The Vikings [TTC Video]
29 December 2016, 03:58
Course No 3910 | MKV, AVC, 720x480 | OGG, VBR 50 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.2GB
As explorers and traders, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of Western Europe. In this course, you will study the Vikings not only as warriors, but also in other roles for which they were equally extraordinary: merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas.
Professor Kenneth Harl synthesizes insights from an astonishing array of sources: The Russian Primary Chronicle (a Slavic text from medieval Kiev), 13th-century Icelandic poems and sagas, Byzantine accounts, Arab geographies, annals of Irish monks who faced Viking raids, Roman reports, and scores of other firsthand contemporary documents.
Among the topics you will explore in depth are the profound influence of the Norse gods and heroes on Viking culture, and the Vikings' extraordinary accomplishments as explorers and settlers in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. With the help of archeological findings, you will learn to analyze Viking ship burials, runestones and runic inscriptions, Viking wood carving, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork.
From 790–1066, virtually invincible Viking fleets fanned out across Europe, raiding, plundering, and overwhelming every army that opposed them.
By 1100, however, the Vikings had disappeared, having willingly shed their identity and dissolved into the mists of myth and legend. How did this happen, and how should we remember this formidable civilization that, for being so formative, proved so transient?
A Wide-Ranging Story, a Versatile Historian
The Vikings were a people whose history stretched from the Vinland settlements in Newfoundland to Baghdad. Accordingly, the telling of their story requires a historian of Professor Harl's considerable powers.
As he has shown in his other Teaching Company courses, The World of Byzantium, Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor, The Era of the Crusades, and Rome and the Barbarians, Dr. Harl has a special knowledge of Europe and the Near East, from antiquity through the Middle Ages. His expertise on nearly all of the peoples the Vikings encountered enables him to endow his lectures with the nuance and detail only a trained specialist can deliver.
The Past Is Never Dead: Scandinavian Beginnings
Professor Harl begins with a virtual tour of the unique Scandinavian terrain that determined that Viking civilization would be a culture like no other, a land and people apart from the rest of the world. Scandinavia was cut off by dense forests that kept individual settlements isolated from one another. The Scandinavian way of life was inherently temporary, for agriculture would not progress beyond the slash-and-burn technique until the end of the Viking Age. Villages lasted only a generation before soil exhaustion forced their abandonment, negating the possibility of permanent towns or lasting structures, political or otherwise. Anyone seeking wealth rather than mere subsistence had to look to the sea.
In this early part of the course you will also study in great detail the origins of the Vikings' ancient Germanic religion. You will learn the stories of the Norse gods and how the Vikings sought to honor them.
The lectures also examine how Scandinavians venerated their ancestors, great heroes of the past whom they emulated in life. Professor Harl demonstrates how we can glean the ambitions of the great Viking sea kings by examining the legendary exploits of their role models, such as the saga of the great ride of Hrolf Kraki, the 6th-century king of legendary Hleidr, a great Danish hall.
The Viking Edge
But culture only takes us so far. The Viking Age would have been impossible had the Scandinavians not possessed superiority in shipbuilding and warfare, and Professor Harl devotes two in-depth lectures to this achievement.
You will explore in detail how the design features of Viking ships allowed them to ride the waters rather than fight the waves, to be dragged across land from river to river, and to be beached in any port and sail almost anywhere. Many Viking victories resulted from the fact that their ships could sail several times faster than opposing armies could move on foot.
Contrary to the stereotype of slashing homicidal maniacs in horned helmets, Professor Harl discusses a precise, organized, battle-hardened army of men trained in warfare since boyhood. Vikings were extraordinarily fit, skilled in boarding ships, in leaping and jumping, archery, swordsmanship, and the wielding of axes. Even more frightful, they were fearless, regarding battle as a state of ecstatic joy and expecting thrill in victory or glory in Valhalla as they rushed at their foes.
Traders and Raiders
Viking warfare wasn't driven by any primitive, atavistic malice, or undirected rage. To them, it just made economic sense. We go a long way towards understanding Scandinavians' motivation and debunking popular stereotypes by seeing Viking raids as a logical extension of trading activities.
You will follow the Vikings as merchants who exploited trade routes in the Baltic, the North Sea, and on the river systems of Western Europe. They operated from the Arctic to the Mediterranean, selling everything from sealskin, whalebone, and amber to slaves.
