In Our Time: History podcast

In Our Time: History

Historical themes, events and key individuals from Akhenaten to Xenophon.

Historical themes, events and key individuals from Akhenaten to Xenophon.

 

#202

Nefertiti

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the woman who inspired one of the best known artefacts from ancient Egypt. The Bust of Nefertiti is multicoloured and symmetrical, about 49cm/18" high and, despite the missing left eye, still holds the gaze of onlookers below its tall, blue, flat topped headdress. Its discovery in 1912 in Amarna was kept quiet at first but its display in Berlin in the 1920s caused a sensation, with replicas sent out across the world. Ever since, as with Tutankhamun perhaps, the concrete facts about Nefertiti herself have barely kept up with the theories, the legends and the speculation, reinvigorated with each new discovery. With Aidan Dodson Honorary Professor of Egyptology at the University of Bristol Joyce Tyldesley Professor of Egyptology at the University of Manchester And Kate Spence Senior Lecturer in Egyptian Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Emmanuel College Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Dorothea Arnold (ed.), The Royal Women of Amarna: Images of Beauty from Ancient Egypt (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996) Norman de Garis Davies, The Rock Tombs of el-Amarna (6 vols. Egypt Exploration Society, 1903-1908) Aidan Dodson, Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-reformation. (American University in Cairo Press, 2009 Aidan Dodson, Nefertiti, Queen and Pharaoh of Egypt: her life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2020) Aidan Dodson, Tutankhamun: King of Egypt: his life and afterlife (American University in Cairo Press, 2022) Barry Kemp, The City of Akhenaten and Nefertiti: Amarna and Its People (Thames and Hudson, 2012) Dominic Montserrat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt (Routledge, 2002) Friederike Seyfried (ed.), In the Light of Amarna: 100 Years of the Nefertiti Discovery (Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussamlung Staatlich Museen zu Berlin/ Michael Imhof Verlag, 2013) Joyce Tyldesley, Tutankhamun: Pharaoh, Icon, Enigma (Headline, 2022) Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti’s Face: The Creation of an Icon (Profile Books, 2018) Joyce Tyldesley, Nefertiti: Egypt’s Sun Queen (Viking, 1998) ... Read more

15 Feb 2024

49 MINS

49:50

15 Feb 2024


#201

Tiberius

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Roman emperor Tiberius. When he was born in 42BC, there was little prospect of him ever becoming Emperor of Rome. Firstly, Rome was still a Republic and there had not yet been any Emperor so that had to change and, secondly, when his stepfather Augustus became Emperor there was no precedent for who should succeed him, if anyone. It somehow fell to Tiberius to develop this Roman imperial project and by some accounts he did this well, while to others his reign was marked by cruelty and paranoia inviting comparison with Nero. With Matthew Nicholls Senior Tutor at St. John’s College, University of Oxford Shushma Malik Assistant Professor of Classics and Onassis Classics Fellow at Newnham College at the University of Cambridge And Catherine Steel Professor of Classics at the University of Glasgow Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Edward Champlin, ‘Tiberius the Wise’ (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 57.4, 2008) Alison E. Cooley, ‘From the Augustan Principate to the invention of the Age of Augustus’ (Journal of Roman Studies 109, 2019) Alison E. Cooley, The Senatus Consultum de Cn. Pisone Patre: text, translation, and commentary (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Eleanor Cowan, ‘Tiberius and Augustus in Tiberian Sources’ (Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 58.4, 2009) Cassius Dio (trans. C. T. Mallan), Roman History: Books 57 and 58: The Reign of Tiberius (Oxford University Press, 2020) Rebecca Edwards, ‘Tacitus, Tiberius and Capri’ (Latomus, 70.4, 2011) A. Gibson (ed.), The Julio-Claudian Succession: Reality and Perception of the Augustan Model (Brill, 2012), especially ‘Tiberius and the invention of succession’ by C. Vout Josephus (trans. E. Mary Smallwood and G. Williamson), The Jewish War (Penguin Classics, 1981) Barbara Levick, Tiberius the Politician (Routledge, 1999) E. O’Gorman, Tacitus’ History of Political Effective Speech: Truth to Power (Bloomsbury, 2019) Velleius Paterculus (trans. J. C. Yardley and Anthony A. Barrett), Roman History: From Romulus and the Foundation of Rome to the Reign of the Emperor Tiberius (Hackett Publishing, 2011) R. Seager, Tiberius (2nd ed., Wiley-Blackwell, 2005) David Shotter, Tiberius Caesar (Routledge, 2005) Suetonius (trans. Robert Graves), The Twelve Caesars (Penguin Classics, 2007) Tacitus (trans. Michael Grant), The Annals of Imperial Rome (Penguin Classics, 2003) ... Read more

