Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture [TTC Video]

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture [TTC Video]
Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture [TTC Video] by Andrew R Wilson
Course No 3822 | MP4, AVC, 2170 kbps, 1280x720 | English, AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 12.55GB

With an astonishing 5,000 years of history, China is one of the world’s great civilizations, as well as a burgeoning superpower on the world stage. For a major portion of its existence—until as recently as the early 20th century—China was an empire, one of the greatest and most powerful the world has ever known.

It was during this long and diverse imperial era that the iconic features of Chinese civilization came into being: its art, architecture, literature, philosophy, spiritual traditions, social and bureaucratic structures, technological innovations, and more.

A knowledge of China’s imperial past is essential for any understanding of its present, as today’s China is linked in numerous ways to the remarkable culture of its empire. But a standard historical approach—looking at political, social, or economic events from a distance—is apt to leave us on the outside of China’s imperial experience, one of the most richly fascinating and revealing chapters in the story of civilization.

Here, then, is a brilliant and riveting alternate look at history, and a course unlike any other you’ll find on China. Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture takes you to the heart of life during China’s imperial dynasties, revealing the empire’s historical unfolding through the lives of individual people of all walks of life, spanning the centuries from the empire’s founding in 221 BCE to its dissolution in 1912. The inspired and detailed presentation of Professor Andrew R. Wilson of the U.S. Naval War College is vivid cultural history at its most compelling and insightful.

Journey to One of History’s Greatest Empires

In 24 extraordinary lectures, you’ll explore numerous vital facets of life in imperial China, such as these:

  • Visit the Qin imperial necropolis in 211 BCE, where an army of masons, painters, and potters labored to assemble the 7,000 terra-cotta warriors, promising emperor Qinshi Huangdi martial dominance in the afterlife.
  • Observe how a Chinese daughter became a guixiu or cultivated young lady, from mastering graceful behavior and household skills to the painful rite of foot binding— witness her marriage arrangements, wedding festivities, and her duties as wife.
  • Grasp the deeply integral role and meaning of poetry in the Tang Dynasty; see how poetry of distinct genres such as court poetry, nature poetry, and occasional poetry was employed in specific social settings—even including verses scribbled on the flesh of courtesans.
  • Travel to Xanadu, the bejeweled imperial seat of Kublai Khan, and witness the multiculturalism of the Mongol rulers of China through the eyes of Marco Polo, the missionary Giovanni de Montecorvino, and other Western observers.

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture shows you how life was actually lived in the world-shaping times of China’s empire. Across the span of the course, you’ll discover what daily existence was like for government bureaucrats, scholars, and women of the court, as well as for soldiers, merchants, craftspeople, and even for concubines, eunuchs, and imperial cooks. Drawing on decades of dedicated research, Professor Wilson uncovers how these people and many others lived, what they ate, and what their activities and concerns were—their world and their worldview—all set against the backdrop of the richness, the diversity, the genius, and the splendor of imperial China.

Through these intimate glimpses of individual lives—across the great dynastic eras of the Qin, Han, Sui, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing—you’ll gain an inside look at China’s empire, how its traditions developed, and how the Chinese civilization we know came to be.

Look Deeply into Chinese Dynastic Life

In these enthralling lectures, Professor Wilson introduces you to a stunning range of subject matter, revealing all strata of life and society within imperial China. Among core aspects of imperial life, you’ll delve into:

