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History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet! Featuring reports from the weird and wonderful places around the world where history has been made and interviews with some of the best historians writing today. Dan also covers some of the major anniversaries as they pass by and explores the deep history behind today's headlines - giving you the context to understand what is going on today.
 
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show series
 
King Henry VIII was deeply religious and started out as a staunch supporter of the Pope and the Roman Catholic church. But everything changed when Henry's need to produce a male successor led to his wanting to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. In this first of an occasional series of Explainer podcasts, Professor Suzannah Lipscomb …
 
As the Nazi war machine rampaged across Europe it did not just take territory and resources from its conquests but also many thousands of pieces of art and other antiquities. Stolen from both galleries and individual victims of Nazi crimes allied troops discovered hidden caches of priceless artworks throughout Europe. As the war had proceeded it ha…
 
15 September marks Battle of Britain Day when the Luftwaffe sought a final decisive final battle over the skies of Britain with the RAF. In a day of costly fighting, nearly 60 German aircraft were shot down and over 100 aircrew lost. From this point onwards the Luftwaffe, unable to sustain such heavy casualties, would only attack at night and it be…
 
In September 1952 Mahmood Hussein Mattan became the last to be hanged at Cardiff Prison, but Mahmood had in fact been framed by the police and 45 years later his conviction was quashed. Mahmood had been a merchant seaman who had ended up settling in Cardiff and marrying a Welsh woman called Laura Williams. They lived in the Tiger Bay district of Ca…
 
Ragnor Lothbrook is a legendary Viking figure who straddled the line between myth and reality. His adventures and deeds appear in the Viking sagas, but there is little hard evidence for his existence and according to the different sagas he dies on multiple different occasions and in a variety of grisly ways. His sons including Ivar the Boneless, Ha…
 
The tragic events of 9/11 left thousands dead and injured and the impact of that loss is still being felt twenty years later by the families. It was also a day of extraordinary escapes as thousands more fled the twin towers after the planes hit. In this podcast, we both remember those people who died and also hear an extraordinary story of survival…
 
On the morning of September 11th, 2001 terrorists flew planes into both the World Trade Centre towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington with a further plane crashing in Pennsylvania as the passengers onboard attempted to wrest control of the aircraft from the hijackers. This atrocity utterly changed the world leaving thousands dead and inj…
 
Between September 1940 and May 1941, the German Luftwaffe relentlessly pounded British cities with bombs in an attempt to force the British to surrender. Ultimately whilst killing thousands and causing extensive damage the bombing offensive failed. The morale of the British public was largely undimmed and war production was never seriously impacted…
 
In October 1919 President Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke leaving him paralyzed and partially blind. In the face of this crisis of leadership the First Lady, Edith Wilson stepped in to conceal the extent of his illness. Edith acted as his gatekeeper deciding whom Woodrow Wilson saw, what material he read and even taking decisions on his be…
 
With the release of the nuclear submarine TV series, Vigil, Dr Nick Ritchie, Senior Lecturer at the University of York and the UK’s leading expert on Trident, joins James for this episode of our sibling podcast Warfare. Nick gives us a step-by-step history on the multilayered missile system, which is said to act as deterrence. Earlier this year, Bo…
 
The Norman conquest of England in 1066 was one of the great milestones of English history but there were in fact many Norman invasions and their influence reached from Northern Europe through the Mediterranean and into the Middle East and North Africa. They were a phenomenon emerging in the tenth century but had disappeared by the middle of the thi…
 
Do the 21st Century and the Middle Ages really share that much in common? Climate change, pandemics, technological disruption, interconnected global trade and networks may all seem like modern phenomena but according to historian and author Dan Jones, they were very part of the Middles Ages as well. Examining a millennium of history Dan Jones guide…
 
Churchill is one of the great figures of history and this totemic figure is often cited as one of the greatest British figures of all time. However, whilst his achievement during the dark days of the Second World War is unquestionable, much of the rest of his career had much more to do with failure than success. Geoffrey Wheatcroft, journalist and …
 
Over 55,500 men died flying with Bomber Command during World War Two; more than the number who serve in the Royal Air Force today. Flying at night over occupied Europe and battling German night fighters, anti-aircraft fire and mid-air collisions, they showed astonishing courage and resilience in the face of what often seemed to be insurmountable od…
 
On September 1 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland followed two days later by France and the United Kingdom declaring war on Germany and beginning the Second World War. This was the opening act in what would be the most devastating clash in human history. By its end Europe and much of Asia lay in ruins, tens of millions of people had been killed, woun…
 
How different is battlefield archaeology compared to other disciplines? Do local legends ever help track down evidence in a field? And why are potato fields in particular sometimes problematic for archaeologists? In this episode of History Hit's Gone Medieval podcast Sam Wilson, a specialist in battlefield and conflict archaeology, joins Matt Lewis…
 
