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The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest | [The Great Courses]

The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest

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 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What Members Say

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  •  
    Jake Plainfield, IN, United States 09-04-13
    Jake Plainfield, IN, United States 09-04-13
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    "I was happily surprised!"
    Where does The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does Professor Jennifer Paxton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    gerry milton, ON, Canada 11-07-13
    gerry milton, ON, Canada 11-07-13 Member Since 2010
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    "The Real Game of Thrones"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-19-14 Member Since 2013
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    "I savored this one"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest?

    The stories of the Lancastrian and Yorkist dynasties (the war of the roses).


    Which character – as performed by Professor Jennifer Paxton – was your favorite?

    I enjoyed Professor Paxton's entire narraration.


    Any additional comments?

    I will keep this book. Thank you for this one.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill Kelso LONGMONT, CO, United States 03-23-14
    Bill Kelso LONGMONT, CO, United States 03-23-14 Member Since 2011

    Audio Addict / Autodidact

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    "Stunningly good"
    What did you love best about The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest?

    Professor Paxton is a delight. She covers approximately 1,000 years of history in 30-odd lectures, and the narrative holds together throughout. She does a great job of identifying and weaving in the grand themes of British history: The Crown vs. The Church, The Nobels vs. The Kings, The French vs. The British, the People vs. the Nobility. She ends up making a very convincing case that Britain's long dominance on the world stage is due in no small part to the fact that the institution of the monarchy was able to listen to the needs and complaints of the non-royal classes and adapt to them, sometimes kicking and screaming, to be sure, but adapting none the less. There is a very important lesson here for virtually every other country on Earth.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Stein Bedford, NY 02-26-14
    E. Stein Bedford, NY 02-26-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent!"

    Professor Paxton is both engaging and learned; her lectures were entertaining but she treats her subject with depth and perspective. Highly recommended.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Betsy Everett, MA, United States 01-01-14
    Betsy Everett, MA, United States 01-01-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Very Enjoyable"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Corey Mesa, AZ, United States 12-23-13
    Corey Mesa, AZ, United States 12-23-13 Member Since 2008

    ?

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    "Fascinating content, engaging instructor"

    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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 09-20-13
    Benoibe New Orleans, LA, United States 09-20-13 Member Since 2010

    Audio-addict!!

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    "Absolutely OUTSTANDING!!!"

    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!!

    11 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roberta Herald, CA, United States 05-20-14
    Roberta Herald, CA, United States 05-20-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Excellent book and value for your money"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claudia Murray CMurray 04-24-14
    Claudia Murray CMurray 04-24-14 Member Since 2011

    CMurray

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    "I'm sad it's over!"
    Where does The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 13 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • Ama
    High Wycombe, United Kingdom
    2/1/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "A whistle stop tour through the annals of history"
    Would you listen to The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest again? Why?

    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


    What did you like best about this story?

    The separate kingdoms of England uniting to defeat the Danes, then the journey from The succession from House of Wessex> Norman Dynasty> Angevins> Plantagenets


    Have you listened to any of Professor Jennifer Paxton’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    I haven't listened to this speaker before


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

    It wasn't emotional at all but that's probably for the best.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Sandra
    Nr Langholm, United Kingdom
    3/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Mainline Events"
    If you could sum up The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest in three words, what would they be?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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