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Inside the Medieval Mind: Knowledge

   2008    History
To our medieval forebears the world could appear mysterious, even enchanted. Sightings of green men, dog heads and alien beings were commonplace. The world itself was a book written by God. But as the Middle Ages grew to a close, it became a place to be mastered, even exploited.
Series: Inside the Medieval Mind

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

Through The Walls

   2020    History
April 1453. Sultan Mehmed II unleashes an artillery attack on Constantinople unlike any the world has ever known. It's the largest concentration of cannons that the world had seen in one place. The monumental task of keeping the Ottomans out of Constantinople falls on the shoulders of Genoese soldier of fortune Giovanni Giustiniani. He and his men must defend 14 miles of city walls. Mehmed launches his ambitious plans to break through the walls of Constantinople, but Giustiniani's mercenaries manage to forestall the attacks.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Into The Golden Horn

   2020    History
Mehmed II sends his elite troops into the teeth of Emperor Constantine's defenses along the city's ancient stone walls. The defenders, led by Italian soldier-of-fortune Giovanni Giustiniani, repel every attack. Mehmed's men dig underground tunnels in an attempt to shatter city walls. The tides turn against the Ottomans when a naval blockade founders.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Ancient Prophecies

   2020    History
It's this moment where now both sides realize that no quarter will be asked, and no quarter will be given. Surrender is no longer even an option. You're in this to the end. You either die or you triumph, and there is no other alternative. Amid a spiral of brutality and low morale, Mehmed makes Giustiniani an enticing offer. The grand vizier urges Mehmed to seek a truce with his rival.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing
Frozen Planet II

Frozen Planet II

2022  Nature
Engineering the Future

Engineering the Future

2022  Technology
The Story of India

The Story of India

2007  History
Welcome to Earth

Welcome to Earth

2021  Nature
Leaving Neverland

Leaving Neverland

2019  Culture
Shine a Light

Shine a Light

2008  Art