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History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Join Dan as he digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen. If you want to get in touch with the podcast, you can email us at ds.hh@hi ...
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In March 1582, a number of women from the small Essex village of St Osyth were hanged for the crime of witchcraft. Several others, including one man, died in prison, in what was a shocking and highly localised witch-hunt. In this edition of Not Just the Tudors, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb talks to Professor Marion Gibson, who offers revelatory new …
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On the 4th of June 1942, the US Navy took on the might of Japan's Imperial Navy in the battle of Midway. It was America's Trafalgar! At the end of the fighting devastating losses had been inflicted on the Japanese and the entire strategic position in the Pacific was upended in favour of the Allies. Never again would Japan be able to project power a…
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It's the 13th of December, 1642, and Parliamentarian soldiers have just stormed the city of Winchester. They burst into the city's grand cathedral on horseback, and begin tearing it apart. The soldiers smash windows, burn tables and tapestries and steal anything of value. Stashed away in ornate wooden chests, they stumble across something unique - …
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This is the story of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn as you've never heard it before. From their childhoods and courtship through to their union and Anne's brutal execution, we'll peel back layers of historical myth to find out how this marriage changed England forever. Dan is joined by the Tudor historians John and Julia guy, authors of Hunting the Fal…
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Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, so how did it work out when he became the leader of this nation that he was so instrumental in founding? For the third episode in American History Hit's special series about the Presidents, we're exploring Jefferson's presidency. What challenges did he face during his tim…
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Dan explores his great-grandfather's part in the First World War. Lieutenant-General Thomas Snow was a senior officer in the British Army who commanded troops on the first day of the Somme. It was a disaster; thousands of men died for almost no strategic gains, and his legacy would be tarnished forever. But Snow's record is more complicated than th…
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The popes of Rome emerged from the humblest of beginnings. The first was a fisherman, charged with spreading the word of God under the watchful eye of a pagan Roman Empire. But just a few centuries later, the papacy had flourished into one of the wealthiest, most powerful institutions on the planet. Surviving the rise and fall of great empires, inc…
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It’s one of the most dramatic stories you might never have heard. Featuring a seaborne assassination, a vengeful manhunt and London Bridge in flames, the rebellion of Jack Cade in 1450 shook the English Crown to its very core and lit the spark that began the Wars of the Roses. In today’s episode of Gone Medieval Matt responds to a listener suggesti…
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In the spring of 1782, it wasn't the American Revolutionary War that had Londoners worried. The city and nearby countryside had been covered in ominous, mysterious webs, filled with untold numbers of caterpillars and their eggs. The city responded with panic, and rumours of plague and pestilence spread like wildfire. It seems far-fetched that an in…
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Few organisations in history have names as loaded with legend as the Knights Templar. Western culture is infused with the mythology of these pious warrior monks, who wielded magic and went on quests for legendary treasures. In reality, it was an elite fighting force that became a Middle Ages military and financial powerhouse. Its members moved in t…
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What would it be like to discover that your grandfather was a Nazi? For decades, generations of Germans have been grappling with the legacies of relatives who were part of the Third Reich. These legacies inspire feelings of tremendous guilt but also present an opportunity to acknowledge and learn from the past. So why is it so important to address …
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In 1848, Europe was wracked by a series of revolutions that turned the established political order on its head. Across the continent populations erupted in revolt, and the shockwaves of these revolutions rippled across the globe. But these uprisings hold a strange place in European history - did they succeed, or fail? And why are they not better un…
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One of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza is home to monumental pyramids, temples, and is a treasure trove of archaeological findings. Built in the early 5th century by the Maya, it has provided invaluable insight into Maya civilisation; from discoveries of sporting arenas to ancient feathered serpents, it's allowed an image of Mayan …
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You may have heard the many myths about the life and exploits of Marco Polo- was he really the one who brought ice cream and spaghetti from his travels on the Silk Road from the court of Kublai Khan, where he served as a diplomat? Almost as soon as he wrote his memoir, people doubted the wild stories of his travels across Europe and Asia. His life …
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Rome has attracted aspiring conquerors and leaders for millennia, not just as a great metropolis, but as an idea. It has long been a symbol of military might and universal power, defined by political and religious authority as well as great feats of engineering that would leave indelible marks on the regions it conquered, and overshadow empire buil…
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Join Dan as he rollicks through the tumultuous life and rise to power of Henry Tudor, the man who would ultimately become King Henry VII of England. Step back to the late 15th century, a period marked by conflict, political manoeuvring and alliances as a young Henry Tudor, having spent much of his early life hiding out in France, honed his politica…
