(Christine) December may be a celebratory time for many, but in 1800 it caused Napoleon Bonaparte a giant headache. This episode is all about the attempted Christmas Eve assassination of France's future emperor.. . .
(Nathan) In 1486, two German inquisitors published a treatise on the nature and prosecution of witches: the Malleus Maleficarum or "Hammer of the Witches." This work overturned centuries of Catholic teaching regarding sorcery and witches, turning them into dark agents of evil who drew power from sexual union with the Devil himself. In this episode, we look at the origins of this text and how it led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.. . .
(Elizabeth) In 1910, Ida Delancey lost custody of her niece because her neighbors complained to child services that Ida, a white woman living in Brooklyn, was known to move in the same circles as Chinese-Americans. Elizabeth explores why this was a cause to have the child removed and how fears had increased after a 1909 murder of a young woman in New York City.. . .
(Elizabeth) In this episode, we return once again to the stories of three people buried in a cemetery in the Atlanta metro area. Second-sight, sharecropping, and a street called Auburn Avenue provide context for the lives of three people interred at Washington Park Cemetery.. . .
(Nathan) In the quiet town of La Porte, Indiana at the beginning of the 20th century lived a widow farmer with three children. Originally from Norway, Belle Sørenson Gunness was, like many widows in the period, in search of a husband to help work her lands and provide for her family--until one night, a tragic fire revealed that all was not as it appeared. In this week's episode, we examine the grisly tale of how the outwardly unassuming Belle killed at least nine male suitors and probably two husbands, and the terrible methods that she used to evade capture.. . .
(Lucy) John Dee has been variously described as a visionary, a philosopher, and a “real-life Gandalf.” Internationally renowned, he served at the Elizabethan court as a consultant on matters worldly and otherworldly. The possessor of a legendary library, Dee himself was a legend in his own day, and has remained so ever since. Scholar and scientist, he was also convinced that he could talk to angels. This episode attempts to disentangle fact from fiction.. . .
(Samantha) Who doesn’t love the chocolate chip cookie? Today, chocolate chip is the most popular variety of cookie in the United States, but it did not exist until the 1930s. This episode traces the confection from its invention in the kitchen of Mrs. Ruth Wakefield to your own home.. . .
(Lesley) Serial killers can be fascinating subjects. The men who hunt strangers are terrifying and interesting studies of the human mind. Yet women in history have also killed, and in some cases they have killed in large, unexpected numbers. In this episode, Lesley discusses five lesser-known serial killers from throughout history and analyzes how the female motivations from the past may differ from the more famous serial killers of modern day.. . .
(Elizabeth) Taphophilia is the love of cemeteries and headstones. In this episode, Elizabeth indulges her taphophilia as she uses stories from East View Cemetery on the outskirts of Atlanta to learn about life in the city in the early to mid-20th century as she traces the lives of three people buried there. Golf, textile mills, and military service help us complete the picture.. . .
(Christine) When your grandfather was a leading crusader and your father was a famous rebel, what is left for you to do? For Guy de Montfort the answer was to earn a spot in one of the circles of hell imagined by Dante in his Inferno. Find out how this medieval man came to such a fate in this episode.. . .
(Lucy) Fr. Rupert Mayer’s pastoral career ranged from serving as a chaplain for German troops during the First World War, to finding people jobs and housing. Then, after Hitler came to power, Fr. Mayer defied the Gestapo, and lived to tell the tale. Join Lucy for an episode about this remarkable Nazi-fighting Jesuit.. . .
(Christine) In May of 2016 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ elephants performed for their final time before entering retirement. Over 130 years earlier, in 1882, Jumbo the elephant left London for New York and joined P.T. Barnum’s traveling menagerie. In this episode, Christine explores Jumbo’s life as one of the Victorian era’s most famous animals.. . .
(Lesley) We've all seen movies burn witches at the stake. But how did England's lawmakers propose to punish these evil-doers? You might be surprised. This week, we explore the various ways a sorcerer or witch could be punished in early modern England.. . .
(Elizabeth and Lucy) The First World War was, infamously, a source of both transformation and trauma. In this episode, Lucy and Elizabeth find evidence of the ways in which the War to End all Wars influenced some of the greatest British mystery novels of the mid-20th century, especially how experiences of WWI were normalized, memorialized, or condemned within their pages.. . .
(Samantha) Everyone knows the beloved children’s character Curious George, but how many of us know about his creators? When Hans and Margaret Rey created the mischievous monkey, they were German Jews living in Paris. As the Nazis swept through Europe, the dynamic pair escaped with their precious manuscript on a homemade bicycle.. . .
(Nathan) In the First Amendment to the US Constitution, tucked between the freedom of speech and right of assembly, is a protection of the freedom of the press. But why did the Framers feel the need to include it? The answer lies in the early history of the newspaper, when broadsheet publications were small-time startup operations that were sometimes suppressed by the British government. In this week's episode, we'll look at the early history of print media in the United States, the role of libel and censorship, and the trial of a German immigrant printer that changed it all.. . .
(Christine) What is it like to be a king but still have to answer to your father? In the twelfth century, Henry the Young King lived in the shadow of one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs: Henry II of England. This episode delves into the life of a man who was crowned twice but never ruled the kingdom.. . .
(Nathan) Imagine you were a medieval woman suffering from fertility problems or an irregular period. How would you deal with these issues, and what kinds of treatments might your physician prescribe? To what lengths would you be willing to go, what substances would you be willing to ingest or insert in order to solve menstrual cramps? In this week's episode, we'll talk about one of the most famous manuals of medieval gynecology and the ways women in the Middle Ages cared for their health.. . .
(Lesley) In the age before anesthesia, what would you do with a pregnancy that would not end? Would you accept a doctor's diagnosis of death or would you press to find any possible treatment? This episode follows the story of Jane Todd Crawford, who traveled 60 miles by horseback to end a two-year "pregnancy"... and rode herself into the history books.. . .
