Dr Helen Castor explores the life - and death - of Joan of Arc. Joan was an extraordinary figure - a female warrior in an age that believed women couldn't fight, let alone lead an army. But Joan was driven by faith, and today more than ever we are acutely aware of the power of faith to drive actions for good or ill. Since her death, Joan has become an icon for almost everyone - the left and the right, Catholics and Protestants, traditionalists and feminists. But where in all of this is the real Joan - the experiences of a teenage peasant girl who achieved the seemingly impossible? Through an astonishing manuscript, we can hear Joan's own words at her trial, and as Helen unpicks Joan's story and places her back in the world that she inhabited, the real human Joan emerges.
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"Had the party given me orders, maybe East Germany would still exist today. You can count on that." (Erich Mielke, Minister of State Security from 1957-1989) An informative and chilling account of the history of the notorious East German secret police, the Stasi. Up to 90,000 full-time employees and more than 180,000 unofficial informants work for the Ministry for State Security of the GDR, and about one in 50 adults in East Germany collaborated with East Germany's Secret Police. Relative to population, it was the largest secret service in the history of mankind. Headed by the sinister Erich Mielke, the Stasi kept the East German population under constant surveillance. The Stasi - just another intelligence agency, in just another country? "Shield and Sword of the Party" is what the Stasi calls itself. The Party dictatorship never dares to face its opponents. Instead, the Stasi has to keep all dissenting opinions under control. The goal is total total surveillance. In addition to the state security, the "Stasi" is responsible for foreign intelligence and counter-espionage, personal and property protection, border and passport controls. As the party's shield and sword, the MfS is supposed to keep all enemies of the state under control. "Die Firma: Stasi" takes a look at the extent of Stasi work and shows the omnipresence of state security - from the enormous headquarters of the Ministry in Berlin through district administrations, local offices, detention facilities, prisons, disguised isolation camps, hidden bunkers, reconnaissance planes, eavesdropping stations to the secret execution site of the GDR. Through tapping phones, reading mail, and installing informers they created an insidious culture of fear and suspicion. This definitive doc reveals the calculated cruelty and brutal repression committed by East Germany's most infamous organization.
2007 • History
The rise of Protestantism is dividing Europe. This is the beginning of the Wars of Religion. While celebrating an alliance treaty, Henry II dies during a jousting tournament. Espionage, conspiracies, treason - his son, the sickly Francis II, sees his life and his reign threatened by the Protestants.
S2E2 • The Real War of Thrones: The True History of Europe • 2018 • History
Pompeii: The Last Day is a dramatized documentary that tells of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, covering the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and pumice, killing everyone trapped between the volcano and the sea. On 24 August AD79, the magnificent Roman cities of Pompeii and nearby Herculaneum came to a devastating end. In just 18 hours, the entire city of Pompeii and all its inhabitants were buried in volcanic ash. Pompeii - The Last Day tells the heart rending story of the last hours of both Pompeii and Herculaneum.Their story is told first-hand by those who witnessed the disaster, including a local politician and his family, a fuller, his wife, and two gladiators. Historical characters include Pliny the Elder and his nephew Pliny the Younger. Pompeii: The Last Day draws heavily on the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, as well as historical research and recent discoveries in volcanology. This BAFTA nominated and Emmy Award winning drama is the ultimate disaster movie. It's Man versus Volcano - how the greatest civilisation in the world was brought to its knees by a deadly threat it knew nothing about. It s a true story and its significance today is that it could all happen again, much sooner than most people realise. One of history's greatest stories, the destruction of the city of Pompeii was a natural disaster on an epic scale that has fascinated a succession of cultures around the world for centuries. The twin cities lay undisturbed under metres of volcanic debris for more than 1500 years, during which time all memory of them faded. The seal of wet ashes preserved public structures temples, theatres, baths, shops and private dwellings. The remains of some of the victims, including gladiators, soldiers, slaves and their masters, and entire families, were found in the ruins. Archaeological excavations only began in 1748 and have been continued since then. A massive area has now been excavated, however, even today more than a quarter of Pompeii still awaits excavation. The Last Day is based on archaeological evidence and the writings of Pliny the Younger. The documentary, which portrays the different phases of the eruption, was directed by Peter Nicholson and written by Edward Canfor-Dumas. Extensive CGI was used to recreate the effects of the eruption. One of the greatest natural disasters - and most fateful days - comes to vivid life in this critically acclaimed dramatization. Starring Jim Carter (Downton Abbey), and Tim Pigott-Smith OBE (King Charles III 2017, Victoria and Abdul 2017, Alice in Wonderland).
2003 • History
Drama-documentary about the Samurai general Tokugawa Ieyasu, a towering figure of Japanese history. He overthrew the governing dynasty of Japan and became the Shogun - the supreme military leader - of Japan. Ieyasu's rise to power climaxes in the biggest Samurai battle in history, the Battle of Sekigahara with 160,000 soldiers fighting for the future of Japan. On the way, there is a story of love for a reckless son, a politician in drag, a night time Ninja attack, suicide and betrayal. Brutal civil wars characterize Japan in the 16th century, it is the time of the samurai. The country is torn apart, powerful clans fight for supremacy. The greatest samurai general of all time is Tokugawa Ieyasu, better known as 'The Shogun'. In the greatest battle in samurai history, he risked everything in history's most daring military decision. His achievements resemble those of Caesar and Napoleon.
Hendrik Poinar is a bit of a mystery man – as in, he likes to solve them. And he’s part time traveller – as in, he likes to dig up the past. Think Doctor Who meets Indiana Jones. Poinar is an evolutionary biologist - which means he studies the nature of how we humans got here and where we’re going. He happily admits his childhood dream was to travel the world and travel back in time. “No-one imagines that there’s actually something still hidden within a bone that’s been buried for a few thousand years or 100,000 years, let alone the possibility of resurrecting it or bringing it back to life,” says Poinar. “I mean, that’s sort of completely bizarre. It’s like a time machine, yeah, it’s a kid’s dream.” Secrets in the Bones follows Poinar on an epic journey to Italy, Germany, Britain, and across the Unites States. His mission: solve one of the greatest mysteries of science, a mystery that has eluded researchers for more than six centuries: unlock the secrets of the fourteenth century killer disease that caused the Black Death and wiped out more than 50 million people.
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.