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Age of Extremes

   2017    History
Lucy Worsley continues her journey through Russia in the footsteps of the Romanovs, the most powerful royal dynasty in modern European history. In this episode she examines the extraordinary reign of Catherine the Great, and the traumatic conflict with napoleonic France that provides the setting for the novel War and Peace. At the magnificent palace of Peterhof near St Petersburg, Lucy charts the meteoric rise of Catherine the Great, who seized the Russian throne from her husband Peter III in 1762 and became the most powerful woman in the world. Catherine was a woman of huge passions - for art, for her adopted country (she was German by birth) and for her many lovers.
Catherine expanded her empire through military victories overseas, while at home she encouraged education and introduced smallpox inoculation to Russia. But Catherine struggled to introduce deeper reforms, and the institution of serfdom remained largely unchanged. Lucy explains how this injustice fuelled a violent rebellion. Nevertheless, Catherine left Russia more powerful on the world stage than ever. But all she had achieved looked set to be undone when Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. Lucy relives the pivotal battle of Borodino, when the Russian army finally confronted the French forces; the traumatic destruction of Moscow; and, under Catherine's grandson Alexander, the eventual victory over the French that provided the Romanov dynasty with its most glorious hour.
Series: Empire of the Tsars

The Road to Revolution

   2017    History
The years 1825-1918 were bloody and traumatic, a period when four tsars tried - and failed - to deal with the growing pressure for constitutional reform and revolution. In 1861, millions of enslaved serfs were freed by the Tsar-Liberator, Alexander II. But Alexander paid the ultimate penalty for opening the Pandora's box of reform when he was later blown up by terrorists on the streets of St Petersburg. Elsewhere, there was repression, denial, war and - in the case of the last tsar, Nicholas II - a fatalistic belief in the power of God, with Nicholas's faith in the notorious holy man Rasputin being a major part in his undoing. Lucy Worsley also details the chilling murder of Nicholas and his family in 1918, and asks whether all of this horror have been avoided.
Series: Empire of the Tsars
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