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The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest

Narrated by: Jennifer Paxton
Length: 19 hrs and 7 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (28 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

These 36 lectures tell the remarkable story of a tumultuous thousand-year period in the history of England. Dominated by war, conquest, and the struggle to balance the stability brought by royal power with the rights of the governed, it was a period that put into place the foundation of much of the world we know today. As you journey through this largely chronological narrative - occasionally interrupted for lecture-long explorations of specific topics - you'll see key themes emerge, including the assimilation of successive waves of invaders, the tense relationship between kings and the nobility, and the constant battles over money and taxation. And because so much of history is driven by specific individuals and not just historical circumstance, each lecture is rich in intimate portraits that reveal those individuals at the key moments of their historical destiny, including Alfred the Great, William the Conqueror, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and John Wycliffe.The result is a lecture series that winds up being not only informative but deeply entertaining, with each lecture drawing you in with its own particular fascinations, including a probing look at the scope of the Black Death, a realistic examination of the legends of both King Arthur and Robin Hood, a riveting description of the Battle of Bosworth Field, and a discussion of the surprisingly nuanced penalties of the early Germanic law codes.

These lectures consistently deliver a fresh level of understanding about medieval England, its rulers and subjects, and their significance for the world we live in today. The chain of theme and event that links our world to theirs will never be clearer, rewarding every moment you spend with this series.

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

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    4 out of 5 stars

Professor has a great speaking voice and style.

Subject well-organized with a clear progression the a name heavy topic. only complaint - could have been w lectures longer to cover some of the important queens.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Prof

I loved this lecture series, it was one of my favourites. The Prof is funny and passionate about her subject. I actually looked for other lectures by her and listened to her Celtic world just to hear her again.

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history told by a storyteller

fantastic. lecturer is engaging, and tells the story of people, making them come alive.

excellent way to get some great historical knowledge.

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Wonderful

Jennifer Paxton does a wonderful job of taking the listener through the complexities of the history of England from the Roman time to the Tudors. It is clear enough for non academics, but Paxton maintains an academic (although accessible) tone. She covers an incredible breath of material in clear narrative fashion. She references her sources and is clearly and authority on her subject. I learned a lot and I enjoyed it a great deal!

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  • Claudia Murray
  • 2014-04-24

I'm sad it's over!

Where does The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I can't answer this question because it's just . . . different. I'm a literary fiction person, and I've tried to get into historical texts before with little success (I know it's sacrilege, but I stopped part way through 1776). I've had some success with biographies.

This was my first attempt at a Great Courses program, and I picked it up because I had just read Pillars of the Earth (and, side note, READ THAT), and I couldn't get enough of Medieval England. The complexities really drew me in. So I somewhat reluctantly downloaded this program and had one of those glorious experiences where I couldn't unplug. I've reorganized my entire home and office to have some excuse to keep listening.

History has always been tough for me because I'm not a great linear thinker, but Paxton really helped with her guideposts at the beginning and end of each lecture, as well as at the beginning and end of the series. I can't say enough good things about this lecture. I keep bringing it up in my real life.

I didn't think I'd have a good experience with lecture series (though lectures have always been my favorite part of school--related to the fascination with audiobooks), but I am so enamored with this one that I'm moving on to the Ancient Egypt lecture. If you're hesitating, don't. Paxton is a great storyteller and keeps you engaged throughout.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I love how much Paxton loved the wife of Bath. She is audibly exited to talk about her, an as an amateur Chaucer scholar (read: I took a course once), I got a kick out of her discussion.

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

Absolutely.

43 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Jake
  • 2013-09-04

I was happily surprised!

Where does The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This lecture series is hard to compare to other audiobooks, but I've greatly enjoyed listening to it. The story is fascinating, and Professor Paxton delivers a very intelligently crafted story that ties in all the major historical events in England. It provides a real sense of depth while still being quickly paced and simply stated.

What did you like best about this story?

I really enjoyed how this story lays out the events and people so it is easy to follow as you move from beginning to end. Sometimes it felt like there was a lot of trivial information, but it usually came back around to play a larger role. Because of how the story was organized it never got boring or too dry.

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

Reading something like this can sometimes seem like something that should be reserved for academics, but having Professor Paxton narrate the story brought energy to an otherwise dry tale. There is very little indication that she's actually reading anything at all, so the overall sense is like you're just being told a story by someone who knows A LOT about this stuff. I would have never been able (or even wanted) to get through all of this information without an energetic voice to guide me through it.

Any additional comments?

