The 12th Century Renaissance

20 Oct, 2016 900 History

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the changes in the intellectual world of Western Europe in the 12th Century, and their origins. This was a time of Crusades, the formation of states, the start of Gothic architecture, a reconnection with Roman and Greek learning and their Arabic development and the start of the European universities, and has become known as The 12th Century Renaissance.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Laura Ashe 11 episodes
    Associate Professor of English at Worcester College, University of Oxford
  • Elisabeth van Houts 2 episodes
    Honorary Professor of European Medieval History at the University of Cambridge
  • Giles Gasper No other episodes
    Reader in Medieval History at Durham University

Reading list

  • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise
    Peter Abelard (trans. Betty Radice) (Penguin Classics, 2003) Google Books →
  • Conquest and Transformation: The Oxford English Literary History vol. 1: 1000-1350
    Laura Ashe (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2017) Google Books →
  • Renaissance and Renewal in the Twelfth Century
    Robert L. Benson and Giles Constable (eds.) (Clarendon Press, 1982) Google Books →
  • Europe in the High Middle Ages
    William Chester Jordan (Penguin Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Women of the Twelfth Century
    Georges Duby (Polity Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages: Their Religious, Institutional and Intellectual Contexts
    Edward Grant (Cambridge University Press, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Garden of Delights: Reform and Renaissance for Women in the Twelfth Century
    Fiona Griffiths (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007) Google Books →
  • God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science
    James Hannam (Icon Books Ltd, 2010) Google Books →
  • The Envy of Angels: Cathedral Schools and Social Ideals in Medieval Europe 950-1200
    C. Stephen Jaeger (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • The Discovery of the Individual, 1050-1200
    Colin Morris (University of Toronto Press, 1987) Google Books →
  • European Transformations: The Long Twelfth Century
    Thomas F. X. Noble and John van Engen (eds.) (University of Notre Dame Press, 2013) Google Books →
  • The Twelfth-Century Renaissance
    Robert Swanson (Manchester University Press, 1999) Google Books →

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Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, the 12th century renaissance was a term developed by scholars in the 20th century to describe a period of intense and prolonged intellectual, social, creative and technological growth in Western Europe.