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Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the Manuscripts of Medieval Toledo (Spain)

Universidad Carlos iii de Madrid via edX

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Overview

This course evaluates the medieval history of Toledo from the reign of King Alfonso “The Wise” (1252-1284) until the creation of the blood purity statutes in the 1450s.

This local history will concentrate on the relations of Jews, Old Christians, and converts to Christianity (conversos). We will study King Alfonso X’s efforts to characterize himself as the “king of three religions” via his legal codices, the creation of the Cantigas de Santa María, and his intellectual endeavor known as the Toledo School of Translators.

We evaluate the robust Jewish and converso noble families of the city and appreciate their intellectual, religious, and economic contributions to Castilian life. We will bear witness to the rise of anti-Jewish blood purity statutes, the creation of the Inquisition, and the expulsion of the Jews. We will virtually-tour the Cathedral of Toledo, El Transito Synagogue, Santa Maria la Blanca Synagogue, and several of its neighborhoods.

We also will study and transcribe manuscripts from the municipal, cathedral, and national historic nobility archives to make new scholarly breakthroughs.

No knowledge of Spanish is needed to participate in the course or in our transcription efforts.

Taught by

Roger L. Martínez-Dávila

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Reviews for edX's Deciphering Secrets: Unlocking the Manuscripts of Medieval Toledo (Spain)
4.8 Based on 12 reviews

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Alathea A
4.0 11 months ago
by Alathea completed this course.
This was my fourth MOOC in the Deciphering Secrets series, which is an indication of how addictive I have found these courses. They are based on the premise that MOOCs can be used to teach learners paleography skills which can then be used as part of a crowd-sourcing effort to transcribe manuscripts dealing with inter-religious relations in medieval Spain: so in completing a course you are not just satisfying your own curiosity, but hopefully also adding to the store of shared knowledge about a fascinating period and place in history. Working on a shared project creates a real sense of online …
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Annie B
5.0 10 months ago
by Annie completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.
This was an enjoyable and fascinating course and it gives a fresh perspective on the history of Spain. Students have the opportunity to engage with manuscripts and develop skills in paleography.

Professor Martinez-Davila is a committed educator who is enthusiastic about sharing the joy of researching the past. I especially liked the guest lectures from people who work in archives, museums and academic research. This course allows students to follow their interests and gives much food for thought. I am particularly interested in learning paleography, but greatly appreciated the le…
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The Course is well laid out and has plenty of references. Progress is measured by frequent key issue questions that are core to the subject. There are plenty of links to useful additional information.

I liked the blending of artifacts from the period which had a story to be told. We are encouraged to engage in the times under study with our personal feelings on issues.

I would recommend that this Course becomes a prerequisite for future Transcription projects. Sort of "Transcription 101, The Times of the Manuscripts". I found the overview of the times studied, after doing 3 of the Professor's Transcription projects, has really put in context what I had previously studied.

Importantly I have found the Professor's enthusiastic approach to his subject refreshing. The projects are not dry dusty history. He brings alive the subject matter and leads us to inquire.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
DS Toledo is a next installment in a series of MOOC's on Al-Andalus, the Iberian Peninsula in the period 711-1492. This MOOC, like the others in the series, stands on its own and deals with Toledo. The MOOC offers videos with reading material, as well as extra optional videos from guest speakers and extra reading material. The DS MOOC's always offer something extra that enriches the learning experience. In DS Toledo it is paleography: the study of ancient and historical writing, in this case the writing in authentic manuscripts from the medieval archives of Toledo. The presentation and organization of the material combined with the contagious enthusiasm of the lecturer, Prof Roger L. Martinez-Davila, make DS: Toledo more that just well worth taking!
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Anonymous
4.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Unfortunately I was unable to complete the course due to family commitments but found it so very informative and well laid out. I am pleased to be able to look at the course work I could not do at a later stage and when time permits enrol again. I have studied a Chinese course through you which again was excellent, so have given your details to several friends for distance learning. Thank you.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excellent course, well paced and well balanced between history and paleography. Excellent resources and materials. Quizzes made me reflect in some of the material that I studied. The final project was challenging as well as a lot of fun! I am excited to continue with the next course.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
The course was very interesting and the resources were fascinating. It was also amazing that the events of that period give food for thought about today's society and its problems. The paleography skills I gained can be very useful for further researches on original materials. I hope there wil be more courses of this kind!
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Jim B
5.0 10 months ago
by Jim completed this course, spending 4 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be hard.
Fascinating and rewarding. The history of the period leading upto the paleography exercises laid the groundwork. I had struggled, in DS Burgos, but appreciated in DS Toledo, that the paleography exercises were broken into three sections: beginners, intermediate and advanced. Keep up the great, totalling absorbing work Roger. Looking forward to the next episode.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Excelente curso sobre una cultura,la mía,de la que se habla poco,una apuesta arriesgada de una historia que al menos en mi país parece olvidada.Ya he hecho los MOOS,de Burgos y Toledo,animo al profesor que el siguiente sea de Barcelona,ciudad donde también vivieron las tres culturas.Saludos,Bea.
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Anonymous
4.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This course is engagingly presented. Its real highlight is the way it helps learners gain confidence in deciphering medieval Spanish documents, and in so doing to contribute to further research on convivencia in Spain.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
This particular iteration of Prof. Martinez-Davila's Spanish history and paleography courses is a fantastic addition. This is a challenging course truly at the college level. It provides an excellent and thorough introduction to Spanish history, as well as the particulars of the period that is the focus of Prof. Davila's research. His enthusiasm softens any difficulty with the material, and he's one of the most natural presenters I've seen in a MOOC. He engages learners at every level, and emotional responses are encouraged, allowing a holistic learning style. While there are many citizen science transcription projects out there, none give such in-depth instruction in paleographic methods before having learners dive into the work, and I think it's a major asset to improving the quality of the results. It very much feels like the privilege it is to be working with exclusive documents, even virtually from thousands of miles away.
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Anonymous
5.0 11 months ago
Anonymous completed this course.
Este fue mi segundo curso y superó al primero!. He disfrutado enormemente el profesionalismo con el que ha sido realizado y el entusiasmo y dedicación del profesor Martinez. Como historiadora, la idea de hacer participar al público de una investigación académica en base a fuentes primarias me parece fascinante. La información histórica de calidad y el metodo novedoso para facilitar las trascripciones paleográficas, me parecen los más grandes aportes del curso. !Buen trabajo todos y vamos a por mas!
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