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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
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Claudia Murray on 04-24-14

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?


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19 of 19 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Jake on 09-04-13

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.

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13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By B on 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

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7 of 8 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 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.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By laura on 02-01-15


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.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Naomi on 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.

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