The British History Podcast show

The British History Podcast

Summary: 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. iTunes is restricting our list to 300 episodes for some reason. To access all episodes, click subscribe. Support the Show

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


 300 – Noble Lives | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:41

When we left off, we were talking about Thegns. Specifically, we were talking about King’s Thegns and how they could wield degrees of power that could rival even the formidable Ealdormen. At this point in this short series, the hope is that you have a sense of what incentives the economic structure created, the way that power flowed in this era, and what these titles meant in action.   Support the Show

 299 – The Shape of Power | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 36:36

Ealdormen… Thegns… Ceorls. These were the  important cogs in the machine of government. They had powerful roles, and held powerful spaces within anglo saxon culture. And it’s time we get to know these roles like the back of our hand. Support the Show

 The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Ancient DNA with Maya Hoole | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 42:40

Links to material referenced in the show. * The Achavanich Beaker Burial* ‘Ava’: a Beaker-associated woman from a cist at Achavanich, Highland, and the story of her (re-)discovery and subsequent study, Published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland* The Beaker phenomenon and the genomic transformation of northwest Europe at* A summary of the article* Scotland’s Rock Art Project

 298 – Uptown Ceorl | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 37:29

Long ago there was a settlement that had been occupied and farmed by the British and the Anglo Saxons for centuries. In fact, by the time that the Scandinavians arrived on the island, this village known as Wharram Percy was already well established, and had been inhabited continually for centuries. And it held strong for centuries more, even though it was located perilously close to the Scandinavian stronghold of Jorvik, and even after the arrival of the Great Heathen Army. In fact, this little village could well have been part of the very same lands that were shared out by Halfdan himself. Wharram Percy survived it all. Support the Show

 297 – The Hundreds and the Wapentakes | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:54

We have spoken a lot about the life of a handful of individuals – namely the rulers that have descended from the line of Alfred. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first is the simple fact that by virtue of how limited literacy was during this era, these are the lives we know the most about. The other reason is that the formation of England is very much a story of politics. It was battles, and treaties, and allegiances. Support the Show

 The Halloween Special | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:32

I love Halloween. I think it might be my favorite holiday, and it’s not really because I like spooky things. I actually kind of hate horror movies. The reason I love Halloween is because in the pantheon of modern holidays it stands out. Most holidays in the western world have been rebranded and repackaged to fit a christian theme or a specific nation. It’s traditional to go to church on Christmas and Easter, even if bunnies and fat men in red suits don’t get mentioned even once in the bible. But Halloween is different. There’s no awkward attempt to justify its existence. Halloween is an out of the closet pagan holiday, and it /feels/ pagan. It feels old. And that’s because it is. And I love that. Support the Show

 296 – Darkening Skies | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:39

It begins in France. The struggle for power between King Louis IV and Hugh the Great had been raging for quite some time… When we last visited the continent, , Hugh the Great, King Otto of Germany, Duke William of Normandy, Count Herbert II, and various other supporting characters were allied against King Louis IV, the Archbishop of Rheims, and Count Arnulf of Flanders. In response, King AEthelstan tried to intervene by sending a fleet to support the embattled king… Suddenly King AEthelstan died, and rather than supporting the young French King, the English fleet instead opted to raid the French coast. Support the Show

 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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