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.


 281 – England | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:42

The last couple of episodes have focused on the political tools that AEthelstan had at his disposal. Marriage alliances, fostering, dynastic cults and diplomatic entreaties were all powerful pieces moving on a huge dark age chess board. And the thing I want you to realize about these things is first, that they took time. A strategic mind – a mind like AEthelstan’s – would see the long game and set his moves accordingly knowing they wouldn’t fully materialize for years to come. The second is that these tools were highly cultural. There’s nothing inherently political about marriage or fostering until a people make it so. By examining the tools that political actors wield we learn something important about the culture and society that underlies it. What it values, and how it prioritizes people and things. And all of these slow, important tools are working constantly in the background throughout AEthelstan’s reign. Support the Show

 280 – King AEthelstan’s Love Life | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:24

What is a King’s most important duty? Is it the defense of the realm? Or perhaps the growth of the kingdom’s borders? What about developing the economy? Fostering strong diplomatic alliances? Shepherding the souls of his subjects to Christ? How about just keeping his subjects happy and healthy? Support the Show

 279 – Dynastic Cults | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 42:47

Want to know something strange? When Edward died, the Irish annals said nothing. Not a mention about his death, nor the circumstances of it. And it’s not like the Irish Annals were disinterested with what was happening in the Anglo Saxon kingdoms. After all, they’re the source for our story about AEthelflaed’s defense of Chester. They were so interested that they told us about the bees. And it’s not like the Irish annals didn’t bother to record deaths of Anglo Saxon figures. For example, they recorded the death of Eadwulf of Bamburgh, a man whose biggest accomplishment in the record seems to be that he was the father of Ealdred (the guy who allied with Scotland and fought against Ragnald… and lost). But the Irish mention his death, and ignore the King of the Anglo Saxons… Support the Show

 278 – The Thunderbolt | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 22:56

There’s a dirty secret to history podcasts, and it only becomes clear when you actually start one. The truth is that many people will SAY that they want to learn something new, and hear new stories and hear new facts. But every time, without fail, the most popular episodes – and the most popular history shows – are about stories and figures that people already know. Now, this isn’t because the people who say they want to hear something new are lying. It’s just because they’ve forgotten what else they are looking for – they want to know more about stories that are important. Which is reasonable. But the problem is that this creates a self-defeating loop, because we often judge whether someone or something is important based upon whether or not we have heard about it before. If you have already heard about something, there’s a good chance you’re going to assume it was significant. Similarly, if you haven’t heard about something, you very well may assume that it’s unimportant. Support the Show

 277 – King AEthelstan: Say Yes to the Dress | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 23:18

It’s important to hit the ground running when you start a new job. Especially if it is one that carries a lot of responsibility. When you’re new, people are often trying to work out who you are and how you’ll fit into the system, and the best way to put people at ease is to work diligently to get up to speed as quick as possible. Support the Show

 276 – The Bastard Rebel King | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 31:56

The story of Edward is one of contradictions. There’s something about his rule that seems … complicated and requiring more nuance than many of our earlier rulers. Here we have a King that did what must have seemed impossible… he began his rule holding dominion over Wessex and Kent. Huge portions of his kingdom were in outright rebellion against him. Now at the end of his reign he holds all the Anglo Saxon land south of the humber, and has the submission of all the Welsh Kingdoms, Jorvik, the rest of Northumbria, Strathclyde, and the Scots. Support the Show

 275 – King Edward the Almost First King of England | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 35:41

The story of Edward is undeniably odd. There are events that are at best, unexplained and at worst look potentially horrible. But he’s also a man of contradiction, because the one thing we haven’t talked about is the one thing you’re probably not expecting. He was an effective king. Support the Show

 274 – The Missing Shire | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 26:44

