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HistoryExtra brings you interviews with the world's best historians, on everything from the ancient world and the Middle Ages to the Second World War and the history behind current events. Subscribe for fresh takes on history's most famous figures and events, the real stories behind your favourite historical films and TV shows, and compelling insights into lesser-known aspects of the past.


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HistoryExtra brings you interviews with the world's best historians, on everything from the ancient world and the Middle Ages to the Second World War and the history behind current events. Subscribe for fresh takes on history's most famous figures and events, the real stories behind your favourite historical films and TV shows, and compelling insights into lesser-known aspects of the past.




The Seven Years’ War: everything you wanted to know

The Indian subcontinent, North America, south-east Asia and continental Europe all saw vicious fighting in the 1750 and 1760s as part of a major conflict now known as the Seven Years’ War. But did it really last for seven years? What role did George Washington play in its outbreak? And can it be described as history’s first truly global conflict? In conversation with Spencer Mizen, Jeremy Black answers listener questions on the Seven Years’ War. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit...


Six Wives Trailer

The story of Henry VIII’s six wives is a tale of political crisis and personal tragedy, sacrifice and survival, sex and death, scandal, love and betrayal. But, after centuries of myth have built up around this story, has it clouded our view of the real women involved? In this brand new podcast series, we’ll be peeling back the layers of mythmaking to take another look at these fascinating women, who shaped the course of Henry’s reign – and the history of England. To access all six episodes...


Patriarchy’s long roots

Throughout history, have societies always been dominated by men? And how have patriarchal values shaped lives across centuries and continents? Historian June Purvis and writer and broadcaster Angela Saini discuss Angela’s new book The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule, touching on examples from across world history. (Ad) Angela Saini is the author of The Patriarchs: How Men Came to Rule (Fourth Estate, 2023). Buy it now from Amazon:...


Disciplining the “scum of the Earth”

How did the British army keep order among troops and officers during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century? And were the rank and file really as rough and ready as you might imagine? Speaking with David Musgrove, Dr Zack White details the most common crimes and punishments in the armies of the Duke of Wellington and his contemporaries, considering whether the effective imposition of discipline helped the British and their allies finally defeat Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo....


Women & the crusades: patronage, propaganda & prayer

You might think that the crusades were a largely male enterprise. But while that may have been the case on the battlefield, it certainly wasn’t elsewhere. Speaking with Emily Briffett, medieval historian Helen Nicholson delves into the archives to uncover just how vital a role women played in crusading campaigns, in recruitment, support, patronage and prayer. (Ad) Helen Nicholson is the author of Women and the Crusades (Oxford University Press, 2023). Buy it now from Waterstones:...


Science & religion: a story of war or harmony?

Although 19th-century thinkers promoted the narrative that Christianity and science have always been at each other’s throats, in reality, argues Nicholas Spencer, the two have existed for centuries in a state of relative harmony – with some notable spikes in tension. Rhiannon Davies speaks to Nicholas to explore this intertwined relationship. (Ad) Nicholas Spencer is the author of Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science & Religion (Oneworld, 2023). Buy it now from Waterstones:...


The North: from Bede to Lowry

From the glories of early medieval Northumbria to the urban powerhouses of the industrial revolution, northern England has long had an identity of its own. In his book Northerners, Brian Groom traces the story of the North from the Ice Age to the present day. He tells Ellie Cawthorne about some of the key moments in the history of the region – and how the North-South divide goes back further than you might think. (Ad) Brian Groom is the author of Northerners: A History, from the Ice Age to...


Paganism: everything you wanted to know

What did ancient pagans actually believe? Why were they fascinated by the divinity of nature? And why did paganism capture the imagination of the Romantics? Speaking to Emily Briffett, Professor Ronald Hutton answers your questions on the complex history of paganism, from difficulties of definition to recent revivals and popular misconceptions. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices


Eat for victory: WW2’s “British Restaurants”

Canteen dining conjures up visions of plastic trays, hard benches and bowls of beige slop. But as the hardships of the Second World War began to bite, punters flocked to an idealistic establishment called the “British Restaurant” for good food, good prices and good company. Bryce Evans tells Ellie Cawthorne about these healthy, economical establishments, and explores what lessons they could hold for us today. Read a feature by Bryce Evans on British Restaurants here:...


Madame Restell: the abortionist who shocked and fascinated 19th-century New York

In the 19th century, one businesswoman shocked, horrified and fascinated New York society more than any other. Madame Restell was a celebrity and self-made millionaire known for her diamonds and love of oyster breakfasts. How did she make this fortune? By selling birth control pills and abortions from her Fifth Avenue Brownstone boarding house. Jennifer Wright tells Ellie Cawthorne about what Restell’s story can reveal about attitudes towards abortion, motherhood and the role of women in...


