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
Simon Sebag Montefiore looks at how every event in ancient Rome revolved around religion. From the foundation myth through to the deification of emperors, nothing could happen without calling upon the pantheon of Roman gods. Simon investigates how the Romans worshipped and sacrificed to the gods. He discovers that sacredness defined what was Roman and it was the responsibility of every Roman to play their part in the cult. Even the ancient Roman sewer was holy ground!
Both the Allies and the Nazis were always looking for a single knock-out blow to end the war. Britain's Sir Arthur "Bomber" Harris thought the answer might lie in "strategic bombing." The idea was to blow the belt out of Germany's infrastructure and cities. This, he argued, would cripple the Nazis ability to wage a war and the ordinary people would soon lose the will to fight. But it led directly to the tragedy of Dresden, when Allied planes firebombed tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. The Germans believed that the decisive stranglehold would come from their submarines. If they could only cut American supply lines to Britain across the Atlantic, then the Allied effort would collapse. So begun a long game of cat and mouse between U-Boats and British and American convoys.
Historical documentary telling the definitive story of Hitler's final hours as told by the people who were there. The programme features exclusive interviews originally filmed in 1948 - only recently rediscovered after 65 years and never before seen in the UK - with the inner circle who were trapped with Hitler in his bunker as the Russians fought to take Berlin. Parts of the bunker are rebuilt according to this eyewitness testimony in order to forensically chart the last hours, days and minutes of the Fuhrer's life.
2016 • History