11 Jan 2024

53 MINS

53:10

11 Jan 2024


#200

Marguerite de Navarre

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Marguerite, Queen of Navarre (1492 – 1549), author of the Heptaméron, a major literary landmark in the French Renaissance. Published after her death, The Heptaméron features 72 short stories, many of which explore relations between the sexes. However, Marguerite’s life was more eventful than that of many writers. Born into the French nobility, she found herself the sister of the French king when her brother Francis I came to the throne in 1515. At a time of growing religious change, Marguerite was a leading exponent of reform in the Catholic Church and translated an early work of Martin Luther into French. As the Reformation progressed, she was not afraid to take risks to protect other reformers. With Sara Barker Associate Professor of Early Modern History and Director of the Centre for the Comparative History of Print at the University of Leeds Emily Butterworth Professor of Early Modern French at King’s College London And Emma Herdman Lecturer in French at the University of St Andrews Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Giovanni Boccaccio (trans. Wayne A. Rebhorn), The Decameron (Norton, 2013) Emily Butterworth, Marguerite de Navarre: A Critical Companion (Boydell &Brewer, 2022) Patricia Cholakian and Rouben Cholakian, Marguerite de Navarre: Mother of the Renaissance (Columbia University Press, 2006) Gary Ferguson, Mirroring Belief: Marguerite de Navarre’s Devotional Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 1992) Gary Ferguson and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), A Companion to Marguerite de Navarre (Brill, 2013) Mark Greengrass, The French Reformation (John Wiley & Sons, 1987) R.J. Knecht, The Rise and Fall of Renaissance France (Fontana Press, 2008) R.J. Knecht, Renaissance Warrior and Patron: The Reign of Francis I (Cambridge University Press, 2008) John D. Lyons and Mary B. McKinley (eds.), Critical Tales: New Studies of the ‘Heptaméron’ and Early Modern Culture (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993) Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Paul Chilton), The Heptameron (Penguin, 2004) Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Rouben Cholakian and Mary Skemp), Selected Writings: A Bilingual Edition (University of Chicago Press, 2008) Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Coach and The Triumph of the Lamb (Elm Press, 1999) Marguerite de Navarre (trans. Hilda Dale), The Prisons (Whiteknights, 1989) Marguerite de Navarre (ed. Gisèle Mathieu-Castellani), L’Heptaméron (Libraririe générale française, 1999) Jonathan A. Reid, King’s Sister – Queen of Dissent: Marguerite of Navarre (1492-1549) and her Evangelical Network (Brill, 2009) Paula Sommers, ‘The Mirror and its Reflections: Marguerite de Navarre’s Biblical Feminism’ (Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, 5, 1986) Kathleen Wellman, Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France (Yale University Press, 2013) ... Read more

