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Victory and Defeat

   2012    History
Dr. Thomas Asbridge explains how in the thirteenth century, after almost two hundred years of Holy Wars, the titanic conflict between Christianity and Islam, known to history as The Crusades, reached a decisive and shocking conclusion – a chapter that despite its drama has been virtually forgotten. He explains how, in the end, the fate of the Holy Land was decided not on the hallowed ground of Jerusalem, but in Egypt; and how the ultimate outcome of the Crusades was dictated not by Christians, but by the Mongol successors to Genghis Khan, and by a Muslim slave – a fearsome warrior whose story is now all but lost to western history.
Series: The Crusades

The Normans: Normans of the South

   2010    History
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.

What a King Should Know

   2012    History
Dr Janina Ramirez shows how medieval manuscripts gave power to the king and united the kingdom in an age of plague, warfare and rebellion, discovers that Edward III used the manuscripts he read as a boy to prepare him for his great victory at the battle of Crecy and reveals how a vigorous new national identity bloomed during the 100 Years War with France. In the British Library's Royal Manuscripts collection Dr Ramirez finds out that magnificent manuscripts like the Bedford Hours, taken as war booty from the French royal family, were adapted for the education of English princes. She also explores how knowledge spread through a new form of book - the encyclopaedia.
Series: Illuminations: the private lives of medieval kings

The Empire of Reason

   2017    History
Al-Khalili travels to northern Syria to discover how, a thousand years ago, the great astronomer and mathematician Al-Biruni estimated the size of the earth to within a few hundred miles of the correct figure. He discovers how medieval Islamic scholars helped turn the magical and occult practice of alchemy into modern chemistry. In Cairo, he tells the story of the extraordinary physicist Ibn al-Haytham, who helped establish the modern science of optics and proved one of the most fundamental principles in physics - that light travels in straight lines. Prof Al-Khalili argues that these scholars are among the first people to insist that all scientific theories are backed up by careful experimental observation, bringing a rigour to science that didn't really exist before.
Series: Science and Islam

Libraries Gave Us Power

   2012    Art
The story of the British Library's Royal Manuscripts collection reaches its end with the last great flowering of illumination, in the magnificent courts of the Tudors. Dr Janina Ramirez investigates astrological texts created for Henry VII, and unwraps his will - still in its original, extravagantly-decorated velvet and gold cover. She hears music written for Henry VIII, which went unperformed for centuries; and reads love notes between the king and Anne Boleyn, written in the margins of a prayer book. Nina also visits Bruges, the source of many of the greatest manuscripts, where this medieval art form collided with the artistic innovations of the Renaissance.
Series: Illuminations: the private lives of medieval kings
Apocalypse: World War 1
Apocalypse: World War 1

   2014    History
Putin: A Russian Spy Story
Putin: A Russian Spy Story

   2020    History
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
The Secret History of Writing
The Secret History of Writing

   2020    History
History of the Eagles
History of the Eagles

   2013    History
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

   2014    Science
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
The Private Life of Plants
The Private Life of Plants

   1994    Nature