(Elizabeth) How could a line of latitude become a rallying cry for war in the 19th century? Elizabeth examines the Oregon Border Dispute and explains the myths and passions surrounding the slogan.. . .
(Lucy) The Victorians gave the English-speaking world a lot of Christmas traditions: trees, the exchange of cards… and, less famously, ghost stories. This week’s episode looks at the historical origins of Victorian England’s Christmas hauntings, and how they expressed the beliefs and anxieties of the age, and even, sometimes, its sense of humor as well.. . .
(Christine) In early 1900, actress Olga Nethersole and several of her colleagues were indicted for their roles in the production of a play. Find out what caused them to be called "of wicked and depraved mind and disposition" when Christine covers the scandal that made New York City headlines.. . .
(Elizabeth) How did passenger pigeons, which numbered in the millions in the mid-19th century, become extinct in just over 50 years? Elizabeth explains the birds’ sudden decline as she discusses the life and death of Martha, the last passenger pigeon.. . .
(Christine) Jane Austen’s novels contain many courtships and brides, but the author herself never married. In this episode, Christine will delve into the time in Jane’s life when she could have become a wife and introduce you to Harris Bigg-Wither, the man who sought her hand.. . .
(Christine, Lucy, Lesley) We're celebrating the creepiest of holidays with our third edition of History for Halloween. Join us for a selection of (true!) tales covering everything from haunted farmers to the bizarre fate of Oliver Cromwell's head.. . .
(Lesley) Datura is a beautiful flower found throughout India. It is also a minor poison which has a storied past in local folklore. How did locals use this plant in medicine and local conflict? Join us as we explore local tradition and crime through the eyes of British officials.. . .
(Nathan) Most people think of Fredonia as the fictitious country of the Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, but Fredonia was actually a country...sort of. In 1826, a hot-tempered Virginian 'colonist' named Haden Edwards created an alliance with a local Cherokee tribe and led a short-lived rebellion against Mexican rule in East Texas that resulted in his proclamation of the Republic of Fredonia, which existed for just over a month. In this episode, we explore the circumstances surrounding Edwards' rebellion, the colony he created, and the aftermath of Fredonia's collapse.. . .
(Samantha) Tycho Brahe was born into the Danish aristocracy at a time when noblemen normally didn’t follow academic pursuits. But he found himself so fascinated by astronomy that he decided to flout tradition as he did with his marriage and many other aspects of his personal life. His observations changed the way scientists perceived the heavens, even if he didn't get things quite right.. . .
(Lucy) Death rays, invasions, and bombs, oh my! From Kipling’s “Great Game” to John Buchan’s 39 Steps, the rise of espionage in fiction mirrored British anxieties about the world and its place in it. Idealism and social criticism were often closely linked, with unlikely heroes (and sometimes heroines) being plucked from obscurity to save the day… and sometimes the world. This episode discusses how the tropes of British spy fiction were formed and transcended in the first half of the twentieth century.. . .
(Christine) Louis XVI of France wasn't the only European king to die at the hands of his subjects in the 1790s. In this episode Christine examines the life and dramatic assassination of King Gustav III of Sweden.. . .
(Nathan) In the hills of Southern France in the fourteenth century lived a woman named Beatrice de Planissoles, whose story remained largely unknown until the mid-20th century. In this episode, we will explore her remarkable life--her sexual affair with the town priest, her relationships with her neighbors, the contraceptive device she wore, the contents of her purse, her abuse at the hands of powerful men, and her trial for heresy--and how it changed the study of medieval history.. . .
(Lucy) Notorious eccentrics, esteemed researchers, loose-cannon diplomats: this episode looks at the histories of the British women who were travelers and archaeologists in the Middle East and India in the early twentieth century. As women, their accomplishments were often assessed by British audiences in terms of respectability. As British women, however, they often reinforced imperial control and imperial ideas.. . .
(Samantha) One of the most inventive painters of his day, Caravaggio’s work is remembered for its ingenious use of light and shadow. Much like his work, Caravaggio’s life was lived in the shadows as he became involved in one criminal activity after another, which eventually culminated in his exile and death. This episode sheds a ray of sunshine into the darkened canvas of Caravaggio’s story.. . .
(Lesley) Many Americans are familiar with Al Capone's mobster rule over the city of Chicago during the Prohibition Era, but few know about his violent involvement in the so-called "Pineapple Primary." How far would Capone go to see his chosen man elected, and how many lives would be lost in the process?. . .
(Christine and Elizabeth) In Part II of their examination of the rebellion, Christine and Elizabeth follow Patrick Pearse and his associates from the GPO to Kilmainham Gaol, take a look at how Britain handled the rebels, and assess what it all meant.. . .
(Elizabeth) In the 1950s, Walt Disney hired German rocket scientist, Wernher von Braun, to help make the Tomorrowland section of his developing theme park as accurate as possible. This relationship, however, had greater implications for the United States and its place in the Space Race.. . .
(Samantha) In December 1900 the beautiful, fifteen year old Evelyn Nesbit arrived in New York. Within a year she became the “glittering girl model of Gotham,” the first iconic American sex-goddess. Her fame would transform into notoriety after June 25, 1906 when her millionaire husband, Harry Thaw, murdered Evelyn’s one time lover, Sanford White, in what was known by contemporaries as “the crime of the century.”. . .
(Nathan) In the eighteenth century, the British Parliament undertook the task of fixing the calendar. Due to a problem with the Julian Calendar, which had been in use since ancient Rome, the calendar was eleven days off of where it should fall in reference to the solar cycle. In this episode, we'll trace the history of the Julian and Gregorian calendars and how it took nearly 500 years to (almost) universally implement.. . .
(Christine) What happens when one of the most powerful men in Europe ends your marriage? What do you do when you're replaced as Empress of France? In this episode, we delve into Josephine Bonaparte’s life as the ex-wife of Emperor Napoleon.. . .
