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.
Nowhere in the British Isles was the Viking connection longer-lasting or deeper than in Scotland. Hundreds of years after their first hit-and-run raids, the Norsemen still dominated huge swathes of the country. But storm clouds were gathering. In 1263 the Norwegian king Haakon IV assembled a fleet of 120 longships to counter Scottish raids on the Norse Hebrides. It was a force comparable in size to the Spanish Armada over three centuries later. But like the Armada, the Norse fleet was eventually defeated by a powerful storm. Driven ashore near present-day Largs, the beleaguered Norsemen were attacked by a Scottish army. The outcome of this vicious encounter would mark the beginning of the end of Norse power in Scotland. Marine archeologist Dr Jon Henderson tells the incredible story of the Norsemen in Scotland. Visiting fascinating archeological sites across Scotland and Norway, he reveals that, although the battle at Largs marked the end of an era for the Norsemen, their presence continued to shape the identity and culture of the Scottish nation to the present day.
2012 • History
After finding strands of human hair buried in Greenland's permafrost, scientists are attempting the impossible: to be the first to reconstruct the identity of a Stone Age human being through nothing but his ancient locks. From scraps of DNA an ancient face appears. Further discoveries in the genetic code threaten to overturn long-held beliefs of how humans populated the earth. How much does your hair say about you? Scratch that. How much will your hair say about you, in say, 4,000 years? After finding tufts of human hair buried in Greenlands permafrost, scientists will assemble a remarkable human blueprint that details the life of one early human down to the color of his eyes, the shape of his teeth...even his receding hairline. But as the research team, lead by evolutionary biologist Eske Willerslev, break into this genetic code, they find far more than they bargained for, and the discovery threatens to turn our long held concept of how humans populated the earth on its head. In the ultimate cold case, National Geographic will obtain exclusive access to the international team of genetic scientists, archaeologists and paleo- artists who are breathing life into a man dead for 4,000 years, learning everything about him and even the way he and his people lived... through his hair.
Between 1950 and 1953, more than 24 nations sent troops to Korea as the opposing ambitions and ideologies of the emerging Cold War superpowers - China, Russia and the USA - fought for supremacy on the peninsula. With first-hand testimony and new historical material, Korea: The Never Ending War retraces the history of a conflict that resulted in millions of deaths, brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, and continues to shape history to this day. The 1953 armistice brought a fragile peace to the Korean Peninsula, but the war has never officially ended and deep divisions - and the threat of nuclear conflict - remain.
2019 • History
Auschwitz-Birkenau was designed to kill. Four gas chambers murdered thousands at a time, belching out smoke and human ashes. Starvation, thirst, disease, and hard labor reduced the average lifespan to less than three months. More than 1-million people perished in the largest German Nazi concentration and extermination camp. Seventy years after her liberation, Kitty Hart-Moxon makes a final return to Auschwitz-Birkenau to walk among the crumbling memorial with students Natalia and Lydia, who, at 16, are the same age now as she was then.
2015 • History