The British History Podcast show

The British History Podcast

Summary: iTunes is restricting our list to 300 episodes for some reason. To access all episodes, click subscribe. The BHP is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won't find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you'll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the histories of England, Scotland, and Wales. Support the Show

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  • Artist: Jamie Jeffers
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2011 The British History Podcast, Inc. All rights reserved.


 BHP Pub Quiz #19 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 6:15
 211 – The Battles of Basing and Meretun | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:02

It’s January of 871, still… A tremendous amount has happened in the last fortnight, and the year had barely even begun. People tend to compress the past… especially periods they are unfamiliar with… into short blurbs. It’s why many people are completely willing to accept minute by minute accounts of World War II, but balk at the idea of spending more than an episode per decade during the Anglo Saxon era. Support the Show

 210 – The Battle of Ashdown | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 34:27

“God, in his goodness and justice so much offended by our sins, had thus worn down the lands and kingdoms of the Christians.” That’s a quote from Prudentius of Troyes, who was struggling to explain why the Franks met abysmal failure every time they fought the Scandinavians. While that quote came from from across the channel, and was written years before the disaster at the Battle of Reading, it gives us the lens that the Christians of Western Europe used to view these events. It’s surprising how many writers from this period, when looking at these events, look to the Bible for an explanation and see things in terms of divine retribution or divine intervention. That Biblical perspective is something I want you to keep in mind when you hear the story I’m going to tell you today. Support the Show

 209 – The Battle of Reading | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 20:14

When we left off, the Danes had occupied Reading, fortified it for several days, and then sent a detachment West along the river Kennet… In response, Ealdorman AEthelwulf of Berkshire had raised the local Fyrd, killed one of the Danish lords, and for the first time in a very long time, at Englefield, the West Saxons defeated the Danes in the field of battle. Support the Show

 208 – The Battle of Englefield | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 21:34

When we left off the Great Heathen Army had conquered East Anglia, established their dominion, and then a good portion of it returned to their territory of Jorvik. However, not everyone returned north or stayed in East Anglia. Their leaders, Ivarr and Ubbe… brothers in battle and sons of Ragnarr, departed. Some accounts state that Ivarr died, though records seem to indicate he actually returned to his lands in Ireland and continued the fight there. As for Ubbe… it’s hard to say what happened there. In fact, the experts aren’t even 100% sure that he was involved in the defeat of East Anglia… he might have left before long before the battle even started. The tale of Ubbe for us, stops here. We never learned what happened to him, some later sources mention another army that was campaigning in the West and in Devon in the late 870s… and some make the argument that the western Danish force was being lead by Ubbe… however, that is anything but a firm fact. It’s genuinely difficult to know exactly what became of Ubbe. Support the Show

 207 – Christianity in Early Danelaw | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:27

Here is part two to our story of religion and religious life at the age of the Great Heathen Army and the Danish invasion of Britain. Last episode, I told you about how the stories we’re often told – of violent atrocities committed against Christian spaces and against Christendom itself – didn’t actually originate from the 9th century, when they supposedly occurred, but only appear in our record during the 12th Century. Two hundred years later during the height of the Crusades. We spoke about how the idea of the pagan zealotry of the Vikings doesn’t align with reports that they converted to Christianity eagerly and easily. And I showed you how the archaeological and contemporary record doesn’t comport with the popular story of a religious war against the Christians of Britain… a story that relies entirely upon records that were written centuries after the fact. Support the Show

 206 – Did the Great Heathen Army Persecute Christians? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:26

Last week we covered the events of 869. The situation was dire. We have at least one dead Anglo Saxon king, two Anglo Saxon kingdoms that were now under the thumb of the Danes, and as far as the record tells us, everyone else was just keeping their heads down. They may have taken comfort in the fact that at least Ivarr the Boneless was gone… and we don’t know how many warriors he would have taken with him back to Ireland (or would have left, if the one oddr eport was correct and he died in Britain) but the Danes still held East Anglia and Jorvik. Support the Show The playful nod at the end was the theme to Serial (bad dream) by Nick Thorburn. Please don’t sue me. I love the work you’re doing!