  • Opulent Lifestyles of the Han Nobility: Through stunning tomb artifacts, visualize the sumptuous mansion and social existence of Xin Zhui, prominent Han noblewoman. Take account of her family’s luxurious household, silk garments, lavish banquets, and entertainments, as well as their concern for learning and scholarship during the empire’s first golden age.
  • Life on the Imperial Grand Canal: Discover the ingenious engineering, the lore, and the vast historical role of the Grand Canal, as it linked and integrated the empire economically, culturally, and politically. Witness the operation of the canal by bargemen, merchants, shipping brokers, customs agents, and others, and learn how the fortunes of the canal reflected those of the empire itself.
  • The Celebrated Song Literati: Take the measure of the cultured class of gentlemen-scholars known as literati. Follow the careers, writings, and societal roles of two exemplars of this tradition: Su Shi, public servant, poet, painter, raconteur, and style setter; and Zhu Xi, educator, moral philosopher and Neo-Confucian innovator.
  • The Empire’s Peasant Heartland: Within two lectures on rural life, investigate agriculture in the empire and the daily lives of peasants—their work and gender roles, family composition, homes, diet, and clothing. Learn also how rural workers cultivated and harvested rice, grew and processed tea, and produced China’s iconic silk.
  • Sophisticated Living under the Ming: In the 16th century, grasp how flourishing trade in luxury goods and the import of New World silver gave rise to a remarkable era of high living—seen in the appearance of dinner parties; palatial restaurants; high fashion; pleasure travel; how-to guides for cooking, painting, and other leisure activities; commercial sex; and more.
  • Imperial Gastronomy—The Qing Emperor’s Kitchens: At emperor Qianlong’s spectacular summer retreat, observe the massive apparatus of the Imperial Buttery as it prepares a luxuriant banquet. See how imperial menus reflected the social rank of diners, and how an epic feast in 1793 served as the setting for a Sino-British diplomatic encounter.

Explore the Dazzling Spectrum of Imperial Culture

Throughout the course, Professor Wilson’s detailed knowledge of China’s empire makes this an endlessly intriguing and engrossing journey. Within the wealth of historical narratives covered, he demonstrates a flair for describing events from centuries past as if they’re unfolding in present time.

Join aspiring bureaucrats on the path to the harrowing civil service examinations. From the years of studious preparation to the heart-stopping ordeal of the exams, you witness the process that forged the jinshi, the “elevated men” who administered the empire. In another unique experience, enter the opium salons of the elite, where connoisseurs savor the drug in pipes fashioned of cloisonné, silver, or ivory.

Your travels within the empire include such memorable sights as the grand boulevards, splendorous palaces and imposing temples of Chang’an, the medieval world’s greatest city, and the Qingming Shanghetu, a 17-foot painted scroll that gloriously portrays Song Dynasty life. And you’ll meet unforgettable human beings, whose lives vividly reveal the world around them, such as Ban Zhao, Han-era woman of letters, poet, scholar, and teacher; Tao Yuanming, Daoist luminary and the empire’s first great poet; Zhu Yuanzhang, powerful warlord and founder of the Ming Dynasty; and Hong Xiuquan, visionary reformer and architect of the religiously-inspired Taiping Rebellion.

In Professor Wilson’s dynamic presentation, China’s great empire comes alive in all its brilliance, poignancy, and majesty. Enriched with extraordinary imagery—artworks, texts, photos, timelines, maps, and animations—Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture is your passport to this phenomenal, historic world.

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture [TTC Video]

The Ottoman Empire [TTC Video]

The Ottoman Empire [TTC Video]
The Ottoman Empire [TTC Video] by Kenneth W Harl
Course No 3160 | M4V, AVC, 600 kbps, 640x360 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 36x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 6.04GB

When confronting the future, nations and civilizations always look to the past for guidance, lessons, and a shared sense of purpose and meaning. For the peoples of the Middle East, that immediate past is the Ottoman Empire.

In the West, we often overlook the fact that the achievements of the Ottoman Empire at the zenith of its power matched those of contemporary Western Europe – as well as the other great Islamic states of Safavid Iran and Mughal India. According to Kenneth W. Harl, award-winning professor of Classical and Byzantine history at Tulane University, “the cultural achievements of Ottoman civilization still endure, and they speak of a wealthy and sophisticated Islamic civilization.”

It is by understanding the vast, dramatic story of the Ottoman Empire – from its early years as a collection of raiders and conquerors to its undeniable power in the 15th and 16th centuries to its catastrophic collapse in the wreckage of the First World War – that one can better grasp the current complexities of the Middle East, including geopolitical tensions between Turkey and its Balkan and Middle Eastern neighbors, the sustained political and cultural power of Islam, and the balancing act between religious tradition and cultural modernity.

