Normandy’s charming villages with half-timbered houses and thatch-roofed cottages recall the tie with England which began in 1066 when William the Conqueror, a descendant of the Viking chief Rollo, defeated the Saxon Harold at Hastings. The battle is depicted in scenes embroidered on a 900-year-old strip of linen on display in a museum in Bayeux. Monasticism took root early in Normandy and produced a multitude of abbeys, including the island monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel. The Gothic cathedrals of Rouen, Bayeux, and Coutances bear witness to the prosperity of this rich agricultural region. After the Hundred Years’ War many churches were rebuilt in the late Gothic style with intricate stone carvings and magnificent, stained glass windows. The course will also spotlight the picturesque fishing village of Honfleur, the historic center of Rouen, eye-catching manor houses and châteaux, including a stronghold built by Richard the Lionheart on a cliff above the Seine. As monuments are entwined with history, the narrative of Normandy’s past will accompany the presentation of the region’s rich architectural heritage.
The phenomenon we now know as the Crusades has to serve as a, possibly the, watershed moment in the history of relations between the European West and the Muslim East. We will talk about how and why they started as well as the 200-year history of the Latin Kingdoms in the Levant. The story does not end there and we will examine that legacy through a closer look at the military orders, particularly the Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem, who later became known as the Knights of Malta. The Hospitallers first came to light in the 11th century, offering medical care in Jerusalem to all, regardless of religion or place of origin. To further serve those who came to the Holy Land, however, they developed into a military organization, contemporaneous with the Templars and the Teutonic Knights, and they played a similar role in protecting pilgrims. We will trace their activities during the period of the Latin Kingdoms, then follow them as they retreat, first to Cyprus and then to Rhodes and Malta, after the Mamluks forced the remnants of Christian rule out of Palestine. The Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, the last military order founded during the Crusades, survive even today.
Building bridges not walls is seemingly a modern cry, but building bridges is one of the oldest creations of civilized man and often, an artistic one as well. Bridges often define a particular place. Who can think of San Francisco, London, Sydney, Florence, Venice, Prague, or Brooklyn without the image of their famous bridge? In this class we will look at the history, art, architecture, and engineering of bridges, as well as explore how bridges unite communities and commerce. We will consider a plethora of famous bridges and their builders —Gustave Eiffel, Thomas Telford, John Roebling, Santiago Calatrava, and perhaps the greatest of them all, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.