Rated 5 out of 5 by Bonita7 Yes, a Turning Point
Shortly into the first lecture, Professor Paxton mentioned a parody written in 1930 about English history and how one of the supposedly turning points of England was 1066. In turn, she asks several questions: why was it considered important? Was William's strategy brilliant or was he simply lucky? Should we care about it today?
From that start, she introduces a host of characters ranging back 200 years BEFORE the Conquest showing how various events led to William and the other claimants to the throne, the invasion, its difficulties as well as several attempted coups until the last was finally suppressed in 1072.
The last lecture went over how the Norman Conquest impacted the people of England. There is a report of a trial in 1072, examples of how fashion changed, how clerical historians reported various observations to give an impression of how the people of England thought of their new rulers - which seemed overall positive.
By the end of the course, the questions are answered - in my opinion. As much as they may have wanted isolation, it took until the 1500's before England lost it's last foothold in French territory. But they were a integral part of Europe and European history and even went on to creating a worldwide empire.
As for Professor Paxton herself, her lecture style is clear and crisp as well as light. There is a line of humor in some of her comments that seem to make it nearly entertaining and not dry facts being related. I listened to this course in two gulps while driving and I was for the most part, able to keep the cast clear - especially as she does 'remind' her audience who this person was and the last time he - or she - may have appeared in the course.
Definitely an enjoyable lecturer and I will investigate her other course.
November 3, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by NYNM Paxton is terrific, again
This short course, following her previous course on medieval England, continues to support Jennifer Paxton as one of my favorite lecturers.
Paxton has a particular way of lecturing that I admire. She is on the younger side, and her somewhat youthful enthusiasm comes through easily. She is an interesting combination of informal and formal. What I mean is that Paxton enjoys telling a story and keeps us engaged by being a raconteur, yet her lectures are tightly structured with a high degree of expertise.
As has been mentioned, the topic, the Battle of Hastings (and it 's meaning in the development of Britain) it limited, but it is a vehicle for her to dislay her considerable history teaching talents. Paxton manages to integrate her material and convey it in a coherent manner that surpasses many other courses I have heard.
Interestingly, I learned that Dr. Paxton is the daughter of the 60's folk singer, Tom Paxton. Many years ago he recorded a song called "Jennifer's Rabbit" which he wrote for her when she was a toddler. Her courses in a way, hints at the "entertainer" in her while retaining a base of serious scholarship.
I hope for more courses from her.
February 1, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 by ekosan 1066
We listened to this while traveling. We went through it pretty fast, which means that we were enjoying both
the presentation and the information. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in history.
January 22, 2015
Rated 5 out of 5 by Archaeophile Concise, Lucid and Illuminating
This short, sharply-focused six-lecture course is a spin-off of Professor Paxton’s excellent 36-lecture Great Course on “Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest”. It expands on a critical turning point in English history, the Normal conquest of 1066, generally regarded as the most eventful and certainly the best known single date in English history and, aside from minor Viking incursions, the last successful invasion of England. Although the course is offered only in audio format, this imposes no limitation, as her narrative is richly descriptive and her account of the famous Battle of Hastings in Lecture 4 is vivid enough to rival the battle reenactments of TV’s History Channel.
Much more than just that critical battle, this course traces the events leading up to the Normal conquest, discussing in depth the leading characters, including the heirless King Edward the Confessor, the ambitious and calculating Queen Emma, and the several competing contenders to the English throne, principally William, Duke of Normandy, Harold Hardrada, King of Norway and Harold Godwineson of the powerful English Godwine family, who initially and briefly succeeded Edward as King in early 1066.
Dr. Paxton’s admiration of William comes through clearly in her description of his skill as a military commander in several conflicts in Normandy as a very young man, as well as later in England. Even more important to his success was his strong personality and political-diplomatic skills in persuading fellow Normans to embark on the hazardous invasion of England to face the larger and stronger English army. A combination of judicious timing of the invasion and plain good luck enabled William to defeat the superior English army of King Harold who, exhausted after defeating the almost simultaneous Viking force of King Harold Hardrada in the north, undertook a frantic march south, fatefully to meet William at Hastings. I recall learning in elementary school many decades ago that Harold was killed by a chance Norman arrow in the eye (a still prevailing view), but Dr. Paxton suggests that this explanation of his death, based on the famous Bayeux Tapestry may have misidentified a soldier for Harold and misinterpreted a broken spear shaft for an arrow. It is not clear at what stage of the battle Harold met his end, but it is evident that William out-generaled him, despite Harold’s larger force and high-ground position.
William was crowned King of England at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066. In the final two lectures, Dr. Paxton describes how William was able to consolidate his control over the next two years and skillfully converted to his side several former enemies and lesser contenders to the throne. Norman rule was gradually accepted by the Anglo-Saxon population in a symbiotic blending of the two cultures and languages, a tribute at least in part to William’s considerable political skills. Most importantly, it permanently affiliated England with mainland Europe rather than with Viking Scandinavia.
This short course is both informative and entertaining. Dr. Paxton’s pleasing voice and informal yet substantive speaking style make to listening to these lectures a real pleasure.
December 26, 2014