What made the Ottoman Empire such a match with the empires of the early modern world? What, in fact, made this empire unlike any other in human history? What forces were responsible for shaping this brilliant civilization—and what forces led to its ultimate destruction? These are just some of the questions you’ll explore alongside Professor Harl in The Ottoman Empire. Over the course of 36 historically rich and enlightening lectures, you’ll investigate more than 600 years of history that cover the nature of Ottoman identity, the achievements and oddities of the Sultan’s court, and stories of confrontation and cooperation with the West. The result: a better appreciation for the ways in which the Ottomans created a unique way of life – and how that way of life echoes throughout Europe and across the Middle East.

From “Sublime Porte” to “Sick Man”

To the emissaries of King Francis I in 1536, the Ottoman Empire was called the “Sublime Porte,” referring to the magnificence of the high gate within the empire’s grand Topkapı palace complex. More than 200 years later, Tsar Nicholas I referred to the empire— beginning to lose territory and power—as “the Sick Man of Europe.” Less than 100 years after that, the empire disappeared.

The Ottoman Empire guides you through the rise, flourishing, and fall of one of the most powerful forces in history in a way that makes historical themes and ideas easy to understand. Working chronologically from the empire’s medieval roots to its rebirth as the modern republic of Turkey, Professor Harl groups the lectures around a series of historical moments and themes.

  • An Empire is Born: You’ll get an in-depth look at how the Ottoman Empire was first created, and you’ll follow the learning journey it took up through 1632, during the reign of Sultan Murat IV. Along the way, you’ll meet rulers seldom equaled by any other dynasty, including Suleiman the Magnificent – who reigned from 1520 to 1566 and whose iconic rule is still hailed as the apex of Ottoman power.
  • The High Ottoman Empire: The classical age of the Ottoman Empire is commonly held as the time between 1453 and 1699. What were its political and religious institutions like? What cultural advancements were made? You’ll dive into two centuries of vitality and originality, covering everything from the imperial economy to Islamic building programs to the development of miniature manuscript paintings.
  • When East Met West: Central to the classical age of the Ottoman Empire was its complex relationship with its eastern and Western neighbors, from Safavid Iran to European traders, who both engaged with – and threatened – the traditional Ottoman order. You’ll consider how wars and treaties with the Holy Roman Empire, Venice, Russia and more shifted the balance of power that would pave the way for the empire’s ultimate decline.
  • Reform, Collapse, Rebirth: Starting in the late 17th century, the Ottoman Empire began its slow decline, collapse, and partition. After which, a rebirth occurred in the form of the republic of Turkey. Professor Harl unpacks the various historical forces responsible for this, chief among them the First World War and the leadership of Mustafa Kemal.

People, Events, and Themes that Made an Empire

Befitting a story of such epic scope and grandeur, every lecture of The Ottoman Empire is a treasure trove of historical nuggets and fascinating insights into the people, events, themes, and locales responsible for shaping the story of this often overlooked empire.

Told with Professor Harl’s characteristic detail and insight, these and other topics are just a few of what you’ll find laid in these 36 lectures.

  • Rumi and the Whirling Dervishes. One of the central figures in the early spiritual transformation of Anatolia was Jalal-ud-din Rumi who, along with his followers, the iconic “whirling dervishes,” used Sufism to create a folk Islam linked to the mores of Anatolian village life.
  • Selim the Grim. An ambitious victor of a civil war in 1512, Selim earned his terrifying moniker, Yavuz (“the Grim”), after ordering the execution of all challenges to his rule, including his half-brother, his nephews, and his cousins.
  • The Sultan’s Deputies. Something of the Turkish sultan’s right-hand man, the grand viziers, after the mid-16th century, began to assume the foreign policy and administrative power from sultans, who found themselves more involved with spiritual and ceremonial matters.
  • Suleiman’s Wars. Not only was Suleiman I one of the Ottoman Empire’s most decisive, influential rulers, he also waged several fierce military campaigns against Safavid Iran (the empire’s main Eastern rival) that were less about territory and more about competing religious claims as to who would lead the Islamic world.
  • The Committee of Union and Progress. Between 1909 and 1911, the CUP dominated the Ottoman parliament as something of a shadow government ruling through repression. This is a political model that, Professor Harl notes, would be transmitted to the empire’s successor states in southeastern Europe and the Middle East.

