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A History of Britain

A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series presented by Simon Schama, providing a comprehensive historical survey of the British Isles from around 3100 BC to the mid-1960s. The series consists of 15 episodes, each of which focuses on a particular period and tells of its events through Simon Schama's eye. The series begins with a conventional portrait of life in Stone Age Britain around 3100 BC ago. And as it progresses, the series brings Britain's rich history to life - Roman Britain, the Norman Conquest, the struggles of the Henrys and Richards, Elizabeth I, Scottish rebellions and the English Civil Wars, the American Revolution, the growth of the British Empire, Queen Victoria, the industrial age, and Winston Churchill.

Image: A History of Britain


Episode 01 - Beginnings
Covering the period 3100 BC - 1000 AD. Simon Schama starts his story in the stone age village of Skara Brae, Orkney.

Episode 02 - Conquest
Covering 1000 - 1087. 1066 is not the best remembered date in British history for nothing. In the space of nine hours whilst the Battle of Hastings raged, everything changed.

Episode 03 - Dynasty
Covering 1087 - 1216. There is no saga more powerful than that of the warring dynasty - domineering father, beautiful, scheming mother and squabbling, murderous sons and daughters.

Episode 04 - Nations
Covering 1216 - 1348. This is the epic account of how the nations of Britain emerged from under the hammer of England's "Longshanks" King Edward I, with a sense of who and what they were, which endures to this day.

Episode 05 - King Death
Covering 1348 - 1500. It took only six years for the plague to ravage the British Isles. Its impact was to last for generations. But from the ashes of this trauma an unexpected and unique class of Englishmen emerged.

Episode 06 - Burning Convictions
Covering 1500 - 1558. Simon Schama charts the upheaval caused as a country renowned for its piety, whose king styled himself Defender of the Faith, turns into one of the most aggressive proponents of the new Protestant faith.

Episode 07 - The Body of the Queen
Covering 1558 - 1603. This is the story of two queens: Elizabeth I of England, the Protestant virgin, and Mary, Queen of Scots, the Catholic mother. It is also the story of the birth of a nation.

Episode 08 - The British Wars
Covering 1603 - 1649. The turbulent civil wars of the early seventeenth century would culminate in two events unique to British history; the public execution of a king and the creation of a republic.

Episode 09 - Revolutions
Covering 1649 - 1689. Political and religious revolutions racked Britain after Charles I's execution, when Britain was a joyless, kingless republic led by Oliver Cromwell.

Episode 10 - Britannia Incorporated
Covering 1690 - 1750. As the new century dawned, relations between Scotland and England had never been worse. Yet half a century later the two countries would be making a future together based on profit and interest.

Episode 11 - The Wrong Empire
Covering 1750 - 1800. The exhilarating and terrible story of how the British Empire came into being through its early settlements and how it eventually came to dominate the world.

Episode 12 - Forces of Nature
Covering 1780 - 1832. Britain never had the kind of revolution experienced by France in 1789, but it did come close. In the mid-1770s the country was intoxicated by a great surge of political energy.

Episode 13 - Victoria and Her Sisters
Covering 1830 - 1910. As the Victorian era began, the massive advance of technology and industrialisation was rapidly reshaping both the landscape and the social structure of the whole country.

Episode 14 - The Empire of Good Intentions
Covering 1830 - 1925. This episode charts the chequered life of the liberal empire from Ireland to India - the promise of civilisation and material betterment and the delivery of coercion and famine.

Episode 15 - The Two Winstons
Covering 1910 - 1965. In the final episode, Schama examines the overwhelming presence of the past in the British twentieth century and the struggle of leaders to find a way to make a different national future.


Related Links
A History of Britain (TV Series) - wikipedia
A History of Britain is a BBC documentary series written and presented by Simon Schama, first transmitted in the United Kingdom from 30 September 2000.
History of the British Isles - wikipedia
The history of the British Isles has witnessed intermittent periods of competition and cooperation between the people that occupy the various parts of Great Britain, Ireland, and the smaller adjacent islands, which together make up the British Isles.
Andrew Marr's The Making of Modern Britain
This is a six-part BBC documentary series presented by Andrew Marr, covering the period of British history from the end of the death of Queen Victoria to the end of the Second World War.
Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain
This is a BBC documentary series presented by Andrew Marr, covering the period of British history from the end of the Second World War to the first decade of the 21st century.
Michael Wood's Story of England
This is a six-part BBC documentary series hosted by Michael Wood, telling the story of one place, the Leicestershire village of Kibworth, throughout the whole of English history.
The Adventure of English
This is a ITV mini-series presented by Melvyn Bragg, exploring the development of the English language over the last 1500 years.