In the Andes, the Spanish open up the largest silver mine in the world – and mint millions of pesos de ocho (pieces of eight). These coins transform the global economy. They fill the treasure chests of pirates. They fuel a stock market boom. They help pay for the Taj Mahal. As trade booms, millions of people come to the New World as slaves. But a handful of Pilgrims come as pioneers – looking for freedom.
Was America's first billionaire, John D. Rockefeller, a greedy robber baron, a generous philanthropist, or both? And did the oil tycoon exploit America's poor or give them access to much-needed energy? Historian and Hillsdale College professor Burt Folsom, author of "The Myth of the Robber Barons," reveals the truth about the Rockefeller empire.
Simon Sebag Montefiore charts the rocky course of Rome's rise to become the capital of western Christendom and its impact on the lives of its citizens, elites and high priests. Rome casts aside its pantheon of pagan gods and a radical new religion takes hold. Christianity was just a persecuted sect until Emperor Constantine took a huge leap of faith, promoting it as the religion of Empire. But would this divine gamble pay off?
Our third and final episode looks at the Ottoman Empire’s slow decline in the face of Russian expansion and explores the complex alliances it would forge with European powers in an effort to survive. The map of Europe would be radically redrawn and the Ottoman Empire would come to a humiliating end, giving birth to the modern Turkish Republic.