Europe's history has many dark sides, but its culture is more than a small gleam of hope, it radiates in many areas far out into the world. The old continent sets standards in art, literature, and science. Starting with the ancient Greeks, Europe produces a number of smart and creative minds.
Europe was embroiled in near constant conflict for centuries. Violent power struggles between nations and rulers shook the continent. Not until the Enlightenment and the French Revolution of 1789 that a new idea of Europe emerged based on common values: freedom, equality, and fraternalism.
The series starts with that great paradox. How could the settlement at the end of World War One - the 'war to end all wars' - lead to an even greater conflict just a few years later ? The answer is a tale with terrible resonancy today. This film shows how the Great Depression sapped the will of the democracies of the West to face up to a new and disturbing political phenomenon - the rise of militaristic dictators, in Germany, Italy, Japan and Spain. The result was that the major powers ignored all the warning signs and allowed the likes of Mussolini and above all Hitler to begin the course that would lead the world into catastrophe. The programme ends as Hitler plots his attack upon Poland.
In this ground-breaking film, historian Tom Holland explores how a new religion - Islam - emerged from the seedbed of the ancient world, and asks what we really know for certain about its rise. The result is an extraordinary detective story. Traditionally, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have believed that Islam was born in the full light of history. But a large number of historians now doubt that presumption, and question much of what Muslim tradition has to tell us about the birth of Islam.
2012 • History