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History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Join Dan as he digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen. If you want to get in touch with the podcast, you can email us at ds.hh@hi ...
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June 6th marks the 80th anniversary of D-Day and Dan Snow's History Hit is it by bringing you its biggest series yet. From now until May next year, we'll be marking the pivotal moments from D-Day to VE Day. This was the titanic struggle that saw the Allies advance from East and West to crush the Third Reich and hasten the end of the most terrible w…
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Jane Seymour is a paradox. Of Henry VIII’s six wives, she is the one about whom we know perhaps the least. She was the most lowly of the queens, but she had royal blood. She's often described as plain and mousy and lacking opinions, but when we do see her in the sources, she tends to be doing something that shows agency, while wearing some very fla…
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2/2. The British Empire aggressively pursued the opium trade well into the 19th century, fueling an addiction epidemic within China. The Qing government was determined to stamp out this destructive trade, leading to the First and Second Opium Wars. But the British Royal Navy was at its apogee, and re-exerted British control over the Chinese state. …
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1/2. Victorian readers were captivated by descriptions of smoke-filled opium dens among backstreet brothels and pubs in London's East End in Oscar Wilde novels. Opium use in Britain in the 19th century was widespread and while opium dens were scarce, Victorians could buy opium over the counter in chemists as treatments for headaches, coughs and eve…
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Dating from 1467-1603, the Sengoku or ‘Warring States’ period is known as the bloodiest in Japan’s history; an era of continuous social upheaval and civil war which transformed the country. Shogun-led authority was shattered and 150 years of murder and betrayal followed as fearsome warlords ruled local territories with unflinching ruthlessness. In …
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A mix of treacherous seas, navigation errors, and historical intrigue led to one of the Royal Navy's darkest nights. Dan travels to the Scilly Isles to tell the tragic tale of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell and the 1707 naval disaster off the Isles of Scilly that caused a staggering loss of over 2000 men. Dan ventures out to the place where the shi…
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In the summer of 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. As the Germans drove towards Moscow, a catastrophic Soviet defeat seemed imminent - a defeat that would have made the Allied liberation of Europe virtually impossible. To keep the Allied victory in sight, Roosevelt and Churchill assembled a crack team of diplomats to secretly travel to wartime…
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The title of Caesar has echoed down the ages as the pinnacle of absolute power and perhaps even tyranny. A single man at the head of a nation or empire with untouchable power. But how powerful were they really and why are they seen as an example to follow when many of the men who became Caesar met a bloody end? Dan is joined by the legendary classi…
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Marshal Pétain emerged from the First World War as a French national hero. His defence of Verdun had set him on course to become one of France's most venerated commanders. But by 1945 the Marshal was on trial for treason, having collaborated with Nazi Germany as the head of the Vichy regime. Dan is joined by Julian Jackson, author of the Pol Roger …
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Who was the real Merlin? Dr Francis Young says the closest is John Dee, Elizabeth I's occultist advisor who gave her the idea for a British Empire. Dee believed it was her destiny to rule the New World - from his supposed conversations with angels - and that she could trace her lineage back to King Arthur. His mystical and astrological calculations…
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From Hugh Capet to Eleanor of Aquitaine, the Capetian dynasty considered itself divinely chosen to fulfil a great destiny. From an insecure foothold around Paris, the Capetians built a nation that stretched from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and from the Rhône to the Pyrenees, founding practices and institutions that endured until the French Re…
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Is liberal democracy facing an existential crisis? A 2023 poll conducted by the Open Society Barometer found that faith in democracy among young people is waning. But what does this mean? Why might young people become more 'strongman-curious'? To get to the bottom of this, Dan is joined by an all-star cast of experts. We have the renowned journalis…
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We think of history as a neat chain of predictable events; but what if the truth is far wilder than that? Today, we're talking about the pivotal forces of randomness and chance, and how tiny moments can change the course of our human story. Dan is joined by Brian Klaas, associate professor in global politics at University College London and author …
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Please note, this episode contains discussion of suicide. On 1 April 1945, as the Second World War in Europe was reaching its end, one of the bloodiest battles in the whole conflict commenced on a small island south of mainland Japan. It was the Battle of Okinawa. Saul David comes on the show to provide a fascinating rundown of this truly horrific …
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At the height of the Mongol Empire, Kublai Khan set his sights on the island of Japan. He launched two enormous invasions of that nation in 1274 and 1281 - but both of them were defeated, aided by sudden and disastrous storms that tore his fleets apart. The story of these kamikaze, or 'Divine Winds', would become legend in Japan, and inspire the na…
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Please note, this episode contains discussion of suicide. In 1945, after lengthy delays, the Royal Navy sent a powerful fleet into the Pacific. After the disastrous Japanese invasions in Southeast Asia, Churchill was desperate to reassert British military might in the region. Aboard the carriers of these fleets were elite British and Commonwealth p…
