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Throughout history tales of the dreaded Vikings evoke images of slaughter and terror, wanton pillage and savage bloodletting. But beneath the infamy of sordid violence lies a fascinating true story. The Vikings were fierce warriors, but they were also seasoned navigators, intrepid explorers, craftspeople, merchants, politicians and poets. Between the years 700 and 1100 these Norse warriors conquered Britain, Ireland, laid siege to Paris, built complex trade networks as far east as Constantinople and Baghdad. They were the first Europeans to set foot on the wild plains of America before fading into obscurity. Vikings: The Rise & Fall s1e1: The Road to Lindisfarne, National Geographic 2022
The Vikings swarmed out from their unforgiving homeland in Scandinavia. One route for expansion remained: south, and the Frankish empire. Spilling out over modern-day France, Belgium and Germany, consumed by the scintillating promise of wealth, the Vikings ravaged and chopped their way to Paris. Vikings: The Rise and Fall IV: The Fall of Francia
With the rise of Protestantism, Europe was plunged into bloody war. Among the Catholics, France was weakened by a regency; Spain was faced with a revolt; in Scotland, the Queen risked losing her throne for love. The Real Game of Thrones s2e3: Europe Ignites 1561-1569
1561: In France, Queen Catherine d’Medici must choose between tolerance and suppression … In six months, the Kingdom of France plunged into the first war of religion, dragging Europe behind it in a fight for faith. ibid.
The wars of religion fashioned the Europe we live in today. In the 16th century religion and power were inextricably linked. The Real Game of Thrones s2e5: Enemy Brothers 1575-1584
France had a new king but his country was at war. And his brother continued to betray him … Henry had inherited a country in ruin devastated by civil war. ibid.
After the premature death of his younger brother, King Henry III of France had no Catholic heir. He was now the last of the Valois. On his death, the throne would pass to a protestant! The Real War of Thrones s2e6: The Last of the Valois 1584-1594
William’s victory at the Battle of Hastings has given us England’s most famous date: 1066. But this wasn’t just a battle, it was a momentous turning point in European history. In the years that followed, the Normans transformed England, and then the rest of Britain and Ireland ... across Europe, from northern France to southern Italy and on to the Middle East and Jerusalem. Robert Bartlett, The Normans I, BBC 2010
A forest of masts lit up with burning torches slipped across the Channel. ibid.
On this hillside on Saturday 14th of October 1066 a single battle between a few thousand men permanently changed the course of history in England and beyond. It was said to have taken place at the Grey Apple Tree. Nowadays the site is simply known as Battle. ibid.
Two early accounts of the battle say that an arrow struck the King in the eye. The King was dead. And a world was coming to an end. ibid.
The future belonged to the Normans. ibid.
William the Conqueror established the Normans as a formidable force in history. He dominated Normandy for fifty-two years. But his greatest achievement was the conquest of England in 1066. The years that followed saw one of the most fundamental transformations in British history. Robert Bartlett, The Normans II
The coronation of William the Conqueror marks one of the sharpest breaks there has ever been in English history. Anglo-Saxon England was dead. ibid.
This was a complete militarisation of England. ibid.
This systematic slaughter and destruction is known as the Harrying of the North. ibid.
Alongside hundreds of castles they built abbeys and cathedrals on a scale never seen before in England. ibid.
For three hundred years the Normans were among the most dynamic forces in Europe. They colonised countries and created new states and kingdoms. They became patrons of art and learning. And they transformed the landscape with magnificent castles and cathedrals. But the age of the Normans wouldn’t last for ever. In England the Norman dynasty founded by Norman the Conqueror gave way to the Plantagenets. (Normans & England & France & Middle Ages) Professor Robert Bartlett, The Normans III: Normans of the South
The monks attempted to force William’s corpse into the space. According to Audrick his swollen belly burst and an intolerable stench filled the noses of the crowd. ibid.
Savagery and piety. Conquest and colonisation. The Normans used every weapon in their armoury to re-shape Norman France and the British Isles. They were powerful rulers and state builders. And their legacy can be seen all around us. ibid.
In 1099 an international force of 10,000 soldiers stormed through the streets of Jerusalem. This would be the most divisive part of the Norman inheritance: the first Crusade. Among the leaders were Norman knights, including the son of William the Conqueror. As the Crusaders tore through the Holy City they cut down thousands of Muslims. According to one chronicler the slaughter was so great men waded in blood up to their ankles. ibid.
For three hundred years the Normans were among the most dynamic forces in Europe. They colonised countries and created new states and kingdoms. They became patrons of art and learning. And they transformed the landscape with magnificent castle and cathedrals. But the age of the Normans wouldn’t last for ever. In England the Norman dynasty founded by Norman the Conqueror gave was to the Plantagenets. ibid.
French was the language of the English ruling class. Dr Janina Ramirez, Chivalry and Betrayal: The Hundred Years’ War I: Trouble in the Family 1337-1360, BBC 2013
Edward III had done the unthinkable: he had proclaimed himself King of England and France. ibid.
To claim back his rights in France he would have to take on Philip’s army. ibid.
King Edward and his campaigns were hugely popular. ibid.
France and England were forced to agree a truce but it was a fragile death … the plague had plunged the country into a moral panic. ibid.
Edward reignited the war ... This was systematic pillage and destruction ... This time Edward had not just humbled the French monarchy he had broken it. ibid.
But there was also a the more pointed, millennial assumption that, on the new day that was dawning, the sun would never set. Early during the French upheaval was born a ‘solar myth of the revolution’, suggesting that the sun was rising on a new era in which darkness would vanish forever. James H Billington, Fire in the Minds of Men
We must force the people to be free. Louis Antoine Leon de Saint-Just
Carnac stones – gigantic triangles made of stone: geomagnetic phenomenon. Ancient Aliens s2e8: Unexplained Structures, History 2010
Leonardo spent the last years of his life at the court of the French King. Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure, BBC 2011
David was a revolutionary artist in every sense. His work spoke the classical language of ancient Greece and Rome. Austere, self-controlled, heroic. But he brought European painting away from the sentimental fantasy of the Rococo, and gave it a harder edge. He was also a fully committed supporter of the French Revolution and Napoleon, using his art as a powerful instrument of political propaganda. Great Artists with Tim Marlow: David
Meanwhile, we will hate Anarchy as Death, which it is; and the things worse than Anarchy shall be hated more! Surely Peace alone is fruitful. Anarchy is destruction: a burning up, say, of Shams and Insupportabilities; but which leaves Vacancy behind. Know this also, that out of a world of Unwise nothing but an Unwisdom can be made. Arrange it, Constitution-build it, sift it through Ballot-Boxes as thou wilt, it is and remains an Unwisdom – the new prey of new quacks and unclean things, the latter end of it slightly better than the beginning. Who can bring a wise thing out of men unwise? Not one. And so Vacancy and general Abolition having come for this France, what can Anarchy do more? Let there be Order, were it under the Soldier’s Sword; let there be Peace, that the bounty of the Heavens be not spilt;