Presenter Bettany Hughes explores the day in 32BC when Octavian, Julius Caesar's adopted son, stole the secret will of Mark Antony, his most dangerous political rival. The document's release gave Octavian crucial support in the civil war that followed and allowed him to establish himself as Rome's first emperor, Augustus.
From the 15th to well into the 20th century, Europeans conquered and dominated the world. On behalf of Spain, Christopher Columbus sought a new sea route to India and instead found a "New World". His discovery was the starting signal for the "Europeanization of the Earth".
The Aztecs have built a mighty empire that dominates Central America. But it will be destroyed because of a domino effect. 7,000 miles away in modern-day Turkey, the great trading centre of Constantinople is overrun by an Islamic army. Europeans race to find a new route to the spice-rich East. Instead, Christopher Columbus lands in America – and discovers gold. Within 30 years the Aztecs will be conquered.
March 1953. Stalin is dead. Following many long hours of agony in his dacha, the Little Father of Peoples is now no more than an embalmed corpse. His potential successors eagerly flock to pay their respects. In East Berlin, a wave of hope swept through the German workers who rise up against the Party. This hope is swiftly crushed by Soviet tanks... In Asia, the hot conflicts are coming to an end. After the Panmunjom truce, the US ingloriously leaves Korea. The few remaining troops impatiently await a visit from Marilyn Monroe. In the meantime, in Indochina, another army prepares for a far less exciting event. The French hope to stop the Vietminh in Dien Bien Phu, a village surrounded by mountains 300 km from Hanoi... But the French generals do not suspect that at the same time, General Giap of Vietminh and his Chinese advisers, are developing a plan battle that will take the form of a trap: let the French forces settle in the basin of Dien Bien Phu, then surround and destroy them. The French army soon evacuated the country, terribly bruised and humiliated, but Ho Chi Minh only partially triumphed: during the Geneva negotiations, his Chinese and Soviet comrades disappointed his expectations, for fear of an escalation of the conflict. Ho Chi Minh got North Vietnam, but the South is still in Western hands. What will Ho Chi Minh do?