21 Dec 2023

46 MINS

46:12

21 Dec 2023


#199

The Theory of the Leisure Class

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the most influential work of Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929). In 1899, during America’s Gilded Age, Veblen wrote The Theory of the Leisure Class as a reminder that all that glisters is not gold. He picked on traits of the waning landed class of Americans and showed how the new moneyed class was adopting these in ways that led to greater waste throughout society. He called these conspicuous leisure and conspicuous consumption and he developed a critique of a system that favoured profits for owners without regard to social good. The Theory of the Leisure Class was a best seller and funded Veblen for the rest of his life, and his ideas influenced the New Deal of the 1930s. Since then, an item that becomes more desirable as it becomes more expensive is known as a Veblen good. With Matthew Watson Professor of Political Economy at the University of Warwick Bill Waller Professor of Economics at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York And Mary Wrenn Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of the West of England Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Charles Camic, Veblen: The Making of an Economist who Unmade Economics (Harvard University Press, 2021) John P. Diggins, Thorstein Veblen: Theorist of the Leisure Class (Princeton University Press, 1999) John P. Diggins, The Bard of Savagery: Thorstein Veblen and Modern Social Theory (Seabury Press, 1978) John Kenneth Galbraith, The Affluent Society (Penguin, 1999) Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers (Penguin, 2000), particularly the chapter ‘The Savage Society of Thorstein Veblen’ Ken McCormick, Veblen in Plain English: A Complete Introduction to Thorstein Veblen’s Economics (Cambria Press, 2006) Sidney Plotkin and Rick Tilman, The Political Ideas of Thorstein Veblen (Yale University Press, 2012) Juliet B. Schor, The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need (William Morrow & Company, 1999) Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture (Simon & Schuster Ltd, 2005) Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of the Leisure Class (first published 1899; Oxford University Press, 2009) Thorstein Veblen, The Theory of Business Enterprise (first published 1904; Legare Street Press, 2022) Thorstein Veblen, The Higher Learning in America (first published 2018; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) Thorstein Veblen, Absentee Ownership and Business Enterprise in Recent Times: The Case of America (first published 1923; Routledge, 2017) Thorstein Veblen, Conspicuous Consumption (Penguin, 2005) Thorstein Veblen, The Complete Works (Musaicum Books, 2017) Charles J. Whalen (ed.), Institutional Economics: Perspective and Methods in Pursuit of a Better World (Routledge, 2021) ... Read more

14 Dec 2023

55 MINS

55:32

14 Dec 2023


#198

The Barbary Corsairs

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the North African privateers who, until their demise in the nineteenth century, were a source of great pride and wealth in their home ports, where they sold the people and goods they’d seized from Christian European ships and coastal towns. Nominally, these corsairs were from Algiers, Tunis or Tripoli, outreaches of the Ottoman empire, or Salé in neighbouring Morocco, but often their Turkish or Arabic names concealed their European birth. Murad Reis the Younger, for example, who sacked Baltimore in 1631, was the Dutchman Jan Janszoon who also had a base on Lundy in the Bristol Channel. While the European crowns negotiated treaties to try to manage relations with the corsairs, they commonly viewed these sailors as pirates who were barely tolerated and, as soon as France, Britain, Spain and later America developed enough sea power, their ships and bases were destroyed. With Joanna Nolan Research Associate at SOAS, University of London Claire Norton Former Associate Professor of History at St Mary’s University, Twickenham And Michael Talbot Associate Professor in the History of the Ottoman Empire and the Modern Middle East at the University of Greenwich Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Robert C. Davis, Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500-1800 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) Peter Earle, Corsairs of Malta and Barbary (Sidgwick and Jackson, 1970) Des Ekin, The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates (O’Brien Press, 2008) Jacques Heers, The Barbary Corsairs: Warfare in the Mediterranean, 1450-1580 (Skyhorse Publishing, 2018) Colin Heywood, The Ottoman World: The Mediterranean and North Africa, 1660-1760 (Routledge, 2019) Alan Jamieson, Lords of the Sea: A History of the Barbary Corsairs (Reaktion Books, 2013) Julie Kalman, The Kings of Algiers: How Two Jewish Families Shaped the Mediterranean World during the Napoleonic Wars and Beyond (Princeton University Press, 2023) Stanley Lane-Poole, The Story of the Barbary Corsairs (T. Unwin, 1890) Sally Magnusson, The Sealwoman’s Gift (A novel - Two Roads, 2018) Philip Mansel, Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (John Murray, 2010) Nabil Matar, Turks, Moors and Englishmen in the Age of Discovery (Columbia University Press, 1999) Nabil Matar, Britain and Barbary, 1589-1689 (University Press of Florida, 2005) Giles Milton, White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and North Africa’s One Million European Slaves (Hodder and Stoughton, 2004) Claire Norton (ed.), Conversion and Islam in the Early Modern Mediterranean: The Lure of the Other (Routledge, 2017) Claire Norton, ‘Lust, Greed, Torture and Identity: Narrations of Conversion and the Creation of the Early Modern 'Renegade' (Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 29/2, 2009) Daniel Panzac, The Barbary Corsairs: The End of a Legend, 1800-1820 (Brill, 2005) Rafael Sabatini, The Sea Hawk (a novel - Vintage Books, 2011) Adrian Tinniswood, Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th century (Vintage Books, 2010) D. Vitkus (ed.), Piracy, Slavery and Redemption: Barbary Captivity Narratives from Early Modern England (Columbia University Press, 2001) J. M. White, Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2018) ... Read more

