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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: Thomas Cahill Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Hinges of History Series Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9780739334324
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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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenny | 2/20/2014

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

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Thouvenel | 2/16/2014

    " I love this book! It is my favorite of all Cahill's Hinges of History. I had no idea how interesting or varied the Middle Ages were. I didn't know much about Catholic Saints and I learned some fascinating information about vibrant men and women. It dovetailed nicely with other studying I was doing at the time and much of the information has made it into my lectures. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kathy | 2/6/2014

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

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 David | 1/24/2014

    " Cahill has been on a steady decline since the Irish saved civilsation. He's really reaching in some of his thinking in this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joan | 1/21/2014

    " A physically beautiful book- with lovely illuminations on some of the pages and good pictures interspersed with the text. Interesting on Hildegarde and a slightly different take on Eleanore of Aquitaine. Also I liked the part on Francis of Assisi- I knew little of his actual life previously. Quite humorous in places too. A good read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rori | 1/19/2014

    " Still reading this, but I love Thomas Cahill, and expect to love this book. The artwork inside is AWESOME! **Update-I finally finished it! This is another good Thomas Cahill Hinges of History book. Starts slow, but good nonetheless. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katie | 1/18/2014

    " 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. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Erin Entrada Kelly | 1/15/2014

    " This book was attractive, but that was the most interesting thing about it. I found the writing sluggish. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan Aikens | 1/15/2014

    " 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 Dora | 12/30/2013

    " This man is absolutely brilliant; if only I could retain a tenth of what he has stored in that mind of his. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 12/25/2013

    " the author puts forth some very interesting theories, and then he backs them up with facts. I really liked this book "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 12/12/2013

    " I think the book was more of the rise of art from the cults of Catholic Europe than science and feminism. Good historical data to explore. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stacey | 11/23/2013

    " 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 Rebecca Coday | 11/15/2013

    " I confess, I was not interested enough in this book to finish it. It wasn't like his other books, which were well researched and interesting to read. It was more like a review of well-known bits of medieval history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sara | 9/30/2013

    " 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gina | 8/16/2013

    " Very enjoyable book. Easy for anyone with a slight curiosity of the middle ages to get into. But it's not brain candy. It's definitely a meat & potatoes kind of book. Yes, he can get verbose & loves big words, but I enjoyed the challenge & would rather that then be talked down to. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Colin | 3/18/2013

    " Thomas Cahill's "Hinges of History" series is incomparable. Read them all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lindsay | 2/3/2013

    " Interesting subject matter. Fascinating historical tidbits. Could have done without the preachy references to current events, though. Cahill should trust his readers to make those (obvious) connections on their own. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mark Allen | 11/14/2012

    " This is a beautiful book materially with many useful photos and reproductions of art and Cahill brings to life a time period that many might find dull. However, Cahill's frequent flippant and dismissive comments especially in the conclusion mar an otherwise interesting read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy | 10/13/2012

    " I LOVE READING THIS BOOK "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pat | 10/3/2012

    " 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 Judy | 8/4/2012

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cade | 5/25/2012

    " I listened to the abridged version, so that took some of the interest away, but an interesting book all in all. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 2/28/2012

    " 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. "

  • 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.