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Publisher's Summary

Was King Arthur a real person? What about Robin Hood? Is the Holy Grail a cup, or something else, altogether? Did Europeans really burn millions of people at the stake for witchcraft, in the past? These are just a few of the questions you will explore with the help of medieval scholar Dorsey Armstrong as she reveals the truth about the stories we continue to tell about the medieval period. Some contain nuggets of truth, others are wholly fabricated, but all of them can tell us something about the past.

From films like Braveheart and Excalibur to literature such as Ivanhoe and Morte d’Arthur, the years between 500 and 1500 have generated amazing stories of knights and damsels, superstitions and magic; some of these stories even made it into our grade school history curriculum. But what were those years really like? Known, somewhat inaccurately, as the “Middle Ages,” this period was not merely a transition from Roman antiquity to the Renaissance, but a vibrant time full of people just as curious, innovative, malicious, joyful, confused, ambitious, complex - in other words, just as human - as in any other period of history.

The 10 enlightening (and often humorous) lectures of Medieval Myths and Mysteries will show you how far from the “dark” times of legend these centuries were. Uncover the facts about the Knights Templar. Reveal the truth behind the tales of legendary creatures like the Questing Beast and the unicorn. Trace the events of the Black Death and the ways it altered the world in its wake, and much more. 

With Professor Armstrong, you will dig deep into the ways that later generations reshaped the narrative of the medieval years and perpetuated the myths of a simpler and less civilized age, which was, in fact, much richer and more complex than many of us have been led to believe.

©2019 Audible Originals, LLC (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

What listeners say about Medieval Myths & Mysteries

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  • Jen
  • 2021-08-02

Amazing

Great lecture series that covers multiple topics like King Arthur, Dragons, Black Death, etc. I love all of Dorsey Armstrong work and highly recommend them.

4 people found this helpful

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History is not boring!

Really enjoyed this, learned several things I didn't know. I will look for other lecture series by the same, thank you.

3 people found this helpful

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started out great

I enjoyed the beginning. got me excited to learn more but ended up with games of thrones talk. I've never seen it and her references just didn't make sense. if you've seen the show the last hour might be more enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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Fantastic lectures

Amazing flow and easy to listen to… I had Re- listened to all of them. Bravo!

1 person found this helpful

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Left me wanting more

It left me wanting more and given the purpose was introduction that is exactly what it was meant to do. Some and only some that I noticed, known theories were presented without the issues other have with them but this may have been do to time constraints a lot of ground is covered here and that leads back to my initial assessment.

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a truly enjoyable experience

Besides a being well written, presented, and engaging from start to finish, the narration is perfect and really enjoyable. I loved ever moment of this title.

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  • A
  • 2021-10-24

nice little course

as can be expected from Armstrong, the course is informative and never boring! last lecture even brings in games of thrones storyline and ideas

1 person found this helpful

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interesting listen

interesting listen with a good mix of fact and storytelling delivered in a passionate manner

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  • TS
  • 2021-09-18

Great listening during a long vacation drive.

Listened to this ehile driving home from a vacation.

My husband enjoyed it too. one of his 1st experience listening to Audible.

1 person found this helpful

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To the Victor go the spoils, they say...

and the victorious write the history. I find it interesting how people, places and actions can be added or taken away to or from an historical incident and still, we, who weren't there take it as fact. When we view the incident hundreds of years later, whose word do we take as absolute? Or is it a matter of perspective?

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ximena
  • 2020-04-10

Interesting, but centered on Britain

However interesting, it is mainly centered in Britain myths and legends. I missed more information on other events happening in other regions. The main themes are king Arthur, Robin Hood, the black plague, beasts & comparison between medieval Britain and Game of Thrones. I know is a long period where many things happened and found it really interesting, however for the sake of consistency it should be called "Myths and Legends of Medieval Britain".

33 people found this helpful

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  • Shawna Mahan
  • 2020-01-21

Unprofessional audiobook format

I couldn't forward, there weren't chapters. Once the book stopped playing due to sleep timer, it reverted to lecture one which I would have to listen to to get to next lecture. I don't have any interest in the knights templar.