07 Dec 2023

52 MINS

52:59

07 Dec 2023


#197

The Federalist Papers

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay's essays written in 1787/8 in support of the new US Constitution. They published these anonymously in New York as 'Publius' but, when it became known that Hamilton and Madison were the main authors, the essays took on a new significance for all states. As those two men played a major part in drafting the Constitution itself, their essays have since informed debate over what the authors of that Constitution truly intended. To some, the essays have proved to be America’s greatest contribution to political thought. With Frank Cogliano Professor of American History at the University of Edinburgh and Interim Saunders Director of the International Centre for Jefferson Studies at Monticello Kathleen Burk Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History at University College London And Nicholas Guyatt Professor of North American History at the University of Cambridge Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Bernard Bailyn, To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders (Knopf, 2003) Mary Sarah Bilder, Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention (Harvard University Press, 2015) Noah Feldman, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President (Random House, 2017) Jonathan Gienapp, The Second Creation: Fixing the American Constitution in the Founding Era (Harvard University Press, 2018) Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison (eds. George W. Carey and James McClellan), The Federalist: The Gideon Edition (Liberty Fund, 2001) Alison L. LaCroix, The Ideological Origins of American Federalism (Harvard University Press, 2010) James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, The Federalist Papers (Penguin, 1987) Pauline Maier, Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 (Simon and Schuster, 2010) Michael I. Meyerson, Liberty's Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World (Basic Books, 2008) Jack Rakove, Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution (Knopf, 1996) Jack N. Rakove and Colleen A. Sheehan, The Cambridge Companion to The Federalist (Cambridge University Press, 2020) ... Read more

