Medieval World

Course No. 8280
Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
Purdue University
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Course No. 8280
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Course Overview

Most of us know that, far from being a time of darkness, the Middle Ages was an essential period in the grand narrative of Western history—one whose political, cultural, economic, scientific, and spiritual developments are an invaluable part of our own modern era. But what was it like to actually live in those extraordinary times?

  • To be a pilgrim embarking with others on a fulfilling spiritual pilgrimage to a saint's holy shrine?
  • To be a serf laboring on a farm—both for your family and the lord to whom you were bound?
  • To be a knight entertaining crowds in a wildly popular jousting tournament or fighting in the heat of battle?

How did these and other average men and women from medieval Europe eat, work, love, rule, laugh, pray, and mourn? Above all, how different—or how similar—were their lives from the way you live today?

Now you can find out.

The Medieval World offers you a different perspective on the society and culture of the Middle Ages: one that goes beyond a simple historical survey and entrenches you in the daily human experience of living during this underappreciated era. Your guide on this extraordinary historical journey is medievalist and Professor Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University. Drawing on history, literature, the arts, technology, and science, her 36 lectures are a highly nuanced tour that 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.

A Unique Understanding on How We Live Now

It is only by studying the lives of everyday men and women in medieval Europe that you can grasp the beginnings of—and connections to—our own 21st-century Western lives. Just like you, these men and women plied their respective trades, raised families, entertained themselves in their spare time, and followed the laws of their society. And their world was one that played an important role in shaping our own modern world.

"For all the differences of the world in which they lived," notes Professor Armstrong, "medieval people were more like us than they were different. It is their world that gave rise to ours, and in our most sacred institutions of government, houses of worship, and social ideals, the shadow of the medieval looms large."

Illuminating the details within these shadows, The Medieval World is a course that is ultimately about people (whether remembered by history or not), the world around them, and how they made their way through their extraordinary surroundings. It's also about the ways in which understanding the medieval experience can shed new light on our own contemporary experience.

Correcting the common modern portrayal of medieval life in profoundly negative terms, Professor Armstrong opens a window onto a world where people didn't just suffer through plague, indentured servitude, and illiteracy. Instead, she reveals a world where people were kind and generous, willing to stand up for what they believed in, intelligent and cunning, ambitious and perseverant.

See the Middle Ages through the Eyes of Its People

Filled with amazing insights, The Medieval World brings you closer than ever before to life as it was lived and felt. In these fascinating lectures, 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;
  • encounter, in an extraordinary lecture about the intricacies of medieval manuscripts and the monks who labored over them, the legendary demon Titivillus, whose sole purpose was to track monks' errors and thus their worthiness for entry into heaven;
  • 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 and its challenges in a time when the church had not yet drawn this institution into its own orbit;
  • and much more.

Whether dealing with the lives of those building a great cathedral, the advances in naval engineering that would make a future "age of exploration" possible, the fears of a village facing the arrival of a longship filled with Viking invaders, or the terrible reality of the Black Death, Professor Armstrong's lectures will bring the Middle Ages to life like no course you've ever taken.

An Expert Medievalist, A Wide Range of Resources

The Medieval World's perspective on the Middle Ages is a unique one. As a medievalist who approaches the era in large part through its written works, Professor Armstrong frequently uses revealing examples of medieval literature from the English, French, Norse, Icelandic, and Italian worlds. An added bonus is her considerable fluency in those no-longer-spoken versions of our own language—such as the Middle English used by Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales.

Professor Armstrong also draws on a wide range of resources to bring this period back to life, including

  • detailed maps,
  • floor plans of buildings,
  • models of a medieval manor,
  • full-color renderings of clothing worn by the (surprisingly fashion-conscious) populace,
  • period correspondence, and
  • musical re-creations recorded on period instruments.

Most of the eye-catching visuals featured in these lectures were commissioned exclusively for this course and can't be found anywhere else.

Presenting her subject in a clear, engaging, and frequently witty style, Professor Armstrong takes care to always root her topics in their necessary historical, social, and cultural contexts—such as the values of the late Roman Empire or the development of Christianity. The result is a thorough course that doesn't require an advanced wealth of knowledge about the Middle Ages but can instead be taken as a stand-alone course.

