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The Clash of Titans

   2012    History
The most famous – and perhaps most misunderstood – episodes in the epic history of the Holy Wars that are known to history as The Crusades – the clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. In July 1192, Richard the Lionheart stood poised for a strike on Jerusalem, while Saladin – mighty sultan of Islam – readied his troops inside the city, preparing for the inevitable attack. During a year-long campaign across Palestine, these two legendary leaders had fought each other to a stand-still. Thousands had perished, appalling atrocities had been perpetrated on both sides. And now they faced each other in a battle for their sacred objective.
Series: The Crusades

Holy War

   2012    History
Dr. Thomas Asbridge introduces the epic story of the Crusades – a tale of religious fanaticism and unspeakable brutality, of medieval knights and Jihadi warriors; of castles and kings; of heroism, betrayal, and sacrifice. He explains how, using fresh evidence, eye-witness testimonies and contemporary accounts – from both the Christian and Islamic worlds – we are able to re-examine this epic medieval drama, and how he has retraced the steps of the Crusaders from a small town in France to the magnificent cities of the Holy Land, bringing to life the human experience of the Crusades, and shedding new light on how it was that two of the world’s great religions waged war in the name of God.
Series: The Crusades

Reclaiming the Blade

   2009    History
Filmmaker Daniel McNicoll explores the emerging movement to reclaim the ancient medieval and renaissance martial arts in this documentary narrated by Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies, and produced on corroboration with Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson. The Medieval and Renaissance blade was a remarkable weapon crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Though the history of the sword remains largely shrouded in mystery for younger moviegoers, their presence on the big screen can still be felt in the Star Wars saga, as well as films like Chronicles of Narnia and The Pirates of the Caribbean. Join host Davies as he traces the history of this remarkable weapon throughout the ages, in the process giving us a better understanding of the sword's unique role in both history, and films.

The Golden Age

   2016    History
This episode tells the tale of what's broadly considered China's most creative dynasty - the Song (960-1279). Michael Wood heads to the city of Kaifeng, the greatest city in the world before the 19th century. Here in Twin Dragon Alley, locals tell him the legend of the baby boys who became emperors. He explores the ideas and inventions that made the Song one of greatest eras in world culture, helped by China's most famous work of art, the Kaifeng scroll, which shows the life of the city in around 1120. A chef makes Michael a recipe from a Song cookbook, while a guide to 'how to live happy, healthy lives for old people', published in 1085 and still in print, is discussed with local women doing their morning exercises. The Song was also a great era for scientific advance in China. Michael steers a huge working replica of an astronomical clock, made by China's Leonardo da Vinci. Then at a crunch Chinese Premier League match, Michael tells us the Chinese invented football! The golden age of the northern Song ended in 1127, when invaders sacked Kaifeng, but they survived in the south. At their new capital, Hangzhou, Wood joins locals dancing by the West Lake, while in the countryside he meets Mr Xie with his records of 40 generations of ancestors. The final defeat of the Song took place in a naval battle in the estuary of the Pearl River in 1279. When all was lost, rather than surrender to the Mongols, a loyal minister jumped into the sea with the young boy emperor in his arms. 'So ended the glory of the Song', Wood concludes, 'but a new age would arise... as in China, it always has!'.
Series: The Story of China

The Ming

   2016    History
The tale of one of China's most famous dynasties begins with the amazing story of Hongwu, a peasant rebel who founded one of greatest eras in Chinese history. The film takes us to his great capital Nanjing, with its 21 miles of walls, each brick stamped with the name of the village that made it. Following the trail, we go to the Bao family village and see the villagers act a Ming murder story. Like many authoritarian states, the Ming were obsessive about architecture. We see the giant fortifications of the Great Wall, the ritual enclaves of the Forbidden City in Beijing and travel with bargeman Mr Hu down the Grand Canal, China's great artery of commerce right up to the present day. We then hear about Admiral Zheng He's voyages to Africa and the Gulf decades before Columbus, watch the construction of an ocean-going wooden boat 250ft long, and hitch a ride on a replica Ming junk in the South China Sea. As state prosperity grew, so did a rising middle class. Wood looks at Ming culture in Suzhou, the 'Venice of China'. Staying in a merchant's house, he discovers the silk, ceramic and lacquer-making industries, and visits one of the most beautiful gardens in the city. Then on to Macao and the arrival of Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci, who hoped to convert China to Christianity. In the cathedral in Beijing, we learn more about these fateful exchanges with the west. Finally in Shaoxing, we visit the house of the 'Ming Proust' and at grassroots the Zhao family in Fujian where the film ends in an elegiac mood with the fall of the Ming in 1644.
Series: The Story of China
Through the Wormhole Season 7
Through the Wormhole Season 7

   2016    Culture
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Blue Planet II
Blue Planet II

   2017    Nature
Frozen Planet
Frozen Planet

   2011    Nature
Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places
Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places

   2016    Science
Wonders Of The Universe
Wonders Of The Universe

   2011    Science
How Art Made the World
How Art Made the World

   2006    Art
Hiroshima
Hiroshima

   2005    History