09 Nov 2023

50 MINS

50:41

09 Nov 2023


#196

The Economic Consequences of the Peace

In an extended version of the programme that was broadcast, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the influential book John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1919 after he resigned in protest from his role at the Paris Peace Conference. There the victors of World War One were deciding the fate of the defeated, especially Germany and Austria-Hungary, and Keynes wanted the world to know his view that the economic consequences would be disastrous for all. Soon Germany used his book to support their claim that the Treaty was grossly unfair, a sentiment that fed into British appeasement in the 1930s and has since prompted debate over whether Keynes had only warned of disaster or somehow contributed to it. With Margaret MacMillan Emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Oxford Michael Cox Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Founding Director of LSE IDEAS And Patricia Clavin Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson Reading list: Manfred F. Boemeke, Gerald D. Feldman and Elisabeth Glaser (eds.), The Treaty of Versailles: A Reassessment after 75 Years (Cambridge University Press, 1998) Zachary D. Carter, The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy and the Life of John Maynard Keynes (Random House, 2020) Peter Clarke, Keynes: The Twentieth Century’s Most Influential Economist (Bloomsbury, 2009) Patricia Clavin et al (eds.), Keynes’s Economic Consequences of the Peace after 100 Years: Polemics and Policy (Cambridge University Press, 2023) Patricia Clavin, ‘Britain and the Making of Global Order after 1919: The Ben Pimlott Memorial Lecture’ (Twentieth Century British History, Vol. 31:3, 2020) Richard Davenport-Hines, Universal Man; The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, 2015) R. F. Harrod, John Maynard Keynes (first published 1951; Pelican, 1972) Jens Holscher and Matthias Klaes (eds), Keynes’s Economic Consequences of the Peace: A Reappraisal (Pickering & Chatto, 2014) John Maynard Keynes (with an introduction by Michael Cox), The Economic Consequences of the Peace (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) Margaret MacMillan, Peacemakers: Six Months that Changed the World (John Murray Publishers, 2001) Etienne Mantoux, The Carthaginian Peace or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes (Oxford University Press, 1946) D. E. Moggridge, Maynard Keynes: An Economist’s Biography (Routledge, 1992) Alan Sharp, Versailles 1919: A Centennial Perspective (Haus Publishing Ltd, 2018) Robert Skidelsky, John Maynard Keynes, 1883-1946 (Pan Macmillan, 2004) Jürgen Tampke, A Perfidious Distortion of History: The Versailles Peace Treaty and the Success of the Nazis (Scribe UK, 2017) Adam Tooze, The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931 (Penguin Books, 2015) ... Read more

26 Oct 2023

1 HR 06 MINS

1:06:09

26 Oct 2023


#195

Louis XIV: The Sun King

In 1661 the 23 year-old French king Louis the XIV had been on the throne for 18 years when his chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin, died. Louis is reported to have said to his ministers, “It is now time that I govern my affairs myself. You will assist me with your counsels when I ask for them [but] I order you to seal no orders except by my command… I order you not to sign anything, not even a passport, without my command, and to render account to me personally each day” So began the personal rule of Louis XIV, which lasted a further 54 years until his death in 1715. From his newly-built palace at Versailles, Louis was able to project an image of himself as the centre of gravity around which all of France revolved: it’s no accident that he became known as the Sun King. He centralized power to the extent he was able to say ‘L’etat c’est moi’: I am the state. Under his rule France became the leading diplomatic, military and cultural power in Europe. With Catriona Seth Marshal Foch Professor of French Literature at the University of Oxford Guy Rowlands Professor of Early Modern History at the University of St Andrews and Penny Roberts Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Warwick Producer: Luke Mulhall ... Read more

22 Jun 2023

47 MINS

47:25

22 Jun 2023


#194

The Shimabara Rebellion

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Christian uprising in Japan and its profound and long-term consequences. In the 1630s, Japan was ruled by the Tokagawa Shoguns, a military dynasty who, 30 years earlier, had unified the country, ending around two centuries of civil war. In 1637 a rebellion broke out in the province of Shimabara, in the south of the country. It was a peasants’ revolt, following years of bad harvests in which the local lord had refused to lower taxes. Many of the rebels were Christians, and they fought under a Christian banner. The central government’s response was merciless. They met the rebels with an army of 150 000 men, possibly the largest force assembled anywhere in the world during the Early Modern period. Once the rebellion had been suppressed, the Shogun enforced a ban on Christianity and expelled nearly all foreigners from the country. Japan remained more or less completely sealed off from the rest of the world for the next 250 years. With Satona Suzuki Lecturer in Japanese and Modern Japanese History at SOAS, University of London Erica Baffelli Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Manchester and Christopher Harding Senior Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh Producer Luke Mulhall ... Read more

