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The Medieval World

Narrated by: Dorsey Armstrong
Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Excellent!

Vivid, impassioned, erudite, knowledgeable, and entertaining. Excellent content and presentation. I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great audiobook

Excellent audiobook, I will definitely recommend it , so much information, thank you very much for the great audiobook

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Good performance. Much detail

A good performance from the narrator.A little harder to follow then my last listen, which was the ancient Egypt. Which is understandable since there is much more knowledge of this period. A good look into what life was like. The discussion of war is present but if that’s your main interest there isn’t a lot .

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Very listenable and worthwhile

I loved this lecture series and will probably listen to it again. Dr Armstrong does a great job of framing her descriptions and explanations so you don't have to remember every detail as you go. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the medieval period and the lead into the early modern period.

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  • Occasional Barista
  • 2015-05-26

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.

25 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Rocco
  • 2013-10-04

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.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • deAnna Cosens-Hellstrom
  • 2013-12-10

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.

21 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • Tracey
  • 2013-09-24

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecka
  • 2015-02-03

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...

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • NoDumbName
  • 2014-08-19

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • K.D. Keenan
  • 2016-10-12

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam
  • 2015-06-18

Excellent

This is an excellent series. For those with a casual to moderate level of interest in the topic it is a perfect balance of detail and high-level overviews. I never found the material to be tedious or boring. Prof. Armstrong is a great lecturer with good pace and tone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Marna L. Biederman
  • 2015-03-30

Solid survey of medieval history

A well written and well delivered series of lectures. By necessity, these do not go into great depth, but a great intro to the topic.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Marc
  • 2015-06-18

Light-hearted flight over the "not so dark ages"

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

If you haven't got a clue about what is often referred to as the "dark ages" or "medieval world", this is a nice, well-balanced ride through 1000 years of (for the most part of it) unknown history. Unknown, because we lack proof for most of what Mrs. Armstrong tells us about, but have grown to a "firm believe in what it must have been like".
Nitpicking aside: I really liked that Mrs. Armstrong both gave sources for her theories (she consistently refers to books, of which she even tells names and authors) and tried to "spicen up" what so often is a pure listing of names, places and numbers with anecdotes and personal points of view. The later never came across as "narrow minded" or "biased", but as a "modern perspective" (quite different to e.g. Mr. Robinson in his mind-blowing back-faced "History of Philosophy").

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

Let me quote this question, as this really makes me laugh out loud:

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

Whoever programmed this review-system must have thought of such a situation and probably is now sitting somewhere, waiting for someone to answer this one honestly.
Well, OK, so let me try:
For me, the most memorable moment of The Medieval World was that dog that chased the birds from the field. I just loved that one.

Don't know what I'm talking 'bout? Listen to the course, then.

What aspect of Professor Dorsey Armstrong’s performance would you have changed?

The only "downside", and that is an exaggeration, is that Mrs. Armstrong's performance sounds as if she is reading from a script. There does not seem to be much of "free speech", which (in my experience) makes a lecture more "alive", more "personal".
Still, even for "simply reading from a script" there is enough energy, empathy and enthusiasm for topic, time and teaching in her performance that she could sell slices of that on Audible.

Wait. She already does ...

Any additional comments?

It may be a stupid hobby of mine, but this course, again, is a very "American" one. I like American. But, please, when talking about historic events, when talking about "foreign places" or people, at least TRY to use a proper pronunciation.
A funny example: When Mrs. Armstrong placed "Karl the Great" in "ACHIM" I was shocked, since Achim is a somewhat small town in Northern Germany. What she meant was, of course, "Aachen" (pronounced with a long "a" and a defined "n" in the end), which is "THE CITY of Karl".
On the other hand, it was great to hear Mrs. Armstrong speak Old English or a more or less Saxon-based tongue, I could make out some of the words' meanings with the help of understanding Low German.
Yes. Must be a stupid hobby of mine. Forgive me :)

26 of 37 people found this review helpful