Medieval manuscripts: an enduring obsession

For centuries, people have been dazzled by the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. But how much do we know about the countless makers, collectors and connoisseurs who took care of them behind the scenes? Speaking with Emily Briffett, Christopher de Hamel introduces some of these extraordinary people – from a Norman monk and a Florentine bookseller to a rabbi from central Europe, a Greek forger and an American woman with a spectacular library. (Ad) Christopher de Hamel is the author...


Njinga: queen, warrior, diplomat

Queen Njinga, the 17th-century ruler of Ndongo and Matamba, in modern-day Angola, established an impressive reputation for her skills as a warrior and diplomat. At a time when Portuguese colonists were ramping up operations in the region, Njinga had to fight tooth and nail for survival, and make difficult decisions to protect her people. Luke Pepera tells Kev Lochun more about this formidable leader, whose story has been brought to life in a new Netflix docu-drama, African Queens. Learn more...


Sirens, succubi & sex symbols: a history of female monsters

From the dangers of childbirth to female sexuality, myths and legends about female monsters like mermaids and sirens can tell us a lot about different societies’ attitudes towards women over time. Speaking with Rachel Dinning, Sarah Clegg, author of the new book Woman’s Lore, examines the portrayal of women as seductive, child-killing monsters through history – from Lamashtu and Gello, to Lamia and Lilith. (Ad) Sarah Clegg is the author of ​​Woman's Lore: 4,000 Years of Sirens, Serpents and...


Britain’s WW2 home front: everything you wanted to know

As the Second World War raged across the world, what was life like for those back home in Britain? How did families make it through the terror of bombing raids? How many people took part in black market dealings? And what was it like to open up your home to an evacuated child? In our latest “Everything you wanted to know” episode, Professor Dan Todman speaks to Lauren Good to answer listener questions about Britain’s home front during the Second World War. Learn more about your ad choices....


Treasure, heritage & returning artefacts

Headlines have been made recently by proposed changes to the Treasure Act in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The changes would see more historical and archaeological artefacts defined as “treasure”, and could help museums acquire historically significant items. Speaking to Matt Elton, Lord Parkinson, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Arts and Heritage in the UK, discusses the thinking behind these proposals, and some of the other issues facing heritage in the UK. Learn more...


Satire & scandal: the printmakers who mocked Georgian society

Women blown up like balloons about to burst; leaders carving up the globe like a plum pudding; a drunken, bloated prince sprawled surrounded by unpaid invoices – the art of satirists like James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson and Isaac Cruikshank gives us an unfiltered look at the preposterous highs and grisly lows of Georgian society. Alice Loxton tells Ellie Cawthorne how these artists pricked the pomposity of politicians, mocked the outlandish fashions of the aristocracy and gave the people of...


Elizabethan witchcraft: a trial that divided a community

In the 1580s, the remote Essex village of St Osyth was beset by poverty and social tensions – and when a servant accused her neighbour of witchcraft, it sparked a crisis that engulfed the entire community. Speaking with Charlotte Hodgman, Marion Gibson explores what this late 16th-century witchcraft trial can tell us about life in early modern England. (Ad) Marion Gibson is the author of The Witches of St Osyth: Persecution, Betrayal and Murder in Elizabethan England (Cambridge University...


The Iraq War, 20 years on

In March 2003, a coalition of troops from nations including the United States and the United Kingdom mounted an invasion of the Republic of Iraq, with the stated aim of removing weapons of mass destruction apparently held by the nation. Twenty years on, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera tells Matt Elton about his new BBC Radio 4 series considering the causes and consequences of the Iraq War – and discusses whether now is the right time to view the conflict as history. Learn more about...


Volcanoes & nuclear armageddon: humanity’s long relationship with nature

For thousands of years, humans have been in thrall to climate – it has dictated the crops we grow, the water we drink and even the diseases to which we might succumb. Rhiannon Davies speaks to Peter Frankopan about his new book that examines this crucial relationship, The Earth Transformed, to explore whether lessons from the past might help us navigate a potentially frightening future. (Ad) Peter Frankopan is the author of The Earth Transformed: An Untold History (Bloomsbury, 2023). Buy it...


Meeting the Mughals: England’s disastrous first embassy to India

In 1616, when the first English embassy was installed in Mughal India, England was a minor player on the global stage rather than a leading actor. Nandini Das explores what the challenges of this embassy can tell us about England’s unequal relationship with India at the time – and reveals how the future dominance of the British empire was far from a foregone conclusion. (Ad) Nandini Das is the author of Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire (Bloomsbury, 2023). Buy...