Simon uncovers the city's ancient Greek roots, maps its transformation into the imperial capital of a Christian Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great and reveals how ecclesiastical clashes forced Eastern and Western Churches apart.
Simon explores modern Istanbul in search of the last desperate centuries of Christian Byzantium, in which the once glorious city was buffeted by enemies in both East and West, and yet still produced a golden artistic renaissance. This is story of the Christian crusaders who destroyed the city, and the Ottoman Muslims who restored it to life as an imperial capital after the epic siege of 1453.
2013 • History
Simon discovers surprises in Istanbul as it rose to become the imperial capital and Islam's most powerful city. Visiting the great mosques and palaces built by the Ottoman emperors, he tells the stories behind them - of royal concubines, murderous bodyguards and sultans both the powerful and the depraved. He shows how the Christians, Muslims and Jews of the city once co-existed before the waves of nationalist rebellions brought the Ottoman empire to its knees. In the 20th century the ancient capital was once more transformed by the new secular vision of Ataturk.
2013 • History
Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Normans on southern Europe and the Middle East. The Normans spread south in the 11th century, winning control of southern Italy and the island of Sicily. There they created their most prosperous kingdom, where Christianity and Islam co-existed in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. It became a great centre of medieval culture and learning. But events in the Middle East provoked the more aggressive side of the Norman character. In 1095, the Normans enthusiastically answered the Pope's call for holy war against Islam and joined the first crusade. They lay siege to Jerusalem and eventually helped win back the holy city from the muslims. This bloody conquest left a deep rift between Christianity and Islam which is still being felt to this day.
Alastair explores the surprising roots of Greek art, beginning his journey in Crete at the palace of Knossos, legendary home of the Minotaur. He travels to Santorini to the 'Greek Pompeii', and finds gold in the fabled stronghold of Mycenae and dazzling remains from Greece's Dark Ages. Alastair discovers the beginnings of a defining spirit in Greek art, embracing mythology, a passion for symmetry, and an obsession with the human body.
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles looks at the winners, losers and survivors of the great Bronze Age collapse, a regional catastrophe that wiped out the hard-won achievements of civilisation in the eastern Mediterranean about 3,000 years ago. In the new age of iron, civilisation would re-emerge, tempered in the flames of conflict, tougher and more resilient than ever before.
Elvis Presley paid $4 to record two songs for his mother and the rest, as they say, is history. But without Elvis, would rock and roll have gone the same route? And how have the many iterations of rock and roll developed and changed our taste and culture since the 1950's?
In France, perfidy and treason plunge the French Kingdom into chaos. Behind new king Charles IX, Catherine de Medici rules in the background as master of the throne. However, she is unable to prevent a civil war.
S2E3 • The Real War of Thrones: The True History of Europe • 2018 • History