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The Late Middle Ages - the two centuries from c. 1300 to c. 1500 - might seem like a distant era, but students of history are still trying to reach a consensus about how it should be interpreted. Was it an era of calamity or rebirth? Was it still clearly medieval or the period in which humanity took its first decisive steps into modernity?
These 24 provocative lectures introduce you to the age's major events, personalities, and developments, and arms you with the essentials you need to form your own ideas about this age of extremes - an age that, according to Professor Daileader, "experiences disasters and tragedies of such magnitude that those who survive them cannot remember the like, and doubt that subsequent generations will be capable of believing their descriptions.
"You'll look at the Black Death, the carnage of frequent wars, and the religious turmoil we associate with the Middle Ages." But you'll also look at the beginning of the intellectual and cultural movement known as Humanism, which planted the seeds of modernity. Humanism's precepts, which hearkened back to the moral inspiration inherent in classical artistic values, humans have an enormous capacity for goodness, for creativity, even for the achievement of happiness.
But these were hardly the only forces that tug modern-day historians in multiple directions. The Middle Ages was also a period when the persisting legacy of knights, serfs, and castles coexisted with the cannons and muskets newly made possible by gunpowder. With so many contradictions, it's no wonder that historians have differed widely on how to judge this era-debating even when it ended and modernity began.