(Lesley) Humans and animals have developed a symbiotic relationship over the past 30,000 years. From the earliest domesticated dogs to sign-language speaking apes, animals have worked with humans throughout history. Yet the relationship is not always a positive one; predators and vermin make life very difficult. In this podcast, Lesley explores one innovative method of dealing with animals that make a nuisance of themselves: by bringing them up on charges in Court.. . .
(Lucy) Sherlock Holmes is not only the world's only private consulting detective, he's also arguably the world's longest-running pop culture phenomenon. Pastiches, parodies, and fanfic have multiplied from the 1890s onwards. Holmes films have been around almost as long as the technology itself. This week, we look at some of the factors in the great detective's immense--and immensely versatile--presence in pop culture beyond the canon.. . .
(Nathan) In the mid-9th century, a group of Frankish bishops created one of the greatest forgeries in medieval history, making up an entire collection of fake letters and church law. Attributed to a Spanish author, "Isidore the Merchant," this canon law collection was cited and reused for almost 600 years before the forgery was discovered. In this episode, we'll uncover the motivations for this little-known forgery and how the authors managed to pull it off.. . .
(Elizabeth) In 1868, the striking sanitation workers of Memphis carried signs declaring "I AM A MAN." This statement answered a question asked by abolitionists and supporters of Civil Rights since the late 18th century.. . .
(Samantha) “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Or does it? Americans have grown apples in plentitude since colonization, but we used to drink them much more often than we ate them. From the early settlers, to Johnny Appleseed, to the temperance movement and the global market place, learn about how societal changes in the United States have impacted apple growing and consumption.. . .
(Liz, Christine, Lesley, Lucy, Nathan) Last year we brought you History for Halloween, a trio of short true tales perfect for the spookiest of holidays. Join us this year for a real ghost story, a haunted house, a Victorian haunting story, a tale of the Oxford Brasenose Hellfire Club, and a 15th century demonic invocation.. . .
(Lucy) From the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in the 1830s, to her death in 1901, the social landscape of Britain was profoundly changed. The evolution of hospitals’ form and function was not the least of these. Under the influence of social reformers, innovative architects, and, not least, medical practitioners themselves, the theory and practice of hospital care were adapted to changing ideas about physical and moral hygiene. This podcast focuses on the development of one such institution: the General Infirmary in the industrial powerhouse of Leeds, which expanded along with the city’s population. Its buildings, designed by George Gilbert Scott, represented the most up-to-date medical theory--and most grand architectural invention--of late Victorian Britain, and served as a monument to how this prosperous society desired to see itself.. . .
(Christine)King Louis XIV of France may be known as the "Sun King" but not everything about his life was bright and splendid. In this episode we discuss the crippling dental difficulties that plagued Louis and possibly increase your appreciation of modern anesthesia.. . .
(Lesley) The lives of Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I of England may be seen as a contrast in social expectations during early modern Europe worthy of scholarship, and television dramas. Perhaps lesser known is the story of Mary's trial and the legacy of her execution. Go behind the romanticism of Mary's life and learn about her death and the legacy of Elizabeth's final action to end of the life of her "Sister Queen.". . .
(Nathan) Diversity is the key to any well-rounded diet, but variety can be hard to come by if food has to be rapidly consumed to avoid spoilage. Millenia-old methods of salting, pickling, and curing only worked with certain foods and were greatly limited in terms of their applications. It wasn't until the French Revolution that modern methods of food preservation were discovered by a French chef, Nicolas Appert. In this episode we explore the military needs that spurred Appert's innovation and the ways in which his "canning" approach was improved over the course of the next century.. . .
(Elizabeth and Mariah) This week, Elizabeth interviews Mariah Adin about her book The Brooklyn Thrill-Kill Gang and the Great Comic Book Scare of the 1950sto explore why juvenile delinquency kept so many parents up at night in the US in the 1950s. Were comic books leading kids to lives of crime?. . .
(Kirsti) On July 4, we tend to think about America's birth as a product of plucky colonial grit and determination, but could it have succeeded without the support of Britain's enemies? What did American independence mean for European politics? This week we look at the American Revolution as a continuation of power struggles in Europe.. . .
(Ryan) More than eighty years before General Anthony McAuliffe gave his famous response of "Nuts" or "Go to hell!" to the German ultimatum to surrender the besieged city of Bastogne in World War II, another officer, Colonel James Stephens, issued a similar reply to Confederate forces who had surrounded his small command at Lexington, Missouri.. . .
(Christina) The first animals to be domesticated, for centuries dogs helped their humans conquer the world. So perhaps it was only natural, as humans began to look toward other worlds, that their minds turned back to their first and most loyal companions. In this installment of Doggy History, we will examine the heroic animals (canines and others) sent into space during the mid-20th century.. . .
(John) What if I were to tell you that the Opium Wars weren't really about opium? What if I told you that they were about trade, tea and silver? And what if one of the companies that began trading opium in the mid-nineteenth century is on the London Stock Exchange today? On this episode of Footnoting History, John explores the opium trade and how it led to open markets and the collapse of the Qing dynasty.. . .
(Christine) As his brother Napoleon rose to power in France, Jerome Bonaparte was across the ocean in Baltimore, Maryland. While there the young Bonaparte did what many men do, he married a beautiful woman. Unfortunately his union with Miss Elizabeth Patterson was not welcomed by Napoleon, who had other plans for his little brother. In this episode we’ll examine what happened in Baltimore and how Emperor Napoleon’s disapproval changed the future of the newlywed couple.. . .
(Elizabeth and Christine) As Britain celebrates the birth of Prince George's little brother or sister, Footnoting History is pondering royal siblings who became influential figures in the country's history. Join us as we discuss how so-called "spares" ranging from Empress Matilda in the 12th century to King George VI in the 20th, found themselves in the spotlight.. . .