Raiding was simply trade by other means. Vikings raided towns throughout the Latin West, and then set up impromptu markets to sell back the booty. They were indeed shocked to find a novel commodity in abbots whom the Christians paid handsomely to get back.
In Professor Harl's lectures we see the great adaptability of these Scandinavians, their willingness to evolve according to their local environment. Consider the divergent fortunes and destinies of just a few of the Northern peoples that left their Scandinavian homeland:
- Under a deal negotiated with King Charles the Simple by their sea king Hrolf, the Vikings were awarded land in Normandy in exchange for protecting the Franks. Hrolf's descendants preserved their military prowess; they conquered England and Italy, eventually cutting off their ties to the sea and adopting the French language.
- Swedish Vikings, known as "Rus," established outposts in Kiev and Novgorod. They used their Slavic subjects to clear the forests, allowing market towns to evolve into great cities, and a Rus king, Vladimir, would adopt Christianity as the official religion of the Rus state.
- In a lightning campaign, the mostly Danish Great Army conquered three English kingdoms from 865–878 and settled in the northern half of England. They exerted a profound influence, transmitting 600 words into modern English and innovating the jury system that eventually passed into English law.
Because stereotypical images of the Vikings have long obscured the Vikings' importance in European history, you may learn something new in nearly every minute of these lectures. Did you know that:
- We have Iceland to thank for preserving most of our information about what a pure Viking society was like. Icelanders preserved the old Norse traditions through storytelling during the long Icelandic winters. They eventually wrote down these poems, myths, and legends to create literature considered to be one of the miracles of the Middle Ages, deserving a place beside the Greek and Roman classics in the Western tradition.
- Iceland functioned successfully without cities, taxes, or a complex government. You will study the simple yet effective political system—the Thing, the Althing, and the Law Rock—that made Viking Iceland a remarkable experiment in self-government.
- An early Icelandic settler, Helgi the Lean, once remarked with characteristic Viking pragmatism and typical Icelandic wit, "On land I worship Christ, but at sea I worship Thor." A jest though it may have been, it seems prescient in light of the Scandinavian tendency to slough off the ancient gods at the water's edge.
The Beginnings of Modern Scandinavia
In the last part of the course, Professor Harl discusses how a variety of factors—wealth gained through Viking adventures, the creation of ever more professional Viking armies, increasingly better ships, and notably, conversion to Christianity—enabled Scandinavian monarchs to impose control and set up territorial kingdoms.
The creation of kingdoms and national churches was a testimony to the organizational skills of the Scandinavians, who lacked a history that connected them to the benefits of urban-based Roman civilization.
Who were the Vikings? Much more, perhaps, than you may have thought: raiders, seafarers, kings, and writers, a people who truly defined the history of Europe, and whose brave, adventurous, and creative spirit still survives today.
Fundamentals of Sustainable Living [TTC Video]
28 December 2016, 12:11
Course No 9483 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 141 kbps, 2 Ch | 12x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 2.73GB
Become a more thoughtful consumer, save money, and reduce your ecological footprint with this course that teaches you how integrate sustainable practices into your everyday life. By learning specific knowledge and techniques on how to work more efficiently with the energy, water, and food you consume, you can live a more balanced and sustainable lifestyle that also positively impacts the world around you.
Sustainable living practices can help you to:
- reduce your home's energy consumption by 75 percent or more and enjoy the same or better service;
- heat your home without fossil fuels and produce enough clean energy to contribute back to the grid (or leave it altogether);
- reduce, and potentially eliminate, your water bill;
- grow your own pesticide-free fruits, vegetables, and herbs year round; and
- make effective cleaning products at home that are safer and cheaper than anything you can buy at the store.
And you can do these wherever you live, whether it's on acres of land or in a small city apartment.
Fundamentals of Sustainable Living reveals how you can become an active participant in the worldwide sustainability revolution, in as simple or as ambitious a way as you wish. Across 12 practical and inspiring half-hour lectures, you'll learn concrete strategies for making the shift toward providing for yourself and reducing your cost of living, without compromising the resources of future generations. Guiding you is Lawrence A. Gamble, an award-winning Assistant Professor of Sustainable Living and the Co-Director of the Sustainable Living Program at Maharishi University of Management. A pioneer of the discipline and living proof of sustainability's real-world applications, Professor Gamble hasn't had to pay an electric bill in more than two decades.
