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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 52

Length: 30 min.

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Social Studies

Video on Demand
Teacher's Guide
Web Resources

Western Tradition, The

This absorbing survey of more than 2,000 years of Western civilization will give students an educational foundation that will serve them though college and beyond. In this encyclopedic series, illustrated with over 2,700 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, historian Eugene Weber guides your class through centuries of politics, literature, economics, industry, agriculture, art philosophy, and the daily lives of ordinary people. From ancient Egypt through the cold war, The Western Tradition will give students a deep and abiding understanding of Western history.

Episode Guide

1. The Dawn of History — The origins of the human race are traced from anthropoid ancestors to the agricultural revolution.

2. The Ancient Egyptians — Egyptian irrigation created one of the first great civilizations.

3. Mesopotamia — Settlements in the Fertile Crescent gave rise to the great river civilizations of the Middle East.

4. From Bronze to Iron — Metals revolutionized tools and societies Assyria, Persia, and Neo-Babylonia.

5. The Rise of Greek Civilization — Democracy and philosophy arose from Greek cities at the edge of the civilized world.

6. Greek Thought — Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle laid the foundation of Western thought.

7. Alexander the Great — Alexander’s conquests quadrupled the size of the known Greek world.

8. The Hellenistic Age — Hellenistic kingdoms extended Greek culture to the entire Mediterranean.

9. The Rise of Rome — Through its army, Rome built an empire that shaped the West.

10. The Roman Empire — Rome’s civil engineering contributed as much to the empire as its weapons.

11. Early Christianity — Christianity spread despite contempt and persecution from Rome.

12. The Rise of the Church — The old heresy became the Roman Empire’s official religion under the Emperor Constantine.

13. The Decline of Rome — While enemies slashed at Rome’s borders, civil war and economic collapse destroyed the empire from within.

14. The Fall of Rome — Despite the success of emperors such as Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, Rome fell victim to barbarian invasions.

15. The Byzantine Empire — From Constantinople, the Byzantine Empire carried on the traditions of Greece and Rome.

16. The Fall of Byzantium — Nearly a thousand years after Rome’s fall, Constantinople was conquered by the forces of Islam.

17. The Dark Ages — Barbarian kingdoms took possession of the fragments of the Roman Empire.

18. The Age of Charlemagne — Charlemagne revived hopes for a new empire in Western Europe.

19. The Middle Ages — Amid invasion and civil disorder, a military aristocracy dominated the kingdoms of Europe.

20. The Feudal Order — Bishop, knight, and peasant were some of the social divisions in 1000 A. D.

21. Common Life in the Middle Ages — Famine, disease, and short life spans shaped medieval beliefs.

22. Cities and Cathedrals of the Middle Ages — The great churches embodied the material and spiritual ambitions of the age.

23. The Late Middle Ages — Two hundred years of war and plague debilitated Europe.

24. The National Monarchies — A new urban middle class emerged, while dynastic marriages established centralized monarchies.

25. The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery — Renaissance humanists made man “the measure of all things.” Europe was possessed by a new passion for knowledge.

26. The Renaissance and the New World — The discovery of America challenged Europe.

27. The Reformation — Protestantism through Martin Luther shattered the unity of the Church.

28. The Rise of the Middle Class — New middle-class mores had an impact on religious life.

29. The Wars of Religion — For a century plus, Protestants and Catholics quarrels tore Europe apart.

30. The Rise of the Trading Cities — Amid religious wars, a few cities learned that tolerance increased there prosperity.

31. The Age of Absolutism — Exhausted by war and civil strife, many Europeans exchanged earlier liberties and anarchies for greater peace.

32. Absolutism and the Social Contract — Arguments about the legitimate source of political power centered on divine right versus natural law.

33. The Enlightened Despots — Monarchs considered reforms in order to create more efficient societies, but not at the expense of their own power.

34. The Enlightenment — Intellectual theories of the nature of man and his potential came to the fore.

35. The Enlightenment and Society — Scientists and social reformers battled for universal human rights during a peaceful and prosperous period.

36. The Modern Philosophers — Freedom of thought and expression opened new vistas explored by French, English, and American thinkers.

37. The American Revolution — The British colonists created a society that tested Enlightenment ideas and resisted restrictions imposed by England.

38. The American Republic — A new republic, the compromise of radicals and conservatives, was founded on universal freedoms.

39. The Death of the Old Regime — In France the old order collapsed under revolutionaries’ attacks and the monarchy’s own weakness.

40. The French Revolution — Liberty, equality, and fraternity skidded into a reign of Terror.

41. The Industrial Revolution — Technology and mass production reduced famine and ushered in higher standards of living.

42. The Industrial World — A consumer revolution was fueled by coal, public transportation and new city services.

43. Revolution and Romantics — Leaders in the arts, literature, and political theory argued for social justice and national liberation.

44. The Age of the Nation-States — The great powers cooperated to quell internal revolts, yet competed to acquire colonies.

45. A New Public — Education and mass communications created a new political life and leisure time.

46. Fin de Siècle — Everyday life of the working class was transformed by leisure, prompting the birth of an elite avant-garde movement.

47. The First World War and the Rise of Fascism — Old empires crumbled during World War I to be replaced by right-wing dictatorships in Italy, Spain, and Germany.

48. The Second World War — World War II was a war of new tactics and strategies. Civilian populations became targets as the Nazi holocaust exterminated millions of people.

49. The Cold War — The U.S. and the USSR dominated Europe and confronted each other in Korea.

50. Europe and the Third World — Burdened with the legacy of colonial imperialism, the Third World rushed development to catch up with its Western counterparts.

51. The Technological Revolution — Keeping up with increasing change became the norm.

52. Toward the Future — Modern medicine, atomic energy, computers, and new concepts of time, energy, and matter all have an important effect on life in the 20th century.

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