Rich with information and period detail, The Medieval World is designed to dramatically increase your understanding of how lives in the Middle Ages were really lived. These lives, you'll discover, were not as distant from your own as we once thought. And if they did seem tantalizingly familiar to you before, you'll now know why.

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36 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Medieval World
    Enjoy a preview of the developments and innovations that made the medieval period far more exciting than was once thought, including the rise of the university system, manuscript production, and the construction of majestic cathedrals, as well as evidence suggesting that medieval and modern people are more alike than different. x
  • 2
    The Legacy of the Roman World
    Learn how the heritage and ideals of the Roman Empire shaped the early Middle Ages, how Christianity evolved to its position of power within the Roman Empire, and how Germanic peoples from outside the empire "Germanized" both Rome and religion. x
  • 3
    The Christianization of Europe
    Travel back to the 4th-century moment when Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire to explore how the religion changed after Roman rule ended, focusing in particular on the conversion of various communities beyond the borders of the empire, in the region the Romans called "Germania." x
  • 4
    After the Roman Empire—Hybrid Cultures
    The societies that developed out of the Roman Empire were really "hybrids" of Roman, Christian, and Germanic elements. See how examples from the literature, art, and architecture of Anglo-Saxon England reveal this blending and how the values and ideals of these cultures were combined. x
  • 5
    Early Monasticism
    In examining this popular expression of medieval piety, you journey inside the walls of a monastery to observe the daily life of a monk following the "Rule of St. Benedict" and compare this Roman or Benedictine form of monasticism to the very different Celtic model practiced in Ireland. x
  • 6
    From Merovingian Gaul to Carolingian France
    This lecture introduces what was arguably the most important society of the early medieval world of western Europe. The empire of the Franks was ruled first by the Merovingians and then by the Carolingian dynasty, whose most famous ruler, Charlemagne, changed the face of medieval Europe.Although it is Italy that has long laid popular claim to the word "Renaissance," it's hard not to marvel at the changes introduced by Charlemagne. Learn how he successfully brought about an unprecedented flowering of art, architecture, literature, music, and education. x
  • 7
    Charlemagne and the Carolingian Renaissance
    Although it is Italy that has long laid popular claim to the word "Renaissance," it's hard not to marvel at the changes introduced by Charlemagne. Learn how he successfully brought about an unprecedented flowering of art, architecture, literature, music, and education. x
  • 8
    Byzantium, Islam, and the West
    Widen your earlier focus to situate the Western medieval world in context with the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic world, learning how Byzantium differed from the western Roman Empire and how the new religion of Islam placed pressure on both the Byzantine and western European medieval worlds. x
  • 9
    The Viking Invasions
    The expansion of the people known as the Vikings—beginning in the late 8th century—was swift, violent, and far-reaching. Grasp the impact of their raids on various European societies, particularly that of the Franks, as well as the unique aspects of their culture. x
  • 10
    Alfred the Great
    Only one English monarch has ever been termed "the Great." Learn why, in considering the man whose rule in many respects mirrored that of Charlemagne as he resolved the Viking threat, consolidated the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, and implemented a program under which learning, education, and the arts flourished. x
  • 11
    The Rearrangement of the Medieval World
    Experience the tumultuous reshaping of western Europe in a lecture that features the emergence of powerful new leaders, invasions, a population explosion, changes in Europe's economy, technological advances, the development of devout Christian piety, the Crusading impulse, and the final break between the Byzantine and Roman churches. x
  • 12
    The Norman Conquest and the Bayeux Tapestry
    Claim a ringside seat at the long struggle for control of the English throne that culminated in the victory of William the Conqueror—a conflict captured for all time in the stunning threads of a 230-foot length of embroidery. x
  • 13
    King Arthur—The Power of the Legend
    Perhaps no other legend has been as enduringly popular as the story of King Arthur. Explore how and why his legend evolved and learn how the reality was markedly different from that depicted in medieval romances. x
  • 14
    The Three Orders of Medieval Society
    Medieval society soon formed into the hierarchy now known as the Three Estates: those who prayed, those who fought, and those who worked. Discover why few routes to understanding this structure are as pleasurable as that offered by the literary genre of Estates Satire, exemplified here in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. x
  • 15
    Pilgrimage and Sainthood
    In this fascinating glimpse of popular religious expression in the Middle Ages, you explore typical pilgrim motivations, the journeys they took, and the different processes by which the saints so often at the emotional heart of those journeys were enshrined. x
  • 16
    Knighthood and Heraldry
    Follow the development of knighthood, from its beginnings as the lowest rank of nobility to its evolution as a hereditary title replete with a complex system of rituals, identity practices, public displays, and idealized imagery. x
  • 17
    The Gothic Cathedral
    Grasp what it took to build a Gothic cathedral, a massive undertaking requiring not only several decades, hundreds of laborers, teams of master craftsmen, and the best architectural minds, but also an acceptance by those who began a project that they would never live to see it completed. x
