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Publisher's Summary

The Early Middle Ages - the years from A.D. 650 to 1000 - were crucial to Europe's future social and political development. These 24 lectures trace a journey from Scandinavia across northern and central Europe to the farthest reaches of the Byzantine and Islamic empires, providing an exciting new look an era often simply called the "Dark Ages."

Given the period's dismal reputation and its temporal remoteness from the 21st century, you'll be surprised to learn about some of the most challenging questions historians have ever had to tackle: Why did the Roman Empire fall? Why did the ancient world give way to the medieval world? Why did Christian monotheism become the dominant religion in Europe? You'll meet some of the era's exciting figures, such as St. Augustine and Justinian, and you'll consider the extent to which the historical realities of King Arthur and Charlemagne match up to the legends that have become attached to their names. You'll also look at the era's effect on the Vikings, the rise of the Carolingians, and the golden age of Islamic rule in Spain.

Professor Daileader also explores the contrasting historical theories offered by two extremely influential historians: Edward Gibbon, the English author of the monumental The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, whose explanations closely followed those of the Roman moralists of the 4th and 5th centuries; and Henri Pirenne, the Belgian thinker who injected a newfound emphasis on social and especially economic factors into the analysis of history.

You'll see why the era belies its reputation as dark and dismal, but you'll come away with a new appreciation for this once-lost era.

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

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great introduction to the period

Stimulating discussion of the Early Middle Ages. Gets you engaged in some deep thinking of this time.

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  • Mike
  • 03-07-2014

Amazing Look at the Transition to the Middle Ages!

Any additional comments?

This was an excellent read! Professor Philip Daileader is an excellent lecturer and scholar and you probably won't be disappointed by anything you get from him.

This lecture series takes you from the late Roman Empire around the time of Constantine and traces the transition of Europe from late antiquity to the middle ages. You will learn about the collapse of Roman rule in the West, the continuation of the Roman empire in the East through the Byzantine rulers, the Barbarian invasions of Western Europe, the rise of Islam, the emergence of the Carolingian Holy Roman Empire, and the eventual splitting off of that empire into what would become the modern states of France and Germany. He covers all major historical events to about 1000AD.

If you would like to learn more about how Europe went from a unified Roman empire to the divided and complicated state it is in now, I cannot recommend another resource more highly. You will learn about the foundations of all the modern nation states, including England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. This was an invaluable read for me as it helped me connect all of those dots!

Also, the professor tries to highlight not just political history, but also cultural, economic, religious, and social aspects of history in his overview.

This is part one of a three part series offered by the Great Courses that will take you through the entire middle ages up to the year 1500. I highly recommend the whole series.

If you are at all interested in the topic, and enjoy a good read about history, you will not be disappointed! Enjoy!!!

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Nicolas Cobelo
  • 16-11-2017

Great professor!

LECTURE 1
Long Shadows and the Dark Ages
LECTURE 2
Diocletian and the Crises of the Third Century
LECTURE 3
Constantine the Great—Christian Emperor
LECTURE 4
Pagans and Christians in the Fourth Century
LECTURE 5
Athletes of God
LECTURE 6
Augustine, Part One
LECTURE 7
Augustine, Part Two
LECTURE 8
Barbarians at the Gate
LECTURE 9
Franks and Goths
LECTURE 10
Arthur’s England
LECTURE 11
Justinian and the Byzantine Empire
LECTURE 12
The House of Islam
LECTURE 13
Rise of the Carolingians
LECTURE 14
Charlemagne
LECTURE 15
Carolingian Christianity
LECTURE 16
The Carolingian Renaissance
LECTURE 17
Fury of the Northmen
LECTURE 18
Collapse of the Carolingian Empire
LECTURE 19
The Birth of France and Germany
LECTURE 20
England in the Age of Alfred
LECTURE 21
Al-Andalus—Islamic Spain
LECTURE 22
Carolingian Europe—Gateway to the Middle Ages
LECTURE 23
Family Life—How Then Became Now
LECTURE 24
Long Shadows and the Dark Ages Revisited

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Elizabeth Reynolds
  • 16-03-2014

Early Middles

I enjoy everything that this professor does, but I do enjoy this time period this best. He has such a good sense of humor and relevance.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • 20-08-2015

Awesome history lesson

This is a great series of lecture about a fascinating period of history. The professor does a particularly great job at explaining the historiography of this topic, and weaving that into our understanding of the early middle ages. It turns out there aren't too many primary sources a historian can pull from when it comes to this topic, but what is extrapolated is fascinating nonetheless.

My only small complaint about this course is that Professor Daileader's tone sometimes takes on an air of "this is too complicated to explain, but I'll painfully try to explain it to you." It's not quite condescension, it's just a very apparent "pained" tone he sometimes takes on. I found this occasionally distracting.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Gayle Gleichauf
  • 01-04-2015

recommended

The prof had a sense of humor and way with words. Breaks the lessons into coherent building blocks that tell the whole story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 31-03-2015

Excellent story telling.