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In 1974, a pioneer of the SAS and master of military deception, Dudley Clarke, passed away. His death went almost entirely unnoticed by the British public, despite the fact that he carried out some of the most dramatic deception campaigns of World War Two. He waged a covert war of trickery and misdirection across Europe, which ended up getting him …
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The name Ivan the Terrible is synonymous with brutality and ruthlessness. While Western scholars insist that the first crowned Tsar of all Russia did create a policy of mass repression and execution, others claim Ivan’s name has been tarnished by Western travellers and writers. How then should his complex and fascinating personality be understood? …
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The Golden Age of Hollywood was a place of pioneers, storytellers, ideas, westward expansion, money, politics and scandal- the story of Hollywood is the story of America itself. At the turn of the 20th century, Hollywood in Los Angeles was a dusty country hamlet, but soon bright young things came from across the country and even the Atlantic to see…
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Was life for our ancient ancestors brutish and short or did they exist as noble savages, free and living in harmony with nature and each other? Many of our assumptions about ancient societies stem from Renaissance theories about how society should be organised and what civilisation is. Dan is joined by David Wengrow, Professor of Comparative Archae…
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WWII Britain's Home Guard wasn't a bumbling dad's army but in fact included factions of highly trained silent killers and spies hiding out in secret bunkers, caves and safe houses all over the country. The Auxiliary Unit was given a deliberately boring name to disguise the top secret mission they'd been tasked with- if and when the Germans invaded …
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Leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1949 until his death in 1976, Chairman Mao reshaped the nation's course of history, founding the People's Republic of China and implementing sweeping socio-political reforms that dramatically changed the country. However, his rule was marred with controversies and disastrous policies, leading to widespread…
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Queen Elizabeth I, Gloriana, victor over the Spanish and patron of the arts ushered in a Golden Age for England. But she was also Queen of Ireland, and her campaigns to control her Catholic subjects in the late 17th century led to some of the bloodiest battles of her reign. The Nine Years' War as it came to be known would bring the English treasury…
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In the recent Indiana Jones: The Dial of Destiny movie, the Antikythera Mechanism is used for time travel but in reality it was actually more of a celestial calculator- to track and predict astronomical phenomena. It was discovered by a group of Greek sponge divers in 1901 as they explored the site of an ancient shipwreck that dated back to the fir…
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The first three days of July 1863 saw the bloodiest single battle of the American Civil War. This clash between the Unionist and Confederate armies quickly became the stuff of legend. But what actually happened at Gettysburg? Professor Glenn LaFantasie joins Don for this episode to take us through the key figures in the battle, their strategies and…
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Is it possible that the Taliban of today are more fanatical than before? American and Coalition troops recently fought a bitter, 20-year war against them following the seismic events of 9/11. On August the 15th we mark the end of that conflict, two years after the last Western troops left Kabul. The withdrawal was chaotic and confused, and left the…
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It is believed clans started to emerge in Scotland around 1100AD and were originally the descendants of kings – if not of demigods from Irish mythology. As well as kinship and a sense of identity and belonging, being part of a clan was an important part of survival throughout the centuries that would follow. Scotland’s leading cultural historian, P…
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Dan tells the story of Archimedes, the ancient Greek inventor whose weapons of war protected the town of Syracuse from a Roman army. The Romans laid siege to Syracuse between 213 and 212 BC, attacking by sea and land, but were repelled by the city's defences. The story goes that these included fantastical devices like the Claw of Archimedes, and a …
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Lord Daniel Finkelstein recounts stories from his parents' remarkable lives. His mother Mirjam Wiener survived the Nazi concentration camps, and his father Ludwik Finkelstein lived through a Soviet gulag. Daniel tells Dan how these remarkable people survived the horrors of both regimes, and imparts some of the lessons that they learnt along the way…
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Genghis Khan roughly translates to 'Universal Ruler', a fitting name for the most famous nomadic conqueror to have ever lived. He was born as Temüjin, outcast by his tribe as a young child and left to fend for his family in the wild. But the determined young man would go on to unite the Mongolian clans and through warfare, trade and diplomacy, carv…
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Known to the Romans as the 'Scourge of God', Attila the Hun brought chaos to the world around him. He and his armies plundered, pillaged and looted their way across vast swathes of Europe, ultimately contributing to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. So who was Attila, what made him so successful, and was his success built on more than just bloo…
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Did the "heist of the century" really happen the way the robbers say it did? In the summer of 1963, a gang of masked robbers executed a daring plan to intercept a Royal Mail train carrying millions of pounds in cash. Operating in the quiet countryside of Buckinghamshire, England, the gang stopped the locomotive in its tracks, overpowering the train…
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The ninth-century Danish king and warrior Ragnar Lothbrok became notorious again most recently through the TV series The Vikings. But what do we know about the real Ragnar Lothbrok? In this episode of Gone Medieval, Matt Lewis finds out from Professor Carolyne Larrington, author of The Norse Myths That Shape the Way We Think. This episode was edite…
