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.

    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

    320 Justice and the State

    Crime in England saw a sharp growth between the 1580s and 1640s; and the hand of justice lay heavy. But at the same time was forged a system of localRead 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

    310 The English College

      By the 1580s, the confessional lines between Protestant and Catholic were increasingly strongly drawn; repressive legislation increased, and the English College was established to renew the stock of priestsRead More

    308 Fool’s Gold

        A host of Elizabeth explorers explored the world in the late Elizabethan reign. Did they achieve anything, or were there efforts a false start?

    308a Roanoke by Joel Kindrick

    In 1585, a colony was established at Roanoke, sponsored by Walter Raleigh. Find out what happens from historian and Birkenstock wearer Joel Kindrick.

    307 All Around the World

    For a couple of years in the mid 1570s Elizabeth nixed proposed exploration projects for fear of Spain. At the same time she was discussing a secret voyage with a selectRead More

    306 A Devil and No Man

        Together the Elizabethan explorers, and authors like John Dee and Richard Hakluyt built excitement about the possibilities of global exploration. Francis Drake gave it expression. The Spanish MainRead More

    305 The Frog Prince

    From 1578 to 1582 the courts of France, Spain and England buzzed with the possibility of the latest office romance – between the Queen of England and Duke of Anjou.Read More

    304 Seeds of Irish Nationhood

    By the 1580s, the English atrocities and the rebellion of James Fitzmaurice and the Earl of Desmond, Catholicism and its association with resistance ot English rule was clearly established. Events atRead More

    303 Shane the Proud

    The later Tudors faced a choice in their policy towards Ireland – would they resign themselves to the old ways, ruling through the Old English with minimal control; or wouldRead More

    302 England’s Garland

    This beautiful technical drawing of Revenge was left by Matthew Baker; unlike the equally beautiful Anthony Roll of 1545, it is technically accurate, created by one of England’s greatest shipwrights.Read More

    301 Black Tudors

    Black Africans began to make their way in increasing numbers to England – firstly mainly via trading countries like Spain and Portugal, but increasingly direct. What sort of lives didRead More

    300 Trade and Exploration

      Elizabeth’s reign famously saw England enter the search for new markets with which to trade and explore. In this episode, we focus on trade with West Africa, and John Hawkins’ infamousRead More

    299 West Africa

      A horribly brief introduction to the West African kingdoms with which the Portuguese started to trade and a smidge of their backstory, before the English began to arrive inRead More

    298 A Curate’s Egg

      What started as a curate’s egg of an episode, ends up with an introduction to a new player, Francis Walsingham, and the story of the St Bartholomew’s Day massacreRead More

    297 Servant of Crime

      Through the 1560s, the progress of the reformation gave both the Protestant Godly and Catholics much leeway and wriggle room. A series of events in the late 1560’s and earlyRead More

    296 Rising of the North

      The saga of the life and times of Mary Queen of Scots continues, but in 1568 something stirs in the north of England… Transcript Last time, I left you withRead More

    295 Marvellous Good Order

    In Scotland Mary’s grasp on her kingdom begins to wobble. In 1566, Elizabeth’s parliament also gives her serious grief, drawing an increasingly waspish response.              Read More

    294 Alarms and Excursions

      Did Elizabeth have a foreign ‘policy’? If so what principles drove it – dynasty, parsimony, protestantism? This week Elizabeth intervenes in Scotland and France.   Transcript   This week,Read More

    293 Sex and Marriage

        Dudley was for long considered the front runner for any possible marriage; but there was a long list of suitors. And Elizabeth was under pressure from the badgersRead More

    292 The Queen’s Marriage

    What were the issues around marriage for Elizabeth and her subjects? Because as the continuing barney between the two of them would prove, it really mattered to both parties.  Read More

    291 Queen and Court

      How did Elizabethan government work, and what was Elizabeth’s court like? Transcript This week I thought we should have a bit of context, why don’t we? Over the nextRead More

    290 The Religious Settlement

    Elizabeth’s England was awash with expectation – from Mary’s bishops demanding that no change be made to Mary’s church, to a wave of Protestant Marian exiles returning with visions ofRead More

    289 Elizabeth Regina

    A game of 2 halves this week; the major themes of Elizabeth’s reign and then the Funeral of Mary and Elizabeth’s  coronation . Ooh, and the appointment of Cecil asRead More

    287 Enter Good Queen Bess

    Transcript Let me take you to London on a January morning in 1559. It’s cold, and there had been a light dusting of snow, and in January London 1559 letRead More