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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
I would definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed the subject and the narrator's voice, inflection and enthusiasm. I will re-listen to this one because it took me so long to finish it. I enjoyed every minute.
The stories of the Lancastrian and Yorkist dynasties (the war of the roses).
I enjoyed Professor Paxton's entire narraration.
I will keep this book. Thank you for this one.
audio addict! Mostly interested in history and some historical fiction. Will Durant is my all time favorite. Loving the Great Courses too.
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!!
Mrs Paxton is obviously interested in her topic, it is a bit sad that she does not seem to like "free speech" (instead seems to read almost everything from a script). This, sometimes, makes following her narration a bit tiring, even though she speaks with quite some energy.
What did bother me with this specific course was, technically, that there is a very noticable hum that gets muted whenever Mrs Paxton pauses. This is a production issue, I assume there was some aircondition running in the "studio"(?) and post production simply gated that out instead of doing a proper audio filtering.
As for the content: Most of the story outline presented in this course is more or less "standard" that you learn within the first couple of weeks when getting into the historical context. No detail, not much of reference, no "bigger picture", just a, though professionally presented, relaxed ride through the timescape.
I would like to question some statements Mrs Paxton makes since I think that more recent research has opened different perspectives. Maybe this is a result of the script-based lecturing, that my impression as an interested student was, throughout the course, that I listened to some boiled-down, cemented, non-flexible and never-to-be-refined "that's it" statements instead of a window through time, trying to explain what we did not witness ourselves.
Still, Mrs Paxton does a way better job at showing us the past than most (history) school teachers I personally experienced.
Say something about yourself!
Jennifer Paxton is a fantastic storyteller. Her delivery of this course is perfect - not an "um" or an "uh" to be heard in any of the 36 lectures (or however many there were). Even when I was getting a bit lost among the Henry's, Richard's, half-great uncles and all the other kingly kinship drama that seems to have shaped so much of the politics of Medieval England, Paxton's lectures were always a joy to listen to. Paxton exhibited unpretentious mastery of the subject, gliding seamlessly between battle plans, social history, and literature. She inserts just the right amount of detail, and just the right amount of humor, into the telling. I know she has one other briefer course, and I hope she will narrate more.
"Far better histories of the British out there"
She is possibly the most annoying person to listen to. Her constant mispronunciation (berg for borough got particularly annoying at one point) and her penchant for talking to you like you were 14 years old with learning problems definitely starts to grate after a while. I don't know whether she was asked to do this for an American audience, but she also loves going off on one in relation to what is best described as legends. King Arthur is not a historical figure, at best there is evidence of warlords in a period when there were probably a lot of warlords (what else was there to do in post roman times), yet he apparently warrants a lecture. She also gives a string of anecdotes, normally along the lines of 'so and so was said to have killed a dragon and then saw the virgin Mary', to which she will confidently proclaim that while that probably didn't happen (its important to say this) it tells us a lot about the personality of the person in question. Her treating of UK history is also fairly superficial nothing you wont have herd in the past if you have any interest in this area. Please don't waste your time with this, while Sharma may be a little bit up himself, his history of the same period was significantly better in a 'popular history' type format, same goes for Starkey. I would seriously avoid this rambling rubbish. To summarise I don't think this was for me.
This is the third of these courses I have listened to in a row, and I have loved the other two (one on language by and one on ancient civilisations). I guess they cant all be great.
Only under pain of death
not really relevant, but if it had Samuel Jackson playing Alfred the Great I would consider it
Good if you don't already know much of the main events in the timeline for this period. Otherwise no details really that added to the main events. Still worth a listen and the Professor is good at delivery and clear with events.
"A whistle stop tour through the annals of history"
Oh this has been most illuminating. History post Roman withdrawal and Pre-Saxon conquest is always left a little murky and this has been explained so wonderfully here. Also highlighted is the Disunited Kingdoms of England
The separate kingdoms of England uniting to defeat the Danes, then the journey from The succession from House of Wessex> Norman Dynasty> Angevins> Plantagenets
I haven't listened to this speaker before
It wasn't emotional at all but that's probably for the best.
"Absorbing and entertaining"
It was compelling listening, not a wasted word in all the lectures. Unbelievable value.
The black death is presented in all its horror. For most of this series the lecturer does not dwell on the human cost of battles, but here the awfulness breaks through. I realise how massively lucky I am to live in the 21st century in England.
Mayhem, murder and monarchs.
"Light on detail..."
...but it is a massive subject.
The Professor makes it accessible and interesting without becoming boring but think of it as an introduction rather than the definitive course on the topic(s).
"fun tour of the period"
prof paxton delivers an enjoyable journey through the major events of the medieval period , helping you get a feel for the age. Well presented and entertaining.
"A wonderful story"
A wonderful story wonderfully told. I love my British history and the medieval period in particular. Fiction does not get this good.
I found this entertaining and seeing the evolution of the various stories such as King Arthur was interesting.
"Great Insight from a Great Teacher"
Professor Paxton leads us through Medaieval England showing both the major political events and insights into daily life for the various strands of British life and culture.
This means that we not only hear the entertaining events of royal life, but also the way in which this land of opportunity, which has always welcomed the 'huddled masses' from more oppressive nations, allowed people to rise through the ranks and take their place in shaping our society.
We see how Britain was formed and the way in which events from this period influenced the whole world in the years to come.
An excellent investment of time and for a monthly subscription of £7.99 terrific value for money.
The people who might enjoy this set of lectures may may be those that want a quick tour of history during this time period. Also those who have not done high school history pre national curriculum.
Prof. Paxton's lectures and delivery made me feel as though she was talking to primary school children.
I was very dissapointed in these lectures. They were advertised as degree level, I felt that they only skimmed over the period and did not go into the issues in enough depth.
To be honnest I learned more about the history of this time peiod and the causes and effects of events during my first year at high school.
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