The Late Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)

Posted September 22, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 4 Comments

The Late Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)

The Late Middle Ages by Philip Daileader

Digital Audiobook narrated by Philip Daileader

Published by The Great Courses, The Teaching Company on January 1, 2007
Series: The Great Courses #8296
Genres: History, Non-Fiction
or 12 hours, 22 minutes
Source: Audible

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Were the two centuries from c. 1300 to c. 1500—an age that has come to be known as the Late Middle Ages—an era of calamity or an era of rebirth? Should we look on this time as still clearly medieval or as one in which humanity took its first decisive steps into modernity? Was it a period as distant from us as it appears, or was it closer than we suspect? Students of history are still trying, even after so many centuries, to reach anything approaching a consensus on the answers to these questions.

I’m a sucker for The Great Courses because when they’re good, they’re really good.  I absolutely loved the courses on Ancient Egypt and Myths in Human History, and I felt like I learned so much from those professors.  On the other hand, I found the course on The Vikings disappointingly dull.  This… sort of reflects my experience as a history major – some things are fascinating, others are a bit tedious, and it all depends on the professor.  Therefore, my experience with The Great Courses has been hit-or-miss.

Unfortunately, I find that The Late Middle Ages was closer to a “miss” for me.  While I enjoyed the subject and some individual lectures were fascinating, the course as a whole wasn’t presented in such a light that really gripped my attention.  The Late Middle Ages (also known as the Last Medieval Era) spanned the course of 1250 CE to 1500 CE.  There’s about 250 years of history in this chunk, including several key historic events that even non-history buffs will be familiar with, such as:  the Spanish Inquisition, the Age of Exploration, and the Fall of Constantinople.  There’s a lot of really interesting content in this lecture, so it was not that subject matter that threw me off… it was the lecturer.

Like all the professors I’ve encountered (both in these courses and in my own college experience), Philip Daileader knows his subject inside and out and is a master in his field.  His knowledge and explanations here were great – he lost me with his lecturing style.  It always felt to me like Professor Daileader was racing toward the end of his lectures.  The way he spoke made me feel like he was simply exhausted in repeating this information.  And, you know, I bet he is!  Professors, experts in particular, get to repeat their lectures again and again and again forever and I’m sure that gets a bit boring.  I would hear him sigh as he was lecturing, and any jokes he tried to make fell flat.  As a lecturer, he didn’t grip me.  This differs so much from Bob Brier, the Egyptian lecturer, who sounded excited to share his knowledge and included relevant activities in his lectures.

When I sat down and really listened, these lectures were packed with information.  I actually took notes on the witch trial section, because I’m using the witch trial format in my current WIP, and I felt so informed after listening to that lecture.  The Late Middle Ages was interesting and detailed… it’s the type of college class you find interesting, but don’t particularly like going to.  From an information and historical quality perspective, I feel comfortable recommending this lecture.  However, it’s a bit boring, so you have to be really interested in the subject matter.

And I majored in history with a medieval concentration… so I am super interested.  But I really needed to zone in and focus to extract the information, because Professor Daileader was not doing anything special to pull me in.

The Breakdown
Personal Enjoyment
Overall: four-stars

Are you interested in history?  If so, which period?  I am a huge history buff, but mostly for the “story” aspect of history.  You can hook me in with just about anything from before the industrial revolution!  Tell me your thoughts on history in the comments!

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4 responses to “The Late Middle Ages by Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)

  1. I appreciate your reviews of these courses because I am a massive history nerd….any era, any country, I’m all in. I think history has this reputation of being boring which just isn’t true.

    • Amber

      Aw, well thank you. I feel like they stick out a bit like a sore thumb compared to my other blog content, but I really do enjoy them for the post part. I think I own three more of these from my Audible subscriber days, so there will be more incoming at some point. I tend to do 1-2 courses/year, so maybe not until next year. 🙂

  2. Philip Daileader RULES (fist pump in the air.) As an art historian and history podcaster, I was first introduced to Professor Dialeader with the History Channel’s program called “The Dark Ages” and I was hooked. I then listened to his Early, High and Late Middle Ages audio books at least 3 times all the way through – as well as Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s The Vikings and I am beyond impressed with them both. I also don’t feel that Professor Daileader’s lectures seemed rushed in any way. To me, he seems like he loves the material and that is what come through from me. I lecture extensively on the 5th- 9th century history of the Middle Ages and I suggest giving both of these above mentioned Professors a shot.

    FYI: The Dark Ages DVD is available on Amazon and I highly recommend it.
    Sharon M. Fitzgerald, MA “Ep. 2 Modern Art and Ep. 10 “Live from D-Day Normandy Beach”

    • Amber

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the lectures! We are all of different types to be sure, and different teaching styles will resonate with each of us differently. Where I wasn’t crazy about Professor Daileader, I’m so happy to hear that you really enjoyed his work!