  • 18
    Piety, Politics, and Persecution
    In this first of two lectures on the Crusades, learn what brought so many to a venture that was part holy war and part pilgrimage. Gain, through eyewitness accounts, a fascinating and occasionally horrifying glimpse into the realities of life on crusade. x
  • 19
    The Persistence of an Ideal
    Participants in the successful First Crusade set up four "Crusader states" in the Middle East, where they soon learned that accommodation was more effective than dominance. Although the Crusading presence in the Holy Land lasted less than two centuries, its impact on the European world still endures. x
  • 20
    Late Medieval Religious Institutions
    Watch as the church and its official representatives experienced dramatic and sometimes unexpected change throughout the High and Late Middle Ages, including monastic reforms, the establishment of new orders, a great schism in the papacy itself, and the growing problem of heresy. x
  • 21
    The Magna Carta
    In this revealing lecture, discover that the Magna Carta, revered today as perhaps the cornerstone of human rights, was considered anything but that at its creation, with its most historic provisions of little concern to the rebellious barons who forced King John to accept it. x
  • 22
    Daily Life in a Noble Household
    Observe the finely tuned orchestration of servants working together to cater to the needs of the noble family, who, in turn, sheltered and protected them. And learn that the medieval castle was built for protection, providing little of the privacy or luxury you might expect x
  • 23
    Daily Life in a Medieval Village
    Although little textual evidence describing medieval village life survives, archaeological excavations at villages such as Wharram Percy, along with pictorial evidence from manuscripts such as the Luttrell Psalter, offer you a vivid picture of the medieval village as a place brimming with life and characters. x
  • 24
    Medieval City Life
    During the High Middle Ages, technological advancements and a population explosion made cities a vital element of the medieval world. More important, they nourished the creation of a new class of individual who did not fit into the traditional confines of the Three Estates. x
  • 25
    Food and Drink
    Here's your chance to set aside the long-held belief that medieval cuisine was bland at best and, at worst, likely to make you ill. Learn how medieval cooks displayed a resourcefulness and skill that allowed them to produce dishes that were both innovative and delicious. x
  • 26
    Music and Entertainment
    Hear for yourself, through re-creations played on medieval instruments, the kinds of music that helped people of the Middle Ages enjoy their leisure time—that is, when they weren't playing board or dice games. x
  • 27
    Dress and Fashion
    Even though little clothing of the period has survived, medieval illustrations and household account entries give us some idea of what medieval clothing was like. They reveal a surprising consciousness of fashion, even within the constraints of so-called "sumptuary laws" designed to preserve the distinction between the noble and the newly wealthy. x
  • 28
    Medieval Medicine
    Learn how medieval medicine—much of it based on the theory of bodily "humors"—began to improve in the 11th century with the foundation of educational institutions devoted to the study of medicine, particularly in Italy. x
  • 29
    The Black Death and its Effects
    It was the worst natural disaster in human history, claiming the lives of perhaps half the people of the medieval world. This riveting lecture covers the plague's impact and the responses to it and offers, through eyewitness accounts, a dramatic view of life during the plague years. x
  • 30
    Childhood in the Middle Ages
    Scholars once believed the Middle Ages had no real conception of childhood, or even that parents—because of high child mortality—could not have formed powerful attachments to their offspring. Learn why these assumptions are untrue, even if medieval concepts of childhood were somewhat different from ours. x
  • 31
    Marriage and the Family
    In this eye-opening lecture, you learn that marriage, for most of the Middle Ages, was a secular institution, governed by customs, traditions, and laws—but not the church. Find out how the medieval world handled issues like divorce, remarriage, spousal abuse, and nonconsummation. x
  • 32
    Art and Artisans
    Although once derided as a "dark age," the medieval world has in fact given us many beautiful, skillfully executed artistic works. Sample some of the best works of this legacy, found in the architecture, sculpture, and stained glass of cathedrals; wall murals; illuminated manuscripts; and even everyday objects. x
  • 33
    Science and Technology
    The Middle Ages saw significant developments in the fields of science and technology. Not surprisingly, most were of a practical nature. Grasp how the demands of agriculture, architecture, education, and even warfare led to important advances. x
  • 34
    Weapons and Warfare
    War was one of the dominant aspects of medieval life, and its significance in terms of scientific and technological innovation isn't surprising. But its impact went even further, and you learn how the need for protection left its mark on both physical and social structures. x
  • 35
    Revolts, Uprisings, and Wars
    Gain insights into how a series of uprisings, revolts, and wars tested and altered the structure of medieval society as Europe entered the Late Middle Ages, hastening the end of the Three Estates system that had already begun to crumble with the rise of the merchant class. x
  • 36
    Toward the Early Modern Period
    In this concluding lecture, you see how a once-sharp historical division has been worn away. Where scholars once spoke of the differences between the Middle Ages and the Modern period, we now tend to see much greater continuity of ideals and values as the medieval world slowly transformed into something new. x