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In war, leadership matters. Poorly trained or outnumbered armies have often been led to victory by the sheer brilliance of their leaders. Celebrated or criticised, loved or hated, those who forged their legacies on the battlefield are some of the most famous people in human history. But what makes them great? Is it the reverence they inspire in the…
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Who was the real good King Wenceslas? The Duke of Bohemia who was made famous by the Christmas carol was also a pivotal figure of European history. He was the first modern Christian Czech ruler who brought the region into being and established it within a developing Europe. He is revered as an Arthurian figure in the Czech Republic today and his im…
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The divided Korean peninsula is the last remnant of the Cold War: South Korea is a vibrant democracy, a strong market economy, and home to a world-renowned culture. North Korea is ruled by the most authoritarian regime in the world, plagued by famine and poverty, best known for its nuclear weapons. These two countries are diametrically opposed but …
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The new Oppenheimer movie has everyone asking questions about the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945 - were two bombs necessary? Would the war have ended without it? Was there an ulterior motive? Would the Americans have dropped a third if they had it? At the end of WWII, the Manhattan Project demonstrated the power humanity had harnessed for de…
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Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator met a gruesome end during the final days of World War II when he and his mistress were executed and hung upside down as a symbol of the end of Fascist rule in Italy. But, his fate had been sealed much earlier. When Italy's fascist regime aligned with Nazi Germany, Mussolini's grip on power seemed unsha…
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From Boudicca to Ukrainian snipers, battlefields have always contained a surprising number of women. Today Kate is joined Betwixt the Sheets by Sarah Percy to get to the bottom of why women were allowed to be astronauts a full thirty years before they were allowed to fight in combat. From women who disguised themselves as men in order to be allowed…
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Known among the Nazis as "the girl with the red hair," Hannie Schaft was a resistance fighter so deadly that Adolf Hitler personally ordered her capture. She was a 24-year-old Dutch student when the Nazi forces occupied the Netherlands in 1940. Fuelled by a desire to protect her country, Hannie became an integral part of the Dutch Resistance, at a …
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On a summer morning in 1945, a device known simply as 'Gadget' was detonated. An enormous explosion tore a crater into the New Mexico desert, melting sand into radioactive green glass and sending a mushroom cloud 7.5 miles into the sky. This was the first controlled detonation of a nuclear weapon, and its mastermind was the American theoretical phy…
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They can survive in lava for half an hour and accelerations of 3,400 Gs. Their beacons can be detected 20,000 feet beneath the waves. Most shocking of all - they aren't actually black! (They're bright orange = the least common colour in nature.) Today it's the invention of the iconic Black Box (or Flight Recorder). We'll meet David Warren, the Aust…
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Russian history is defined by the rise and fall of favourites. Peter the Great had Menshikov, and Nicholas II had Rasputin. It's part of the architecture of Russian regimes that those close to the ruler enjoy immense power and influence. But sometimes, they overstep the mark. For this episode, Dan is joined by the renowned historian of Russia, Simo…
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Did Napoleon really come from nothing and conquer everything? The release of the trailer for Ridley Scott's new epic biopic film has created hot debate among fans of the famous Frenchman everywhere. In this episode from the archive Dan talks to Adam Zamoyski, a biographer of Napoleon about his rise to become one of the most famous and fascinating f…
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Emerging around the 3rd century CE and later designated official adversaries of the Roman Empire, the Picts wreaked havoc across the northern fringes of Roman Britain. But due to their limited presence in the archaeological record and the complexities of multiple kings, kingdoms, and languages involved, unravelling the true identity of the Picts an…
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The Cold War was defined by the antagonism between two world superpowers: the United States and the Soviet Union. They relied on proxy wars, espionage, disinformation, assassinations and sabotage to undermine one another as part of a greater ideological battle between Western democracy and Communism. We typically think that the Cold War ran from th…
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In the autumn of 1909, the American explorer Frederick Cook arrived in Copenhagen, claiming to have become the first person to reach the North Pole. His dramatic return had been eagerly anticipated, but one young journalist was skeptical. Philip Gibbs contested Cook's version of events, calling him a fraud and starting a public relations war that c…
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The most audacious deception operation of WWII. On the 30th of April, 1943, the corpse of a 'Major Martin' washed up near the Spanish city of Huelva. On his body, Spanish officials found secret documents detailing an upcoming Allied invasion of Greece. This was the moment that the Axis powers had been waiting for, and the Germans began redirecting …
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Dan explains Operation Citadel. In July and August of 1943, it was the last major attempt by the Nazis to turn the tide of the war in the East. Millions of soldiers and thousands of tanks would go head-to-head across the vast steppes around the Russian city of Kursk. The Soviets would emerge victorious from the bloody fighting and carry the momentu…
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75 years ago this week, the National Health Service was born. Launched by Aneurin Bevan on the 5th of July, 1948, it revolutionised healthcare in the UK by providing free medical treatment for all. Today, it is one of the country's most beloved yet divisive institutions. But how did the NHS come into being in the first place? And how has it shaped …
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