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.


 242 – Edward AEtheling at Farnham | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:40

892 was not a very good year. Alfred’s gambit to pacify the forces of Hastein through the power of baptism and gifts had failed utterly, and now they were encamped in Benfleet Essex, launching raids into Wessex and (probably) Mercia. And as for the gargantuan fleet of 250 ships to the south at Appledore? It was still there. Support the Show

 The Achavanich Beaker Burial Project: Discovering Ava with Maya Hoole | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:38:29

Twitter: @AvaBeakerBurial Facebook: Website: Canmore: Support the Show

 BHP Pub Quiz #25 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 6:48
 241 – Haesten | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:41

What was Alfred’s reaction to the news of a massive viking fleet crossing the channel? Was it a surprise? Did he just expect it at this point? Was he angry that he would have to fight for his kingdom yet one more time? Based on his apparent devotion to his religion, I imagine he wondered what they had done to invite yet another test of their faith in the form of bristling war ships. But in truth, there was nothing he could have done. The Danes were, in many respects, like a natural disaster… but in the case of this fleet, what launched them towards the shores of Wessex was an actual natural disaster. Support the Show

 240 – Viking Roadshow: Rollo edition | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:56

A massive fleet was off the coast of Kent, heading directly for Alfred’s realm. It was a fleet of 250 ships teeming with skilled, highly experienced raiders. But fleets don’t materialize out of thin air. They come from somewhere… And curiously, over the last 14 years, the scribes of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle were actually giving the backstory to this particular fleet … because this fleet is the very same one that occupied Fulham in 879. Back when Alfred had only just defeated Guthrum and his kingdom was stretched too thin to be able to oust them. Support the Show

 239 – The Dying Time | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 30:30

Today we’re going to cover 5 or 6 years, and we’re going to cover a fascinating theory that (if true) should color virtually everything we know about the life of Alfred the Great… and that’s because the Life of Alfred the Great might not have been written for Alfred. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Support the Show

 238 – A Patchwork of War | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 28:54

The Sons of Rhodri Mawr were in a difficult position. Their father had been a powerful ruler in Britain… he was a man who had gained vast swaths of territory for his dynasty and was one of the few kings in British history that could claim the title of “the great.” Now when he died, there was a period of instability. War had threatened to turn his kingdom… the mighty kingdom of Gwynedd… into nothing more than a Mercian subkingdom. However, Rhodri’s sons proved to be just as ferocious as their father, and they quickly reestablished the independence of North Wales and set their confederation of kingdoms on a path for further expansion. But recent events had presented them with a significant barrier to their ambitions. Support the Show

 237 – Asser | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:50

The Sons of Rhodri, rulers of vast swaths of Wales, have followed in their father’s footsteps in their quest to bring all of the Western Kingdoms under a command of a single dynasty. Their dynasty. In aid of this, they sought common cause with the Danes of Jorvik and their new King… a man called Guthred. There were rumors surrounding him. Rumors that likely gave the Sons of Rhodri Mawr hope. Support the Show

 BHP Pub Quiz #24 | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 6:20
 236 – A Return to Scholarship | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:06

“I can not find anything better in man, than that he know, and nothing worse than that he be ignorant.” That’s a quote from Alfred, and I think it’s my favorite quote. The nice thing about Alfred is that he’s a man for all seasons. There’s something in his reign for everyone. He’s got an excellent comeback story. He’s goes through a sort of Che Guevara phase. He’s got a period where he’s riding around with a cavalry strike force like King Arthur. He’s got a pious side. A scholarly side. A horny side. He has a keen mind for politics, for manipulation, and for tactics. Whatever your need… there’s an Alfred for that. Support the Show

 235 – Alfred’s Educational Reforms | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 25:22

One of the interesting things about piecing together the life of Alfred is that we find little windows into who he was in the strangest of places. Most kings of this era didn’t write much down for us to read… but Alfred did. In fact, he translated entire books (which we’re going to talk about today) and he didn’t just translate the books, he included his own thoughts on them as well. For example, in his translation of Pastoral Care by Pope Gregory the Great. Alfred tells us… “[T]here were happy times then throughout England and… the kings, who had authority over this people, obeyed God and his messengers; and how they not only maintained their peace, morality and authority at home but also extended their territory outside; and how they succeeded both in wisdom and in warfare.” Support the Show

 234 – The Sons of Rhodri and AEthelred’s Beautiful Hair | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 27:24

This episode has been difficult to write. In fact, the last several have been difficult, and it all comes down to issues of time. Not space time flexing due to gravitational pull, and issues of whether a minute for Alfred in Wessex was the same as a minute for someone climbing the alps. Just good old fashioned questions of timing. What goes first? When does it happen? What happens next and when? The problem is that history, at its root, is a story, and a story generally needs a sequence of events. I mean, sure, some storytellers like William S Burroughs have completely cast off the idea of a sequence to great effect. But in general, to tell a story that people can understand, A needs to be followed by B which needs to be followed by C. Support the Show

 233 – Alfred’s Powerplay and the Restructuring of Wessex | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 33:48

While all of the political wrangling was occurring in Tamworth, Guthrum-AEthelstan was relocating to East Anglia, and he was bringing serious changes with him. Culture isn’t something that you can easily uproot in a person – it goes deep. Sure, Guthrum had spent 12 days feasting like and Anglo Saxon, and even gave that one awkward strip tease to demonstrate that he was committed to embracing the Anglo Saxon ways and their god. And honestly, I get the sense that he genuinely was trying to acclimate to his new culture. For example, shortly after moving into East Anglia we see him issuing coins under his baptismal name: AEthelstan. So not only was he accepting his new Christian name, but he was minting coins… which wasn’t something that was generally done by Danish Kings. In fact, Guthrum was the first of the Scandinavian Kings of Britain to mint his own coins, so I do get the sense he was trying. But he had a lifetime of being Scandinavian and a 12 day crash course wasn’t going to completely erase all of that. And Culture is more than how you pray and what you wear. It’s how you work, how you entertain yourself, how you organize your home, your government – culture is basically how we do things, all things. Culture is all encompassing. Support the Show

 232 – Fifth Century Britain with Dr. Catherine Hills | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 58:00

Dr. Hills discussed material culture, ethnicity, Anglo Saxon migration, and more in this fascinating interview. You can learn more about what Dr. Hills at her departmental website here. Support the Show

 231 – Anglo Saxon Economics and Money with Professor Rory Naismith | File Type: audio/mpeg | Duration: 1:22:22

Follow Rory on Twitter @Rory_Naismith and make sure to follow him at his Academic page at Kings College London as well as on This episode covers how the economy transitioned from food rent to coinage, how currency was a reflection of the soul, why King Offa had such funky hair, and much more. Support the Show


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