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Download Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art from the Cults of Catholic Europe Audiobook, 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: October 2006 ISBN: 9781415932841
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • Like a favorite college professor who could make any subject fascinating and understandable, Thomas Cahill takes us on an intoxicating journey through medieval Europe in Mysteries of the Middle Ages. Throughout it all, you are keenly aware that the author wants you to fall in love with this pivotal period in Western civilization every bit as much as he did....Cahill spans centuries of history beautifully and seamlessly, giving readers a lovingly painted picture of the high Middle Ages and how its sensibilities evolved to shape ours today. The Los Angeles Times
  • A prodigiously gifted populizar of Western philosophical and religious thought spotlights exemplary Christians in the High Middle Ages...Cahill serves as an irresistible guide: never dull, sometimes provocative, often luminous. Kirkus Reviews
  • Fascinating…Commendable…Cahill has an impressive knowledge of the Greek world.…His admirable skill at summing up movements of enormous complexity surfaces throughout the book. Seattle Times
  • Astonishing…If anybody can get us reading about Homer, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Thucydides, Xenophon and more, Cahill will. Chicago Tribune
  • Each of [Cahill’s] books offers moments of genuine insight into the workings of culture, literature, and the human heart. Commonweal
  • With grace, skill, and erudition, he summarizes obtuse semantic and historical arguments, highlights the findings most relevant to lay readers, and draws disparate material together in his portraits of Jesus, his mother, Mary, and the apostle Paul. Washington Post Book World
  • Captivating…Persuasive as well as entertaining…Mr. Cahill’s book is a gift. New York Times
  • Cahill’s clearly voiced, jubilant song of praise to the gifts of the Jews is itself a gift—a splendid story, well told. Boston Globe
  • Charming and poetic…an entirely engaging, delectable voyage into the distant past, a small treasure. New York Times
  • Cahill’s lively prose breathes life into a 1,600-year-old history. Boston Globe

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ron | 1/28/2014

    " I really enjoye this historical overview of the Middle Ages, from 900 to 1400 AD. I have also read How the Irish Save Civilization, the first book in this series, and now realize that I should read the rest of the books in the series. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elderberrywine | 1/26/2014

    " Despite the misleading name (mysteries?), this is a cheeky, opinionated, and very entertaining examination of some of the key places and players of the Middle Ages, and the convoluted transformation of Greco-Roman ideas and themes into those of the modern era. As Cahill writes, he wishes to examine the "hinges" of history - a person or event that suddenly changes the turn of history into a different direction. Fascinating stuff. And now I want to read the rest of the series, especially the first volume, How the Irish Saved Civilization. Well, now. Do tell. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane | 1/5/2014

    " Excellent book about the middle ages with emphasis on women's role. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jonathan | 12/28/2013

    " A nice walk through key developments of the Middle Ages, done in the popular vein. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 12/9/2013

    " This book is the reason why my daughter's middle name is Heloise. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Juli | 12/7/2013

    " rented space in my head................ "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charles Heckscher | 12/1/2013

    " Fun for those who like the middle ages -- unsystematic, personal take, sometimes very opinionated, but there seems to be solid historical knowledge behind it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ted | 11/16/2013

    " Although laden with aspects of Church and European Religious Doctrine and history, is fascinating with the Characters it features, as the heros of The Middle Ages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tom K | 10/26/2013

    " A good read for the armchair historian. For something a little more meaty I would suggest Morris Bishop's book on the Middle Ages. Still, this was a good easy to read book with some interesting insights and takes on the medieval era. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 9/12/2013

    " I liked this book less than the others in this series. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Claudette | 8/24/2013

    " so far very interesting--I really like other books by this author. He's got a series: Pillars of History or something like that--this is the 5th I think. Go, read, and learn! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacey | 8/8/2013

    " This one seemed more colloquial and hodge-podgy than I remember the others being, but the author insists that's the nature of the middle ages and who am I to argue? "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Craig | 5/22/2013

