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Publisher's Summary

The Middle Ages is not only a period of Romance, but of legends, tales, and mysteries. In this course, Professor Thomas F. Madden guides listeners through the most famous and enduring narratives of medieval Europe. Beginning with King Arthur, Professor Madden peels back layers of exaggeration and fiction to lay bare the historical basis for the mythical king. Madden then examines myths of the medieval church, sexual myths of the Middle Ages, and myths about Robin Hood and the Shroud of Turin, all the time imparting an understanding of just what medieval people thought about their planet.

©2014 Thomas F. Madden (P)2014 Crescite Group, LLC

What members say

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  • Hellocat
  • Centurion, South Africa
  • 06-03-14

Entertaining And Enlightening

Of all the courses that Thomas Madden has presented for The Modern Scholar series, this is perhaps his best.

He chooses some very interesting topics for discussion and treats each one with the respect and skepticism it deserves. One never gets the idea that he is pushing an agenda or trying to convince us of anything, but simply lets the facts speak for themselves.

My only criticism would be that the course is so short. I think there are many more mysteries he could have dealt with, such as those surrounding the Crusades.

Other than that, highly recommended.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating Truth Behind Medieval Legends

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I'm more of an ancient history person, so my knowledge of the Middle Ages is very basic. What I know about Medieval times comes from a general humanities education and "what everybody knows" from films and novels. Luckily, those are the topics he covers! Find out the truth behind the legends of:

1. King Arthur
2. The Holy Grail
3. Female Pope Joan
4. Dungeons, Witches, Inquisitions, & Torture
5. Sexual Myths – Chasity Belts & Right of the 1st Night Sex
6. Robin Hood
7. Belief in the Flat Earth
8. Shroud of Turin

We still talk about all of these subjects in modern pop culture, and I didn't need any additional outside knowledge of Medieval times to understand and enjoy the lectures. Watch out for me at my next cocktail party!

Have you listened to any of Thomas F. Madden’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I really enjoy listening to Thomas F. Madden. His courses are well organized, focused, and arranged in a way where the themes are easy to follow. His courses are wonderful for someone who is new to the subject matter. He presents me with what I need to know and doesn't go off on academic tangents. His lecture style is engaging while being neither over the top nor dull and dry. Also, the recording itself didn't have annoying vocal tics.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • EmilyK
  • Portland, OR, United States
  • 08-27-17

Favorite lecturer and fun, informative topic

I first discovered Madden when I listened to his Venice lectures (also wonderful). This set would especially work for someone who is less of a history nut than I am, or who is more interested in literature. He discusses and deconstructs a series of tropes or clichés about the Middle Ages, most of which are known to all.

My only complaint is that it wasn't longer, but what there was went quickly. The lectures are episodic enough they would work well for someone used to more of a podcast format.

Madden's perspective and delivery are great. He looks at his topics dispassionately and with a dry wit. His voice is easy to follow without any irritating quirks.

I plan on listening to this again with my family on a road trip since it would be interesting to a wider audience.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Incredible!!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Modern Scholar: Medieval Mysteries to be better than the print version?

I don't know if this lecture comes in text, but it's has a personal touch with Thomas Madden delivering his own material.

What did you like best about this story?

I feel like Madden covers a range of Medieval myths, some that I've wondered about since childhood.

Which scene was your favorite?

The first section about King Arthur. From movies to video game, I've been enamored with the idea of Arthur and the Sword in the Stone.

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

Absolutely while clicking away at my computer.

Any additional comments?

I look forward to additional content from Thomas Madden. Fantastic storyteller.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Nice

Nice as an intro to several topics, but too brief to get into any depth. Glad I listened. Now I'll look into some of the topics more throughly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good content, good information - I think

If you could sum up The Modern Scholar: Medieval Mysteries in three words, what would they be?

good content, information

Did Thomas F. Madden do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Not relevant here

Any additional comments?

The mysteries he selects to talk about are interesting topics and if I had to guess, I think he gave good information about them. Much of the history comes from primary sources and I am always impressed with that. I can only believe it because it makes sense. I have never been able to believe that chastity belts were a real thing!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Your mileage will vary

This book comprises 8 30 minute lectures which seek to investigate some of the more well known

myths/isteries/legends of the middle ages.

The topics include; king Arthur, the Holy Grail, Witchcraft and the Inquisition, pope Joan, chastity belts,

Robin Hood, the Flat Earth and the Shroud of Turin.

Each lecture introduces us to the topic, spends some time deconstructing/investigating its veracity and

then goes on to describe how the myth or mistery evolved over time.

Naturally, the more you know about any of these topics then the less you will get out of them, since each

lecture is only 30 minutes long.
Personally I know quite a lot about the legends of king Arthur and Robin hood and am quite familiar with

the inquisition. Therefore I found these lectures less interesting than other such as the one on pope

Joan, who I had never heard of before.

The lecturers style is interesting and engaging, though at times it could tend to be a bit on the dry side.

The book is a short, light listen with enough nuggets of information to hold your attention.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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interesting

You should probably read if you're interested in learning about Medieval period. Well read, I was reading it in part because I was joining the SCA and needed to have a better grasp... basic argument is that the Medieval period is unfairly viewed because most of what we know about it is from Renaissance writers who critical of it and a lot of what we thought went on then didn't.

That said, I've yet to read a second source that agrees with this guys arguments

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  • Lord Peridot
  • 07-20-18

Myths dispelled

Prof. Madden has a quiet, expressive way of delivering his lectures which makes them a pleasure to listen to & easy to learn from. This is an amusing short set of lectures which makes for an entertaing diversion. None the less, the Prof. treats each myth to a proper historical review, considering the evidence & motives of those who have repeated & elaborated these myths. Much of the blame seems to lie with writers of the Enlightenment who wished to put down the people of Medieval times as being superstitious dimwits. The myths were then further enshrined in the popular imagination through the romantic writers of the C19th. To take one example. Did people really think the earth was flat before Columbus discovered America? The answer is an emphatic No. The real question about these myths is how did they arise. And you will find the answers here.