Historian Michael Wood looks back at the start of China's history from the creation legend to the first 3 recorded dynasties Xia, Shang and Zhou, to the unification of 7 states under Qin Shi Huang. The name China comes from this Qin Dynasty, although the Chinese people refer to themselves as The Han.
2016 • History
China's last empire, the Qing, lasted from 1644 to 1912. It began in violence and war as the Manchus swept down from the north, but invaders became emperors, with three generations of one family ruling the country. Among them, Michael Wood argues, was China's greatest emperor - Kangxi.
2016 • History
Continuing his fascinating journey to rediscover the central role played by the Ottoman empire in Europe and the Middle East, Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different Ottoman sultans. The most famous Suleiman the Magnificent in the golden age of the 16th century and the troubled reign of Abdul Hamid II in the 19th century when the Ottomans were dubbed 'the Sick Man of Europe'. Rageh examines the cultural legacy as well as the physical, religious and political architecture of Ottoman rule to find out what a Muslim world run from Europe was really like. It reveals the backdrop to the relationship between Islam and Europe today, how the Ottomans became central in the power politics of Europe and what could have happened had they succeeded in their successive bids to seize Vienna, then a key European capital.
Nature to Nations explores the rise of great American nations, from dynastic monarchies to participatory democracies. What lies behind these diverse and sophisticated governments? Answers emerge from an archaeologist excavating America’s oldest temple in the Peruvian Andes, a tribe initiating a new chief at a ceremony surrounded by cedar totem poles in the Pacific Northwest, an expert reading ancient hieroglyphs from a sarcophagus to tell a forgotten history of Maya kings, and the return of an ancient shell wampum belt to the birthplace of democracy near Syracuse, New York.
In the final part of his personal account of Britain's empire, Jeremy Paxman tells the extraordinary story of how a desire for conquest became a mission to improve the rest of mankind, especially in Africa, and how that mission shaded into an unquestioning belief that Britain could - and should - rule the world. In Central Africa, he travels in the footsteps of David Livingstone who, though a failure as a missionary, became a legendary figure - the patron saint of empire who started a flood of missionaries to the so-called 'Dark Continent'. In South Africa, Paxman tells the story of Cecil Rhodes, a man with a different sort of mission, who believed in the white man's right to rule the world, laying down the foundations for apartheid. The journey ends in Kenya, where conflict between white settlers and the African population brought bloodshed, torture and eventual withdrawal.
Drama-documentary about Winston Churchill's extraordinary experiences during the Great War, with intimate letters to his wife Clementine allowing the story to be told largely in his own words. Just 39 and at the peak of his powers running the Royal Navy, Churchill in 1914 dreamt of Napoleonic glory, but suffered a catastrophic fall into disgrace and humiliation over the Dardanelles disaster. The film follows his road to redemption, beginning in the trenches of Flanders in 1916, revealing how he became the 'godfather' of the tank and his forgotten contribution to final victory in 1918 as Minister of Munitions. Dark political intrigue, a passionate love story and remarkable military adventures on land, sea and air combine to show how the Churchill of 1940 was shaped and forged by his experience of the First World War.
2013 • History
400 years ago British merchants landed on the coast of India and founded a trading post to export goods to London. Over the next 200 years, their tiny business grew into a commercial titan. Using the letters and diaries of the men and women who were there, this documentary tells the story of the East India Company, which revolutionised the British lifestyle, sparked a new age of speculation and profit and by accident created one of the most powerful empires in history. Yet inexorable rise ended in ignominy. Dogged by allegations of greed, corruption and corporate excess, by the 1770s the company's reputation was in tatters. Blamed for turning its back as millions died in the Bengal famine, and thrown into crisis by a credit crunch in Britain, the world's most powerful company had run out of cash, sparking a government intervention.