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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.

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

What listeners say about The Story of Medieval England: From King Arthur to the Tudor Conquest

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Table of contents

1-From Britannia to Britain
2-Roman Britain and the Origins of King Arthur
3-The Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms
4-The Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons
5-Work and Faith in Anglo-Saxon England
6-The Viking Invasions
7-Alfred the Great
8-The Government of Anglo-Saxon England
9-The Golden Age of the Anglo-Saxons
10-The Second Viking Conquest
11-The Norman Conquest
12-The Reign of William the Conqueror
13-Conflict and Assimilation
14-Henry I—The Lion of Justice
15-The Anarchy of Stephen’s Reign
16-Henry II—Law and Order
17-Henry II—The Expansion of Empire
18-Courtly Love
19-Richard the Lionheart and the Third Crusade
20-King John and the Magna Carta
21-Daily Life in the 13th Century
22-The Disastrous Reign of Henry III
23-The Conquests of Edward I
24-Edward II—Defeat and Deposition
25-Edward III and the Hundred Years’ War
26-The Flowering of Chivalry
27-The Black Death
28-The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381
29-Chaucer and the Rise of English
30-The Deposition of Richard II
31-Daily Life in the 15th Century
32-Henry V and the Victory at Agincourt
33-Henry VI—Defeat and Division
34-The Wars of the Roses
35-Richard III—Betrayal and Defeat
36-England in 1485

114 people found this helpful

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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.

80 people found this helpful

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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.

35 people found this helpful

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Outstanding

This is one of the best Great Courses history courses that I have taken so far. The professor is enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The difference between a good history professor and a great history professor is the ability to turn the history into a story. This professor is excellent at turning history into a story. I learned a great deal about both the history and politics of the era and feel much more educated about the early history of England.

14 people found this helpful

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LEAVING MY WIFE

Midway through this series of lectures by Jennifer Paxton, I decided that even though my wife and I have been married for fifty-one years, it was time to go somewhere new. Professor Paxton has a wonderful speaking voice, an incredible command of her subject, and an awareness of her audience that few lecturers have. I have been an English history buff for sixty years, but the extent of her knowledge and her way of connecting important facts made listening to two or three lectures in a row compulsory, something not so good because I listen while I hike while listening. One lecture is about four miles. Three lectures nearly killed me.

10 people found this helpful

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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!

10 people found this helpful

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Kept my interest and attention

This course was easy to follow. The lecturer came across as well organized and knowledgeable. She not only did a great job explaining the chronological events, but she provided good context for understanding the impact of those events in day to day life and in the world at large.

6 people found this helpful

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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.

12 people found this helpful

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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.

18 people found this helpful

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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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • B
  • 03-26-16

Far better histories of the British out there

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

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.

Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Jennifer Paxton’s performances?

Only under pain of death

If this book were a film would you go see it?

not really relevant, but if it had Samuel Jackson playing Alfred the Great I would consider it

26 people found this helpful

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  • Ama
  • 02-01-14

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.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Anne
  • 05-15-15

Absorbing and entertaining

What did you like best about this story?

It was compelling listening, not a wasted word in all the lectures. Unbelievable value.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

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.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Mayhem, murder and monarchs.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Mr David Newton
  • 10-27-14

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 03-06-14

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Morag
  • 08-02-17

Good introductory course, needs updating

A good introduction to medieval English history. Some slight inaccuracies due to the material not making use of the most up to date research. Still a solid beginners course.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joshua
  • 07-13-17

Great listen

I thoroughly enjoyed this, I only wish there was more on the interactions between England and Scotland.

1 person found this helpful

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  • bush
  • 07-02-17

Best one yet

I've notched up a load of these lectures and this is the best one so far, beautifully told, relatable and clear to understand. The time flew by.

1 person found this helpful

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  • P. Coleman
  • 09-27-21

Fantastic series

Just the right amount of detail. I’ve just finished listening to these for the third time and will look forward to listening to them again. Third time round I actually remembered some of it too! Really interesting to see how our society developed over this formative period and how relatable the people were so long ago. I wish there were more by Professor Paxton.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-20-21

brilliant

Gripping from start to finish . The historical sweep of events and the insights into everyday living equally well presented in a way which flowed easily .

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  • laura
  • 02-01-15

outstanding.

i really enjoyed the series. it was well presented and full of historical intrigue. the main storyline was well presented with interesting digressions to discuss everyday life. the lecturer was engaging throughout.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-22-20

Mostly Excellent

Good narration and for much of the time the audiobook is interesting and entertaining. Too many times the lecturer says, "Now this is interesting but I won't go into it." If you wont explain the issue/story don't bring it up.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bruce B.
  • 07-17-19

Excellent story and narration

Jennifer Paxton is well spoken and articulate and makes an interesting history enjoyable to listen to and easy to understand and follow. Definitely recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Naomi
  • 04-27-17

Good account of Medieval England

Great walk-through the rise of the British Empire, with a good coverage of the general population dispersed amongst a discussion of the monarchy and nobility. Worth several listens to get the genealogy of the ruling lineage straight. It was useful to get the many different battles and conflicts of the time described in chronological order, with explanations about their causes.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Supracet
  • 03-12-16

Fascinating!

This course has been amazing. Full of information and delivered with enthusiasm and humour; I loved it!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Frank
  • 01-19-15

Very enjoyable and easy to listen to.

This was very easy to listen to and follow. I was very happy with it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-08-21

Fantastic

One of my favourite books on history. Tells a wonderful story - I absolutely binged on the book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-01-21

Very good treatment

This is a very good treatment, and Prof Paxton reads very well. The story moves nicely and is never less than interesting.

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  • Daniel
  • 03-26-21

The Best I've Heard So Far

This is the best "Great Course" I've listened to so far... The lecturer is engaging and easy to follow.

Jennifer Paxton tells a series of gripping stories with great clarity and enthusiasm. These stories are told in an efficient, orderly, and connected fashion, that comes together to tell the epic saga of England from the Roman occupation through to the establishment of the Tudor dynasty and the late 15th century.

If history is your thing, or if you're just looking to expand your knowledge of English history, then this is the Great Course for you.

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  • Pixie Girl
  • 02-07-21

Very thorough & easy to follow

I really liked this book. The narration was very solid and I enjoyed listening. I did slow it to 0.9 as I found it easier to take I all the information that way, otherwise I found myself rewinding to repeat bits I’d not quite taken in. This is a personal preference of course. It really was like attending lectures with a lecturer you like! This was just the right depth for a good listen, not bogged down with the minutiae, but enough detail and context to give a good understanding of the events of the period. It was exactly what I was expecting and perfect for listening to while working remotely.