Was King Arthur a real person? What about Robin Hood? Is the Holy Grail just a cup (or a legend)? Did Europeans in the past really burn millions of people at the stake for witchcraft? These are just a few of the questions you will explore with the help of medieval scholar Dorsey Armstrong as she reveals the truth about the stories we continue to tell about the medieval period. Some contain nuggets of truth, others are wholly fabricated, but all of them can tell us something about the past.
From films such as Braveheart and Excalibur to literature such as Ivanhoe and Le Morte d’Arthur, the years between 500 and 1500 have generated amazing stories of knights and damsels, superstitions and magic; some of these stories even made it into our grade school history curriculum. But what were those years really like? Known somewhat inaccurately as the Middle Ages, this period was not merely a transition from Roman antiquity to the Renaissance but a vibrant time full of people who were curious, innovative, malicious, joyful, confused, ambitious, complex—in other words, just as human as in any other period of history.
The 10 enlightening (and often humorous) lectures of Medieval Myths & Mysteries will show you how far from the “dark” times of legend these centuries were. Uncover the facts about the Knights Templar. Learn the truth behind the tales of legendary creatures such as the Questing Beast and the unicorn. Trace the events of the Black Death and the ways the plague altered the world in its wake. With Professor Armstrong, you will learn much more and dig deep into the ways that later generations reshaped the narrative of the medieval years, perpetuating the myths of a simpler and less civilized age. The era was, in fact, much richer and more complex than many of us have been led to believe.