Let’s Get High! The 13th Century “High Middle Ages”  


3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

9/21, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2


Have you wondered about the Middle Ages? Some scholars call the 13th century “the greatest of centuries,” while others point to dark times. Who were the people who stand out during this century? How did they conquer, divide and reassign territories? What ideas did they formulate, develop and pass on to the future? How did these leaders open the gates to the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Age of Reason and on to today?


Week 1: Through the Eyes of Manco Capac.  We explore the Inca’s sophisticated civilization:   successful agricultural practices, an impressive army and complex religious and social structures. We discover the legend and the history of the founder and first emperor of the Incas.


Week 2: Through the Eyes of Eleanor of Aquitaine.  We learn about one of the most powerful and influential figures of the Middle Ages. We see how one woman could be 

Queen of France, be Queen of England, lead a crusade to the Holy Land, establish courtly rituals of chivalry, and invent indoor fireplaces.


Week 3: Through the Eyes of Moses ben Maimon. We explore the life and ideas of this philosopher, legal codifier, physician, political adviser and local legal authority.  We look into how his life and works caused controversy and influenced Thomas Aquinas and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.


Week 4: Through the Eyes of Kublai Khan.  We explore what made this Mongolian general and statesman tick.  We get to know how his “dual principle” theory—parity of power and dignity of religion and state in political affairs — worked and why it is his legacy.


Week 5 – Through the Eyes of Alexander Nevsky. We find out how this prince made it not quiet on the Western Front by defeating the Swedes while fighting against and negotiating with the Mongols on the Eastern Front and defending the Russian Orthodox Church. We learn how he finally won over the Russian people and became one of most popular rulers in Russian history. 


Week 6 – Through the Eyes of Osman I. We discover how this man navigated between the Byzantine Empire and the Turks, managing to establish the Ottoman Empire.  We come to understand how a dream became an important foundational myth for the empire, imbuing the House of Osman with God-given authority over the earth.



Facilitator: Elissa Kaplan

Elissa Kaplan Dr. Elissa Kaplan is a founder and director of Growing Projects, an educational consulting company. She earned a BA in German Language and Literature, an MA in Comparative Literature and M. ED, as well as a doctorate in Educational Leadership from The George Washington University (District of Columbia).  She has served as Director of Education at four synagogues in Maryland and Connecticut.  Currently, she is the President of the Jewish Historical Society of Fairfield County.