25 people found this helpful

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  • B. Coleman
  • 2020-01-19

Perfectly acceptable.

Armstrong seems quite pleased with herself - more power to her - but her energy isn’t as infectious as she assumes, and she spends a good amount of time correcting errors I’ve yet to hear even a single person make. Still, I’d listen to other courses from her; this one felt a bit rushed and little shallow, but held promise enough to pique my interest. Here’s hoping the next feels more substantial.

21 people found this helpful

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  • rs
  • 2020-05-13

written with a tone of arrogance

seemed like my kind of book but I lost it when she talked about nutty conspiracy theorists but believes that Jesus was a real person and not a copy story of Egypt's horus god.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Emily
  • 2020-05-17

juvenile narration

When the author uses "totally" - replete with valley girl accent - she loses credibility. The legends are boring and have been debunked many times already. Did not learn anything new and the juvenile style of narration drove me crazy. Struggled to make it to half way mark. Waste of time.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Joanne
  • 2019-10-18

Love her lectures

I've listened to Professor Armstrong's lectures before and have always thoroughly enjoyed them. I've actually listened multiple times to her King Arthur and Black plague ones. This was a lot of fun, great researched material, & I adore the presenter.

20 people found this helpful

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  • susan miller
  • 2019-11-10

Can't get enough of this!

My library has MANY books about Medieval times. This is by far the best . Dorsey Armstrong has hit this one out of the park. I felt totally immersed in the Dark Ages while listening . Her presentation and content was alive and refreshingly entertaining, yet educational and thought provoking. I'm looking forward to listening to this many times over.

13 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 2021-03-21

Their Mysteries, Our Myths

One Christmas I bought our son a toy knight. When I placed him on the counter (the knight, not our son), the cashier screwed up her face and said, “The Middle Ages. What an awful time!” Professor Armstrong’s first lecture is a scholarly, 26-minute exposition of my one-sentence response: “How do you think we got the Renaissance?”

Older now, and no longer a fan of defending any historical period merely on the grounds that “it helped us get where we are now”, I nevertheless enjoyed these talks immensely. Probably because most of the myths being debunked are not the wrong-headed notions Medieval people supposedly labored under, but the myths we have created about them (thank you, Dan Brown).

The mysteries, however—from Arthur to the Grail to Prester John to the Questing Beast—are all delightful, intriguing Medieval creations. Armstrong traces where they originated, how they spread and in what ways they still inhabit our collective imagination. All fascinating stuff. Finally, there is Professor Armstrong herself. She loves her subject, she can be genuinely funny, and her enthusiasm is infectious.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Tad Davis
  • 2020-11-06

Greatest hits told with enthusiasm

This is kind of Dorsey Armstrong’s Greatest Hits, which is fine by me. I’ve loved her work ever since I stumbled across her translation of Le Morte D’Arthur in a bookshop many years ago. What some people have written off as condescension in reviews here comes across to me as infectious enthusiasm. Here she gives a birds eye view of Arthur, Robin Hood, the Black Death, and other medieval topics. She never fails to enlighten, although I have to admit that her conclusion that Robin Hood was not a real person broke my heart. (Richard Greene! alas! my childhood hero!) A wonderful break for me from a fraught politics-and-pandemic autumn.

Some of the reviews of the course have mentioned a disdainful attitude toward Christianity. I can see where this is coming from, but I think it’s a misunderstanding. In one of the lessons, Armstrong discusses many of the different forms that Christianity took in the early days, forms like Nestorianism. Most of these “alternative” forms of Christianity were ruled to be heretical as the religion evolved toward a consensus. Armstrong rattles off many of these alternatives in a jocular tone, which may have created the impression that she was mocking the religion itself. I may be wrong, but I don’t think she was. It’s just a way she has of speaking sometimes when going through a long list.

The course ends with an insightful look at Game of Thrones and how books and TV series have made use of medieval myths and history. I recommend Armstrong’s other Great Courses entries on the Middle Ages, where she goes into great detail on a lot of these topics. This one is a good place to start.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dan
  • 2019-09-19

Well read and researched

The author did a good job with reseaching and reading her work. Well done on this book.

14 people found this helpful