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Publisher's Summary

Far from being a time of darkness, the Middle Ages was an essential period in the grand narrative of Western history. But what was it like to actually live in those extraordinary times? Now you can find out.

These 36 lectures provide a different perspective on the society and culture of the Middle Ages - one that entrenches you in the daily human experience of living during this underappreciated era. Drawing on history, literature, the arts, technology, and science, these lectures will deepen the way you understand not only the Middle Ages but everything that came afterward: From the Renaissance, to the Enlightenment, to your own world.

Filled with amazing insights, this series brings you closer than ever before to life as it was lived and felt. You'll meet the likes of William Caxton, England's first printer who not only printed and distributed a variety of works but also often had to translate them himself; learn about Hugh of Payns and the role of his Knights Templar - organized for the protection of pilgrims traveling to Jerusalem - in the creation of the first modern bank; see how communities dealt with marriage in a time when the church had not yet drawn this institution into its orbit; and much more.

Rich with information and period detail (including revealing examples of medieval literature from the English, French, Norse, Icelandic, and Italian worlds), these lectures will dramatically increase your understanding of how lives in the Middle Ages were really lived.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses

Featured Article: Travel to the Middle Ages with These Audiobooks and Podcasts


The Medieval Era, the tumultuous centuries from the fall of the Roman Empire to the advent of the Enlightenment, is one of the most alluring and intriguing periods of human history. Ready to travel back in time? Check out these audiobooks and podcasts, which cover everything from Icelandic sagas and Medieval murder to the queens of Medieval England and the scientific advancements of the Arab World.

What listeners say about The Medieval World

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    3 out of 5 stars

very misleading

i love history . culture is part of history . a big part . However the medieval period is more than culture . it is politics wars etc. she only talks about religion and culture . im not sure she mentioned 1 conflict or 1 political discord between nations outside of the crusades and hastings . i wanted to know who was king what they did who they liked etc . if you like medieval culture and religion by all means . but im looking for a chronological telling of events and figures like frederick barbarossa and his barons . or even 1 succession crisis for any nation . there is a knight with lance on the cover.

40 people found this helpful

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Good Overall

The instructor is clearly an expert on Medieval History but her analysis of both Islamic and Roman History as they relate to the Medieval world is oversimplified and somewhat misleading. Additionally, instead of just presenting history as it happened she takes a clear political stance which judges history by modern standards. I have listenned to about 15 courses from the teaching company and this one was the most biased and least objective. Even though I have some criticisms, I still think it is worth listenning too and it is a good overview of the Medieval world with the exceptions mentioned above.

26 people found this helpful

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Prof. Armstrong is an rockstar. Loved her class.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Medieval World to be better than the print version?

Its a University course, so no print version - and the audio version is awesome.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Medieval World?

Many great moments, especially the various debunkings of myths everybody holds about the middle ages. I loved the chapter on the Plague, and how its consequences are explained both in a socio-cultural way and an economic way.

What about Professor Dorsey Armstrong’s performance did you like?

Clear, compelling, energetic. If I could go back to school, I'd love to learn from her.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Its a bit long for one sitting, but I've listened to it for hours in a row.

Any additional comments?

If you like Prof. Drout's courses from the Modern Scholar, you will love this course.

44 people found this helpful

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A good start

Any additional comments?

While I found this book a bit of a disappointment, that is only because of the amount of study I have given this period over my life time. For someone wishing to begin a study of the Medieval period this lecture series is a good start. Her lectures are well organized, clear and easy to follow. Even better, the information is accurate. Great care is taken to caution the modern listener from trying to apply modern concepts of morality and thought onto the Medieval world.
Most enjoyable for me was to hear early English actually spoken by someone who has taken the time to learn this dead language.
What I missed most in this series was a bibliography of source material and list of suggested reading. If a pdf file with this information was included, I would give this five stars.

67 people found this helpful

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An Entertaining Overview

This is an excellent overview of Medieval life, culture, and history. The speaker debunks some popular misconceptions as she explores various aspects of the time, and does an excellent job of tying together all the various trends and showing how they evolved into the modern. As someone who has read extensively about Medieval times, I didn't learn much, but there were some interesting details I hadn't encountered previously. The presentation is very engaging and it held my attention.