In the last several episodes I’ve been breaking down the weird evidence that surrounds Edward towards the end of his reign. It’s been a deep dive and has been focused on some pretty granular details, and the reason why I’ve done that is because I can’t conclusively make a statement on what he did… it’s shrouded. All I can do is give you the evidence, and then give you the context in which that evidence took place, and provide a few thoughts and theories on what it might mean. That’s why the BHP has felt a bit like Serial over the last month or so. That’s coming to an end, and we’re going to return to the usual tone very soon, but I hope you have enjoyed this foray into the questions that Edward’s reign has raised. Because questions like this… questions without answers… and questions that require a thorough look not just into the written record, but also into the archaeology and cultural matters, is what makes the study of history come alive. The questions, and the digging, is what the study of history is all about. So let’s get into one of the last big questions about the end of Edward’s reign. Support the Show

 273 – I Do… Do I? | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 24:04

Last episode we talked about the rapid growth of AEthelflaed’s power, Edward’s militarizing AEthelflaed’s borders, Edward visiting her at her capital city and bringing his army with him… the fact that she died shortly thereafter and Edward ordered his army to occupy the city… and then the signs of rebellion coming out of Northern Mercia, and Edwards eventual capture and disinheriting of his niece, AElfwynn Second Lady of Mercia. Judging by your e-mails, you found that series of events as suspect as I did. Support the Show

 272 – The End of the Age of AEthelflaed | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 29:13

Trying to tell the story of AEthelflaed is like trying to study gravity. We know her indirectly, by the impressions she left and the political shifts that happen around her. We can see the impact she left both on her lands, and in the devotion of her subjects. And so in many respects, we know AEthelflaed through the shadow she left in her wake. And the size and strength of these political and military feats seem to far outstrip the picture of AEthelflaed that is painted in the Chronicle – particularly the picture painted in the copy made in Wessex during the reign of her brother Edward… which essentially paints no picture at all. Support the Show

 271 – How to Break a Kingdom in Six Months | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 58:05

For the last several years, the Anglo Saxons had been on a true war footing. AEthelflaed and Edward had been showing skill and audacity in the field, and it had paid dividends. Under their leadership, the Anglo Saxon kingdoms of the south had been taking the fight to the Danish controlled lands and were seizing massive portions of key territories. But the Northmen weren’t about to take this assault on their newly won lands lying down. Scandinavian fleets from across the sea, as well as large armies surging from the Five Boroughs and Northumbria, were mustering to challenge the Anglo Saxon gains in the south. Support the Show

 270 – War in the Five Boroughs | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:43

There’s an entry from the Irish Fragmentary annals that caught my attention. It talks about the defeat of Hroald and Ohter at the hands of AEthelflaed… and it specifically gives credit to AEthelflaed for this battle, and then goes on to say that following that victory her fame spread in all directions. Support the Show

 269 – The Western Front | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:12

Wessex and Mercia have had a busy decade. Both kingdoms militarized their borders, fought off invasion forces, and even took the offensive and marched into neighboring kingdoms. And even though the Chronicle is mysteriously tight lipped on all of these fights, it’s clear that way more than just construction work was going on at all of the burhs. There were battles being waged. Battles that largely went unrecorded for some reason… but battles nonetheless. We know this because other sources from that time tell us that real blood, sweat, and tears were going into the acquisition and defense of these border shires. Support the Show

 268 – Viking Invasion | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:23

AEthelflaed, Lady of Mercia, and her brother, King Edward, had been bringing the fight to the Danes… they had been stretching their borders into Danish controlled lands and they haven’t just been on the offense… they’ve been winning. When an army was raised out of Leicester in 913 for the express purpose of countering the Mercian advance, AEthelflaed and the Fyrd of Mercia defeated them. And they did so, even though Leicester was fighting alongside their Northampton allies. Support the Show

 267 – The Southern Expansion | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:44

O potent elfleda! Maid, men’s terror! You did conquer nature’s self; worthy The name of man! More beauteous nature’s form of A woman; but your valour shall secure Man’s higher name. For name you only need Not sex to change: unconquerable queen, King rather, who such trophies have obtained! O virgin and virago both farewell! No caesar yet such triumphs hath deserved As you, than any, all, the Caesar’s more renowned! That’s a translation of a Latin praise poem for AEthelflaed. It was included in the writings of the 12th century scribe, Henry of Huntingdon. Support the Show


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