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.


 295 – The Return of England | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:37

You know the pieces on a chessboard? There’s the knight, and the queen, and the castle….and then there’s the bishop. There’s a reason why a game that simulates medieval power strategy has a piece called the bishop. Bishops had power. And it was a power that didn’t flow from the monarchy. And in britain, it wasn’t a power that necessarily had to be aligned with the monarchy either. We’re going to see this over and over again on the island – if you were trying to rule Britain, holy men were often a wildcard in your hand of ambitions. And the more powerful the holy man, the bigger the potential upset. Support the Show

 294 – It All Comes Crashing Down | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:49

The story of the last few episodes is a story about a lesson that humanity has had to re-learn again and again throughout history. When your society is ordered around a single figure it’s likely to descend into chaos the minute that figure goes away. And finding a new balance in the midst of sudden cascading failures is a difficult task that many peoples in history have failed to do. Support the Show

 293 – The Beacons are Lit | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:48

When we left off, AEthelstan had recently died, Olaf had returned from Dublin and been crowned King of Jorvik (which meant that the Kingdom of Jorvik was back). The English Fyrd was still recovering from the bloodbath at Brunanburh. And the English Navy were currently sailing up and down the French Coast shouting “Liberte, Fraternite, Piracy” And for the new 18 year old King Edmund, the political problems were only the tip of the iceberg. There were also the personal struggles. The preceding few years had resulted in all of his foster brothers leaving the Court. Which wouldn’t have been so bad were it not for the fact that AEthelstan had died, and now the young king was without a father figure and mentor… and all that now remained of his childhood Court was Edmund’s 16 year old brother Eadred. Which meant that, much like Alfred, Edmund was coming into his reign under a cloud of tragedy and abandonment. Basically, 939 was a tough year. Support the Show

 292 – King in the North | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 21:12

How we understand any event comes down to what angle we are able to view it from. And the story of AEthelstan is no exception. On the one hand, it is easy to see AEthelstan as one of the greatest kings in English history, one to place on our shelf of real-life legends along with his grandfather. And for good reason… much like Alfred, AEthelstan wasn’t content to just hold his throne and maintain the status quo. He strived to restructure the very foundations of his kingdom. Support the Show

 291 – Pandemonium | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:07

When King Edward died, the plan was that his second son would take the throne. By all indications, neither Edward nor the power structures within Wessex, wanted AEthelstan. The young AEtheling had been discarded and sent to be raised in Mercia far from the halls of power. The throne of Wessex wasn’t for him. It was for AEthelstan’s younger half brother, AElfweard. But he died soon after Edward (under questionable circumstances) and so the path opened up for AEthelstan. Support the Show

 290 – This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:00

Brunanburh had been a titanic struggle. The Anglo Saxon Chronicle speaks of how the fighting lasted from morning to night, until “the field grew dark with the blood of men.” Blood spilled from warriors of no less than four separate kingdoms. The scribes speak of how the ground was littered with men impaled upon spears. This was human devastation on a scale that hadn’t been on the island in living memory. And now the Scots, Northmen, and Strathclyde Britons were fleeing the field… but this wasn’t over. Support the Show

 289 – Brunanburh | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:02

You can’t just go to war. I mean… I guess you can. But it’s not a good idea. War takes work. It takes planning. It takes preparation. War, to put it simply, is a pain in the ass. You really have to want it. And the workload only increases with the number of people involved. You would think that bringing the biggest army would make the task easier… and I’m sure it does make certain things easier, like flanking, reinforcements, enveloping, and that sort of thing. Support the Show

 288 – Extracurricular Activities | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:12

I wonder if King Rudolph of France resented his crown. I mean, seeking the crown probably seemed like a good idea at the time but the whole thing had been turning out to be an enormous headache. And it all started when Rudolph’s father in law (Robert) rebelled against King Charles and drove him into Lorraine. Pretty soon thereafter, Robert got himself crowned as King of the Franks. And that’s not too bad… a father in law who was King of the Franks? Sounds great. Support the Show

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 287 – The Conquest of Scotland | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:20

For the last six years, AEthelstan had been ruling in a manner that hasn’t been seen in Britain for generations. Beyond being a warlord, or even a King… AEthelstan was acting more like an Emperor. All of the Anglo Saxon territories were annexed into his new Kingdom of England, the Kings of Wales were now mere members of his Court, and he was receiving tributes and gifts from Scotland, Norway, and Frankia. And the next generation of monarchs were living in his Court. Support the Show

 286 – Noble Pursuits | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:51

After generations of devastating war, England has found itself at peace. Which leaves a question we haven’t had to ask in a while. What did the Anglo Saxons actually do during peacetime? Support the Show

 285 – Full Court Press | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:46

The Era of AEthelstan is one of contradictions. His behavior, his policies, his wars… pretty much everything that is happening during this period seems to have an element of duality. This man was discussed by scholars of his time in terms of his piety and his generosity both with the church and also with his subjects. And there is plenty of real evidence that AEthelstan was a kind king and role model to those around him, and that he took his role as a ruler seriously and with care. Support the Show

 284 – AEthelstan the Victorious | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:14

Last week, we ended with King AEthelstan’s aggression towards Kingdoms of Wales and Cornwall. We don’t know precisely what occurred, or why AEthelstan demanded crippling tributes from the Welsh and then violently expelled or executed the Cornish of Exeter. Support the Show

 283 – The Kingdoms of the Foreigners | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 23:15

Imagine that you went from being a disfavored bastard with little power, to the most powerful English king that had ever existed, in the space of just a few years. Support the Show

 282 – How To Win Friends and Influence Jorvik | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:13

AEthelstan had completed his annexation of Jorvik, and in doing so he had outperformed every last one of his predecessors, including his grandfather, Alfred the Great. But there were a few loose ends that he still needed to knot up. And as he watched the defenses of Jorvik burn and dolled out Jorvik’s wealth to his loyal men – two of those loose ends, namely his former rivals Guthfrith and Turfrid, slunk away with little more than their lives. Support the Show


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