08 Jun 2023

48 MINS

48:03

08 Jun 2023


#193

The Battle of Crécy

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the brutal events of 26 August 1346, when the armies of France and England met in a funnel-shaped valley outside the town of Crécy in northern France. Although the French, led by Philip VI, massively outnumbered the English, under the command of Edward III, the English won the battle, and French casualties were huge. The English victory is often attributed to the success of their longbowmen against the heavy cavalry of the French. The Battle of Crécy was the result of years of simmering tension between Edward III and Philip VI, and it led to decades of further conflict between England and France, a conflict that came to be known as the Hundred Years War. With Anne Curry Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton Andrew Ayton Senior Research Fellow in History at Keele University and Erika Graham-Goering Lecturer in Late Medieval History at Durham University Producer Luke Mulhall ... Read more

11 May 2023

50 MINS

50:49

11 May 2023


#192

Cnut

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Danish prince who became a very effective King of England in 1016. Cnut inherited a kingdom in a sorry state. The north and east coast had been harried by Viking raiders, and his predecessor King Æthelred II had struggled to maintain order amongst the Anglo-Saxon nobility too. Cnut proved to be skilful ruler. Not only did he bring stability and order to the kingdom, he exported the Anglo-Saxon style of centralised government to Denmark. Under Cnut, England became the cosmopolitan centre of a multi-national North Atlantic Empire, and a major player in European politics. With Erin Goeres Associate Professor of Old Norse Language and Literature at University College London Pragya Vohra Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of York and Elizabeth Tyler Professor of Medieval Literature and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York Producer Luke Mulhall ... Read more

04 May 2023

51 MINS

51:10

04 May 2023


#191

Solon the Lawgiver

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Solon, who was elected archon or chief magistrate of Athens in 594 BC: some see him as the father of Athenian democracy. In the first years of the 6th century BC, the city state of Athens was in crisis. The lower orders of society were ravaged by debt, to the point where some were being forced into slavery. An oppressive law code mandated the death penalty for everything from murder to petty theft. There was a real danger that the city could fall into either tyranny or civil war. Solon instituted a programme of reforms that transformed Athens’ political and legal systems, its society and economy, so that later generations referred to him as Solon the Lawgiver. With Melissa Lane Class of 1943 Professor of Politics at Princeton University Hans van Wees Grote Professor of Ancient History at University College London and William Allan Professor of Greek and McConnell Laing Tutorial Fellow in Greek and Latin Languages and Literature at University College, University of Oxford Producer Luke Mulhall ... Read more

20 Apr 2023

51 MINS

51:20

20 Apr 2023


#190

Mercantilism

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, between the 16th and 18th centuries, Europe was dominated by an economic way of thinking called mercantilism. The key idea was that exports should be as high as possible and imports minimised. For more than 300 years, almost every ruler and political thinker was a mercantilist. Eventually, economists including Adam Smith, in his ground-breaking work of 1776 The Wealth of Nations, declared that mercantilism was a flawed concept and it became discredited. However, a mercantilist economic approach can still be found in modern times and today’s politicians sometimes still use rhetoric related to mercantilism. With D’Maris Coffman Professor in Economics and Finance of the Built Environment at University College London Craig Muldrew Professor of Social and Economic History at the University of Cambridge and a Member of Queens’ College and Helen Paul, Lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton. Producer Luke Mulhall ... Read more

13 Apr 2023

57 MINS

57:33

13 Apr 2023


#189

Megaliths

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss megaliths - huge stones placed in the landscape, often visually striking and highly prominent. Such stone monuments in Britain and Ireland mostly date from the Neolithic period, and the most ancient are up to 6,000 years old. In recent decades, scientific advances have enabled archaeologists to learn a large amount about megalithic structures and the people who built them, but much about these stones remains unknown and mysterious. With Vicki Cummings Professor of Neolithic Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire Julian Thomas Professor of Archaeology at the University of Manchester and Susan Greaney Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Exeter. ... Read more

