This is one of the last and greatest untold stories of the Second World War, revealed by the last surviving Chief of State, King Michael I of Romania. “We took the train to Berlin to see the other side of the coin and we had lunch with Hitler. It wasn’t an enjoyable meeting.” It is the story of a King’s decision who, in a critical moment of the Second World War, relinquished Germany’s support, guiding Romania towards the Allies, thus bringing about a quicker end to the war. It is a story of palatial intrigues. And a story of deceptions. From Buckingham Palace to Bucharest. From Moscow to Washington. Lost diplomatic signals, aristocrat spies and blackmail at gun point. And the courage of a young king who dared. Romania, at the outbreak of the Second World War, was a very young nation, with an age of only 20 years.
Professor Robert Bartlett explores the impact of the Normans on southern Europe and the Middle East. The Normans spread south in the 11th century, winning control of southern Italy and the island of Sicily. There they created their most prosperous kingdom, where Christianity and Islam co-existed in relative harmony and mutual tolerance. It became a great centre of medieval culture and learning. But events in the Middle East provoked the more aggressive side of the Norman character. In 1095, the Normans enthusiastically answered the Pope's call for holy war against Islam and joined the first crusade. They lay siege to Jerusalem and eventually helped win back the holy city from the muslims. This bloody conquest left a deep rift between Christianity and Islam which is still being felt to this day.
In the spring of 1943, after the successive failures of Moscow and Stalingrad, the armies of the Reich go on the offensive again. Considered the greatest tank battle in History, this event represents a real turning point of World War II on the Eastern Front.
Presenter Bettany Hughes explores the day in 32BC when Octavian, Julius Caesar's adopted son, stole the secret will of Mark Antony, his most dangerous political rival. The document's release gave Octavian crucial support in the civil war that followed and allowed him to establish himself as Rome's first emperor, Augustus.
Five thousand years ago man first throws a handful of rocks into a campfire and stumbles upon a discovery that changes the world: Metal. Copper, Tin and Bronze empower the ancient world and allow empires to expand, armed with sharp, hard-wearing weapons.