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The Early Middle Ages

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Early Middle Ages, Audio Book (2004) Philip Daileader (The Great Courses)

The Early Middle Ages300 – 1000 CE

My brain sometimes likes to keep going long past the time I’m ready to fall asleep.

I’ve always read myself to sleep, and I’ve usually read non-fiction before bed (reading fiction can lead to staying up too late) but recently I’ve had issues where I wake myself up after first drifting off.

I discovered that with a pair of sleep headphones, non-fiction books are perfect for lulling me back to sleep. (Years ago, before bluetooth, I had wired sleep headphones, but I move so much in my sleep they were not especially safe.

I’d somehow forgotten I had some of The Great Courses until I was looking for some bedtime listening–the early middle ages ended up working perfectly.

Couple things to note: First, the instructor has a verbal tick of drawing out “and” which was noticeable after awhile. Second, it took me months to finish this because, duh, I would fall asleep while listening. So every night I’d go rewind until I felt I’d listened to almost all of a section before falling asleep.

Surprisingly, I think I picked up quite a bit in the minutes before fully drifting off. I certainly feel like I have a far better understanding than I did previously–especially the visigoths and the osteogoths and the franks and the other barbarians who eventually took over Europe.

The Visigoths, or West Goths, were those Goths who crossed the Danube River in 376. They established their own independent kingdom in southern France and Spain.

I’d read and heard these names before, but they were mostly dissociated from much in the way of meaning. Listening to this brought things together.

Germanic groups, such as the Angles and Saxons from Germany and the Jutes from southern Denmark, began to raid and to settle in Britain during the ? rst half of the 5th century. By 600, Anglo-Saxons had gained control of southern and eastern Britain, although present-day Wales, Ireland, and Scotland eluded their control. They established a number of different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, such as Wessex, Sussex, and Northumbria.

Same for the Byzantines.

Historians refer to the eastern half of the Roman Empire as the Byzantine Empire. Only the western half of the Roman Empire ceased to exist after the deposing of the last western emperor in 476. The eastern half remained in existence until the 15th century, outlasting the western half by almost 1,000 years.

Would I want to take a test on this material? No. But I do feel a heck of a lot more comfortable with the underlying ideas.

Publisher: The Great Courses

Rating: 8/10

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