Vaccines have become a subject of great controversy in recent months but the requirement to have them is far from new. Almost since the earliest examples of inoculation and vaccination, they have been a requirement for different parts of society. Dan is joined by Dr Lindsay Chervinsky, a historian of Early America, the presidency, and the governmen…
 
Over six decades John Simpson has been on the frontline of reporting bringing news from some of the most dangerous places on the planet to the television screens of millions of people. His work has opened the public's eyes to the terrible cost of conflict across the globe. Along the way, John has been arrested, harassed, beaten up, threatened and n…
 
The SBS was formed out of the Commandos during the Second World War to help counter Nazi domination of Europe. This small unit made up of regulars as well as maverick volunteers took on some of the most dangerous missions of the Second World War. Most famously Operation Frankton, where a small team who became known as the 'Cockleshell Heroes' attac…
 
The industrial revolution began in Britain and became one of the most extraordinary economic miracles in human history but the next two centuries have seen many booms and busts and have been more to do with improvisation than planning. But, how should we think about Britain's economy, how did we get to where we are today and is Britain an overachie…
 
On 28 August 1963 Martin Luther King Jr delivered his 'I have a dream' speech stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to an audience of hundreds of thousands of people. The speech and King's life have been an inspiration to millions of people both in the United States and around the world in the fight for civil rights and equality…
 
In this episode from the archive, Roger Moorhouse discusses the Polish campaign of 1939 comprehensively, separating the myths from reality and outlining the abject horrors that the Poles suffered under the twin occupation of the Nazis and the Soviets. See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.…
 
On 27 August 1896, the British Empire went to war with the Zanzibar Sultanate for approximately 38 minutes! It is the shortest war in history. It came about after the death of the pro-British Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini and his replacement by Sultan Khalid bin Barghash who favoured German interests in the region. With the commencement of hostilities,…
 
Most consider the Second World War to have been fought between 1939-1945 but, as you'll hear in this podcast, Richard Overy believes that the conflict was much broader than this. The Second World War was in fact the last gasp of global imperialism with Italy, Germany and Japan all seeking to build new empires through violent military means and at a…
 
Stretched along the north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and the south of the Oxus river, the history of the ancient region of Bactria envelops some of the most intriguing periods of the ancient world. The land, which now straddles parts of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, can be tracked through the Bronze Ages, the Persian Empire and the …
 
In August 1991 there was an attempted coup in the Soviet Union as communist hard-liners sought to re-establish the dominance of Soviet rule in Russia and its satellite states. The coup attempt collapsed after three days and it eventually led to the collapse of communism. Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as General Secretary on 24 August and the Supreme S…
 
H. R. McMaster is both a soldier and a scholar and has served at the highest level in government as National Security Advisor to President Trump. He served in the US Army for more than 30 years achieving the rank of lieutenant general, he saw combat during the first Gulf War and later was a counterinsurgency advisor to General David Petraeus. He ha…
 
Between 1570 and 1630, there was intense persecution and thousands of executions of suspected witches in Lorraine, a small duchy on the borders of France and the Holy Roman Empire. In some cases, suspicious citizens waited decades to report their neighbours as witches. But why did they take so long to use the law to eliminate the supposedly dangero…
 
As the Soviet Union reeled from the shock of the German invasion in 1941 it asked for aid from Britain and its allies and the arctic convoys was a key part of the response. Desperate to keep the Soviets in the war and fighting the Nazi war machine Winston Churchill agreed to deliver massive amounts of material aid. Massive naval and merchant fleet …
 
History is vital for contextualising current events but as Professor Paul Miller argues in today's episode of the podcast it cannot tell us all we need to know about the present especially in the case of Afghanistan. Professor Miller has dedicated much of his working life to Afghanistan. He is an Afghan veteran, he worked for the CIA as an intellig…
 
The collapse of the Afghan army and government and takeover by the Taliban has evoked many historical comparisons, but how valid are they? To find out Dan is joined by author, historian and friend of the podcast William Dalrymple to delve into the deeper history of Afghanistan. In particular, William and Dan discuss the First Afghan War which ended…
 
Oliver Cromwell is the only English commoner to become head of state and is one of the most remarkable and controversial figures in history. Energised by his Puritan beliefs he came to dominate the movement to remove Charles I and would come to be Lord Protector ruling the British Isles from 1653 until his death in 1658. As a military commander, he…
 
In August 1745 Bonnie Prince Charlie led a rebellion that brought the Jacobite cause closer to seizing the throne than almost any other. He had landed with only a handful of his most trusted supporters but a mixture of gold, charisma and old loyalties soon brought a large number of followers to his side as they attempted to overthrow the British cr…
 
