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.
Actor Clive Standon travels across Europe with Viking experts to discover how the Vikings were able to invade England and France. In Rise of the Pagans,Vikings actors Clive Standen and Maude Hirst travel to Scandinavia to explore the pagan beliefs and warrior culture of the Vikings-and dispel myths about their violent society.
Jago explores the ancient civilisation of Teotihuacan that exploded into a position of dominance in the ancient Americas almost 2,000 years ago. For hundred of years this great city state was the biggest in the New World. Its rulers built monumental pyramids and temples and then went on to build a vast empire that was maintained through force. Yet the identity of the people who led this civilisation remains a mystery.
In this episode, Ella Al-Shamahi explores the fate of the Neanderthals - asking why they became extinct, and discovering how they live on inside of us today. The programme starts in the caves of Gibraltar, which may have been the last place the Neanderthals survived. Discoveries here have shown the Neanderthals lived a good life - feasting on seafood and wild game. These were a people who were supremely well adapted to their environment. But about 40,000 years ago they disappeared. Why? One of the reasons might have been that they lost out in a physical showdown with modern humans. Ella investigates one of the world's oldest murder mysteries.
Around 200,000 years ago, a new species, Homo sapiens, appeared on the African landscape. While scientists have imagined eastern Africa as a real-life Garden of Eden, the latest research suggests humans evolved in many places across the continent at the same time. DNA from a 19th-century African-American slave is forcing geneticists to re-think the origins of our species. The theory is that our ancestors met, mated and hybridized with other human types in Africa — creating ever greater diversity within our species.