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  • 144-page printed course guidebook
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  • 144-page printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Dorsey Armstrong

About Your Professor

Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D.
Purdue University
Dr. Dorsey Armstrong is Associate Professor of English and Medieval Literature at Purdue University, where she has taught since 2002. The holder of an A.B. in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from Duke University, she also taught at Centenary College of Louisiana and at California State University, Long Beach. Her research interests include medieval women writers,...
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Medieval World is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 145.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What I thought of Medieval World I have bought other courses in this subject from Great Courses. I started with the Philip Dailader series. I am still listening to the course. What I have heard so far expands my horizon on this terribly important part of history. If we did not have the period between 300 to 1500, we could not have had the Renaissance. With the Renaissance, we couldn't have the modern world.
Date published: 2018-11-23
Rated 2 out of 5 by from reading of scripted text is not interesting Dr. Armstrong is obviously well prepared. Her lectures stick to facts about the Medieval period. But the information emerges as if from an encyclopedia. Whatever my interest in the Medieval world, Dr. Armstrong suppressed it. Reading from a script doesn’t make interesting listening, especially when the reader uses voice modulation in an attempt to dramatize text. The sentence constructions are not consistent with spoken language. It comes across as an impersonal reading of a thesis for and by one person. She uses the impersonal “one” instead of “you,” which could have acknowledged that there’s an audience. I’ve tried more than once to listen, but the presentation is annoying.
Date published: 2018-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Medieval World Great course. Very well structured. Lecturer is very organized, very knowledgeable very articulate.Not a wasted word.
Date published: 2018-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Zard Review of Medieval World All Great Courses are at least " Good" and this course is definitely at least a 4 star course. This is one of those "whats it is like to be alive back then" course and the professor did a very good job of bringing life to the Medieval times. I have spent a lot time on the dates, people and events of this time and that is good and necessary but this course brought life and feeling to these times. Professor Armstrong is a good presenter. She recaps in beginning and at the end which I like and she keeps things simple, which I like. My only negative is that I would like her to get free of the podium and wander around it bit more. Give a little more animation to her lecture. That is the only negative and I have to say here I just started her course on the "Black Death" and her presentation is much improved. There is not even a podium to be seen and she is a lot more animated and feisty. I like feisty.
Date published: 2018-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful professor, Dorsey Armstrong is one of the best Great Courses professors. She has a deep knowledge of her subject and a very engaging, personable lecture style. I find that the right professor can make any subject a wonderful learning experience -even if it's not a subject of particular interest to me personally. Armstrong has joined Professors Kloss and Vandiver as that kind of teacher to me.
Date published: 2018-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Depth, clarity and life I'm listening to this and prof. Armstrong's related course - "Great Minds..." - thru our local library. Totally enjoying both. Excellent presentation, surprising depth, and always lively. (No nodding off here...) :) I have many books on this topic but prof. Armstrong brings it all together in a way that I can't find elsewhere. Illuminating and highly recommended!
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informative. Good content and presentation. Professor tends to speak too often in Old English. Other than that, great course.
Date published: 2017-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of good information I enjoyed this lecture series. I was disappointed, though, to find out that it would not play on my iPod Touch unless I subscribed to a TV app. I spent an hour with an apple support person in order to add it to my iTunes library, only to find it filed under 'TV shows, only played with the above mentioned TV app. The website said it could be played on mobile devices, but that turned out to be iPhone or iPad. I don't use my iPhone for audio listening, and my iPad is not convenient for me while gardening or chores around the house. I recommend the lecture series but wish I could play it on my iPod Touch