I was initially concerned when I downloaded the audiobook that I wouldn't be able to sit and listen to someone drone on and on about ancient history. I didn't want to be buried in all the names of lords and kings and various locations of interest. I was pleasantly surprised that the delivery of the information was so lively compared to what I was expecting.

There are obviously going to be a lot of names and places in a story like this, but they are only mentioned as far as their relevance will allow. Trying to fit the whole history of Medieval England into one volume is a daunting task, and this book does a great job of trimming the fat.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Ark1836
  • 2017-05-18

Outstanding

This is one of the best Great Courses history courses that I have taken so far. The professor is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The difference between a good history professor and a great history professor is the ability to turn the history into a story. This professor is excellent at turning history into a story. I learned a great deal about both the history and politics of the era and feel much more educated about the early history of England.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Corey Gilliland
  • 2013-12-23

Fascinating content, engaging instructor

Fascinating content from an engaging instructor. This course runs like a novel with chapters rather than a series of half hour lectures. Hats off to Jennifer Paxton for organizing and conveying the material in such an entertaining format!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • gerry
  • 2013-11-07

The Real Game of Thrones

I never had an interest in the history of England until, per my headline, I was introduced to Game of Thrones, Pillars of the Earth and other medieval books. The (his)story in itself is fascinating and Dr. Paxton filters a 1000 years of history in a very informative and succinct way. Given that she is delivering a lecture series, I guess this what she is trained to do. Regardless, as a non-fiction work, it is highly entertaining and it moves very well. My only caution is to be ready for endless royal family tree connections that become confusing, but that is the essence of the subject and it is necessary. Also, Dr. Paxton does not make any pretensions about being a great narrator but her enthusiasm for the subject make up for the delivery.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarda
  • 2014-05-20

Excellent book and value for your money

I have read and listened to many books and podcasts on medieval England. This was my area in college and I felt I knew it fairly well. This program gave me more information about the people and the eras, but more than that, it made the people seem more real than most books I have read. The professor made the times, people, and places feel interacted. I understood the relationships between events and people better after listening to this lecture series. I also felt the professor was more than reading notes, she was telling a story, and telling it well. I recommend this program to anyone who wants a stroll down the lanes of the medieval English past. She left much out, there is little detail, but the events are there, the people are there, the motives and opportunities are there, and the listener is transported to the time and place.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Betsy
  • 2014-01-01

Very Enjoyable

A great overview of the periods covered. It is just an overview of a large period of time so a lot is left out. But it doesn't feel that way when you listen. The Professor has a nice conversational style but is clearly very knowledgeable. I appreciate the occasional pauses to discuss culture or living conditions of the country. But the real story is the kings and sometimes their queens. I would say the lectures get stronger about the time of the Norman Conquest (which is pretty early in). More interesting but also the Professor seems on slightly more solid ground.

I really recommend it.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • BVerité
  • 2013-09-20

Absolutely OUTSTANDING!!!

I've purchased several of these Great Courses Lectures. I've been pleased with nearly all of them. However, this is one that goes above and beyond my expectations. I am just thrilled with this particular book/course.

I'm definitely an anglophile. I have read/listened to many, many books of English history. Especially concentrating on medieval English history. I wasn't planning to get this course, as I thought I had exhausted the subject. But I had an extra credit...
What a treat I had coming!!!

This professor presents the material in new ways, adding a depth and breadth of information and analysis that is truly edifying and fascinating! I could not stop listening!! The material is presented in a way fosters a more complete and well-rounded comprehension. It's exceptional.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this to anyone interested in English history. Outstanding Professor!! I'm incredibly pleased with this lecture series!!

20 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Amanda
  • 2017-08-16

Kept my interest and attention

This course was easy to follow. The lecturer came across as well organized and knowledgeable. She not only did a great job explaining the chronological events, but she provided good context for understanding the impact of those events in day to day life and in the world at large.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Arlene Z
  • 2017-03-07

Paxton is a great lecturer!

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

Paxton has a way of drawing in the listener - she had a great way of story telling a really complex history. Many audio books suffer from a 'refined' speaker that can almost lull the listener into relaxation. Conversely, you really feel that Paxton is talking to YOU, teaching you, making these historical figures jump out of ancient records. She makes them accessible, drawing connections to pull out of the most important and relevant events to really give you a sense of what was happening in the world at that time. The subject matter is complex and intricate, yet she leaves you feeling like you understood more than you ever thought possible. She is just simply a joy to listen to - especially if you are a history or England buff.

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

She makes the history come alive, like it happened yesterday or last week.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful