🎧 How and Why History
How and Why History asks the big questions on some of history's biggest events and personalities. Experts from the UK's top universities give a accessible masterclass on their specialist knowledge.
🎧 Pearl Harbor
On Sunday 7 December 1941, Japanese aircraft attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The US Pacific Fleet was devastated and 2403 Americans were killed. But it was not the decisive strike Japan had hoped for, and it awakened a sleeping giant that would turn into a nemesis...
Charlemagne was one of history’s most ruthless and ambitious warriors – King of the Franks, then King of the Lombards, conqueror of the Saxons, leading to the Pope crowning him Roman Emperor. But plenty of blood was spilled along the way. So how did Charlemagne manage to unite much of Europe? Why...
🎧 Europe's Witch Craze
In 1597, King James VI of Scotland published a compendium on witchcraft called Daemonologie that laid down the kind of trial and punishment these practices merited. But why was there a witch craze in Europe? How were witch hunts triggered? Who were the victims? And why did witch trials spread to ...
🎧 The Troubles in Northern Ireland
On 10 April 1998 – Good Friday – the UK’s Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, signed an agreement that signalled the end of 30 years of violence and bitter sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland. But how did the Troubles originally come about? Why did the warring parti...
🎧 Attila the Hun
Known as the Scourge of God, Attila the Hun was one of the greatest Barbarian rulers in history. Renowned for his brutality, sacking and pillaging the lands and cities he conquered, Attila became one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. But how did Attila rally his...
🎧 The Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo brought a generation of terrible warfare to a close, decisively ending the career of Napoleon Bonaparte. How did the Duke of Wellington defeat Napoleon? Why did Napoleon make a fatal blunder? And how did Waterloo shape convictions about Britain’s future role in the world? R...
🎧 The Red Scare
In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy was the public face of a period in which Cold War tensions fuelled fears in the United States of widespread Communist subversion. McCarthy believed Soviet spies and sympathizers had infiltrated the US federal government, universities and even extended into Ho...
🎧 The Renaissance
Spreading throughout the length and breadth of Europe, the Renaissance made an enduring impact on art and architecture, science, politics and law. How did the Renaissance put an end to the Middle Ages? Where did it begin and how did it spread? How did the rise of Islam in Europe influence the Ren...
🎧 Rome and the Mediterranean
By the first century BC, the nuisance of piracy had become a plague in the Mediterranean. The Romans dispatched Pompey who freed the way for the expansion of commerce and the Empire. But why was the Mediterranean so important to Rome? How did they go about ruling its waves? And how did they rid t...
🎧 William the Conqueror
On 14 October 1066, Norman invaders led by Duke William of Normandy won a decisive victory over the Anglo-Saxon King Harold Godwinson. But why did William have a claim on the English throne? How did the Battle of Hastings unfold? And how did William the Conqueror change England forever? To answer...
🎧 Pilgrimage in the Middle Ages
In the Middle Ages, the Holy Land, as well as sites in Europe and around Britain became popular sites for pilgrimage. It was believed that praying at shrines or in front of holy relics could absolve you of your sins, cure your illnesses, or help you on the way to heaven. Why was pilgrimage so imp...
🎧 America, Japan and the Atomic Bomb
On 6 August 1945, an American B29 bomber dropped the world's first deployed atomic bomb over Hiroshima. Three days later, Nagasaki was at the receiving end of a second American A-bomb. Why did America decide to hit Japan with two atomic bombs? Why were these two cities the targets? What were the ...
🎧 Operation Barbarossa
In June 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, opening up the Eastern Front in World War II – a campaign to which more forces were committed than in any other theatre of war in history. But why did Germany invade the Soviet Union? What did Stalin and Hitler think of each other? And how did t...
🎧 The Wall Street Crash
When share prices on the New York Stock Exchange collapsed, it was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression. To find out more about this iconic event in 20th century history, Rob Weinberg spoke to Dr. Noam Maggor,...
🎧 The Genius of Shakespeare
Arguably the world’s greatest ever dramatist, after five and a half centuries William Shakespeare remains as popular as ever. But how did he became so famous? How did later authors boost his reputation? And why has Shakespeare stayed supreme above all other writers? Rob Weinberg asks the big ques...
🎧 The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Germany was divided and, as the Cold War escalated, a concrete barrier physically and ideologically divided Berlin. But how did Berlin come to be split by a wall? How did East Germans try to get across into the West? And how did the Wall finally come down...
🎧 The Spread of Christianity
In the first century after his crucifixion, the teachings of Jesus quickly spread throughout the Greco-Roman world and his early followers often faced severe persecution. But how did people around the Mediterranean learn of Christ's message? Why did it appeal to them? And how did Christianity cha...
🎧 The Vietnam War
By 1964 America was deeply embroiled in a conflict in Vietnam that would, over the next decade, claim millions of lives including almost 60,000 US servicemen. But how did the war come about? Who were its major players? Why did the actions and attitudes of US presidents differ? And how did America...
🎧 The Black Death
Between 75 million and 200 million people died in the Black Death, or Plague, which caused social, economic and religious upheavals that had a profound effect on the course of European history. How did the Black Death come about? How did if affect particular populations? For how long did it ravag...
🎧 America's Entry into the World Wars
When World War I broke out in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the United States would remain neutral. The U.S.A. only officially entered the conflict three years later. It took the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour in 1941 to bring America into the Second World War. But why was America ...
🎧 The Gunpowder Plot
On 5 November 1605, a planned assassination attempt on King James I was thwarted. While a group of English Catholics planned to blow up the House of Lords during the State Opening of Parliament, the name of the man caught guarding the gunpowder became legendary – Guy Fawkes. But how and why did t...
🎧 How World War Two Shaped the Modern World
With the end of the Second World War 75 years ago, the task of rebuilding shattered nations had to begin. But the years that followed saw the coming of the Nuclear Age, the Cold War, decolonialism and the rise of American supremacy. How exactly did World War II shape the modern world? Charlie Mil...
🎧 The Rise of the Monasteries
In the Middle Ages, Christian monasteries played an integral role in the generation and spread of knowledge. Scholarship flourished behind monastery walls and monks became experts in a wide range of fields, including astronomy, medicine, even beer-making and beekeeping. But how and why did monast...
🎧 The Battle of Britain
In a moment of great danger to national survival, the Royal Air Force defended the United Kingdom against large scale attacks by the Luftwaffe. So how did the Battle of Britain play out? What was Germany’s objective? And how important was it to the direction of the Second World War? To answer the...