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The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague Lecture

The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague

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Publisher's Summary

Many of us know the Black Death as a catastrophic event of the medieval world. But the Black Death was arguably the most significant event in Western history, profoundly affecting every aspect of human life, from the economic and social to the political, religious, and cultural. In its wake the plague left a world that was utterly changed, forever altering the traditional structure of European societies and forcing a rethinking of every single system of Western civilization: food production and trade, the church, political institutions, law, art, and more. In large measure, by the profundity of the changes it brought, the Black Death produced the modern world we live in today.

While the story of the Black Death is one of destruction and loss, its breathtaking scope and effects make it one of the most compelling and deeply intriguing episodes in human history. Understanding the remarkable unfolding of the plague and its aftermath provides a highly revealing window not only on the medieval world but also on the forces that brought about the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and modernity itself.

Speaking to the full magnitude of this world-changing historical moment, The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague, taught by celebrated medievalist Dorsey Armstrong of Purdue University, takes you on an unforgettable excursion into the time period of the plague, its full human repercussions, and its transformative effects on European civilization. In 24 richly absorbing lectures, you'll follow the path of the epidemic in its complete trajectory across medieval Europe. Majestic in scope and remarkable in detail, this course goes to the heart of one of Western history's most catalytic and galvanizing moments, the effects of which gave us the modern world.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2016 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2016 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.7 (257 )
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4.7 (232 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Maneki Neko 06-16-16
    Maneki Neko 06-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Indeed I shall renounce the superfluous use of the word "indeed""

    That is actually my only criticism of this course, and even then it's only mildly annoying and affects only portions of the story. Professor Armstrong has a great delivery. She enunciates clearly, has a good cadence, and weaves a masterful tale of intrigue, history, and science. She skillfully draws connections between events in the 14th century and traces their evolution up to modern times. She makes compelling arguments to support her connections, and she does so in a manner that is both scholarly and entertaining. I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in science, sociology, religion, economics, or, of course, history.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tricia Munter 06-12-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "informative, interesting, well organized"

    I really enjoyed the lecturer, Dr Armstrong has an enthusiasm that is infectious. her interest is supported by and informed with research.
    Although I typically don't enjoy listening to the insertion of quotations and source citations she does this in an non-obstructive way.
    I will definitely search for other lectures by Dr Armstrong.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessamine Tracy, CA 06-27-16
    Jessamine Tracy, CA 06-27-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Tragic & fascinating"

    Absolutely loved this lecture series. I can't stop recommending it to friends.
    We learn so little in school about plagues - and certainly not enough about the social effects. I had no idea how much the Black Death shaped the world - not just the millions dead, but the arts, religion, social norms.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie 07-25-16
    Carrie 07-25-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great lectures - Need lecture names on track title"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, engaging and informative


    What other book might you compare The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague to and why?

    any of Philip Daileaders lectures on the middle ages.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Not really movie material


    Any additional comments?

    I love the great courses - BUT PLEASE PUT CHAPTER NAMES IN THE TRACK TITLE. I enjoy going back to specific chapters and re-listening, and not having titles, just 'Chapter 1' makes this more difficult.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry J. Seltzer 08-03-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very repetitive"

    There's lots of great history here. I wish she hadn't told the same stories and recounted the same facts 5 or 6 times. It would have been much better and lost nothing in half the lectures.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NLSharp1943 07-15-16
    NLSharp1943 07-15-16

    Norman Sharp

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Liked Prof's presentation"

    Dorsey Armstrong's presentation was great. I have studied history for years years on an amateur basis and found many of my knowledge gaps filled. Now I actually know what a market town is.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike McGuire 06-16-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "Enthralling story."

    By the end of the book one really does have tbe sense that we really are children of the middle ages and how important are our modern public health systems.

    My next stlep will be to find what other courses TGC and Dr. Armstrong have produced.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Henry 07-25-16
    Henry 07-25-16
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    "Extremely Interesting"

    I liked how the spread of the plague and its social, economic and political effects were described. Worth the listen in every way.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nelson 07-19-16
    Nelson 07-19-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Outstanding recount"

    Loved it, congratulations on excellent content, speech, structure and form.
    Definitely stands out as a reference for plague history.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Little Sparrow 09-20-16 Member Since 2013
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    15
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    "Fantastic"

    I have become a fan of Prof Armstrong. She has turned something very sad into a thing that is delightful to learn about. I immediately used my credits to buy her other audiolectures.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Magdalena
    8/29/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting story"
    What made the experience of listening to The Black Death: The World's Most Devastating Plague the most enjoyable?

    The presenter tells the story with a lot of enthusiasm which grabs one's attention.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story made it clear how the Black Death had economic, social, and cultural relevance to the way human history changed and developed.


    What does Professor Dorsey Armstrong bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Prof. Armstrong brings in a lot of enthusiasm and vivacity while telling the story. Her familiarity with the subject is well expressed in various cross-subject references prof. Armstrong makes.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    The lecturer kept me listening with interest.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • BudoJo
    8/16/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Informative and excellent"

    This was very well read, with a great level of detail without being too much. I'd been looking for a history of the Black Death for a while and this was just what I was looking for.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    7/26/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Could have been better..."

    To much repetition and not sufficient emphasis on Black Death's lasting impact on society and institutions

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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