30 Mar 2023

50 MINS

50:26

30 Mar 2023


#188

Chartism

On 21 May 1838 an estimated 150,000 people assembled on Glasgow Green for a mass demonstration. There they witnessed the launch of the People’s Charter, a list of demands for political reform. The changes they called for included voting by secret ballot, equal-sized constituencies and, most importantly, that all men should have the vote. The Chartists, as they came to be known, were the first national mass working-class movement. In the decade that followed, they collected six million signatures for their Petitions to Parliament: all were rejected, but their campaign had a significant and lasting impact. With Joan Allen Visiting Fellow in History at Newcastle University and Chair of the Society for the Study of Labour History Emma Griffin Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia and President of the Royal Historical Society and Robert Saunders Reader in Modern British History at Queen Mary, University of London. The image above shows a Chartist mass meeting on Kennington Common in London in April 1848. ... Read more

09 Mar 2023

51 MINS

51:01

09 Mar 2023


#187

Tycho Brahe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the pioneering Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546 – 1601) whose charts offered an unprecedented level of accuracy. In 1572 Brahe's observations of a new star challenged the idea, inherited from Aristotle, that the heavens were unchanging. He went on to create his own observatory complex on the Danish island of Hven, and there, working before the invention of the telescope, he developed innovative instruments and gathered a team of assistants, taking a highly systematic approach to observation. A second, smaller source of renown was his metal prosthetic nose, which he needed after a serious injury sustained in a duel. The image above shows Brahe aged 40, from the Atlas Major by Johann Blaeu. With Ole Grell Emeritus Professor in Early Modern History at the Open University Adam Mosley Associate Professor of History at Swansea University and Emma Perkins Affiliate Scholar in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge. ... Read more

02 Mar 2023

53 MINS

53:35

02 Mar 2023


#186

The Great Stink

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the stench from the River Thames in the hot summer of 1858 and how it appalled and terrified Londoners living and working beside it, including those in the new Houses of Parliament which were still under construction. There had been an outbreak of cholera a few years before in which tens of thousands had died, and a popular theory held that foul smells were linked to diseases. The source of the problem was that London's sewage, once carted off to fertilise fields had recently, thanks to the modern flushing systems, started to flow into the river and, thanks to the ebb and flow of the tides, was staying there and warming in the summer sun. The engineer Joseph Bazalgette was given the task to build huge new sewers to intercept the waste, a vast network, so changing the look of London and helping ensure there were no further cholera outbreaks from contaminated water. The image above is from Punch, July 10th 1858 and it has this caption: The 'Silent Highway'-Man. "Your Money or your Life!" With Rosemary Ashton Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London Stephen Halliday Author of ‘The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Metropolis’ And Paul Dobraszczyk Lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College London ... Read more

26 Jan 2023

50 MINS

50:12

26 Jan 2023


#185

The Irish Rebellion of 1798

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the momentum behind rebellion in Ireland in 1798, the people behind the rebellion and the impact over the next few years and after. Amid wider unrest, the United Irishmen set the rebellion on its way, inspired by the French and American revolutionaries and their pursuit of liberty. When it broke out in May the United Irishmen had an estimated two hundred thousand members, Catholic and Protestant, and the prospect of a French invasion fleet to back them. Crucially for the prospects of success, some of those members were British spies who exposed the plans and the military were largely ready - though not in Wexford where the scale of rebellion was much greater. The fighting was initially fierce and brutal and marked with sectarianism but had largely been suppressed by the time the French arrived in August to declare a short-lived republic. The consequences of the rebellion were to be far reaching, not least in the passing of Acts of Union in 1800. The image above is of Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763 - 1798), prominent member of the United Irishmen With Ian McBride Foster Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, University of Oxford Catriona Kennedy Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of York And Liam Chambers Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in History at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Producer: Simon Tillotson ... Read more

