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The Battle of Crécy
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the brutal events of 26 August 1346, when the armies of France and England met in a funnel-shaped valley outside the town of Crécy in northern France.
Although the French, led by Philip VI, massively outnumbered the English, under the command of Edward III, the English won the battle, and French casualties were huge. The English victory is often attributed to the success of their longbowmen against the heavy cavalry of the French.
The Battle of Crécy was the result of years of simmering tension between Edward III and Philip VI, and it led to decades of further conflict between England and France, a conflict that came to be known as the Hundred Years War.
Emeritus Professor of Medieval History at the University of Southampton
Senior Research Fellow in History at Keele University
Lecturer in Late Medieval History at Durham University
Producer Luke Mulhall
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Danish prince who became a very effective King of England in 1016.
Cnut inherited a kingdom in a sorry state. The north and east coast had been harried by Viking raiders, and his predecessor King Æthelred II had struggled to maintain order amongst the Anglo-Saxon nobility too. Cnut proved to be skilful ruler. Not only did he bring stability and order to the kingdom, he exported the Anglo-Saxon style of centralised government to Denmark. Under Cnut, England became the cosmopolitan centre of a multi-national North Atlantic Empire, and a major player in European politics.
Associate Professor of Old Norse Language and Literature at University College London
Lecturer in Medieval History at the University of York
Professor of Medieval Literature and Co-Director of the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York
Producer Luke Mulhall
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss how, between the 16th and 18th centuries, Europe was dominated by an economic way of thinking called mercantilism. The key idea was that exports should be as high as possible and imports minimised.
For more than 300 years, almost every ruler and political thinker was a mercantilist. Eventually, economists including Adam Smith, in his ground-breaking work of 1776 The Wealth of Nations, declared that mercantilism was a flawed concept and it became discredited. However, a mercantilist economic approach can still be found in modern times and today’s politicians sometimes still use rhetoric related to mercantilism.
Professor in Economics and Finance of the Built Environment at University College London
Professor of Social and Economic History at the University of Cambridge and a Member of Queens’ College
Helen Paul, Lecturer in Economics and Economic History at the University of Southampton.
Producer Luke Mulhall
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss megaliths - huge stones placed in the landscape, often visually striking and highly prominent.
Such stone monuments in Britain and Ireland mostly date from the Neolithic period, and the most ancient are up to 6,000 years old. In recent decades, scientific advances have enabled archaeologists to learn a large amount about megalithic structures and the people who built them, but much about these stones remains unknown and mysterious.
Professor of Neolithic Archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire
Professor of Archaeology at the University of Manchester
Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Exeter.
On 21 May 1838 an estimated 150,000 people assembled on Glasgow Green for a mass demonstration. There they witnessed the launch of the People’s Charter, a list of demands for political reform. The changes they called for included voting by secret ballot, equal-sized constituencies and, most importantly, that all men should have the vote.
The Chartists, as they came to be known, were the first national mass working-class movement. In the decade that followed, they collected six million signatures for their Petitions to Parliament: all were rejected, but their campaign had a significant and lasting impact.
Visiting Fellow in History at Newcastle University and Chair of the Society for the Study of Labour History
Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia and President of the Royal Historical Society
Reader in Modern British History at Queen Mary, University of London.
The image above shows a Chartist mass meeting on Kennington Common in London in April 1848.