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Publisher's Summary

At the dawn of the last millennium in the year 1000, Europe was one of the world's more stagnant regions - an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geopolitically passive backwater, with illiteracy, starvation, and disease the norm for almost everyone.

Yet only three centuries later, all of this had changed. A newly invigorated cluster of European societies had revived city life, spawned new spiritual and intellectual movements and educational institutions, and had begun, for reasons both sacred and profane, to expand at the expense of neighbors who traditionally had expanded at Europe's expense. This series of 24 lectures, filled with memorable detail, examines how and why Europeans achieved this stunning turnaround. By its conclusion, you will be able to describe and analyze the social, intellectual, religious, and political transformations that set into motion this midsummer epoch of the medieval world - an epoch you will come to know very well through Professor Daileader's vivid descriptions and examinations of its people, including

  • the warrior aristocracy of knights, castellans, counts, and dukes;
  • free and unfree peasants; and townspeople, both artisans and merchants;
  • its vibrant stirrings of religion and intellect, including monastic life and charismatic figures like Francis of Assisi and Thomas Aquinas;
  • the lives of those outside the religious mainstream, especially heretics and Jews;
  • and its major political developments and events, including the First Crusade, the Norman Conquest of England, and the granting of the Magna Carta.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2001 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2001 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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  • Story

Wonderful teacher

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 belittle it. He inserts humor and quotes that still stick with me.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • Westport, CT, United States
  • 09-20-15

Great overview of an overlooked period

What's particularly great about this course is how the professor contextualizes this portion of history, which often gets overlooked by historians and students in favor of the more active Renaissance years in Europe. Despite this, the professor constantly reminds the listener what the lasting impacts of certain events are, which is especially helpful for listeners who go on to other lectures about Early Modern European history and such.

The professor clearly takes this era seriously and delivers a nuanced description of the era. You can tell this is important work for him.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Hellocat
  • Centurion, South Africa
  • 09-05-14

Good, but not his best

Of Professor Daileader's Medieval trilogy, this is probably the weakest offering. The reason I say that is mainly because of my own preference for narrative history rather than social/economic history, of which this course embraces mostly the latter.

That being said, I still highly recommend this course for anyone interested in the period. Daileader's delivery is highly entertaining and he even injects a fair amount of humor to the lectures.

Start with the Early Middle Ages though, since I think that is perhaps the best in the trilogy.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Pleasantly surprised

Where does The High Middle Ages rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

In the category of History, this is one of my favorites. I only purchased this to give me some background to help me appreciate current history. I expected a dry, boring lecture, but was surprised to find that it held my interest throughout. I've also listened to The Early Middle Ages, which I found just okay. This one is the more interesting.

What did you like best about this story?

I most appreciated that this was not so much a history of battles and personalities, but more an anthropological survey of how our social, political and religious institutions evolved to what they are today. The information is valuable for understanding class structures, prejudices, and what we hold valuable.

What about Professor Philip Daileader’s performance did you like?

I first thought he did a decent job, considering it was a lecture. I've since listened to other Great Courses lectures and would rate him very highly, both in delivery and content. Looking forward to listening to his other courses.

Any additional comments?

I'm really looking forward to listening to other Great Courses lectures. My local library has a few on DVD. While the DVD format is nice because it provides maps and such, they are frequently damaged. For ease of listening, I prefer the audiobook downloads.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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My favorite course bar none

I've listened to dozens of Great Courses lecture series and this one is the one I like the most of them all. Daileader is funny, varied, clear, memorable and detailed.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Informative and entertaining

Any additional comments?

I was looking for the lectures that cover the high and late middle ages after finishing the course from Yell by Dr. Freedman which I enjoyed very much. Apparently, these lectures are as good. They are well-structured, informative, entertaining with a bit of humor and detailed. I wish I had the same experience in school.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Chivalry, Crusades and Cardinals, oh my!

The professor does a great job in bringing this era to life, exploring society high and low during this era, as well as developments in religious thought, education, and political thought.

Very deep, prepare to be blown away.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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clear and easy

very easy to follow. Good sense of humor and informative, though time allows not much more than an overview.

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OK, but was it the best investment of time?

I learned from this course, some things that I've found useful to know, others not so much. Unfortunately, the latter outweigh the former. In addition, Professor Daieader has a manner of speaking that doesn't hold up to twelve hours of listening.

If you really want to fill the gaps in your knowledge about this European era, it will do the trick. If you're listening principally for enjoyment, get something else.

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A fascinating time period made boring...

Normally, I'm amazed by history and our past. In these lectures, I failed to notice interesting tidbits, greater themes, and the slow march of history towards the present. For those of us with limited knowledge of the period, this was dry and directionless.

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  • David
  • 01-08-15

Another excellent course from Professor Daileader

This is the second of a trilogy of courses presented by Professor Daileader and on a par with the excellent first one on the Early Middle Ages. Having a much shorter time frame to cover than in the first course, Professor Daileader structures these lectures into three distinct groups: Society; Religion; and, Politics & War. Initially I was concerned that this would lead to an uneven course but I was surprised by how interesting and engaging the religious elements were.

As with the previous course, the great strength of the course is the light touch that Professor Daileader brings to it. He is entertainingly wry at times but never to the detriment of clearly explaining the subject matter. Particularly refreshing is the sense of self awareness he clearly has. Where other lecturers in these courses seem to be unaware of how their subject can seem to the casual listener the Prof Daileader seems only too aware of how strange or difficult some of the things he covers are.

All in all this is an excellent and enjoyable course that I would recommend but for the best experience listen to the Early Middle Ages first.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-04-17

My favorite great courses series

This three part series on the Middle Ages are my favorite lectures on the great courses series. It has opened up the subject on the Middle Ages for me. I knew next to nothing on the subject and now that Iv finished this series, I'm obsessed with everything concerning the period. The lecturer is warm, engaging and funny. Iv got nothing but good things to say about it. Thank you dr Daileader!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Benno Boyo
  • 09-12-16

Very good

Philip Daileader is the best lecturer I've come across in The Great Courses series. Focused and entertaining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mr
  • 07-03-14

Good

The weakest of the series, but still very good. Good overview and a good insight into the European continents history as a whole, as opposed to just focused on the home land.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • The phantom reviewer
  • 08-27-17

Outstanding

This is a clear, concise lecture. Yet it is also enjoyable and very entertaining. Buy it! You will not be disappointed.

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  • Ed
  • 01-30-17

very disappointing

Compared to the first book in the series (which was wonderful) this history disappointed me on several levels.

Much of the content lacked any clear sense of time or place to the point where the descriptive sections lost some meaning.

at the very end there is a rather lame apology for narrowness of content. I agree that the content was limited. Almost no mention of Spain or the Islamic empire. very little about the territories to the east of modern day Germany or the middle east. Instead the last chapter concluded with a bit of hand wringing as to the volume and diversity of modern thought.

some interesting themes emerged such as demographics and Aquinas but these moments were fewer than I would have hoped. the speaker has an engaging presentation style.

I trust that the third in the series will be an improvement. please remember that the people buying these books are not academics but rely on these for clear presentation against busy professional lives.




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  • Eliel Cohen
  • 04-23-16

Excellent trilogy

this trilogy of middle ages is so informative and thorough and fascinating. one of the most rewarding ive listened to and I intend to relisten to all some day

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  • Clinton
  • 06-17-16

Great speaker

Very engaging speaker and fascinating era of history. Touched on a broad range of topics while staying very succinct.