05 Jan 2023

55 MINS

55:25

05 Jan 2023


#184

Demosthenes' Philippics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the speeches that became a byword for fierce attacks on political opponents. It was in the 4th century BC, in Athens, that Demosthenes delivered these speeches against the tyrant Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, when Philip appeared a growing threat to Athens and its allies and Demosthenes feared his fellow citizens were set on appeasement. In what became known as The Philippics, Demosthenes tried to persuade Athenians to act against Macedon before it was too late; eventually he succeeded in stirring them, even if the Macedonians later prevailed. For these speeches prompting resistance, Demosthenes became famous as one of the Athenian democracy’s greatest freedom fighters. Later, in Rome, Cicero's attacks on Mark Antony were styled on Demosthenes and these too became known as Philippics. The image above is painted on the dome of the library of the National Assembly, Paris and is by Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863). It depicts Demosthenes haranguing the waves of the sea as a way of strengthening his voice for his speeches. With Paul Cartledge A. G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge Kathryn Tempest Reader in Latin Literature and Roman History at the University of Roehampton And Jon Hesk Reader in Greek and Classical Studies at the University of St Andrews Producer: Simon Tillotson ... Read more

15 Dec 2022

56 MINS

56:56

15 Dec 2022


#183

The Morant Bay Rebellion

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rebellion that broke out in Jamaica on 11th October 1865 when Paul Bogle (1822-65) led a protest march from Stony Gut to the courthouse in nearby Morant Bay. There were many grounds for grievance that day and soon anger turned to bloodshed. Although the British had abolished slavery 30 years before, the plantation owners were still dominant and the conditions for the majority of people on Jamaica were poor. The British governor suppressed this rebellion brutally and soon people in Jamaica lost what right they had to rule themselves. Some in Britain, like Charles Dickens, supported the governor's actions while others, like Charles Darwin, wanted him tried for murder. The image above is from a Jamaican $2 banknote, printed after Paul Bogle became a National Hero in 1969. With Matthew J Smith Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London Diana Paton The William Robertson Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh And Lawrence Goldman Emeritus Fellow in History at St Peter’s College, University of Oxford Producer: Simon Tillotson ... Read more

01 Dec 2022

53 MINS

53:42

01 Dec 2022


#182

The Knights Templar

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the military order founded around 1119, twenty years after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem. For almost 200 years the Knights Templar were a notable fighting force and financial power in the Crusader States and Western Europe. Their mission was to protect pilgrims in the Holy Land, and they became extremely wealthy yet, as the crusader grip on Jerusalem slipped, their political fortune declined steeply. They were to be persecuted out of existence, with their last grand master burned at the stake in Paris in 1314, and that sudden end has contributed to the strength of the legends that have grown up around them. With Helen Nicholson Professor of Medieval History at Cardiff University Mike Carr Lecturer in Late Medieval History at the University of Edinburgh And Jonathan Phillips Professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London Producer: Simon Tillotson ... Read more

03 Nov 2022

49 MINS

49:59

03 Nov 2022


#181

Angkor Wat

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the largest and arguably the most astonishing religious structure on Earth, built for Suryavarman II in the 12th Century in modern-day Cambodia. It is said to have more stone in it than the Great Pyramid of Giza, and much of the surface is intricately carved and remarkably well preserved. For the last 900 years Angkor Wat has been a centre of religion, whether Hinduism, Buddhism or Animism or a combination of those, and a source of wonder to Cambodians and visitors from around the world. With Piphal Heng Postdoctoral scholar at the Cotsen Institute and the Programme for Early Modern Southeast Asia at UCLA Ashley Thompson Hiram W Woodward Chair of Southeast Asian Art at SOAS University of London And Simon Warrack A stone conservator who has worked extensively at Angkor Wat Producer: Simon Tillotson ... Read more

21 Jul 2022

49 MINS

49:18

21 Jul 2022