A Fascinating Story Told by a Great Storyteller

Over the years, Professor Harl has been acclaimed by lifelong learners for his ability to untangle historical complexities and recreate the thrill of making historical connections. As a seasoned member of The Great Courses faculty, his expertise in the Classical and Byzantine eras (including scholarly work on classical Anatolia) makes him the perfect guide through centuries of fascinating history.

The winner of numerous teaching awards, including Tulane University’s Sheldon Hackney Award for Excellence in Teaching (on two occasions), Professor Harl has a preternatural ability to make the intricate layers and interconnections of an entire civilization’s history graspable.

A visually rich course, the video editions of The Ottoman Empire come complete with helpful maps that show the historic expansion (and contraction) of the empire; portraits that put a face with some of the many people you encounter in these lectures; photographs and illustrations of Ottoman architecture, illuminated manuscripts, and historic landscapes; and much more.

Welcome to a fascinating story of the triumph and tragedy, war and peace, intellectual progress and civil insurrection of a great empire that, for all its glory and grandeur, has left an important legacy that will shape the future of the Balkan nation-states, the Turkish Republic, and the Arab world – and those of us in the West as well.

The Ottoman Empire [TTC Video]

The Ottoman Empire [TTC Video]

The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad [TTC Video]

The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad [TTC Video]
The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad [TTC Video] by Joyce E Salisbury
Course No 8286 | M4V, AVC, 784 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 160 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 4.98GB

Spain has played a unique and pivotal role in Western civilization. It has historically stood at a critical crossroad—a crossroad of geography, of cultures, of religions, of ideas, of trade, and more. Spain’s strategic location, through the centuries, has made it a magnet for multiple different peoples, and it has participated in and witnessed numerous major shifts, trends, and historical moments.

Across 5000 years, from its prehistory and ancient Roman rule to the glory of Moorish al-Andalus, and from its empire building to its religious passions and kingly dynasties, Spain’s history has been extraordinarily dramatic, colorful, poignant, inspiring, and heartrending.

And yet, Spain’s remarkable role has not always been detailed in standard history curricula, at times overshadowed by the high profile of other European powers. But to understand the unfolding of Spain’s epic history is to come to terms with one of the West’s great civilizations, and to grasp its enduring presence and influence on the world stage. Consider these singular features of Spanish history:

  • The Renaissance began in Spain 15 years before the rest of Europe;
  • Spain was both the instigator and the catalyst for the opening of the New World, spanning North, Central, and South America—leaving Spanish as the world’s second most widely spoken language, following only Chinese;
  • Spain was a primary player in the vast commercial revolution that changed the world in the 17th century;
  • The collapse of Spain’s great empire both prefigured and sheds light upon the later disintegration of other European empires;
  • Spain’s 20th century history reveals much about the rise and fall of fascism in Europe.

In The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad, Professor Emerita Joyce E. Salisbury of the University of Wisconsin unfurls a broad and fascinating panorama of Spanish history, spanning the centuries from the first Neolithic settlement of the peninsula to Spain’s 20th century Civil War.

Linking one extraordinary era with the next, the course begins with how early Spain drew a spectrum of peoples from ancient Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, who formed vibrant communities on the peninsula. From there, you’ll witness the subjugation of the peninsula by both Rome and Gothic peoples, leading to the breathtaking drama of Islamic Spain and the Reconquista, Catholic Spain and the Inquisition, and the conquest of the New World. In the final lectures, you’ll travel into the royal dynasties and dazzling artistic heritage of the Habsburg and Bourbon kings, and you’ll track Spain’s storied emergence into the modern world.

These 24 accessible and highly enjoyable lectures offer you a penetrating overview of the development of Spanish civilization. Designed for a wide audience, the course presents a comprehensive picture of Spanish life and culture, encompassing history, architecture and art, religion, science, and the humanities, as well as offering many pointers for travel in Spain, highlighting the country’s outstanding historical and cultural sights, and why they’re important.