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Please note, this episode contains discussion of suicide. By October 1944, the Japanese were in real trouble. The Allies had made great strides in their Pacific island-hopping campaign and were advancing on the Japanese home islands. In a desperate attempt to stem the tide, Japan created the 'Special Attack Units', which included the kamikaze - you…
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Warning: This episode contains some upsetting descriptions of human suffering. The Rwandan Genocide is a dark and pivotal moment in modern history; the catastrophic consequence of ethnic division and global inaction. Over 100 days in 1994, it's estimated around 800,000 predominantly Tutsi people were killed by the Hutu government and civilian milit…
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Pontius Pilate was the Roman Prefect of Judea during the reign of Emperor Tiberius and is most famous for condemning Jesus of Nazareth to death by crucifixion in the Four Gospels. But who really was he? And how much do we know about him? In this episode of The Ancients, Tristan speaks to Prof. Helen Bond to delve deeper into the life of Pontius Pil…
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The English won a decisive battlefield victory over the French in the first decade of the Hundred Years' War. At the Battle of Crécy, an outnumbered English army went up against thousands of French mounted knights, the finest cavalry in Western Europe at that time. Relying on their famed longbowmen, The English under Edward III weathered French cav…
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On the 1st of April, 2024, a presumed Israeli airstrike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing 13 people. Amongst them was a Brigadier General of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Reza Zahedi. In retaliation, Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israeli soil, firing some 300 missiles and drones at target…
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Fought in the second half of 1942, the Battles of El Alamein were a series of climactic confrontations in Egypt between British Imperial and Commonwealth forces and a combined German and Italian army. Intended as a last-ditch attempt by the British to halt Axis gains in North Africa, they resulted in a clear victory for the British and represented …
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As a foreign correspondent for ITN in the 70s, Peter Snow remembers handing tins of film to strangers on airport runways, hoping they would take it back to Britain to hand over to his colleagues on the other side. It was a tough and thrilling job as a travelling reporter before the internet, and Dan remembers hearing his dad's travel stories as a c…
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In the mid-17th century, King Charles I of England was put on trial for treason against the sovereign state. Such a process involved a singular determination by Parliament to find a way, through due legal process, to try the one they saw as a man of blood, to ensure that he paid the price for his faults and failings, but not through extrajudicial s…
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Dan delves into the complex history of Zionism, exploring its multifaceted origins and the various ideological strands that have shaped it over the years. From its early beginnings in the 19th century to its pivotal role in the establishment of the State of Israel. With expert insight and analysis from Peter Bergamin, lecturer at the University of …
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From a plague in Athens during the Peloponnesian War in 430 BCE, to another in 540 that wiped out half the population of the Roman empire, down through the Black Death in the Middle Ages and on through the 1918 flu epidemic (which killed between 50 and 100 million people) and this century's deadly SARS outbreak, plagues have been a much more relent…
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Frederick Rutland was one of Britain's finest naval pilots and a celebrated hero of the First World War. And yet in the interwar period, he would become a turncoat, feeding information to Japanese intelligence whilst living undercover in the glitz and glamour of 1930s Hollywood. Joining Dan to discuss Rutland's life is Ronald Drabkin, author of 'Be…
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Join Dan as he narrates the harrowing story of the HMS Wager and its crew's descent into mutiny and survival against all odds. Set against the backdrop of the War of Jenkins' Ear, the Wager, a British warship, was part of a secret squadron sent to attack Spanish holdings in the Pacific but, tragedy struck as the ship was wrecked off the desolate co…
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This is the untold story of how Nazi experiments with psychedelics influenced CIA research and the War on Drugs. From covert mind control programs to experiments with 'truth serums', we trace the connection between the Third Reich's sinister scientific experiments and later US drug policy. To explain this wild post-war history, Dan is joined by the…
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In 1872 the ghost ship Mary Celeste is found sailing across the Atlantic without a single crew member left onboard. Theories over what happened on the Mary Celeste range from insurance fraud to a violent mutiny... this week, Maddy and Anthony discuss what they think happened to the ship's crew. Edited by Tom Delargy. Produced by Freddy Chick. Senio…
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Kensington Palace was the centre of court life in 18th-century Britain. It was the principal London residence for the Royals, as well as a lavish venue for hosting monarchs and world leaders. But behind this very public world existed an entirely obscured one, made up of a small army of people who kept the royal show on the road. Dan is joined by Dr…
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As Commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, George Washington was a central feature of the American Revolutionary War. He was also the first President of the nascent United States, and his ethics permeated the nation's constitution. Dan is joined by Craig Bruce Smith, Associate Professor of History at the National Defense University specialising…
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What happened to the pioneering pilot, Amelia Earhart? In 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe by aircraft, Earhart and her navigator went missing. Some 87 years later, new evidence has emerged - a grainy image of what looks like a plane, thousands of feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. To talk about Earhart and this discover…