(Samantha) The average American eats 68 quarts of popcorn each year - making the salty treat the most popular snack food in the country. But where does popcorn come from and how did it get so popular?. . .
(Nicole) Cola di Rienzo had a turbulent career in fourteenth century Rome. Find out how this son of a Roman innkeeper became embroiled in papal and imperial politics, held the ancient positions of tribune and senator, and ultimately died a violent death.. . .
(Elizabeth) Beloved children's classics such as The Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys have been appearing in print for 75 to 100 years. The authors - Laura Lee Hope, Carolyn Keene, and Franklin W. Dixon - have kept children enchanted since the early 20th century...or have they?. . .
(Lucy) Kate Marsden was born and died in London, but in the intervening decades, she traversed thousands of miles - and engaged the patronage of two empresses - in her efforts to ameliorate the lot of lepers, from London to the Russian steppes. Her exploits and her writings about them both inspired and scandalized society. This week's episode uses Marsden's career to discuss truth-telling, travel-writing, and Victorian ideas of virtue.. . .
(Nathan) What if everything you ever knew about history and classical literature was fundamentally wrong? What if there were a massive conspiracy, set in motion by medieval monks, to create entire bodies of literature and claim they were much older, or to invent centuries of history? In this episode, we trace the pseudo-history of the great "monastic conspiracy" from itsorigins in the writings of a French Jesuit in the 17th century tothe bizarre New Chronology of a Russianmathematician in the 20th.. . .
(Lesley) In the 1950s, a series of discoveries allowed biologists to capture and construct the double-helio structure of DNA. For these efforts, James Watson, Maurice Wilkins, and Francis Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962. The implications of this work transformed the field of biology and led to dramatic new advancements in medicine. But the story of DNA was not so simple. James Watson's personal behavior diminished the contributions of other scientists. In this episode of Footnoting History, we learn about the complex drama behind the scenes of a landmark and transformative discovery...and the complications that continue to dog the career of a prominent scientist today.. . .
(Christina)Each year in early March, professional mushers and their dog teams converge on Anchorage, Alaska to run the Iditarod, a grueling race to Nome, more than 1,000 miles away, ostensibly in commemoration of the 1925 "Great Race of Mercy." That first "race" consisted of heroic dogs and sledders who rushed diphtheria serum to the stricken city, and ensured the sled dog Balto his place in doggie stardom (and astatuein Central Park). But the Iditarod's legacy has not been free of controversy. Join us as we explore the guts, glory, controversy, and fluffy protagonists of the long history of dog mushing, and examine the shifting relationships between human andcanine that made it possible.. . .
(Christine) The Second French Empire has fallen and Empress Eugénie fled to England, but what happened next? In this episode, we conclude our look at her life in exile, including her reunions with Napoleon III and their son, as well as the lasting piece of French imperialism she established in the English countryside.. . .
(Christine) When Napoleon III’s French Empire began to crumble in the late 19th century, his wife was trapped in Paris. Who could possibly help the Bonaparte Empress flee before the mobs got to her? An American dentist named Thomas Evans, of course. We’re kicking off the new year with a podcast about escapes and unlikely allies!. . .
(Esther) As the Queen celebrated her 25th year on the throne, England was restless, on the verge of anarchy, and sweating out the hottest summer in years. "God Save the Queen" went to the top of the charts, and the Sex Pistols, followed later by other acts, vented their rage at the royal family. We will revisit the tumultuous year of 1977 as our starting point to explore the British musicians who protested the monarchy in the late 1970s and 1980s.. . .
(John)Following the most recent referendum on Scottish independence, it's a perfect time to reflect on the origins of Scotland. What does the murder of John Comyn by Robert Bruce in 1306 tell us about medieval Scotland? How has history been rewritten to stress nationalist narratives? And did anyone really care about Scotland as a country or state in the early fourteenth century? All this and a murder most foul. Or moderately foul. Or perfectly justified. It's all very Scottish. But somebody was murdered and this week John takes a stab at addressing the formation of Scotland under Robert Bruce in the fourteenth century.. . .
(Kirsti) Remember, remember the Fifth of November! Guy Fawkes has become an iconic face of the American Occupy movement, but was the Gunpowder Plot really an effort to improve the lot of the lower classes? This week we will explore the religious terrorism that inspired a national holiday.. . .
(Elizabeth, Lucy, and Christine) Stories are spookier when they are rooted in reality. In celebration of Halloween, some of our podcasters have collected strange-but-true tales to get you through the night when the link between the living and the dead is believed to be the strongest. Join us for a selection of ghastly and ghostly factual anecdotes you can share at your Halloween party.. . .
(Kirsti) The Manhattan Project placed the lives of scientists and staff in New Mexico at great risk. One plutonium core in particular claimed two lives over the course of two years, earning it the epithet "The Demon Core." What happened? What did we learn from it? What was its eventual fate? We're going critical in this week's podcast.. . .
(Ryan) In this episode, Ryan looks at the Union advances in the west from the battle of Shiloh through the Siege of Corinth and how the retreat of the Confederate forces along the Mississippi River ultimately contributed to the defeat of the South in the American Civil War.. . .
(Lucy) From the late eighteenth century to the coming of WWI, Europe's haute bourgeoisie looked to mineral waters (sipped or bathed in) as medication for their malaises and a cure for ennui. The architecture and economy of spa towns developed accordingly, creating an atmosphere for international communities to mingle socially, consume culture, and display their wealth. This episodeexamines these phenomena and the fascination they exercised for generations of literary giants.. . .
(Christine) At the dawn of the 17th century, only one region of Ireland was largely outside of English control: Ulster. To change this, the Gaelic Irish heir to Ulster--Hugh O'Neill--was raised under close watch of the English crown. So what went wrong? Why did Hugh O'Neill end up in full rebellion against Tudor Queen Elizabeth I? And what exactly was the Flight of the Earls?. . .
(Christina and Esther) In Part II of their look at the history of dogs in cinema, Christina and Esther talk about Lassie's patriotism, the moral implications of depicting animal cruelty on screen, and the strategic use of prosthetic dog heads.. . .
(Christina and Esther) From Edison Studios’ nineteenth-century “actualities” to present day internet videos of twerking Corgis, dogs’ presence on film is as old as the medium. Join Christina and Esther in Part I of this two-part joint edition of our Doggy History and Film History series as they consider early film dogs, from Fatty Arbuckle's Luke to German Shepherd stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart.. . .
(Lesley) As the United States deals with a critical mass of imprisoned citizens, it might be worthwhile to consider how historical civilizations dealt with the punishment of non-violent offenders. How did England maintain order before the rise of the prison? This episode explores alternatives to long-term prison sentences by examining the origins of the US English legal system - with surprising results.. . .
(Nicole) The fifth-century king of the Franks, Childeric, was a pagan king of a group whom Romans clearly thought of as barbarians. Nevertheless, he also held Roman authority and fought with the Romans against other barbarian groups. So, was Childeric a Roman, a barbarian, or both? In this podcast we'll explore fifth-century identity and politics.. . .
This week, Nathan spoke with Asif Siddiqi, the only historian on the "Committee for Human Spaceflight," which recently completed its two year study on the future of NASA's efforts to send human beings into deep space. They discussed the history of space exploration, the report's recommendations, and reflect on the role of historians to shape public policy.. . .
(Kirsti) Alan Turing has been called a lay saint, and he surely was one of the greatest minds of the Greatest Generation. His work at Bletchley Park was vital to Allied success in World War II. Why, then, did he end his life under house arrest? And did *he* end it? Mysteries abound in this week's podcast!. . .
(Samantha) According to Anna Comnena, the Byzantine historian, Sichelgaita of Salerno personally turned the tide at the battle of Dyrrachium when she charged at her own troops and drove them towards their enemy. But did such a thing ever happen? Who was Sichelgaita – a warrior, a wife, or a protective mother?. . .
(Lucy) In the early 19th century, ancient fossils formed the basis of cutting-edge discoveries. Geology still hovered between amateur pursuit and scientific profession. Mary Buckland, married to the dinosaur-discovering William, participated in international research networks, and was a silent partner in creating some of the new discipline's most important works.. . .
(Christine) Laura Bridgman made headlines in the 19th century when her parents enrolled her at the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Under the guidance of Samuel Gridley Howe she learned how to speak with her fingers and became the first formally educated deaf-blind person in the United States. Though we hear little about her today, she was regularly named as an inspiration by Helen Keller- so who was Laura Bridgman and what was she doing hanging out with Charles Dickens?. . .
(Nicole)The sixth century was one of serious upheaval and shifting alliance. Get a glimpse of this world as we explore the life of Rosamund, a Gepid princess who witnessed the rise of the power of the Lombards, through their final defeat of her people and their invasion of Italy, before delivering a near fatal blow to it.. . .
(Ryan) Who were the Fenians and what were their goals? This is a question that historians have debated for years- this podcast will trace the life of a prominent Fenian, Lawrence O'Brien, to, perhaps, help explain the origins of this rather interesting Irish American nationalist organization during the Civil War.. . .
(Lucy) Käthchen Paulus was born in the late 1860s, in a German village where she supported her mother by working as a seamstress. She died in the mid-30s in relative obscurity. But in between, she ran away with an adventurer, made and lost a fortune, became an international celebrity, an entrepreneur, a WWI military advisor, and an inventor of lasting influence.. . .
(Nathan) Picking up where we left off in Part I, in this episode, we'll look at where film aspect ratios come from, why production studios began to move to Southern California, how World War I affected the film industry, the role of women in editing and production, and what the advent of sound meant for motion pictures.. . .
(John) A student of Socrates, a friend of kings, a general and pirate, Alcibiades defies definition. He argued for a more aggressive policy against the Spartans only to later serve as one of their trusted advisers. He left Sparta to live in Persia where he subverted both Spartan and Athenian interests. Join as we explore how this rogue challenged democracy, governments and identity in Classical Athens.. . .
(Christine) May 29, 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Empress Josephine, first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Josephine’s life did not begin when she married the famous Corsican so this week, to honor her, we are looking at the time before she became a Bonaparte. Join Christine as she explores the years when Josephine answered to a different name, had a husband named Alexandre, and almost became a victim of the Reign of Terror.. . .
(Kirsti)What kind of plums were in Jack Horner's pie? Why were the lion and the unicorn spoiling for a fight? Why did Humpty Dumpty fall? This week, Kirsti talks about the collective memory found in the nursery.. . .
(Christina) Head to a dog park and you’re sure to see a greyhound, a pug, or a German Shepherd. Which one is most closely related to the wolf? The answer may surprise you. Through concentrated effort across continents and centuries, humans manipulated canine raw material into made-to-measure companions. In this installment of Doggy History, we'll look at the origin and evolution of these three popular breeds and along the way learn about the process by which humans sought to remake dogs in their own image.. . .
(Esther) Urban legend has it that when President Woodrow Wilson first saw D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915), he said "it is like writing history with lightning." While the first epic movie in American film history was as deeply innovative as it was deeply racist, The Birth of a Nation ushered in a new era of blockbuster movie making in the early history of the medium.. . .
(Lesley) Weddings are ceremonies steeped in cultural traditions. From the costumes to the carefully-selected color schemes, marriage ceremonies often become orchestrated events more than a public celebration of love. But where do these traditions originate? In this episode, Lesley explores the surprising history of "jumping the broom" at wedding ceremonies throughout history.. . .
(Nathan) For early movie-goers, film was a magical experience, but also sometimes a crowded and stuffy one. From the magic lantern shows of the eighteenth century to the heyday of the nickelodeon in the twentieth, in this episode we'll look at the origins of film as a medium and the early decades of the film industry.. . .
(Mariah) For decades, comic book fans across the globe have reviled Dr. Fredric Wertham as the man who single-handedly brought down the "Golden Age" of comics. But is he truly the Lex Luthor he's been made out to be? Today's podcast takes a deeper look at one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century.. . .
(Nicole) Join Nicole as she discusses Diocletian’s rise from obscure beginnings and low social standing to emperor, his reign, and his decision to retire, something that no Roman emperor had done before.. . .
(Samantha) Richard the Lionheart hardly seems like a footnote in history. He is celebrated as a great warrior king and is commemorated in just about every film version of Robin Hood. Yet he has become so mythologized that his actual deeds have become obscured. This podcast will look at contemporary sources to re-construct Richard's journey and attempt to retake Jerusalem from the infidel.. . .
(John) What can the experience of one family tell us about authority in early modern Ireland? Quite a bit! John will discuss how the many wives, many children and many subsequent problems of the earls of Clannrickard illustrate the complexity of authority in early modern Irish society.. . .
(Elizabeth) At the end of the 19th century, one of the earliest planned communities in the United States was created just over an hour north of New York City. Learn about the founding of Tuxedo Park, some of its more famous inhabitants, why the tuxedo is named after it, and the role it played in radar innovation during WWII.. . .
(Lucy) How did a swashbuckling seventeenth-century opera singer become the heroine of a nineteenth-century novel? What does this tell us about the performance and perception of gender in both eras? And did the mysterious Mademoiselle de Maupin really run away with a nun? This week’s episode of Footnoting History looks at all that... and dueling!. . .
(Nathan and Esther) Full of gowns, gaffes, and gushing, the Academy Awards are the epitome of pageantry and must-see television that sometimes has little to do with the actual purpose of the ceremony: to reward outstanding achievement in film. Join Nathan and Esther in the first installment of their new Film History Series as they explore the history of the Oscars, from its origins in the labor disputes of the 1920s through its evolution into the gala spectacle of today.. . .
(Christine) The love story of infamous American outlaw pair Bonnie and Clyde is cemented in modern pop culture- but they were not the only couple in the Barrow Gang. Clyde’s older brother, Buck, and his wife, Blanche, often traveled with their relatives and had a dynamic (and tragic) love story of their own. This week, Christine delves into the outlaw romance of the American depression era that is barely mentioned in the folk ballads and Hollywood films.. . .
(Lucy) Who were the pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries, and what enabled them to rise to power? In Europe, pirates could be treated as celebrities or tried as criminals. At sea, pirate crews made legal agreements covering not only the division of loot, but forms of health insurance and injury benefits. Contrary to the pirates of Hollywood, moreover, crews were often multiracial, with men (and sometimes women) from Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean working side by side. In this week's episode, Lucy looks at what made piracy attractive, what made its unusual degree of equality possible, and how pirate legends have endured and been used in subsequent centuries.. . .
On February 2, 2013, the first episode of Footnoting History went live. To celebrate our first anniversary, Nathan conducted a series of brief interviews with several of our historians (Lucy, Nicole, Christine, and Elizabeth) to help you get to know us a bit better. Listen in to learn what makes us tick and help us celebrate the anniversary we would never have reached without your support!. . .
(Ryan) In 1862, William, Christopher, and Phillip Raber enlisted in Company K of the 9th Regiment, Virginia Infantry. As loyal Union men, they joined nearly one thousand other volunteers for three years' service to put down the rebellion of the Confederacy. One year later, Phillip was marched before a firing squad and executed. By war’s end, Christopher was an outlaw, and their mother had been arrested and placed in the county jail. Join us as we explore the Raber family's history and what it tells us about complex nature of loyalty and disloyalty during the Civil War era.. . .
(Christina) They are warm, fuzzy beings that come in many different shapes and sizes, yet they all sense our emotions and thrive in our company. But they are also descended from wolves, fierce and elusive social predators. How did dogs become so integrated into human society? And how can we reconstruct any species’ prehistory? In the first installment of our new Doggy History series, we examine several theories about how dogs left the wolf pack and became part of ours instead, and find out that humans have been blaming it on the dog pretty much forever.. . .
(Elizabeth) What was life like for those on the Canadian home front during WWI? Join Liz as she uses L.M. Montgomery's final book in her Anne series, Rilla of Ingleside, to answer questions about the ones who stayed behind.. . .
(Esther) How did an unassuming office assistant from New York fool her way to the winners' circle of the 1980 Boston Marathon? The first major cheating scandal in long-distance runninghad nothing to do with drugs or endorsement deals, but with the shameless moxie of a woman whose journey into cheating infamy was probably more accidental than intentional.. . .
(Samantha) In 1914 Europe's troops marched off to war expecting to be home by Christmas. When the holiday came and they found themselves stuck in the trenches for the foreseeable future many of them decided to take some time off and to fraternize with the enemy in what became known as the Christmas Truce.. . .
(Lucy) For much of the Middle Ages, King Arthur was Europe’s model king. His court could be a space for heroism, for romance, and also for the uncanny. Often drawing on oral tradition, written for elite audiences, the Arthurian romances of the 13th and 14th centuries can be surprisingly revealing about cultural values and cultural debates. This week we'll be looking at Christmas feasts, sun-god figures, and complex debates about the morality of flirting.. . .
(Lesley) Ever wonder why women shave their legs? Or why manly cigars gave way to slim, feminine cigarettes? The answer lies with people like Don Draper. Examine the history of advertising and how some of our personal traditions stem from a carefully-designed advertising campaign.. . .
(Nathan) We kick off the Christmas seasonand celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas (Dec. 6th) with a look at the history of Santa Claus, from his origins as a fourth-century bishop to the creation of Rudolph in the 20th century.. . .
(Christine and Elizabeth) In Part II of the life of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, we follow him as he leaves prison, picks up his pen, and chases a new goal: revolutionizing British systems of colonization. Did people listen to a convicted felon? Were his dreams of colonizing Australia and New Zealand successful? Join us for the exciting conclusion to his life's story.. . .
(Christine and Elizabeth) The abduction of Ellen Turner was the talk of early 19th century England and at the center of it was Edward Gibbon Wakefield, a widower with dreams of a seat in Parliament. How did Wakefield lure the young heiress from her school and convince her to marry him? What happened when her family found out? And is there life after being British newspaper fodder? Join us for Part I of the life of Edward Gibbon Wakefield.. . .
(Nicole) Most people think of modern campaigns, such as propaganda posters during World War I, when they hear the word 'propaganda'. But did you know that during the Reformation Protestants and Catholics alike used images in their own propaganda campaigns? Find out more about Protestant Propaganda.. . .
(Kirsti) For 28 years, the Berlin Wall stood as a monument to the division between East and West. In the summer of 1989, a the borders of Hungary, then Czechoslovakia opened, and thousands of East Germans fled westward.On the 9th of November, East Germany opened the Berlin Wall and the border, allowing free passage for the first time since 1961. What was it like to live in Germany at the time? This week, we explore history within living memory!. . .
(Christine) How could a priest in medieval England, who was single at the time of his ordination, be guilty of bigamy? Can a person actually cheat on Jesus? Join us today as we discuss the ins and outs of this curious clause of canon law and how it brought the dreaded sentence of excommunication down on priests like William Gybbvuns.. . .
(Esther) Country roads were rough, tough, and uneven. But the agile, handsome, and (sometimes) opulently dressed running footmen traversed these treacherous roads to scout, deliver messages, and honor their masters with their ultramarathon endurance. Holding a staff, an egg, and maybe a little white wine, was the running footman the first professional runner of the modern age?. . .
(Lucy) In the 16th century, high taxes and fears of apocalypse went hand in hand, and from the fairly common practice of calling for church reform emerged a series of movements which have become known as the capital-R Reformation. This week we’ll be discussing insults to the Pope, the problem of identifying Lutherans, and how civic and ecclesiastical leaders accidentally created an agreement that was called the most important event in the history of the world.. . .
(Lucy and Elizabeth) From the early to mid-twentieth century, queens of crime Sayers, Christie, Marsh, and Wentworth reigned supreme over British detective fiction. Their works not only reveal whodunit but give insight into how queer women lived in and were viewed by wider society from capital to countryside.. . .
(Lesley) In the middle of the Reformation, Parliament passed a law criminalizing some forms of sexuality. This became known as the Buggery Law of 1533. Why would the government be interested in regulating sex? An investigation into official records reveals that it had less to do with the bedroom and everything to do with power, privilege, and piety.. . .
(Nathan) An elephant may seem a strange thing to give as a gift, but these exotic animals--along with giraffes, lions, polar bears, and hyenas--were prized inhabitants of medieval and early modern menageries. Join us as we look at the history of five pachyderms, including, Abul-Abbas, given as a gift to Charlemagne, and Hanno, the pet elephant of Pope Leo X.. . .
(John) How did Hernán Cortésand his “300” soldiers topple the Aztecs? What motivated these conquistadores, and what legal justifications did they use to legitimize this conquest? Find the answer to these questions and more as we explore the clashing of the Aztec and Spanish empires.. . .
(Kirsti) What’s the best approach to consolidating power and land within your family? The ambitious Habsburgs achieved greatness through marrying close relations—surely a sound policy that could have no consequences at all! This week we’ll talk about love (or the lack thereof), marriage, and the chin that sparked a war.. . .
(Nicole) When many people think of Late Antique society, they think of powerful secular and ecclesiastical rulers; mighty emperors and archbishops. While the Archbishop of Ravenna certainly was a powerful person within the city, answering in theory only to the emperors' representative, the exarch, he had his fair share of problems with both the lay people of Ravenna and even his clergy! Find out more about the archbishop and exarch's struggles.. . .
(Christine and Nathan) What on earth is a city of smugglers? Why did Napoleon like to tease his Second Consul so much? And what would you have seen if you attended Napoleon’s coronation?This week we move beyond Napoleon the man to the experiences of his subjects answering these questions and more!. . .
(Esther) The story of the most popular long-distance event, from its origins in ancient literature to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and how a young farmer, Spyridon 'Spyros' Louis (1873-1940), became an unlikely national hero.. . .
(Samantha) In June 2013 the British government agreed to pay approximately £20 million in reparations to individuals tortured during the Mau Mau emergency in Kenya in the 1950s. But who were the Mau Mau? What was the emergency? And why do the British feel they should owe a debt?. . .
(Lucy) InDon Giovanni, Wolfgang Amadeus and Lorenzo da Ponte created opera's most famous antihero. Find out how Mozart and Da Ponte were influenced by the philosophical ideas and social concerns of their day in forging a tale of class conflict and libertinism, violence and seduction, private passions and public space... and find out why this opera without a genre had different endings in the two greatest cities of the Holy Roman Empire.. . .
(Lesley) The religious consequences of the European Reformation are often part of our education. But the 16th century saw reformations across the globe: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Aztec beliefs.At the heart of this changewas Mughal Emperor Akbar, who combined all of these beliefs into a single new global religion: Divine Faith.. . .
(Elizabeth and Christine) The Kingdom of Great Britain is celebrating today because the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed their first child, a son! In this special edition ofFootnoting History, we discuss the history of royal baby names in Great Britain from the most popular to those you are not likely to see on the throne again any time soon. What must a future king and queen consider when naming their child? If your child was going to rule a country, what would you name him or her?. . .
(Nathan) Joanna I of Naples led a fascinating life marked by both triumph and tragedy. Orphaned as a child, married four times, and rumored to have had her first husband killed outside her own bedchamber, she was a controversial figure even in her own day. Join us as we examine the ups and downs of one of the most powerful (yet oft-forgotten) women of the fourteenth century.. . .
(Nathan and Christine) It's Bastille Day weekend so we make a return to France for today's topic. In the third installment of our Revolutionary France series, we'll talk about the scandals, intrigues, and tragedies of Napoleon and his inner circle.. . .
(Kirsti) The people of Prague have a unique approach to the resolution of religious and political arguments: throwing the opposition out of windows! Listen as we explore this odd tradition throughout history, starting in 1419 and continuing to 1948.. . .
(Christine) Whether they got a day off from working at their trade or had so much money they could pay people to entertain them, everyone within the town walls wanted to have a little fun. Listen today to find out what occupants of medieval European towns did to shake off their troubles and have a good time.. . .
(Christine) His father was a major player in the Albigensian crusade but when was the last time you heard about the man who led a rebellion against King Henry III and became the father of the modern parliament? It's time to fix that.. . .
(Esther) How did the Greeks monitor foot races during the ancient Olympic games without technologies such as Timex watches and slow-motion cameras?They certainly weren't worried about doping, but there were other ways runners could gain unfair advantages over their competitors.. . .
(Samantha) From WeightWatchers to the Atkins Diet to the Lemon Detox, Americans are obsessed with using diet to control our weight. But we’re not the first ones to be concerned with our body mass, to experiment with dieting, and to come up with some really bizarre ideas about how to get thin.. . .
(Lucy) Reactions to medieval lepers were often extreme. Medieval romance-writers depict them as not only disease-ridden but filthy, and morally suspect to boot. Saints, on the other hand, ran around kissing them. More ordinary people just asked lepers to pray for them. Why? And if you lived in thirteenth-century Chartres, why shouldn't you eat dinner with the leper next door?. . .
(Lesley) As an imposing fortress, Alcatraz island isolated inmates and imprisoned the most dangerous criminals like mob boss Al Capone. Yet after its closure in 1963, Alcatraz became the scene of occupying Freedom as Native Americans tried to take back land under a treaty with the US. How did an uninhabitable rock become the gateway to a bastion of freedom for American Indians?. . .
(Nathan) In the 1630s, the tiny-but-wealthy Netherlands were gripped by a frenzy of public trading in tulip bulbs. At the height of the craze, a single bulb could sell for a small fortune. What caused this "tulip mania" and how did it all come to a crashing halt?. . .
(Nathan and Christine) Picking up where they left off at the end of Part I, Nathan and Christine tackle actors' rights and changing fashions while wondering if anyone truly understood the Republican Calendar. Join them as they conclude the countdown of their top ten favorite stories andidiosyncrasiesof the French Revolution.. . .
(Kirsti) In 430 BCE, a plague swept through ancient Athens, killing thousands. It eventually claimed even the great Pericles. But what was it? In 1994, a group of historians and scientists banded together to find out, starting with the skull of one little girl.. . .
(Nicole) In 870 A.D., Edmund, the king of East Anglia, was killed by a Viking army. Discover how this event was transformed from a battle between two armies into the story of a Christian martyrdom.. . .
(Nathan and Christine) From MarieAntoinette's fake peasant village to Robespierre's botched suicide, the French Revolution is full of fascinating stories that are often omitted from textbooks. Join Nathan and Christine for Part I of a two-part countdown of their favorite quirky aspects of this vibrant period.. . .
(Esther) Did you know that our homo sapien ancestors were altogether skinnier, weaker and dumber than our fellow hominid relatives, the Neanderthals? Some scientists theorize that it was running that saved us from extinction.. . .
(Kirsti) Some people just get all the luck. Others, like poor Alice Rowley of Coventry, just can’t seem to catch a break. Join us as we explore Alice’s dedication to the Lollard community and what that meant for her in court!. . .
(Lesley) Imagine hiring a man to kill off your enemy... and then pleading a defense that would allow you to walk out free. This week, we'll trace the story of a neighborly feud in Tudor England that left one man dead and an unbalanced man free, if not for the actions of a young woman in manipulating Parliament, the Privy Council, and even the Queen. Their responses would ultimately change the laws of England in order to prevent a man from getting away with murder.. . .
(Lucy) Why did commoners and kings in eleventh-century Germany keep seeing dead people? Why did a bunch of animated corpses decide to burn a priest alive? And why did a busy bishop write all this down?. . .
(Nathan) What do medieval frat boys, Nicholas Cage, and Iron Maiden have in common? They're all part of one of the most popular (and far-fetched) medieval conspiracy theories. Tune in as we talk about Cathars, Templars, and the siege of Montségur.. . .
(Nathan and Elizabeth) Join us for a discussion of one of the most well-known narratives of slavery used by the British Abolitionist cause in the 18th century. We examine what it reveals about identity and race in the time period but also tackle the issue of reliability and accuracy in memoirs.. . .
(Christine) The English and the Irish have been fighting (and singing) about hating one another) for as long as both sides can remember, but what brought the English to Ireland in the first place? What did the English king, Henry II, have to do with it? And why is everyone frowning at some guy named Dermot?. . .
(Nathan) At the end of this month, Pope Benedict XVI will become the first pope in nearly 600 years to abdicate the papal seat. In this Special Edition ofFootnoting History, we take a look at the colorful history of papal abdication and the precedents for Benedict's resignation.. . .
(Nicole) The Mongols have a reputation for their brutal tactics in war and the fear they instilled in the peoples they conquered. But the Mongols liked nice things as well, and created a capital city with cultural influences from the many lands that they ruled. Find out what a French silversmith was doing in Karakorum, and how he and other people sent from all over the Mongol lands helped to create a cosmopolitan capital.. . .
(Elizabeth) Before social security cards, driver's licenses, and DNA testing, how did you prove your identity? Join us to hear about two famous "pretenders" and their attempts to gain the English throne!. . .
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