 205 – Saint Edmund the Martyr | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:27

Last episode we ended with the engagement of Prince Alfred to Ealhswith, daughter of Ealdorman AEthelred Mucel of Mercia and descendant of King Coenwulf of Merica, and I briefly mentioned political implications of such a match. But there was a personal aspect to this as well. Not the marriage itself, though that was certainly personal… so personal, in fact, that we have no real knowledge of how Alfred felt about his wife… we know how he felt about his piles, we know how he felt about hunting, we know quite a bit about his feelings for a variety of things… but not his wife. It’s entirely possible that he was desperately in love and the silence in the record was just part of the culture of the time and one didn’t speak of such things. But the fact remains that we don’t know much about how he, or Ealhswith, felt about the marriage. Support the Show

 BHP Pub Quiz #18 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 6:31
 204 – Snottingham | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:12

At the end of last episode, the gates of Jorvik had opened and the Great Heathen Army marched forth. They were headed South, to the Kingdom of Mercia. Mercia makes sense for the Northmen. The leaders of the Great Army had already bolstered their northern border, through their puppet King Ecgberht. East Anglia had been brought to heel and economically devastated, they were unlikely to muster any sort of resistance in the future. Similarly, Greater Wessex had proven to be a paper tiger. Despite dominating the southern kingdoms, the warbands of Wessex were unable to move the Northmen even out of Thanet… nor were they capable of seeking retribution for the raids of Kent, despite the fact that those raids were a violation of the peace that had been purchased through the Danegeld. Wessex was nothing to worry about. Support the Show

 203 – Jorvik | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:27

I’d like to start today’s episode with a poem. Not about my feelings, or about a tough breakup… but a skaldic poem from the 12th century. It’s called The Lay of Kraka, and it was probably recorded somewhere in Scotland. The reason why it’s important is that it contains what is claimed to be Ragnar Lodbrok’s death song… So according legend, this is the starting point for everything we’re been talking about. Support the Show

 202 – The Fall of Eoforwic | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:46

When we left off last time, King Edmund of East Anglia had paid a Danegeld to the Great Heathen Army… and rather than leaving, the army had set up camp in his Kingdom. It was a situation that would have caused all manner of havoc for virtually everyone who lived in the small eastern Kingdom. Support the Show

 201 – East Anglia’s Danegeld | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:38

Here we are, with a new king in Wessex. King AEthelred, son of AEthelwulf, was now sitting the throne. He was in his 20s, and despite having a large family back when he was a child… now his only family left were his wife… Queen Wulfthryth (and good on you Wulfthryth for insisting on being given the title of Queen… other than that, we don’t know much about her, but the fact that she was listed as queen, and her name, has lead some scholars to suspect that she was Mercian. You’ll remember that the Mercians were a bit less restrictive on women in power than their southern cousins). Support the Show

 200 – The Q&A | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 46:12

To celebrate the 200th episode, I took questions from the community which gave me a good excuse to complain about bad GI Joe villains, Rome, Lack of Sources, Rome, and a dearth of available female historical figures to crush on…. and Rome. (It was bad, you guys.) Guest spots from… Jamie Redfern of A History of the United States Podcast, Joe Steckert of Interesting Times Podcast, and Lucy Koger of Great Battles of History Podcast. There’s no transcript for this one because it was just a Q&A. Support the Show

 199 – AEthelred vs Alfred: One of the Most Exciting Moments in Probate History | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 22:04

It’s 865 and we just had yet another King of Wessex die. Alfred has been losing family members fast and furious, and this time it was his older brother, King AEthelberht. What’s worse is King AEthelberht seemed like he was a pretty decent fellow, and Wessex could have really used long reign by a fair king with a sensible head on their shoulders. But what can you do? Support the Show


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