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This is the story of the British Empire in India. Over two episodes, we'll chart India's history from the birth of the Mughal Empire until the Partition of India. Joining us is Shrabani Basu, a journalist, historian and author of books including Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant. In this second episode, Dan and Shrab…
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This is the story of the British Empire in India. Over two episodes, we'll chart India's history from the birth of the Mughal Empire until the Partition of India. Joining us is Shrabani Basu, a journalist, historian and author of books including Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant. In this first episode, Dan and Shraba…
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On 23 June 1972, a man boarded American Airlines Flight 119 in St Louis. He sat most of the way to Tulsa before donning a wig and a pair of gloves in the restroom, taking out a gun and handing a member of the cabin crew a note. 'Don't panic. This is a ransom hijacking.' To find out more about this man, what he hoped to gain from his crimes, and how…
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In the year 1600, a bedraggled English sailor and his sick and dying crewmates anchored off the coast of Kyushu, Japan. His name was William Adams, and over the next two decades, he would rise through the ranks of Japanese society to become the first Western samurai. As a close advisor to the revered shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Adams was a first-hand w…
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The fictional island of Atlantis has intrigued and eluded us for millennia. First mentioned in the works of Plato, it's a story that captures our collective imagination - and yet it's almost certainly false. Dan is joined by Stephen Kershaw, author of "A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato's Ideal State". We're going to see if there are any grains of …
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The Sasanians are renowned as one of Rome's most feared enemies. Founded in third-century Persia by an Iranian noble called Ardashir, their dynasty oversaw the growth of a mighty empire that brought down the Parthians and survived into the early Middle Ages. But how did one family oversee the rebirth of Persia as a Mesopotamian heavyweight? In this…
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In the tempestuous waters of the 18th century, a revolutionary idea emerged from the depths of despair and necessity: the lifeboat. Born from the genius of Lionel Lukin in 1785, the invention redefined maritime rescue. Amidst the roaring seas, innovations flourished and a new institution was set up. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) wh…
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How did warfare work in Ancient Greece? The weapons and armour of the Greek hoplite are legendary, as are the warrior cultures of city-states like Sparta. But how would a Greek battle have played out on the ground? Dan is joined by Roel Konijnendijk, Darby Fellow in Ancient History at the University of Oxford and an expert in warfare in the Greek w…
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She's the warrior queen who took on the mighty Roman Empire, but who really was Boudica? Separating facts from the myths we've read can be tricky, but thankfully Kate is joined by the wonderful Emma Southon, author of A History of the Roman Empire in 21 Women, to find out the truth and explore our most reliable sources. What happened when Boudica l…
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With Operation Kenova back in the headlines, we look to the story of Frank Hegarty, an IRA member turned British informant whose assassination led to the largest murder investigation in British history. Dan is joined by Henry Hemming, the bestselling author of Four Shots in the Night. Henry unravels this tale of espionage, murder, and justice, and …
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Today we're talking about two 20th century titans, the physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. Their scientific achievements changed the world, and yet they were sceptical of one another. In the 1930s, Oppenheimer had described Einstein as 'completely cuckoo' - later in his life, Einstein would say that he admired Oppenheimer as a man…
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Over the last turbulent century, the global economy has suffered the shockwaves of recessions and depressions, bubbles and unchecked investor euphoria. And with the UK's spring budget announced this week, we ask the question - have we learnt from the economic mistakes of the past? In this episode, Dan is joined by Linda Yueh, Fellow in Economics at…
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Part 4/4. The Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru in 1526 in a bloody pursuit of gold and riches; it was the beginning of the end for the Inca. The Inca were unable to comprehend the Spanish weapons of war, foresee their underhanded tactics or resist the deadly diseases they brought with them. In the final episode, Dan and his expert guests trace…
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Part 3/4. Juanita the Ice Maiden is one of the most famous mummies in the world. She was found in 1991 by anthropologist Johan Reinhard lying out in the sun on top of a dormant volcano in the Peruvian Andes. Found almost perfectly preserved, she was bludgeoned to death as a human sacrifice. Dan is joined by Johan who tells the story of her discover…
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Part 2/4. At their most powerful, the Inca had the largest empire in the world. Lasting just one century from the mid-15th century, it stretched across the South American continent from the Amazon to the Pacific. The Inca developed ingenious ways to grow food in some of the world's most extreme climates, they managed to convert disparate tribes to …
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Part 1/4. Dan takes the podcast to the Peruvian Andes as he follows in the footsteps of intrepid American explorer Hiram Bingham who revealed Machu Picchu to the world. At the turn of the 20th century, Bingham heard rumours of a fabled lost city in the clouds that revealed the power and brilliance of the Inca and their vast empire that once spanned…
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On the 16th of February, 2024, the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service announced that opposition leader Alexei Navalny had died. He had been imprisoned in the far-flung "Polar Wolf" penal colony, built in the city of Kharp on the ruins of a Stalin-era labour camp. Dan is joined by Alexander Watson, Professor of History at Goldsmiths, University of…
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