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Silk Roads and China Ships

   2016    History
Michael Wood tells the tale of China's first great international age under the Tang Dynasty (618-907). From the picturesque old city of Luoyang, he travels along the Silk Road to the bazaars of central Asia and into India on the track of the Chinese monk who brought Buddhism back to China. This tale is still loved by the Chinese today and is brought to life by storytellers, films and shadow puppet plays. Then in the backstreets and markets of Xi'an, Michael meets descendants of the traders from central Asia and Persia who came into China on the Silk Road. He talks to Chinese Muslims in the Great Mosque and across town hears the amazing story of the first reception of Christianity in 635. Moving south, Michael sees the beginnings of China as an economic giant. On the Grand Canal, a lock built in 605 still handles 800 barges every day! The film tracks the rise of the silk industry and the world's favourite drink - tea. Michael looks too at the spread of Chinese script, language and culture across east Asia. 'China's influence on the East was as profound as Rome on the Latin West', he says, 'and still is today'. Finally, the film tells the intense drama of the fall of the Tang. Among the eyewitnesses were China's greatest poets. In a secondary school in a dusty village, where the Chinese Shakespeare - Du Fu - is buried in the grounds, the pupils take Michael through one famous poem about loss and longing as the dynasty falls. And in that ordinary classroom, there is a sense of the amazing drama and the deep-rooted continuities of Chinese culture.
Series: The Story of China

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 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

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

Catholicism The unpredictable rise of Rome

   2011    Culture
Over one billion Christians look to Rome, more than half of all Christians on the planet. But how did a small Jewish sect from the backwoods of 1st-century Palestine, which preached humility and the virtue of poverty, become the established religion of western Europe - wealthy, powerful and expecting unfailing obedience from the faithful? Amongst the surprising revelations, Professor MacCulloch tells how confession was invented by monks on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, and how the Crusades gave Britain the university system. Above all, it is a story of what can be achieved when you have friends in high places.
Series: A History of Christianity
Seven Ages of Rock
Seven Ages of Rock

   2007    Art
The Sky at Night
The Sky at Night

   2018    Science
How to Grow a Planet
How to Grow a Planet

   2012    Science
Himalaya with Michael Palin
Himalaya with Michael Palin

   2004    Culture
Nova Wonders
Nova Wonders

   2018    Medicine
Empire of the Tsars
Empire of the Tsars

   2017    History
Secrets of the Dead
Secrets of the Dead

   2017    History
Chased by Sea Monsters
Chased by Sea Monsters

   2003    Science