Sunday, 16 January 2011

Norman Centuries - Episode 11 The Great Count

Roger de Hauteville was the youngest of twelve sons - remarkable enough thing in itself when you think about it.  This gave him a distinct disadvantage in the Medieval world.   He also married for love, again not typical for someone of his class at that time.  And he carved out a kingdom on Sicily at the expense of the muslims living there.

Lars tells the story clearly, making it easy to follow and leaving you better informed than when you started.  I can't help thinking that the story of the Normans is one that is simply going to peter out though as they get more incorporated into the mainstream of European culture.  This means that we are really getting a set of biographies rather than a developing story. So although I am sure I'll enjoy the next one I can't really say I am waiting for it to come out.

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Friday, 14 January 2011

In Our Time Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

The In Our Time series covers some great subjects and this episode is no exception.  Childe Harold's Pilgrimage was the first long poem that Lord Bryon wrote and was a huge success all over Europe (except Portugal) and turned its author into a celebrity of rock star proportions.  Only Napoleon was more famous.

The world (except the Portuguese) watched in amazement while the aristocratic poet's behaviour became more extravagant and he pushed further against the conventions expected of the time.

Its a bit like Melvyn himself.  He doesn't try to be polite to his guests, he just browbeats them into submission.  Mad, bad and dangerous to appear on a show with.

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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

History Books Review: The Germans - drunken, highly armed feminists

Colin Sanders' History Books Review has been pumping out a whole load of episodes since Christmas.  He explains that he has upgraded his bandwidth and has a lot of unreleased material to make public.

One of his recent podcasts caught my eye.  This describes the German tribes who the Romans first failed to conquer, then used as troops in their army and who finally destroyed the empire itself.  They sound like a fun bunch of guys. 

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Monday, 10 January 2011

History of Rome 121 Phase Three Complete

The citizens of Rome can't have enjoyed the crisis of the Third Century very much, and I have a feeling Mike Duncan didn't warm to the telling of it very much either.  But he has done his duty and got us through to the start of the reign of Diolcetian and you can feel his enthusiasm rise.  This podcast is never less then excellent but it really shines when it covers the characters that made Rome.  I am looking forward to the next couple of episodes.

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Sunday, 9 January 2011

History Network Ancient Warfare Magazine - Darkness Descends

Straight military history is a bit like jazz.  A lot of people like it, and like it a lot.  But it tends to leave most people a bit cold.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

In Our Time - The Industrial Revolution (The one where Melvyn loses his rag)

Why did the Industrial Revolution start in Eighteenth Century Britain?  There have been many arguments about it over the years.  Melvyn Bragg staged one on his episode of In Our Time devoted to the subject.  It is a bad tempered exchange of views where the temperature runs high.  There are frequent interruptions and at one stage Melvyn thinks he is being accused of being racist.

Running time is 45 minutes, after which the presenters went outside for a fight.

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Friday, 7 January 2011

Epicurus - ABC Philosophy Podcast

It is surprising to find out just how widespread and influential the philosophy of Epicurus was in the ancient world, and just how modern it sounds today.

Epicurus believed in the existence of atoms - though for philosophical reasons rather than scientific ones - did not believe in life after death and taught how to live a good life without any supreme being to lay down a morality for you.

All in all, he sounds like just the philosopher we need today.

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Thursday, 6 January 2011

The End of the Royal Navy Podcast by Tony Cocks (Binge Thinking History Podcast 18)

A new podcast by Tony Cocks is always a big event, and not just because there is usually a long wait between episodes.  He always researches them meticulously and gets the pace just right.  And he avoids the mistake of assuming people listening know all about the subject.  This makes them a good listen.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Our History Project

The first thing I heard on listening to these podcasts was an advert for an organisation called the Sons of Confederate Veterans in a deep southern accent.   I was initially alarmed that I had stumbled on some kind of white supremacist website, but I checked it out and it all looks to be quite respectable.

Europe from its Origins Episode 19 1347-1396

Joe Hogarty is aiming to take his series all the way to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the standard of each show is higher than the one before.  We haven't got to the Renaissance yet so there is still a lot to look forward to.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

2 Cent History - Shot Heard Around the World

I got an e-mail from the author of a new podcast about the start of the American War of Independence.  It is up on libsyn with an RSS feed set up, and you can directly access the podcasts at

Second Attempt at a Forum

The Lefora forum really didn't grab me, despite looking quite pretty.  I left it up for a month but nobody signed up for it, but then as I put no effort into getting it started I suppose that isn't all that surprising.

I am having another go now with freeforums, which seems a bit more like it though it is a bit trickier to set up and doesn't look all that brilliant.