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
If you read of old Britain… even if you read of modern Britain… you’d be forgiven if you thought it was all London. And London does soak up a ton of the spotlight. It’s like the Stonehenge of the non-neolithic period. You can’t avoid it. And we won’t here, either. London will be covered regularly, because it has to be. But today, lets talk about a different town. Because while London is important, it’s not the only urban center on the island, and while we’ve been talking about the development of the economic landscape of the Anglo Saxon territories during the Viking Age… we haven’t yet talked about how these town specifically functioned and developed. So today, let’s use Worcester as a non-London Anglo Saxon case study. Support the Show
Cultures change all the time – yours is changing right now, in ways you may or may not realize. It’s a completely normal, everyday fact that has been with humanity since we began. Probably before we began. And yet, telling the story of how a culture changed is extremely challenging. Cultural shifts are messy, they’re chaotic, and they come with a boat load of caveats and exceptions. The entire theme of the BHP, right from the start, has been that people can’t be pigeon holed. They’re complicated, unique, and they never perfectly fit into a category. And yet, even as we acknowledge that, we must recognize trends and norms and traditions – if for no other reason than they do actually change over time. Support the Show
At the start of 867, there were four major Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in Britain. By 874, three of the four – Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia – had lost their independence. That’s a timespan of only 7 years, and in that 7 years the political landscape of Britain had changed dramatically and permanently. That’s insane. For scale, that’s just barely longer than Lost. Imagine being a free kingdom back when you thought something interesting was going on with Walt, and then being fully under the control of a foreign government by the time that you realized that everyone was just hanging out in a church with Hurley… for some reason. And as an aside, what the hell was Lindelhoff thinking when he wrote that? It’s been over a decade and I’m still annoyed. Support the Show
We are entering a new era in the BHP. Support the Show
It's that time again!
It’s the year 900. We’ve closed out another century, and the 900’s are looking as tumultuous as the 800’s. But before we move forward in our story of our Island – still in many ways at the end of the world – the BHP is going to take a moment to look at what is happening with the rest of human civilization around the globe around the year 900. History, like society, only makes sense with context. A lot was going on for everybody and it all has important implications for how we became the people we are today. This is just a brief snapshot – a way to get our bearings for where Britain sits among the rest of the world’s civilizations. It’s going to be a whirlwind tour – and there are unfortunately still some significant gaps. I’ll point those out as we come to them. But here we go – the world of 900 CE. Support the Show
We’ve reached the end of an era. It was late 899, and Alfred (who has been our central figure for dozens of episodes) was at last at rest. But with his death, there was a sudden opening at the top levels of West Saxon politics and Alfred’s son, Edward, was a top contender for that position. Support the Show
By 897, everything Alfred had known…. changed. He was barely in his 20s when he took the throne and he hadn’t had a chance to stop for a breath for the decades that followed. He had been king for over half of his life, and in those years he’d proven himself to be an energetic and inventive king. Wessex under his rule had been transformed. Defensive structures, public infrastructure, educational reforms, legal reforms, military reforms, and even the creation of a written history. He had even changed the concept of Kingship within the Anglo Saxon territories. Under Alfred, the entire Realm from the very top (and the concepts of what makes a noble, with everything from their powers to their obligations to scholarship) all the way to the bottom (with the duties of the peasants and the organization of their lives)… all of it had been molded to fit his vision. And even though it had been a difficult task, even though he had even lost his kingdom for a time (quite likely due to a coup)… in the end, he got what he wanted. Support the Show
The Danes encamped at Bridgnorth had been campaigning for years. Many had come here with Haesten and the Appledore fleet. They were the veterans of the continental campaigns. And for years now they had been fighting tooth and nail with the Anglo Saxons. But despite all the time they had spent here. Despite their massive numbers, their surprise marches, their end runs, their seizure of territory… despite the fact that they had made allies with (and campaigned alongside) the kingdoms of Northumbria and East Anglia… despite all of that, they had nothing to show for their efforts. Support the Show
To keep you entertained over the long weekend, here's a short term special for you to enjoy.
When I write an episode I begin by looking at what has happened in the past, then at what will come in the future, and only after that do I allow myself to focus on what is occurring for this episode. I do this because I want to know the context of these events. The sources that have survived don’t often give us the Why, or even the How. They’re all about what and when… and that’s not the real meat of history. If you want to know what people were actually experiencing, you need to know what they had already gone through, and why they were making the decisions that they made. This will become easier as we move forward in time – we will eventually have diaries and personal letters and detailed accounts of political meetings. But even now – if you look close you can see a bigger picture. We can get – at least a little bit – to the why and the how. Support the Show
It's that time again!
For the Viking army fleeing Shoebury, there wasn’t much to look forward to in a winter holiday at Chester. It would be wet. It would be cold. It would be creepy. The old Roman settlement had been abandoned for quite some time, and that probably didn’t sit well with the superstitious danes. And besides being creepy, Chester promised generally rough living. Sure, it might sit next to farm land and a few small settlements, but this wasn’t the civitas it had once been… the Danes weren’t marching in and setting up in a nice little manor. These were ruins. Old ruins. This was going to be hardcore camping. Support the Show
“Then came the king’s troops, and routed the enemy, broke down the work, took all that was therein money, women, and children and brought all to London. And all the ships they either broke to pieces, or burned, or brought to London or to Rochester.” That’s what the Chronicle has to say about AEthelred’s siege of Hasten’s fortress at Banfleet. As we spoke about last week, we don’t know how many women and children came with fleet, but it’s clear from the Chronicle that they existed. Support the Show
Learn more about Dr. Sheridan and her work Dr. Sheridan’s Wiki page Dr. Sheridan’s Great Archaeology page Dr. Sheridan’s Academia.edu page The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project Links Twitter: @AvaBeakerBurial Facebook: facebook.com/achavanichbeakerburial Website: https://achavanichbeakerburial.wordpress.com/ Support the Show