10 people found this helpful

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Interesting mix.

Play this at double speed if you want a normal speech rhythm! Very interesting course, but a lot of the material is a word by word repetition of what Armstrong talks about in her Great Minds of the Medieval World course...

21 people found this helpful

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Well Organized and Entertaining

I listened to this lecture series while teaching Art History I. The first half of the course is roughly chronological, and the second half is more topical. This seemed to be a good way to organize things, and I appreciated getting some cultural history as well as the political history.

The course is very easy to listen to, and I'm pretty sure I'll listen to parts again whenever I need a refresher.

7 people found this helpful

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Very Easy to Listen To

What made the experience of listening to The Medieval World the most enjoyable?

The way the Professor presented each of the lectures make listening to "lectures" very easy and enjoyable.

What does Professor Dorsey Armstrong bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

In my opinion, you can tell she enjoys her subject matter. She paraphrases easily and with enough substance you don't feel like your missing anything. And where she thought you actually would be missing something, she told you so.

Any additional comments?

I thoroughly enjoyed this set of lectures and from that I will order more. Hopefully they are all as well presented as this one.

14 people found this helpful

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Excellent introduction to Medieval History!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This lecture series is an excellent introduction to the nuances of the Medieval World. The series is well detailed and interesting - enticing the listener to continue on to learn more about the progression of the Medieval World.

Which character – as performed by Professor Dorsey Armstrong – was your favorite?

The lecturer was easy to listen to. She made Medieval History, which could have been rather dry, come alive, allowing the listener to actually see, hear, smell, and feel the lives and environments of those living in Medieval times.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I would have loved to have been able to listen to this lecture series in one sitting, but the length prevented this. I certainly would not have wanted the lecture to be shorter, and listening in more than one sitting allowed for better absorption of the material.

Any additional comments?

Professor Armstrong is a lecturer I will be looking for in future lecture series, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her bring the Medieval World come alive.

28 people found this helpful

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Absolutely a must!

As Dorsey Armstrong says, "most people think of the middle ages as a dark period between the Roman Empire and the Renaissance". So did I. But, in this gem of a series, she shows that the Middle Ages is a very interesting and period, full of colorful characters (King Arthur, for example), adventures (the crusades), achievements (the gothic cathedrals) and much, much more.
Prof Armstrong's narration is very appealing. She is articulate, warm, funny at times, and her pronunciation is easy to follow.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Jim
  • 06-08-14

Good after a slow start

This gets off to a slow start if you're at all familiar with medieval history; I nearly gave up on it at the 30 minutes stage because it seemed to be covering really basic stuff. As with all the Great Courses though the lecturer really knows her stuff and the opening section is presumably intended to get all types of reader up to speed before she starts a series of lectures that have a really ambitious scope. For example, I knew about the peasants revolt in England but I didn't know about contemporary revolts in Italy. She's also interesting on the subject of the Arthurian legends, what they can tell us about England in the dark ages, the archeological evidence that aligns with them and the reasons they were re-written afterwards. As an approach this worked well for me because European society and institutions such as the church and various noble houses were strongly interconnected so a history which tries to paint a holistic picture feels like worthwhile if challenging approach to take. She's good on the details of day to day life as well giving us a picture that spans diets to underwear for ordinary folks.

The Medieval World is informed and enjoyable. It goes for big picture and description rather than detail or rigorous analysis but it made for an enteraining listen and provided some new perspectives on a familiar period.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Colin
  • 10-14-16

Utterly Spellbinding...

I'll admit I'd had this title on my Wish List for some time, but somehow I always opted for something else when time came to choose my next listening experience. Listening to these lectures now, I keep thinking to myself, "Why did I wait so long?"

This series of lectures are nothing short of astounding; informative, clear, thorough and all delivered expertly by the highly-engaging Prof Armstrong, who keeps the listener interested and involved at every turn. I've already repeated certain sections as they are so interesting. I'm about 3/4 of the way through as I write this, and already looking forward to my commute home so I can pull on my headphones and re-immerse myself in this fascinating subject.

