This lecture series is an excellent introduction to the nuances of the Medieval World. The series is well detailed and interesting - enticing the lis..Show More »tener to continue on to learn more about the progression of the Medieval World.
I think history requires a great narrative and passion about the subject. This lecture series lacked both.
Next, this lecture series says it..Show More » covers 650 to 1000 A.D. The actual lecture spends 3/4 of the time discussing events from about 215 to 500 A.D. In other words, less than a quarter of the series is about the time period I thought it would be covering.
Savage and violent aggressors, looters, slave traders, the Vikings do indeed make the perfect mindless "heroes" in video games! And it's very hard t..Show More »o picture them in the guise of the meek, mild, socialistic Scandinavians of today.
Professor Harl presents us with the real story, and, in some ways, it matches our preconceptions of the massive, feared raiders of movies and TV. Did you know, for instance, that there was a Viking king called "Bluetooth?" And, sadly, that the Vikings did not wear those cool horned helmets? What they did was learn from the cultures they dominated; they intermarried and absorbed much of the culture of their conquests.
In fact, they had an enormous influence on Britain, Germany, Iceland, Eastern Europe, even Russia. Yet that relentless warrior ethic sort of melded into the cultures of all these places and leaves little trace at home.
This course is very long, and some of the details may be most interesting only to specialists and/or those of Scandinavian descent, but there is much here for the listener with a more casual interest in history. The Professor presents a full range of Viking legacies - financial, military, artistic and literary - with enthusiasm and full command of his subject.
Once again, the Great Courses comes through with a fascinating presentation.
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 ..Show More »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.
Kenneth Harl’s series of lectures forms a good basic introduction to the Crusades. Seven of them are covered in detail, from the first, with Raymond o..Show More »f Toulouse and Bohemond of Sicily, through the seventh, with Louis IX of France leading a disastrous invasion of Egypt. The battles are described at a high level but with enough detail to be coherent.
But there's a great deal more in here than just the Crusades: as the title suggests, there's also quite a bit about the Era as well. One area where this is especially true is the coverage of Byzantium. Harl provides several lessons’ worth of the history of this eastern half of the Roman Empire and the leaders who pushed its boundaries even further east and north. There are times when he makes Constantinople sound like King’s Landing in The Game of Thrones. Basil the Bulgar-Slayer figures prominently in his account of Byzantine history.
There's also quite a bit about society and technology: the rise of the merchant class, the switch from “two-field” to “three-field” agriculture, the switch from “shell building” to “frame building” in the shipyards, and the development of armored warfare, giant battle horses, and regiments of archers.
Some things I expected to hear are skimmed over in Harl’s lectures. There wasn't much here about the “people’s crusade” and the slaughter of Jews that followed; nor much about the leaders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. (I have to admit that much of my interest in this aspect of the story stems from the film The Kingdom of Heaven.)
But there's much here that's new and surprising and it's well worth the listen. Harl delivers his material with energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately he sometimes slips into a “you’re not gonna believe THIS” tone, but mostly he's speaking clearly and engagingly about a subject in which he is obviously an expert - which of course is what you'd want from a Great Course.
I do wish the producers of the Great Courses would ditch the canned applause at the beginning and end of every lesson. The material IS good - we don't need an “applause track” to reinforce the point.
I adore the medieval in any form, but this professor makes a period that is so obscure come alive. He doesn't romanticize the period nor does he belit..Show More »tle it. He inserts humor and quotes that still stick with me.
I am so pleased that Teaching Co is now on Audible
Philip Daileader is one of my favorite Teaching Company lecturers. I have listened to his 3 middle ages from TC directly and I just finished this Crus..Show More »ades piece. Terrific. A great way to learn history from one of the great professors on the subject. I recommend all 4 series. All 4 are available on Audible now.