Excellent story telling. Lecturer is engaging, funny and brings a sense of modern and approachability to an underrated time period.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • EmilyK
  • 27-08-2017

Fascinating and deeper look at the early Mid. Ages

This is one of my favorite Great Courses. Having recently re-discovered my love for Ancient and Medieval history, this is exactly what I needed. There's no prior background required, but enough interesting detail that I learned a lot despite having read some other books on the period recently. I particularly liked that each lecture was self-contained and yet built on each other. Although I listened to it relatively quickly, it would work well for someone who needs a podcasting for commuting or other travel.

Daileader helpfully frames each lecture with a summary at the beginning and the end. He has a dry sense of humor and tells wry anecdotes and differing views of scholars all in a very engaging way. Because he is only focusing on one part of the Middle Ages, he was able to go a bit deeper than some courses or books on the period.

Prof. Daileader does have some verbal tics that might bother some people. I quickly got used to them, however.

Overall, he reminds me of Prof. Fagan's lectures for being witty, fascinating, and accessible to those with different levels of knowledge.

I liked Daileader so much that even though I haven't been able to buy his other lectures on discount, I will splurge and use a credit to get one!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • JC
  • 10-10-2016

Aaaaaaaaaaaand

It is a good course. Be warned, the prof has a nervous habit of drawing out and, as, and other conjunctions. He seems to tone it down as the course goes on, but at first it's like nails on a chalk board.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • serine
  • 14-02-2016

Excellent lecture series

Excellent review of how religion, politics, family structure, language, etc changed as humans colonized and conquered Rome, Germany, Spain, and England. This course details the power struggles between families as the grappled for control over empires and kingdoms (did family feuds or outsiders bring them down?). I feel as if I learned more about earlier and later time periods. For me, this filled in some gaps.

The course itself is really short (12 hours on Audible). Very digestible. No prior knowledge required. Absolutely recommend.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Gawel
  • 18-08-2015

Very engaging

The way this lecture is taught is simply superb. Can't wait to listen to the other two.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • 27-12-2014

Excellent insight into a little understood period

This is the best course I have listened to this far from the Great Courses. The material covered is not a period I knew well and the lecturer had an enjoyably light style with a nicely dry sense of humour.

What I particularly enjoyed was the comprehensive coverage of the subject including low and high culture; religion and politics; war and peace. Really a superb series of lectures

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • mr
  • 15-06-2014

Very good

Really good, I learnt a lot more than I expected, good delivery. Three is the series, started listening to the third (unaware of the second, before driving) and the start is excellent. So go for it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 24-01-2015

The perfect lecture course

I have listened to many of the Great Courses series, and this ranks amongst the very best. This seemingly remote period came alive completely in the hands of Professor Daileader and I became almost addicted to the lectures. It is a beautifully crafted course: each lecture has a clearly defined topic, beginning with a summary of the last lecture and ending with a short review. And the presentation is just wonderful. For detailed information about content I recommend looking at the Great Courses web site, which has a list of lecture titles. Or you could just take my word for it and download this course now -- I cannot recommend it highly enough.
I will now move seamlessly on to Professor Daileader's next course on the High Middle Ages......

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ms. S. Smith
  • 10-11-2014

Content great but narration slightly annoying

What did you like best about The Early Middle Ages? What did you like least?

This is a period of history that I know relatively little about and especially the fall,of the Roman Empire was really interesting. The only fly in the ointment was the narrator's irritating use of a long, drawn out "aaaand" every couple of words which made listening quite hard going after only a short time. I persevered however because the subject interested me.

What did you like best about this story?

The historical content obviously.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Pace yes, but I would probably read another work by this author. rather than listen to him narrate another audio book.

Did The Early Middle Ages inspire you to do anything?

Yes, I have already bought additional historical audio books from the Great Courses series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • elena gomez
  • 03-05-2018

so engaging

This is the first book of the series I have read. I liked it so much that I got the next two volumes.
Professor Daileader is such good fun. I highly recommend this audible.
I usually listen to it on my way to work and I just check my understanding of names and places. The pdf is quite a good tool.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-07-2017

Great

I enjoyed this course and learned a lot from it. The subject matter was well explained.

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  • John
  • 19-02-2017

Is he Bill Bryson in disguise?

Great buy. Informative, witty and well-paced. I'm now moving on to The High Middle Ages.
Say no more!

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  • Michel Bartz
  • 30-01-2017

Quality lectures from a good teacher

Philip Daileader introduces us to the early middle ages in an engaging manner flowing through the centuries of that period.

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  • D. J. Wilkinson
  • 23-11-2016

Riveting overview

This is a fascinating overview of the decline of the Roman Empire and the start of the Middle Ages. Some of the detail is amazing. If you really want to know what happened - it's here.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-04-2016

Excellent introduction and framework

This is a great introduction to a topic which I had never previously tackled in depth. It is entertaining, and educational and gives a great framework in which to build.
I learned about late antiquity and how it developed into the Early Middle Ages. I learned about theories about how population and economic decline occurred early in the period and how a turning point was reached during the lifetime of Charlemagne.