The significant financial rewards are only one benefit of cultivating a sustainable lifestyle, but it's a perk that can be realized relatively quickly. As Professor Gamble says, "For about the price of a daily latte, you can put enough solar electric power on your roof to offset your electricity bill. And you don't even have to give up the latte - the system will pay for itself in utility bill savings."
What Is Sustainability?
Whatever the motivation - personal finances or personal ethics - energy and resource conservation are a priority for virtually everyone. The reality of living a sustainable worldview, though, is still new to many of us. First and foremost, sustainability is not about doing without.
It's about doing more with less and working with natural systems to become co-producers of the resources we need to meet our needs, without diminishing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Every aspect of life can be reconsidered in terms of sustainability, from your choice of home and mode of transportation, to city design and the provenance of your produce.
Fundamentals of Sustainable Living brings this notion to life with demonstrations of how you can implement sustainable practices where you live. You'll leave the studio for eye-opening field trips: see a thriving community orchard; watch the installation of a backyard drip irrigation system; walk through the professor's own greenhouse; tour solar-friendly Fairfield, Iowa; and witness many other aspects of sustainability in action.
- Food: By cultivating fruit, vegetables, and herbs in your yard, a container, or a community garden, you can be confident that you're eating the safest produce possible. Tips to get you started include step-by-step instructions for building a simple greenhouse that allows you to enjoy fresh produce through winter.
- Energy: Designing your home to collect and store solar energy pays dividends for your bottom line. Get strategies for using solar - even if you rent, have a shady yard, or can't put panels on your home.
- Water: Investigate how you can minimize your dependence on the water company by collecting, storing, purifying, and using rainwater to meet your daily needs.
- Shelter: Travel to the Sustainable Living Center to learn how local rammed earth blocks timber, and earth plasters can be used to create sustainable materials for regenerative buildings.
- Heat: Visit the Living Soil Compost Lab to learn the recipe for good compost and how heat generated as a byproduct of the process can be used to heat water, buildings, and greenhouses, and even to create a "hot spring" in the snow.
Intellectual Exploration Meets Practical Application
Why do organics cost more? What style of washing machine uses half the energy and one-third less water? Which wild-growing plants are safe to eat? You'll get answers to these and other practical questions throughout, yet this is so much more than a how-to course.
Fundamentals of Sustainable Living zooms out to view the big picture of sustainability and the institutions that flow from it as you explore the interconnectedness between human and natural systems. The underlying science of the course, much like the field of sustainability itself, cuts across a diverse swath of disciplines, including engineering, physics, biology, chemistry, agriculture, and economics.
You'll learn how the disparate parts of sustainability come together in a holistic design process grounded in systems thinking; how energy and the law of entropy play a fundamental role; and how this movement fits in the context of other great societal shifts.
A sought-after consultant, Professor Gamble is truly inspiring. A teacher who successfully practices what he preaches can be relied upon to be knowledgeable, and he is the epitome - not only is his home solar-powered, but also it was built from straw bales with his own hands. He harvests rainwater and grows much of his own food.
And yet he understands that not everyone has the same options he has. These highly visual, informative lectures lay out the potential for a truly sustainable future if a range of possible choices are made on both the individual and institutional levels. With Fundamentals of Sustainable Living, you can understand and help build this future, preserving valuable resources for yourself, your community, and future generations.
Medieval Europe: Crisis and Renewal [TTC Video]
28 December 2016, 11:59
Course No 863 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 16x44 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.46GB
This course examines the crises of late medieval society (widespread famines in 1315-1317, wars, plagues, popular rebellions) and the manner in which, during the 14th and 15th centuries, men and women responded to these crises by formulating new concepts of love, art, religion, and political organization.
The emphasis throughout is not on a sustained political narrative. The aim of the course is to explore the structure of late medieval society and show how the society, economy, and culture were transformed and refashioned by the upheavals besetting Europe at the onset of modernity.
Thus, in tracing the response to economic, political, and social crises, we also chart the transition from the medieval to the modern world.