Episodes
The discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former Canadian residential schools have has led to a crisis of identity for the country as it comes to terms with the trauma of the past. For many, these discoveries fit into a pattern of discrimination and demographic replacement with the arrival of European settlers which could be described as genocide. In this episode, Dan speaks to Tracey Bear and Jim Miller about what happened to the indigenous people of Canada at the schools and what this...
Published 08/05/21
On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany and entered the First World War. This was a conflict of unparalleled savagery with industrialized slaughter on a scale that the world had never seen before. To commemorate this important anniversary Dan guides us through what led Europe and the world to choose war in 1914. He explores some of the many different reasons for war from the miscalculations and misguided beliefs of European leaders to the structural causes such as the role of...
Published 08/04/21
The Olympics are a sporting event like no other and in this episode, we celebrate two great British Olympians of the past Anita Neil and Hugh 'Jumbo' Edwards. These are two very different athletes from completely different backgrounds, but each highlights the Olympic spirit at its finest.  Firstly, Dan speaks to a British Olympic pioneer Anita Neil who was the first black woman to represent Great Britain at the games. Anita was an extraordinary sprinter who represented Great Britain at the...
Published 08/03/21
One aspect of India's independence that is often overlooked is the role of India's princely states; the Maharajas. During the Raj, these states had been semi-autonomous and not actually part of the British Empire. They did however rule with the permission of the British Government and were really puppet sovereign figures. However, when India got its independence after the Second World War these state's became a problem that had to be resolved for the new Indian state.  John Zubrzycki,...
Published 08/02/21
In 1588 the English Navy defeated one of the greatest fleets ever assembled; the Spanish Armada. A week of running battles in the English Channel culminated in a major clash off the coast of the town of Gravelines (now in France) where the English used fire ships to score a crushing naval victory against the Spanish fleet. This is one of the most famous naval clashes in history but how was the Armada beaten?  Dan tells the story of this titanic naval clash where superior English seamanship,...
Published 08/01/21
Often known as ‘Britain’s first town’, Colchester is a city rich in ancient history and on 24 July 2021, a new exhibition will open at the Colchester Museum revealing more about some of its earliest Roman occupants. Called ‘Decoding the Roman Dead’, the exhibition focuses on cremations found in the area around Colchester dating to almost 2,000 years ago. Thanks to new scientific methods, the team have been able to analyse these burnt remains and find out some astonishing details about who...
Published 07/31/21
Just 17 years after Liverpool’s historic waterfront was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city was stripped of its prestigious status. The UN's heritage body said it made the decision because of “irreversible” damage to the city’s cultural value after years of development, including a planned £500m stadium for Everton football club. Historian and Liverpool local, Mike Royden, joins Dan on the podcast to talk us through the history of the city and its iconic waterfront, with its...
Published 07/30/21
This week in 1588 the Spanish Armada fought running battles in the Channel with the English Navy. It was sent by King Phillip of Spain who ruled half the world to crush Elizabeth Tudor the woman who ruled half an Island but would end in defeat and disaster for the Spanish. The background to this conflict was the growing Anglo-Spanish rivalry that had sprung up ever since the discovery of the New World and the English desire to obtain a slice of the huge wealth, power and influence that could...
Published 07/29/21
On this day in 1540, Thomas Cromwell was executed. On the same day Henry VIII married his fifth wife, Catherine Howard. To mark the anniversary we've found an episode from the archives with author, historian and curator at Historic Royal Palaces, Tracy Borman. Cromwell was a man who rose to be the most powerful member of Henry VIII's court, his Lord Privy Seal, Principal Secretary and Chancellor. He was a driving force behind the English Reformation and constitutional changes that emphasised...
Published 07/28/21
Archaeology is not just about digging, it’s about understanding the human experience of existence.  In the space of a few weeks there have been many sad developments in archaeology in the UK. Sheffield University announced the closure of its world-renowned archaeology department, shortly before Liverpool’s waterfront was stripped of its UNESCO World Heritage status, which preceded the news that Stonehenge is also at risk. In this episode, Dan is joining the fight to save archaeology. He chats...
Published 07/27/21
The Pathfinders were ordinary men and women who transformed the efficiency of the Allies' air campaign over mainland Europe and helped deliver victory over Nazi Germany. Journalist and bestselling author Will Iredale joins Dan on the podcast to tell the incredible story of the team who transformed RAF Bomber Command. Find out how the air force was created, how bombing accuracy was improved, and how Pathfinders put their lives at risk to carry out the raids. Will’s book, The Pathfinders: The...
Published 07/26/21
Democracy is in crisis around the world. Dr Robert Saunders, from Queen Mary University of London, is back on the podcast to discuss why it is under threat. From the changing media landscape, to technological advances and questionable electoral systems, hear why we are facing this global shift and what the future may hold. Are authoritarian regimes dealing with the world’s problems better? How have politicians changed over the years? And how do we refresh our democracies? Robert is currently...
