council of 1215.

A Leap of Faith [electronic resource]

Politics and terrorism have failed to secure peace for Northern Ireland. Now four heroic families in Belfast band together to create a school that integrates their own Catholic and Protestant children. Using archival sections which dramatically but objectively explain the conflict, this program integrates a history of Ireland's "troubles" with a story of hope. Despite 62 explosions and 40 deaths during the first four months, the school is able to celebrate its first anniversary, proving that peace is not only possible, but inevitable.

Wrath of the Gods [electronic resource]

Spanning the reigns of Emperors Philip and Decius, this program captures the struggle of polytheism to retain its cultural primacy in the face of Christianity's growing popularity.