What do the universe, galaxy, Sun, Earth, and state formation have in common? In this episode John discusses Big History and how it can help better define state formation.
Opium Wars and Peace
What if we were to tell you that the Opium Wars weren't really about opium but rather 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? In this episode, we explore the opium trade and how it led to open markets and the collapse of the Qing dynasty.
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.
Alcibiades: The Bad Boy of Athens
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.
Lionheart on Crusade
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.
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.
How did Hernán Cortés and 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.
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