Published 07/25/21
Mary Ellis was a pioneering and courageous aviator who flew hundreds of fighters and bombers to Britain’s frontline airfields. She was one of the first women to fly Spitfires, heavy bombers and jet aircraft, blazing a trail for female pilots with her passion and skill. Mary sadly passed away aged 101 on this day three years ago, a short time after this interview with Dan was recorded. Hear Mary reminisce on the incredible feats she undertook as a spitfire pilot during World War Two in this...
Published 07/24/21
The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are finally here, after being delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. From Ancient Greece to when it was reborn in 1896, the tournament has nearly 3,000 years of history. Sports historian, Professor Martin Polley from De Monfort University, joins Dan on the podcast to tell the, sometimes surprising, story of the competition. How did it become the international sporting event it is today? How have the games affected global politics and diplomacy? And how is...
Published 07/23/21
The relationship between Elizabeth I and Catherine de' Medici - the two most powerful Queens of their time - is one of the most intriguing and captivating stories of the 16th century.  In this edition of our sibling podcast Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks to Dr. Estelle Paranque about her new book Blood, Fire and Gold, which explores how these two formidable women wielded and negotiated power, and were united only in their dislike of Mary, Queen of Scots.   See...
Published 07/22/21
How did a young boy from Georgia become a merciless politician who shaped the Soviet Empire in his own brutal image? Historian and bestselling author, Simon Sebag Montifiore, is back on the podcast to talk to Dan about the rise of Joself Stalin, a man who caused the death and suffering of tens of millions under his regime of terror. Find out how Stalin climbed to the top of Soviet politics to emerge as Lenin’s heir, and hear how his extreme insecurity and paranoia shaped the way he ruled. ...
Published 07/21/21
Accurate timekeeping is at the very root of all of the technological advances in the modern world, but how did it all begin? From Roman sundials to medieval water-clocks, people of all cultures have made and used clocks for thousands of years. Dan speaks to horologist, historian and former curator of timekeeping at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, David Rooney, about the importance of time, and what clocks can tell us about the history of human civilisation. David’s book, About Time: A...
Published 07/20/21
In the summer of 1518, one of the most bizarre afflictions in history struck the city of Strasburg; dancing mania. This epidemic of dancing spread, almost like a plague, through the population with many hundreds of people dancing wildly and seemingly uncontrollably often to the point of collapse and even death. Perhaps, even stranger is that the outbreak in Strasbourg is far from the only recorded incidence of this phenomenon. But what caused it? To help delve into this fascinating subject...
Published 07/19/21
Robin Hood is one of the most famous legends of British history, but did he exist and if so who was he? Gareth Morgan, Learning Development Officer at Nottingham Castle, is just the man to help separate fact from fiction when it comes to this archetypal hero who robbed the rich to give to the poor. Gareth helps Dan discover some of the real-life figures which might have inspired Robin, what the story means both now and then and why it still remains so popular. They also talk about Robin's...
Published 07/18/21
Saladin was one of the greatest Sultans of the middle ages, and the first sultan of Egypt and Syria. He famously defeated the Crusader army at the Battle of Hattin, and recaptured Jerusalem. The Christian armies of the west never recaptured the Holy City. Saladin's legacy still holds resonance across the middle-east today. In 1917, a French General supposedly marched up to Saladin's tomb in Damascus, kicked it and announced, "We're back," a story that would shape Arabic perceptions of the...
Published 07/17/21
Recent years have seen a spate of statue removals from the toppling of Confederate statues in the United States, the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and recently the removal of statues of Queen Victoria in Canada. Some have been taken down in an orderly manner and others torn down or defaced by activists. For some, the removal of statues is a powerful symbol of the desire for social justice and for remembering the wrongs of the past. For others, the removal of monuments...
Published 07/16/21
From spiral stairs to tunnels leading to pubs and brothels, to witch markings; join us as we find out the truth about medieval buildings. Matt Lewis, from our sibling podcast Gone Medieval, is accompanied by archaeologist and architectural historian James Wright to debunk the myths.   See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Published 07/15/21
In 1381 England was rocked by one of the most widespread popular uprisings of the medieval period; the Peasants Revolt. Beginning in Essex in response to the overreaching demands of a local government official but unrest spread like wildfire across the south of England. Soon the rebels faced down the King, stormed the Tower of London, executed royal advisors, threatened the royal family and destroyed John of Gaunt's Palace. This was an uprising unprecedented in its scale and ferocity in...
Published 07/14/21
By the summer of 1942 Malta had been under siege by Axis forces for over a year and the situation on the island was bleak with food and fuel almost exhausted. This vital allied foothold in the Mediterranean had to be held at all cost in order to prevent the collapse of the allied effort in North Africa where Rommel's forces were finding much success. In a desperate bid to prevent the loss of Malta, Winston Churchill ordered that a convoy like no other be dispatched to run the air and sea...
Published 07/13/21
250 years ago today Captain James arrived back from one of the most remarkable voyages of exploration in the history of the world. The expedition took Cook and his crew through the Pacific making contact with the numerous island communities of that ocean and perhaps most famously being the first Europeans to make landfall on Australia. Whilst undoubtedly an act of skilful seamanship, this expedition would begin a process of colonisation that would have devastating consequences for indigenous...
Published 07/12/21