Date published: 2017-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from EASY TO DIGEST HIGH QUALITY ACCOUNT In all honesty, I bought this in lieu of good bed-time reading—I was looking for something high quality but not requiring intense concentration (i.e., a maths textbook would not do!). I knew very little about the history of Western Europe, esp. after late antiquity, and I wanted something rather lite but not silly or cheap. Professor Armstrong’s course proved to be exactly what I was looking for. Part of the secret of her success is that she didn’t dwell too much on diplomatic or military history. Rather many lectures were devoted to cultural history—documentaries, well illustrated (there were even computer graphics which for a history course is something) but with the quality and authenticity assurance and guarantee which Armstrong provided. Another secret of her success is that she is quite an Aristophanean! She emphasizes aspects of the historical material which appear very funny to 21st century viewers (verging on the scatological she exhibits a preoccupation with Medieval hygiene and smells which were gross!). I enjoyed those jocular allusions and accompanying innuendos thoroughly and occasionally laughed loudly— a truly exhilarating and relaxing experience just before going to sleep !
Date published: 2017-03-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thorough detail and fascinating Professor Armstrong manages to make both detail fascinating and at the same time keeps everything focused on the broad sweep of concept and understanding the cultural context of the day. This class ties in well with another course by Professor Paxton called: 1066 The Year That Changed Everything
Date published: 2017-02-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Medieval World I highly recommend this course. Professor Armstrong provides a nice balance of facts, dates, and interesting stories, as well as a more personal look at what it was like to live as a European during the Middle Ages. Her interest in the subject matter is genuine and delivery is superb. I would encourage everyone to learn from this program.
Date published: 2016-12-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The professor and content are A+. The Great Courses seeming requirement that the lecturers move every two minutes or so---taking two steps from podium and back over and over and over--is distracting, annoying and makes videos unwatchable. I've seen this on several classes I've taken. Let the professors teach in their own individual style. Some wander. Some don't. Please!! Thank you.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from review by a Dorsey Armstrong fan I give stars based on enjoyment, and this course gets five. I took the video streaming version. The audio would probably worked – her course “Turning Points in Medieval History” is audio only. The video does have many excellent illustrations. Unlike some reviewers, I had no problems with Dorsey’s style – I don’t care if she is reading from a teleprompter – makes no difference at all. I now have three Dorsey Armstrong courses, and will probably get more. I respectfully disagree with the reviewer who states that Dorsey sneers. I absolutely did not pick up that Dorsey is “disdainful of Christianity” – this course is not an attack on Christianity. That reviewer’s comment that she omitted the Battle of Tours is however dead-on – how can that be? Islamic armies in northern France does not make it as an important event? Actually multiple reviewers held that she has a disdain for Catholicism. Maybe as a lapsed used-to-be Protestant I am not sufficiently sensitive to religious slights. Many Christians today feel there is a “war on religion” in our society, and are primed to quickly find such insults. The Teaching Company does offer several courses that are deeply critical of Christianity – this is NOT one of those courses. She completely skipped over medieval philosophy. There are probably good reasons for this: 1) She has a separate course on “Great Minds of the Medieval World”, and 2) the Teaching Company has an entire course “Reason & Faith: Philosophy in the Middle Ages”. Still, this is unexpected since medieval philosophy in the form of Thomism is alive and well all over the Catholic world. Beginning students in philosophy at MIT read Anselm. I do not have a BA and am not in a position to comment on some reviewer’s remarks that this course is “dumbed down.” I found writing answers to the homework questions to be often challenging, and indeed, for me, difficult, requiring many consultations with my friend google. Almost all Teaching Company courses have such questions at the end of each chapter summary and they greatly enhance learning. I am glad to read from other reviewers that Prof Daileader's courses on the middle ages are sufficiently different to make taking both his and Dorsey’s worthwhile. If all goes well I will take his courses starting next year.
