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Extended Audio Sample Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe, by Thomas Cahill Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,341 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Thomas Cahill Narrator: John Lee Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Hinges of History Series Release Date:
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After the long period of cultural decline known as the Dark Ages, Europe experienced a rebirth of scholarship, art, literature, philosophy, and science and began to develop a vision of Western society that remains at the heart of Western civilization today.

By placing the image of the Virgin Mary at the center of their churches and their lives, medieval people exalted womanhood to a level unknown in any previous society. For the first time, men began to treat women with dignity and women took up professions that had always been closed to them.

The communion bread, believed to be the body of Jesus, encouraged the formulation of new questions in philosophy: Could reality be so fluid that one substance could be transformed into another? Could ordinary bread become a holy reality? Could mud become gold, as the alchemists believed? These new questions pushed the minds of medieval thinkers toward what would become modern science.

Artists began to ask themselves similar questions. How can we depict human anatomy so that it looks real to the viewer? How can we depict motion in a composition that never moves? How can two dimensions appear to be three? Medieval artists (and writers, too) invented the Western tradition of realism.

On visits to the great cities of Europe—monumental Rome; the intellectually explosive Paris of Peter Abelard and Thomas Aquinas; the hotbed of scientific study that was Oxford; and the incomparable Florence of Dante and Giotto—Cahill brilliantly captures the spirit of experimentation, the colorful pageantry, and the passionate pursuit of knowledge that built the foundations for the modern world.

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Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sara | 2/18/2014

    " A good read, very easy to follow and entertaining. Only thing I didn't like was the postlude where the author went off topic(I thought) and spent a long time censuring the Catholic Church for pedophilic priests. Not entirely sure where he was going with that chapter. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Pat | 2/7/2014

    " Wonderful overview of major characters of the Middle Ages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sharman Wilson | 2/5/2014

    " Cahill is so accessible and fun to read. I loved finally getting to know people whose names have flitted around in my consciousness--Hildegard von Bingen, Thomas Aquinas, Bernard of Clairvaux :( This book is definitely a keeper--I'll refer to it over and over. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Nicole | 2/2/2014

    " While it's not the most intensive history, I always thoroughly enjoy reading Cahill. You can't help but get pulled in by his storytelling. "

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