I’ve loved and lived with the story of the history of the English for as long as I can remember. This is my retelling of that story, in a regular, chronological podcast; we go from the cataclysmic end of Roman Britain, and at some point will get all the way through to the present day. The History of England is available on iTunes and a podcatcher near you.

    349 The Country House

      The Elizabeth and Jacobean age was a time of social mores and the way England was ruled – and the great medieval household withered away. To leave something smaller,Read More

    348 The Great Rebuilding

    Somewhere in the 16th and 17th centuries, ordinary people started building differently – private buildings, public buildings. They used brick, glass, decoration and portraiture; and it wasn’t just the aristocracy;Read More

    347 The English Revolution

    Well this is exciting! The English Revolution. A title which is controversial, and a historiography which is bigger than the eponymous crocodile. We talk about as many theories as weRead More

    345 Theatre II: Playwrights

      The University Wits was a term invented by Saintsbury for a group of 6 Elizabethan playwrights. They were not consciously a coherent group but part of a vibrant societyRead More

    344 Theatre I: The New Playhouse

        The first of three celebratory episodes about English Renaissance Theatre! Talking about dramatic tradition and the new playhouses that begin to appear in London – and the horrifiedRead More

    343 As He Lived in Peace

    While The Buck and Baby Charles warmed themselves on the unfamiliar fires of popularity in their search for war, James was fading. At Theobalds in March 1625 his reign finallyRead More

    342 Spanish Mismatch

      The identity of Mr Wiat’s mysterious traveler is revealed, and London goes potty. Buckingham is confirmed as the Prince’s favourite as well as the king’s – and there’s troubleRead More

    Rights and Commons with the OSS

    England and Wales have extensive networks of rights of way over private land, and some remaining common land – private land over which the public have rights. Where did theyRead More

    341 Knights Adventurer

    In March 1623 Simon Digby noticed two suspicious looking blokes with dodgy beards hanging around outside his uncle’s house in Madrid. He rushed over to find out what they wereRead More

    340 Ancient Birthright

    In 1621 James tried to tread a narrow path to peace in Europe – through the instrument of a Marriage between the England and Spanish royal families. To have aRead More

    339 A Scandal in Bohemia

      As Buckingham acquires wealth and influence, the English court is rocked by an event in far-off Bohemia that will result in devastation throughout Europe. Also there is news ofRead More

    338 Book of Books

    We follow James north to Scotland, a visit with consequences. And on the way south, hear about the culture wars – and the Book of Sports. Then we celebrate, aRead More

    337 The Favourite Favourite

        James VI & I had enjoyed favourites before – Esme Stuart, Robert Kerr for example. But George Villiers was to prove his favourite And we introduce the finelyRead More

    335 This Sin of Blood

      News of the Thomas Overbury scandal spread through England to become a national event. How would the scandal affect the image of the court? Much depended on how theRead More

    334 Murder!

    In 1615, Ralph Winwood interviewed Gervase Elwes, Lieutenant of the Tower about the suspicious death of Thomas Overbury. Gervase spilled his guts. The Image on the left is Westminster Hall,Read More

    333 Addled

      With Robert Kerr as the royal favourite there were all sorts of intrigues going on at court – and an outrageous love affair. All the while, James’ parliament ofRead More

    332 The Great Contract

      Salisbury makes a last ditch attempt to resolve the problems of royal income. While the success of Robert Kerr at court signals the arrival of a new royal favouriteRead More

    331 Captain Pouch

    Enclosure has a long history in England from the 15th – 19th century. In 1607 ordinary people resisting the destruction of their livelihoods found a leader – Captain Pouch  Read More

    330 John Bates’ Currants

    Although the case for a Great Britain failed to win many hearts, the dual monarchy ended the history of the Reivers at last. But a seemingly small customs dispute aboutRead More

    329 Oaths and Libels

      By the time parliament met again in 1606, James’ government was dominated by the men he laughingly referred to as his ‘Trinity of Knaves’. And the foremost of thoseRead More

    328 Apology, Explosion, Satisfaction

    There’s so much to talk about! James’ first, management-by-irritation of parliament of 1604 and the passive aggressive Apology and Satisfaction right back at him. And – the Gunpowder Treason andRead More

    327 Under New Management

    James quickly established his household with Scots taking a large share, with associated argy bargy. Queen Anne also established her court, which would become a cultural centre  and popular destinationRead More

    326 King of Scots

    By the time James VI came to England in 1603, he had 26 years experience of kingship, and had established his authority in Scotland, and was a self confident ruler,Read More

    325 James and the Historians

    History has treated James roughly – helped by a 17th century hatchet job. But over the last 50 years, there has been much more appreciation of the challenges he faced,Read More

    321 Fin de Siecle

        The final years of Elizabeth’s reign inevitably have the sense of the end of an era; she retreated to her chambers, court was no longer the attraction it hadRead More

    319 Dearth and Discord

      The last 15-20 years of Elizabeth’s reign have been described as the Golden Age. It’s a description that might have seemed incomprehensible to many of the people that lived throughRead More

    318 The Nine Years’ War

    In Ulster near the end of the 16th century, it appeared that Elizabeth could reply at least on one of her favoured Irish subjects – Hugh O’Neill, Baron of DungannonRead More

    317 Well Worth a Mass

    Henry IV of France, regarded as one of France’s greatest leaders, looks for way to bring peace and unity to his divided country, while England and Spain trade blows. AndRead More

    316 The Valois Extinguished

    The defeat of the Armada feels in retrospect like a watershed in Elizabeth’s reign; many of her closest advisers and companions died, and for the remainder of her reign EnglandRead More

    315 God Breathed

      As the Armada sailed serenely up the Channel, the English tried desperately to make some impression before it reached Flanders. But Medina Sidonia had worries of his own… Transcript Ok, soRead More

    314 Drake goes Bowling

      The Great Armada was do to sail in 1587; but Elizabeth had other ideas. By in May 1588 the Duke of Medina Sidonia led his fleet of 130 shipsRead More

    313 England is Ours

      From a desk in a small suite of rooms in El Escorial Philip II ran a vast colonial empire. With France torn by civil war, war against the DutchRead More

    312 My Heart is my Own

      By the mid 1580’s Mary was at her wits’ end – feeling betrayed by her son, 18 years of incarceration, beset by a unsympathetic jailer. She would listen toRead More

    311 Fears of State

    In a time of existential and moral threat, the English state developed a network of informants and spies at home and abroad. While Catholics tried to steer a path throughRead More