Date published: 2016-10-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A better title: How Christianity Came to England This course is heavily biased towards the introduction of Christianity to Europe and England. And, a better subtitle would be "And it was a good thing". She makes only passing reference to the religions that had been there for over a thousand years, and describes their eradication as an "assimilation". That said, she is very informed, and a bright, intelligent lecturer. Just be informed that there is a defined perspective in this course.
Date published: 2016-09-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Can't download very user unfriendly. I've been a customer for years.
Date published: 2016-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well Worth Hearing I don't usually write reviews for the Great Courses but I felt compelled to in this case because I had read a couple of pretty critical reviews before I bought this and it almost kept me from purchasing it, I'm no expert on the Middle Ages (hence the purchase) but I do teach a high school course on post-Renaissance Europe. I am not a complete neophyte to the subject. I found Professor Armstrong knowledgeable, well-prepared and organized and pleasant to listen to (I bought the audio download). I thought her information pertinent and interesting and I will certainly buy another Armstrong course at some point in the future. I would compare her favorably to Professor Allitt for those of you have downloaded any of his courses.
Date published: 2016-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great, knowledgeable lecturer! I am thoroughly enjoying this overview of the Medieval period of history. I would emphasize that this is, indeed, an overview, but what a great job she does in describing the changing geographic boundaries, and the reasons they changed. Also, a great description of the Vikings, the interactions between Muslims and Christians, and so much more. I got a tremendous amount out of this wonderful course. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2016-07-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Key ingredient in the medieval stew... Audio download (with many internet forays to Wikipedia and more). My real rating is a 4.5, since I really enjoyed Dr Armstrong's lectures, both her presentation style and approach to history that is both entertaining and informative. Besides, regardless of how one 'feels' about lectures such as this should be weighed against what one learns...and in what context it resides. I have finished Dr Daileader's and Dr Harl's lectures (as well as many others that slip my mind at the moment) on this time period and have a pretty good idea of goings-on in what has become the Europe that we all know and love. Dorsey (we're on a first name basis) approached this history from a social point of view, incorporating more literature and folklore into her lectures...and does it well. For those considering listening (I don't think the DVD/video download will enhance the presentation), try not to be too influenced by the opinions voiced here (and on Goodreads)...including mine. If you're reading this at all, you're already interested (I'm trying not to sound like a used car salesman). The lectures are clearly presented and very well organized...after completing this set, you'll be 18 hours closer to knowing everything (laughter ensued). I recommend these lectures (get 'em cheap...on sale with a coupon...I did for about $0.75/lecture). I also recommend visiting her lectures on King Arthur (which lead me to lectures on Chaucer and Milton, then on to Great Minds in the Medieval World)...they all complement the great lecture series by Daileader and Harl.
Date published: 2016-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I am impressed At the end of this course, I wanted more ... another 12 lectures. Prof. Armstrong's presentation is clear, well-paced, and well-enunciated. She mostly avoided making those annoying little jokes that might work in a classroom, but in this video lecture format tend to fall flat. I'm happy to see that she now has an entire course on the Black Death; that will probably be my next purchase.
Date published: 2016-06-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have taken most of the medieval courses Dr. Dorsey Armstrong went from the big picture to the everyday life during the times. She spoke very well and without reading every word off a piece of paper. Knows her subject very well.
Date published: 2016-02-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Everything you need to know about the medievalism This course gives an over view of the medieval world. Commencing with the end of the Roman empire and goes through the main events, people and culture that shapes the middle ages. There is so much content and so much covered, I have watched it several times and still keep picking up new information. Like Professor Dorsey states in her introduction that the medieval world covers so much in time (500 -1500) and in space (Europe, England and middle East) that sometime she barely scratches the surface. This is excellent for those new to this period, also she focuses on some areas in depth whilst other areas are briefer. I personally loved it. I have purchased other great courses this was my first and I have to say I wish she did the others lectures too as she is so enthusiastic and interesting that her passion is contagious. I can't tell you I have learned so much. There is so much to absorb that it's mind blowing. I love how she relates this period to our world today and she does an incredible job of bringing it all to life. Thank you Dorsey, I look forward to buying more of your work.
