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.
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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
In the spring of 1943, after the successive failures of Moscow and Stalingrad, the armies of the Reich go on the offensive again. Considered the greatest tank battle in History, this event represents a real turning point of World War II on the Eastern Front.
Norway's World War II Radio Spies A group of Norwegians, separate from Milorg, the main Resistance movement, sent back intelligence of German activities in their country by radio direct to the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). Among their coups was tracking down the German battleship Tirpitz. They were often infiltrated back into their country by the Shetland Bus, a group of Norwegian fishing smacks based in the Shetland Islands. When Hitler invaded Norway in 1940, some fled, most submitted...and a courageous few became Fjord Watchers-spies. Whether roaming a busy Oslo street or foraging in a remote mountain cabin, they radioed a constant stream of intelligence to Allied forces even as German soldiers relentlessly hunted them. Special agents such as Torstein Raaby, whose reports helped sink the infamous German battleship Tirpitz, and author Thor Heyerdahl would pose as merchants, fishermen an laborers while they scrutinized Hitler's every move. They were the eyes, ears and voice of the armies that liberated Norway.
8/20 • The True Action Adventures of the Twentieth Century • 1996 • History
Corruption, loose morals, depravity – the German monk Martin Luther had enough of this and demanded a pure church and a pure faith. His goal was nothing less than a revolution: the Reformation of the church and the ousting of the "depraved" popes. Instead, the freedom within every Christian believer was to be expressed. The first example was the Peasants' Wars. Christianity once again became divided after the downfall of Byzantium: there were now Catholics, Lutherans and Reformed, for the rebels soon went their own way. The new longing for a purer Christianity soon led to the biggest catastrophe in Europe, the Thirty Years' War. It was not foremost a religious war, although it was easier to kill more mercilessly without a legitimation than have to worry about "eternal life." Europe lost half of its population during this period. The horror of the roving hordes of soldiers, the plunge into the most terrible atrocities that humans are capable of, caused the educated to doubt the beneficial power of religion. The separation of church and state is the result of the European experience of so-called religious wars. Outlining the provincial causes and ravaging effects of Europe's Thirty Years' War, this program illustrates the ability of religious fervor to inflame nationalism and drive the quest for power. With background on Martin Luther's split with the Catholic Church and the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, Dr. Helmut Neuhaus of Friedrich Alexander University offers detailed analysis of the Hapsburg-Bohemian conflict, the shifting alliances of Catholics and Protestants, and the mercenary campaigns of Wallenstein—leading to a comparison with large-scale natural disaster. The program clearly identifies the three-decade inferno as an inspiration for later divisions of church and state.
In the second of this three-part series, Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Norman conquest of Britain and Ireland. Bartlett shows how William the Conqueror imposed a new aristocracy, savagely cut down opposition and built scores of castles and cathedrals to intimidate and control. He also commissioned the Domesday Book, the greatest national survey of England that had ever been attempted. England adapted to its new masters and both the language and culture were transformed as the Normans and the English intermarried. Bartlett shows how the political and cultural landscape of Scotland, Wales and Ireland were also forged by the Normans and argues that the Normans created the blueprint for colonialism in the modern world.