The Western Tradition by Eugen Weber: 52 Video Lectures

The Western Tradition is a free series of videos that traces the arc of western civilization. Starting in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, the survey proceeds to cover the Byzantine Empire and Medieval Europe, then the Renaissance, Enlightenment, and Industrial Revolution, and finally ends up in 20th century Europe and America. Presented by UCLA professor Eugen Weber, an impressive European historian, the video series includes over 2,700 images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art that illustrate some of the West’s great cultural achievements. Each of the 52 videos runs about 30 minutes. So you’re getting an amazing 26 hours of content for free.

You can stream all of the videos from this page.

You can find The Western Tradition listed in our collection, 1,700 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Comments (30)
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  • Stephen says:

    I would love it if there was an audio version, or if it was OK to download these videos!

    But great find, anyway!

  • mememe says:

    $450 isn’t exactly ‘free’.bittorrent/piratebay is how to download it

  • MARC K ROSS says:

    I would like to make some downloads.

  • Learning must be free! says:

    Here it’s also for free (although you need to download it from rapidshare);

  • Kaye says:

    imagine my delight when I found I could watch this wonderful series on my computer. Imagine my disappointment when I found I was watching on a viewer that measured 2″ X 2″. There is no way to enlarge the viewer, or watch in full screen mode. My search continues. :-(

  • Meatwad says:

    Kaye, once you do watch the small sized version of the show, you have a local copy that can be saved (if you know where to get it from the temporary folder), then possibly resize it in a better viewing local program?? Most of them can be saved as a FileName.flv file, if your temporary copy has no distinct video file type(extension).

    I have been watching this off and on for years and I never get bored of it. I just wish I could keep the schedule they have for it. I have only seen it on ITV (USA Cable version) along with a few other great instructional programs. I was killing time waiting for a relative in a Salvation Army store one day, browsing the cheap used books and what do I see!?! “The Western Tradition” for a buck. I like my books in hard back, but I made an exception here.

    • Patricia Lynne Strong says:

      I will search 4 a copy. Glad to see others watch this repeatedly – it is what I have been doing for years now.

  • Patricia Lynne Paul Strong, MSW says:

    It is a pleasure to have this course available! Weber was such a remarkable professor. I do not think I had this particular course from him at UCLA. Instead I took upper level classes.
    Another professor emeritus once commented that a sign that the UCLA Dept. of History was mature, was that Weber was selected as Chairman of the Dept. of History because he lacked a doctorate.

  • Robadude32 says:

    I have had the pleasure of watching the Western Tradation a few times and I believe Mr. Weber presented histiory as if I was actually there. This was a great history program and it is sad to hear that he is gone now.

  • Adam O'Shaughnessy says:

    It suddenly came to mind the wonderful lectures of Dr. Eugene Weber. I would often watch this series of lectures on PBS in the 80s/90s transfixed by his command of the English language. His elocution was mesmerizing. I thought him English (as am I) so perfect was his use of the language. I have just discovered that he passed away in 2007, and I find myself saddened to know that he is gone. I could have met him as he lived for many years in LA. I know I would have liked him very much. I am so very glad that his incomparable lectures are available on this site. I will enjoy watching them. Thank you for that.

  • dimitris petropoulos. says:

    i WANT to HAVE this lecture in my computer for free!! i got no money to by IT.

  • bill says:

    if you can find this, get it. in my opinion it is the greatest thing ever put on tv. thank you, pbs(wliw tv, long island) for keeping this series on tv for so long.

  • ace says:

    For the people saying the video is too small, all you have to do is click on the icon on the bottom right of the video (the four arrows pointing outward) to expand it to fullscreen.

  • John says:

    ace – Your comment about expanding the video is very recent. I have MOST of these episodes, on VHS, as transcribed from educational courses that originated-from the KET (KY Educ. Television network). I’d like to fill-in the GAPS, so would you recommend an RSS feed? I have two, decent (but, old) PCs, a decent SONY VAIO, but also a newly-bought Apple. I’m wondering WHICH computer would be the best, to obtain the feeds. Thanks!

  • Richard Biagioli says:

    Do you know who wrote the theme song? Is it a classical piece?

  • M Nelson says:

    I saw Eugen Weber for the first time this morning at 4 am on PBS. It was fascinating. When the program ended I saw his name in the credits and did a google search. That is how I found this site. PBS announced they are showing The Dark Ages tomorrow which is definitely a reason to rise at 4 am.