Date published: 2016-01-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Overview of Medieval Europe This course provides an excellent overview of medieval Europe. The course does not follow a timeline, which I would usually criticize except that the Great Courses has other classes designed to accomplish that objective. Instead, this class is designed to give a glimpse into life in medieval Europe. The course covers a wide-range of issues including politics, religion, warfare, family life, food, social structure, education, childhood, medicine, architecture and art. The course is arranged into thirty minute topical lectures where the professor gives a detailed overview of the issue being explored. Of course, it is impossible to cover all issues in thirty minutes, but the professor does a great job of covering a lot of ground without making the listener feel rushed. I learned a great deal from the course and enjoyed the professor's presentation style. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good introduction to medieval history.
Date published: 2015-12-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Different Outlook The professor seems enamored of the Islamic World and disdainful of Christianity. Example: Diocletian is represented as a well intentioned and effective reformer while Constantine was a ruthless tyrant. The last straw for me regarding this course was that Charles Martel of the Carolingians was described negatively and no mention was made of the Battle of Tours which changed the course of history. Her personality comes across negatively as she seems to be sneering frequently.
Date published: 2015-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Quests For The Medieval World The journey from the ancient, classical, and late-antique WORLDS to the medieval world is a strange and dark experience. Strange diversity – a transformed spirit, mind, peoples, beliefs, behaviors, conflicts, etc, populate this new horizon. Dark customs – our mind’s eye requires time to adjust to this transformed horizon but eventually recognizes similarities and differences to the historical past and present. Initially, it is more the historian’s focus than the period itself that is strange and dark. THE MEDIEVAL WORLD by Professor Dorsey Armstrong is an enlightening and scholarly 1000 year journey through the period A.D. 500 – 1500. It offers chronological-historical explanations of major events and thematic-conceptual treatments of this new populated horizon constructing an understanding of everyday life in the FEUDAL-SERFDOM of the middle ages. While unique in itself, it yet holds the seeds that will generate its own crisis and transformation and slowly change into the early modern period we recognize today and call the RENASSANCE. Some chronological HISTORICAL events you will encounter: the shadow of Western Rome, barbarian kingdoms, Arthurian mythology, knightly legends, rise of early Europe, asceticism, monasticism, Charlemagne, Franks, Alfred the Great, Anglo-Saxons, Latin-Greek Christianity and controversy, Byzantium, Muhammad, Islam, Viking invasions, Norman Conquest, Crusades, Magna Carta, Hundred Years’ War, Wars of the Roses, etc. Some thematic CONCEPTUAL areas you will experience: village, manor, city life, feudalism, serfdom, heraldry, fashion, diet, entertainment, family, childhood, medicine, plague, population growth, science, weapons, universities, printing, heresies, gothic cathedrals, arts, crafts, literary production, etc. The NUANCES of the era are brought to life and amplified by the professors’ language skills and LITERARY knowledge of Chaucer, English and French authors of the Arthurian legends, and Italian poets and artisans. At times, I felt on a pilgrimage to a sacred initiation, or at a round table discussing justice, chivalry, beauty, and adventure, or on a spiritual quest in a divine theology of history! With the COMBINED DATA of history, archaeology, tapestries, manuscripts, literary texts, and medieval mythologies placed in a GLOBAL CONTEXT to include European, Byzantine, and the Islamic worlds, the professor constructs a scholarly historical and sociological portrait of the medieval world in general “and” in its everyday life. *** VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***