    " "How the Irish Saved Civilization" was a blazing supernovae. This is match struck on your arse. Readable, but not convincing. Indeed, I'm not sure of what I was intended to be convinced. Weak thesis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn | 8/8/2012

    " This is the second book that I've read by Thomas Cahill. I really enjoy his books and am looking forward to reading How the Irish Saved Civilization. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elsie | 3/7/2012

    " Not as easy a read as his others. It's a difficult topic to give it cohesiveness. Again I liked his perspective. He's definitely done the background research. Lots of pics of Middle Ages art which made it easier to follow. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jamie | 2/3/2012

    " I read this right after returning from Italy. It really added to the whole experience. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Trisha | 12/30/2011

    " Easy to read. Very informative. Great "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hayley | 10/3/2011

    " I found this book absurdly easy to get through. It was wide encompassing and taught me things I previously did not know! I'd like to read more of his books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina | 8/16/2011

    " Once again, the library needed a book back before I was finished, but I look forward to finishing this one in the near future. A great read. Cahill has a talent for making history read like a novel. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Aikens | 8/15/2011

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but after reading other people's review, I 'm beginning to think I'm not a very critical reader. My job is to buy books so, perhaps, I judge books on how they'll appeal to our customers rather than as a scholarly critique. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Charles | 5/8/2011

    " Fun for those who like the middle ages -- unsystematic, personal take, sometimes very opinionated, but there seems to be solid historical knowledge behind it. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 5/3/2011

    " Entertaining to read, but obviously a popular rather than scholarly history book. Cahill has some odd digressions that were jarring, but the book was a generally enjoyable, if not substantial, read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carolyn | 3/31/2011

    " This is the second book that I've read by Thomas Cahill. I really enjoy his books and am looking forward to reading How the Irish Saved Civilization. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dafne | 2/15/2011

    " Voy por la página 17, en el capítulo "Alejandría, ciudad de la razón" y no he podido parar... La Historia sobre la Gran Biblioteca, El Faro y la bellísima ciudad, me tiene cautivada. "El alma sólo lleva al otro mundo su educación y su cultura" Platón "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elsie | 2/11/2011

    " Not as easy a read as his others. It's a difficult topic to give it cohesiveness. Again I liked his perspective. He's definitely done the background research. Lots of pics of Middle Ages art which made it easier to follow.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 2/2/2011

    " Cahill is an incredible writer. He makes the past come alive with interest and humor. I'm looking forward to reading his whole series. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hayley | 12/30/2010

    " I found this book absurdly easy to get through. It was wide encompassing and taught me things I previously did not know! I'd like to read more of his books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 12/22/2010

    " Thomas Cahill is very opionated and a bit esoteric at times but his relatively informal style of history appeals to me and he comes up with enough interesting ideas and intriguing facts to keep me reading. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Chris | 11/29/2010

    " Didn't get past the first few pages. Did not enjoy the writing style at all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Natalie | 9/24/2010

    " Parts of the book make for a very interesting read, and the layout is beautifully done. However, I found Cahill's take on the islamic faith to be unnecessary and unprofessional. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurie | 8/26/2010

    " I think the title is misleading. It should be (in my opinion): "Notable Figures of the Middle Ages: People who changed the way the world was viewed and experienced. Plus, numerous excerpts of famous writings, in their original language, that make the book drag on".
    "

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About the Author
Author Thomas CahillTHOMAS CAHILL is the author of the best-selling books, How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland 's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe, The Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and Feels, and Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus.  These books comprise the first three volumes of a prospective seven-volume series entitled "The Hinges of History," in which Cahill recounts formative moments in Western civilization. In "The Hinges of History," Thomas Cahill endeavors to retell the story of the Western World through little-known stories of the great gift-givers, people who contributed immensely to Western, culture and the evolution of Western sensibility, thus revealing how we have become the people we are and why we think and feel the way we do today.
About the Narrator

John Lee, a stage actor and writer and a coproducer of feature films, has narrated more than one hundred audiobooks of every conceivable genre, earning some three dozen Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award.