  • H Gregor says:

    I found the entire series at the Annenberg Learner site. You can watch them in full screen mode.

  • H. Beaven says:

    Can anyone tell me whether Weber’s assertion that Christ’s “sermon on the mount” was written in 109 b.c. has any validity? I can find nothing.

  • Millicent Roberts says:

    Is the western tradition program still available for purchase on DVD? If so what is the cost?

  • TomAss says:

    Annenberg Learner used to sell the DVDs, for far too high a price, but their website now says are now out of stock. EarthStation1 advertises that they have the DVDs for sale for about $69, which is about the right price. But beware of EarthStation1, because of their bad reputation. Very high risk that they cannot be trusted to fill your order, yet they will take your money.

  • Jimmie Kennard says:

    Well The Western Tradition was a Old school correspondence Course
    given by the Interdisciplinary Studies for perspective Teachers. Professor Weber was still living of course. He invites discussion however you must think about his processes, of synthetizing the facts. The course was self paced it was the great paper chase. He was a high maintenance Pro😎

  • Chuck says:

    I’ve done some research and I’ve found out the rights our now back with WGBH Boston who produced the series in 1989 (a live a few miles away!). As far as I can tell they don’t have any plans to do anything with it. The WGBH Media Library is in charge of it. Perhaps people can call the WGBH media library which would demonstrate that the series has a following. Just call the main number and ask for the media library. If they hear from enough people, it could prompt them to stream it or offer it as DVD. WGBH has produced many series over the years and is really a great PBS station.

  • Watch Maga says:

    Ought to be subtitled, “A Eulogy.”

  • Magister Artium says:

    I have been watching this since it debuted in 1988, the year I graduated in philosophy. Throughout that time I kept reading history and philosophy, inspired in no small part by Eugen Weber’s lectures, which I could watch online once the internet got up and running smoothly. They kept me sane during difficult times. For years I put off buying the DVD set from Annenberg website, due to the genteel poverty associated with being a high school teacher. Just as I was finishing an M.A. in history, I had enough spare change to order the whole package (DVDs, books, course materials, etc.). But when I went to the Annenberg site, The Western Tradition was no longer available. I agree with you, Chuck, we should bombard WGBH Boston with requests to re-release it. I would help lead the charge in that campaign.

  • jimmie moglia says:

    Is it possible to have access to the medieval miniature files used in these lectures on the Dark Ages, Middle Ages, and Age of Charlemagne?
    Thank you

  • Gerald Montagna says:

    I can’t recommend this highly enough! So many brilliant insights, expressed clearly and to the point. To this day I quote some of these insights whenever they’re relevant.

  • Dave Miley says:

    I’m happy to say that all 51 episodes are available for free on YouTube under The Western Tradition. I used to watch these shows at 3 in the morning on PBS 12 in Philly. Thank you Professor Weber.

  • Jay says:

    Dave, I discovered this series on WHYY 12 as well in the late ’90s. It was a treasure to find.

  • Lewis Brackett says:

    A serious error in Dr Eugen Webber’s “The western Tradition” series program #2 …
    dr Webber likely never did read Pliny the Elder or Tacitus about the climate and lush regions in ancient times.
    dr Webber said repeatedly that North Africa, Palestine, Syria and Iraq and Egypt were as barren in ancient times as they are today. This is false!!!
    All throughout ancient times up to the Middle Ages North Africa was lush green fertile. This was where all the grain eaten in Roman cities was grown, shipped North from Cyrene, Carthage and Alexandria… Palestine and the Sinai, Lebanon was heavily forested as was Egypt! The Fertile Crescent from Lebanon to Iraq was a well watered lush grassland for growing crops!
    All this is what the ancient eyewitnesses like Pliny said!!!
    All this region started to become barren in the 13th century…
    Perhaps you should update the series or at least do disclaimers!
    thanks, Lewis Brackett in San Diego… 619-423-3371

  • Naya Perket says:

    Thank you for demanding a correction to the errors of Prof Weber concerning the rich and high fertility of that region in the world which is the reason for naming it the “Fertile Crescent”. I want to add that The entire Arabian Peninsula was very fertile till centuries later with sub-climate changes that desertification occurred leaving Southern regions of the peninsula including Yemen and parts of Oman still fertile up to this date.

    Thank you

    Nadwa Perket. San Diego. CA

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