Date published: 2015-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Long Shadow of the Medieval World Too often are the middle ages ridiculed and dismissed as the in-between times. The time between Rome and the Renaissance is not a great chasm, but a process of continual evolution from one period to the next. This course does a very good job at making this very clear, but at the same time it feels deeply divided in its actual usefulness. A good half of this course is for beginners looking to learn a bit about the medieval world, which makes it excellent for people coming off the heels of a classical education or a study following the enlightenment movements. However, for real fans of medieval studies, a lot of what this course offers is already offered by other courses if you care to piece them together. I think of the Late Antiquity Crisis and Transformation, the Crusades, Foundations of Western Civilization, and the History of England from Arthur to the Tudors. Instead of really taking the opportunity to explore lesser known narratives, or work in areas like Eastern Europe or getting into the meat of some Balkan and Iberian studies, we get something of a summary of Western Europe. Yet this idea becomes completely undone by the fact that half of this course is devoted towards subjects that almost never get touched upon in the Great Courses, or are mentioned only in passing. Those are utterly fantastic, and would make this course worth the purchase on its own. Rather than these details being used to explain and teach the historical narrative, it feels like the historical narrative exists merely to give context to the social and cultural developments in the Medieval World. This is not a bad approach, and it works surprisingly well. Medieval Medicine was my favorite lecture out of the series, and the quality of scholarship jumps considerably in other thematic lectures. Professor Armstrong is a capable professor. While it is not quite up to the level of her amazing Arthurian Literature course, it is more than enough to remind me of how good she can truly be; that her previous success was not just a fluke. I have already purchased her "Great Minds of the Medieval World" course, and so far it seems to be a companion piece to this course, though more than capable of standing on its own. In this way she reminds me of Professor Fagan's Ancient Rome and Emperors of Rome courses. I would give this course 4.5 out of 5 if I could, but all things considered Professor Armstrong and this course deserve a 5 far more than a 4.
Date published: 2015-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My history questions... and answers I believe my knowledge of history is well above the average. However, a number of my questions remained unanswered for a long time. This course answered many of them and I appreciated it. Some nitpicking: one map showed Hungarians located in the area of today's Hungary and SIMULTANEOUSLY Magyars somewhere close to Crimea. Well, Magyars are Hungarians. In another map, Great Moravia was misspelled (Marovia).
Date published: 2015-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It! My thirteen year old son and I listened to this course over the course of the Spring semester. I complimented the course with literature that relates to the period. We started with Beowulf, then on to Canterbury Tales, the Once and Future King, Ivanhoe and a few others. Prof. Armstrong's lectures were truly engaging and interesting! I was pleased to see that my son only did a bit of complaining about watching them. I could tell that he actually enjoyed them, and sometimes would watch two in a row just because he wanted to. (Weaponry!) I felt like she was a fantastic co-instructor and I was extremely pleased to have found this.
Date published: 2015-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Midevil world This was the first course I have listened to from the Great Courses. I loved it! Professor Dorsey Armstrong did a fantastic job of presenting the information. Highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2015-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative & Interesting Once I got into the rhythm of Dorsey's presentation style, I thoroughly enjoyed this coarse. The detail of events she presents enhances & helps clarify life in the "Medieval World" giving a more realistic view of daily life & struggles, not so far removed from today, than we are used to hearing. Her ability to speak & translate the different languages of the times ads to the presentation &, for me, was a gift to hear. There are many "Aha/Wow" moments in this coarse & I recommend it to anyone who loves history &/or, is interested in their roots.
Date published: 2015-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Medieval World In a word - OUTSTANDING! This is the best of many great, greatcourses I've taken. Dorsey Armstrong made it all so interesting that it has stimulated me to learn more about the Middle Ages. I am now reading historical fiction and non-fiction set in the Middle Ages. I have identified more medieval courses I plan to take, starting with Kenneth Bartlett's The Great Tours: Experiencing Medieval Europe. After finishing The Cathedral with William Cook, I went to France with my wife to see as many of the great cathedrals as we could. We found the Cluny Museum in Paris to be our favorite non-cathedral stop among many great stops. This course has stimulated me to want to see more. My wife and I are planning more trips to Europe to experience first hand what we can about medieval Europe. Thanks for making us want to learn and experience more.
Date published: 2015-01-06
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