A Thrilling Journey through Five Millennia of History

In the course’s opening, you’ll trace the melding of Neolithic peoples, Celts, Greeks, Phoenicians, and other immigrants who gave the Spanish peninsula its unique character. Across the centuries of history and the numerous seminal epochs the course illuminates, you’ll witness extraordinary historic moments such as:

  • The Kingdom of the Visigoths–Following Rome’s imperial domination of the region, discover how the Visigoths wrested control of the peninsula, and contemplate the remarkable society they built–a culture that produced great art, codes of law, theology, and hugely influential scholarship in the intellectual centers of Toledo and Seville;
  • The Golden Age of Islamic Spain–Take account of the nearly seven centuries of Islamic rule of Spain, and its zenith in the legendary Caliphate of Córdoba; grasp the underpinnings of Córdoba’s great wealth, and its astonishing achievements in art, science, aesthetics, and learning, that spread its fame across the known world;
  • Spain’s Catholic Passion–Track the deeply integral presence of Catholicism in Spanish life over the centuries. Learn about Spain’s role in the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Counter-Reformation, and the Inquisition; trace Spain’s bloody wars against Protestants and Muslims, as well as its history and remarkable resurgence of religious tolerance;
  • The New World: Treasure and Tragedy–Witness how Columbus’s voyages led to the carving out of vast Spanish possessions in the Americas; follow the huge commercial empire which transpired, and the exploits of conquistadors, missionaries, and pirates, against a backdrop of economic oppression, slavery, and the decimation of native populations;
  • The Habsburgs: A Splendorous Era–In yet another illustrious epoch, learn how the Habsburg kings spent Spain’s New World treasure in the glorious architecture of Madrid and the El Escorial summer palace, and in fostering an artistic renaissance in the work of some of history’s greatest painters, composers, and literary artists;
  • Spain in the Modern World–Following the disintegration of Spain’s empire, observe its adaptations and contributions to the modern era, from its great 20th century artistic and intellectual innovators to its trials under the dictator Francisco Franco and its place as a vibrant 21st century nation.

A Rich Tapestry of Spanish Culture

As a primary strength of this course, Professor Salisbury brings to the table a vast and extraordinarily detailed knowledge of the Iberian Peninsula; its history as well as its unique culture. Demonstrating a flair for historical narrative, she expertly conveys the monumental scope and movement of events while at the same time revealing details that make the story compellingly three-dimensional. In her descriptions of the ancient trade in garum (Roman fish sauce, a surprisingly valuable commodity), the glittering court culture of Islamic Spain, and the features of life aboard Columbus’s ships, these distant eras come vividly alive.

Intertwined with the unfolding of Spanish history, Professor Salisbury illuminates Spain’s iconic cultures, and its phenomenal contributions to art, architecture, literature, music, theology, and learning. In the lecture on Spain’s gypsy heritage, you’ll explore the origins and forms of flamenco music and dance, and their deep links to gypsy and Andalusian culture. You’ll learn how the ritual of bullfighting—held as an art form in Spain—evolved from its origins as an equestrian pastime of the nobility to its markedly altered modern form.

Across the centuries, you’ll explore jewels of Spanish architecture, from the resplendent Moorish Alhambra and Alcázar of Seville to the sublime Sagrada Familia cathedral of Catalan modernist Antoni Gaudí. Professor Salisbury also highlights the evolution and forms of Spanish music, spanning the eras from the music of Islamic Spain to the great Baroque composers Guerrero and de Victoria and the 19th century master Albeniz. And you’ll encounter Spain’s geniuses of the visual and written arts, encompassing such masters as the painters Velasquez, el Greco, Goya, and Picasso, and writers from the philosophers Averroes and Maimonides to literary greats Lope de Vega and Cervantes.

The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad takes you on a wide-ranging journey through the remarkable scope of Spanish civilization, life, and culture. Travel with us to this extraordinary land, and savor the majesty and the great human drama of the story of Spain.

The History of Spain: Land on a Crossroad [TTC Video]

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