During the Second World War, a special commando unit was formed in Britain from Jewish refugees from Germany, Austria and other parts of occupied Europe. Many of the men who joined this unit had lost their families, their homes and, as you'll hear, had relatives imprisoned in concentration camps. Trained in advanced combat and counterintelligence t…
 
In August 1521 after a last stand on the steps of their temple buildings, the Aztec defenders of Tenochtitlan surrendered to the Spanish forces of Hernán Cortés and his Mesoamerican allies. In the aftermath of the battle, the Aztec capital city of Tenochtitlan was sacked. The Aztec empire was a large and sophisticated one stretching at its height f…
 
There were many attempts to escape over and under the Berlin Wall but Tunnel 29 was highly unusual for tunnelling into East Berlin rather than out to the West. Led by Joachim Rudolph, who had himself escaped to West Berlin in 1961, a group of students and refugees tunnelled into the eastern half of the city in an attempt to rescue friends and relat…
 
What does the price of wheat and global food supplies have to do with one of the greatest disasters in the history of warfare? Why was the decision made to send thousands of Allied troops in an attempt to free up the most heavily defended waterway in the world, the Dardanelles Straits? Historian and award-winning author Nicholas A Lambert joins Jam…
 
On 11 August 991 one of the most important anglo-Viking battles took place near Maldon in Essex. This clash was immortalised in one of the finest examples of early English poetry that tells the story of a heroic defeat in the face of the ferocious Viking invaders. To remember both the battle itself and the poem Dan is joined by Professor Levi Roach…
 
The role of the royal mistress may, on the face of it, seem a simple position but in reality, there was a lot more to being a royal mistress than it might seem. Throughout the courts of Europe, the role of the royal mistress was often a semi formalised one and gave these women extraordinary influence and power. Joining Dan to discuss the importance…
 
The second atomic strike on the city of Nagasaki is less well known than the one a few days earlier on Hiroshima, but was it more influential in forcing the Japanese to surrender? To find out who exactly ordered it and why Dan talked to Harvard's Frederik Logevall. He discusses the debates that rage between historians as to whether Nagasaki was nec…
 
A Soviet double agent at the top of his game, a deadly game of cat and mouse with the KGB and one of the most daring escapes of the Cold War from the very heart of Moscow. In this archive episode, Dan talks to author Ben Macintyre about the life of Oleg Gordievsky and what might be the ultimate Cold War Spy story. Appalled by the brutality of the S…
 
Approximately 1.35 billion people use it, either as a first or second language, so English and the way that we speak it has a daily impact on huge numbers of people. But how did the English language develop? In this episode from our sibling podcast Gone Medieval, Cat Jarman spoke to Eleanor Rye, an Associate Lecturer in English Language and Linguis…
 
In the last 30 years, the internet has utterly changed the world in which we live and is now as vital as electricity in our daily lives. August 6, 1991, is the date given when the first website went live. Published by Tim Berners Lee at CERN it was a moment that would change the world but, as you'll hear in this podcast, that date is in fact not tr…
 
The discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former Canadian residential schools have has led to a crisis of identity for the country as it comes to terms with the trauma of the past. For many, these discoveries fit into a pattern of discrimination and demographic replacement with the arrival of European settlers which could be described as geno…
 
On August 4, 1914, Britain declared war on Germany and entered the First World War. This was a conflict of unparalleled savagery with industrialized slaughter on a scale that the world had never seen before. To commemorate this important anniversary Dan guides us through what led Europe and the world to choose war in 1914. He explores some of the m…
 
The Olympics are a sporting event like no other and in this episode, we celebrate two great British Olympians of the past Anita Neil and Hugh 'Jumbo' Edwards. These are two very different athletes from completely different backgrounds, but each highlights the Olympic spirit at its finest. Firstly, Dan speaks to a British Olympic pioneer Anita Neil …
 
One aspect of India's independence that is often overlooked is the role of India's princely states; the Maharajas. During the Raj, these states had been semi-autonomous and not actually part of the British Empire. They did however rule with the permission of the British Government and were really puppet sovereign figures. However, when India got it…
 
In 1588 the English Navy defeated one of the greatest fleets ever assembled; the Spanish Armada. A week of running battles in the English Channel culminated in a major clash off the coast of the town of Gravelines (now in France) where the English used fire ships to score a crushing naval victory against the Spanish fleet. This is one of the most f…
 
Often known as ‘Britain’s first town’, Colchester is a city rich in ancient history and on 24 July 2021, a new exhibition will open at the Colchester Museum revealing more about some of its earliest Roman occupants. Called ‘Decoding the Roman Dead’, the exhibition focuses on cremations found in the area around Colchester dating to almost 2,000 year…
 
Just 17 years after Liverpool’s historic waterfront was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city was stripped of its prestigious status. The UN's heritage body said it made the decision because of “irreversible” damage to the city’s cultural value after years of development, including a planned £500m stadium for Everton football club. Histo…
 
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