Forget the image you may have of the medieval world, and discover a different view of an age that has been much-maligned by history books and Hollywood alike.

Very highly recommended

2 people found this helpful

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  • Catlyn
  • 12-22-15

Good overview

Any additional comments?

In general a very good overview of medieval life. Maybe noting that the descriptions were more about Western Europe, quite a few things were different in the East and North.

Overall, still very much recommend it!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Liv
  • 06-17-20

Absolutely Rubbish

Had to stop in the first chapter. Comments on telling her students to refer to the catholic church as simply 'the church' were ludicrous. Absolute crap.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ieva
  • 12-16-14

Good story, but annoying narrotor`s voice

The lecture course presents good overview of the Medieval World. It is well structured, focusing rather on daily life in that period and major events having the influence, rather than just retelling of historic facts.
However, from my personal experience - check if you can cope with the narrator`s voice and way of narrating before buying the book. Sometimes the tone of voice can get very annoying, which almost forced me so stop listening for several times along the story.

3 people found this helpful

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  • A
  • 01-08-22

Superficial and riddled with inaccuracies

This is an extremely superficial course, which pales in comparison to other courses covering this period offered by The Great Courses. Unfortunately, that's the least of its issues. The course is peppered with shoddy language use and factual inaccuracies. For instance, when discussing slavery in Anglo Saxon kingdoms, the listener conflates "servitude" and "slavery" - two very different systems. She states that the "Vikings" were horrified by untrimmed fingernails as demonstrated by the fact that the god Loki "travels around" in a boat made of "untrimmed fingernails". Loki is actually supposed to herald Ragnarok by sailing in Naglfar, a boat constructed with the fingernails and toenails of the dead. Trimming one's nails short was supposed to help by slowing its construction, thereby pushing back the start date of Ragnarok. The description of the 4th Crusade is so lacking in accuracy that no part of it can be redeemed.

These are just to blatant examples and, while they might seem like minor issues, they suggest that the lecturer is not very well informed about the issues she's lecturing on. I also wonder how it came to be that she recorded lectures with such obvious inaccuracies. Don't American students ever correct their teachers? Do her colleagues not correct her when she is wrong, or does she not listen? The latter would explain how an Arthurian scholar is unable to pronounce any of the place names associated with Arthur - seriously, someone ought to direct her to ANY British video about Tintagel.

I personally don't feel that I can learn anything new from a lecturer I can't trust. Every time she presents information new to me (very infrequently, due to the superficiality of the course) I have to wonder whether it's something I have never heard before, or just another inaccuracy. I would strongly advise anyone genuinely interested in learning about this period to avoid her altogether, and look for better teachers.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 08-07-21

Great course

I really enjoyed this course. The metrical was explained well and it was well paced.

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  • Liam
  • 11-06-20

Excellent

i thoroughly enjoyed this enlightening and accessible look at the medieval world. The lecturer is easy to listen to and obviously knows her subject well. There is I think one small error. Toward the end of lecture five it is said the Columbanus established an abbey in Bangor Wales, however any sources I can find mention Bangor Abbey County Down Ireland. I am of course open to correction if someone knows better.

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  • Miss M Mare
  • 11-26-19

Excellent

Covers just about everything, not just the traditional historical dates. Loved it and have listened to it more than once!

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  • Alexander Ronan
  • 10-21-18

Best of the Great Courses

I've purchased about half a dozen of "The Great Courses" series so far, and this has a good lead in quality on the rest. Really beautifully put together.

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  • Naomi
  • 03-23-17

Excellent overview of the middle ages.

Well designed course with a logical progression of topics through the medieval period. Excellent descriptions of the living conditions of all classes, not just the wealthy. The lecturer was engaging and clearly knowledgeable.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Daniel Peile
  • 12-11-16

Interesting but what was in some areas

Enjoyed it overall
But was weak on technology and climate
I feel it was written with too much or alarms on the written record

1 person found this helpful