The Middle Ages was a time of major advances in many fields of knowledge, from theology and philosophy to science, medicine, art, literature, and education. Owing to the work of an astonishing range of visionary thinkers, this fascinating period was the era in which the foundations of the modern Western world were laid. In the medieval era’s great minds we find the roots of many aspects of today’s world - from the religious/philosophical thought of Augustine, Ambrose of Milan, and Thomas Aquinas to the scientific innovations of Avicenna and Alhacen, the enlightened statesmanship of Charlemagne and Lorenzo de Medici, and the literary creations of Dante and Chaucer.
In these 24 lectures, Professor Armstrong leads you on an enthralling journey into the lives of the seminal thinkers of the Middle Ages. In this gallery of extraordinary minds, you'll encounter the leading lights of a world-shaping era, including figures such as Maimonides, Hildegard of Bingen, Bernard of Clairvaux, Peter Abelard, and Francesco Petrarch. Professor Armstrong goes to great lengths to bring these historic figures to life, revealing both the great intellectual contributions and the personal strivings, challenges, and triumphs of some of history's most remarkable human beings. These compelling lectures take you deeply into the heart of one of civilization’s most dynamic and impactful eras.
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©2014 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2014 The Great Courses
I liked learning about many influential thinkers that I had never heard of before. Many of their ideas were encapsulated or recapitulated by later thinkers, so there were no flashes of insight. Nevertheless, hearing who first engaged some of society's thorniest problems provided a very interesting read.
The professor has a thorough understanding and genuine affection for her subject and it makes the lectures very easy to listen to.
Because there was no separation of church and state the figures are heavily involved with the Catholic Church. There's no escaping that in a book like this, but if you are not interested in the medieval church you may not want to invest your time here.
audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.
Oh what a great lecture series! It was more than I expected. I was left wishing these lectures were longer and wishing for more info on many of the great minds. That's why this is such a great course: I am now more interested in further study about many of these great minds! For a survey of intellectuals of medieval world, this is an excellent listen. I've listened to Prof Armstrong before, and can say that she has her sea legs now! She has more confidence than before and is a very exciting presenter in these lectures. She does a great job with very complex ideas and the time constraints! She presents each person on the list in such a way that even those individuals with whom I was very familiar seem new and so very interesting!!
I highly recommend this lecture series!
Hope for more lectures from this prof.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, I love to learn about a great many things, and I enjoy a wide variety of genres. Me, bored? Never!
When delving into history, it's very easy to forget sometimes that people are at the center of it. People live, love, think, react, and fight, and this is how history unfolds. The current popular trend in history is to forget this idea that one person can make a difference in how that happens and to look instead at the cultural and social trends, implying that events would have happened anyway even if a given person were not present. I submit this is a flawed way to look at it, built under the same premise that everyone gets a gold star. Somebody sets trends. Somebody comes up with new ideas or sees old ideas in a new way. Somebody acts on these thoughts. Somebody reacts to them. And the cycle goes on.
I burn through a lot of historical overviews, and the downside is that people are name-dropped, but it's sometimes difficult to know what it is they actually contributed in the grand scheme unless you seek out a more narrowly-focused text on a given person or event, or you happen to be reading a biography. Overviews about people who changed the world are, therefore, of immense value for me. This lecture series is precisely what an armchair historian like myself loves to consume. Think of it in similar vein of Plutarch's Lives, but for the Middle Ages. You get a collection of mini-biographies with a direct emphasis of who these people were, what they contributed, and why that mattered. For newcomers to the Middle Ages who still might see this era as "the Dark Ages," this sort of collection will help to break open and dispel that common misperception. Prof. Armstrong keeps the series thoughtful and engaging, drawing connections between these personalities where applicable to prevent them from existing in a proverbial vacuum of disconnected facts. The side effect of this series for me is that I now have a monster list of new items on my reading list. This is a good problem to have.
I really enjoyed this course! the professor has a very engaging style and an extensive command of language. I will definitely seek out her other courses.
...master of none
Professor Armstrong does a highly commendable job of covering an enormous range of material coverage so much time and so many cultures in an informative and engaging and personal way.
I love listening and usually get in at least three hours a day. I like fiction, biographies and medical non-fiction.
Somewhat to my surprise, this is one of my favorite Great Courses.
I bought it on sale figuring "Why not?" I had no particular interest in the middle ages, which I imagined as always dark and smelly.
Professor Dorsey Armstrong LOVES this time period, and her enthusiasm and knowledge are contagious. There were quite a few people I'd never heard of. By far my favorites were Hildegarde of Bingen and Christine of Pisan.
They are the only two women with their own chapter (Abelard and Heloise have one together) and they are truly remarkable.
Hildegarde was an eminent scholar respected by the clergy and pope (amazing in this time period) and Christine was a successful writer and businesswoman. Christine, in particular, surprises me because most educated women (that I know of) were either noblewomen or nuns, and she was neither.
The other Greats were also interesting, and Professor Armstrong really helps us understand how their thoughts affected global thinking and learning.
I've purchased (coincidentally) two of Professor Armstrong's courses and loved them both. I will now be looking for more. Turning Points in Medieval History might be next.
The material chosen was well organized and diverse. However I the professor is apparently a typical modern skeptic and does not have a good feel for the Catholic Church despite the fact that she has intellectual knowledge about it. It is hard to truly appreciate the greatness of some of these medieval thinkers without having an empathy for their deep faith. The impression one gets is that the author thinks they are great minds despite the fact that they had a deep and abiding faith. I would suggest the opposite is true. She does a much better job on the strictly secular thinkers in the last few lectures then in the earlier ones.
I must begin by admitting that I love Prof. Armstrong's narrative style. One can feel her passion for the subject in her delivery.
This series was a fascinating overview of the thoughts and people that shaped an era. After listening, I have a dozen works to explore further.
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