Archive for June, 2008

I wanted to write a quick post and give everyone an update on the next episode of British History 101. I actually had another in the works when a great opportunity presented itself to me; that same opportunity gave me a topic for a show that I’d like to do before I release the one I had been working on. The original show begins a multi-part series, so I thought I would go ahead and write an episode based on the new topic before launching into a mini-series a la our treatment of the Battle of Hastings (almost 2 years ago!).

I’m going to introduce something new to the podcast with the new episode, and I hope to incorporate it on at least a semi-regular basis. Bear with me while I bring all the elements together necessary for a good episode!


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And listen to the Hallelujah chorus from Messiah. At long last, after much frustration, I have solved the problem of too few episodes of British History 101 showing up in iTunes; until now, listeners could only go back about as far as Queen Elizabeth II. However, I have consulted with both iTunes and my hosting service and found that…

…the problem was my fault all along.

Yes, indeed, I caused all the consternation myself. There is a simple setting in my hosting account which is labeled “Number of episodes to display.” I had this setting (which I have never seen before) set to 25, which explains why all the podcasts weren’t up. After changing in to “All” and allowing iTunes to cycle through, I see that each and every episode of British History 101 is now available! Thank you, Hipcast technical support!

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Today’s been a bit slow for stories of real historical significance coming out of the UK; however, I did run across this one, which made me chuckle:

Brown denies French navy merger – from the BBC (with my emphasis):

“Gordon Brown has rejected suggestions that the French and British navies could merge as ‘totally untrue’.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions, he dismissed reports that HMS Ark Royal or HMS Illustrious could be controlled from Brussels.

He told MPs: “There is no proposal to merge the use of aircraft carriers.”

The Sun reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had opened talks with Mr Brown about plans to put a British aircraft carrier in an EU Navy.

The report suggested it would be “flying the European flag” and be “directed by Brussels”.

During his weekly questioning in the Commons, Mr Brown welcomed France’s decision to rejoin the military command of Nato following a major defence review, and said he hoped co-operation within Nato could be enhanced.

But he added: “I have to say it is totally untrue that we are trying to merge the British and French navies – and that is not something we will do.

The French have said beefing up the EU’s military capability will be a key part of their six-month presidency.

But Eurosceptic Labour MP Ian Davidson asked whether the “collapse” of the EU Treaty would mean an end to EU defence arrangements being put forward.

Mr Brown replied that all co-operation had been announced during President Sarkozy’s visit to Britain a few months ago.

“I repeat, there is no proposal to merge the use of aircraft carrier as has been suggested in the press.

“If one looks at the French statement .. it does not say that. It says there will be association – in other words we will work together, not merge, not amalgamate.”

Well done, Mr. Brown – you’ve done Nelson proud!

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Shamelessly copied from the BBC:

Prince William is to be made a Royal Knight of the Garter – the most senior British order of chivalry.

He will be officially appointed by the Queen at a service at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle later.

The Order of the Garter – established by Edward III in 1348 – honours those who have contributed to national life or served the Queen.

William will become a Royal Knight Companion, which recognises his seniority within the Royal Family.

There are 26 full members of the Order of the Garter, including the Queen and the Prince of Wales. The Queen chooses the other 24 members, known as Knights and Ladies Companions, without the advice of ministers.

However, other members of the royal family and foreign monarchs are also made additional members of the order – known as either Royal Knights and Ladies, or Stranger Knights and Ladies.

William’s father, Prince Charles, was appointed in 1958, the Princess Royal in 1994, and the Duke of York and the Earl of Wessex in 2006.

The Duke of Edinburgh was made a Royal Knight in 1947 – the same year he married Princess Elizabeth.

Recent deaths

The numbers of the 24 Knights Companion were depleted recently with the deaths of the conqueror of Mount Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary, and former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath.

Their places have been taken by Lord Luce, Lord Chamberlain from 2000 to 2006, and Sir Thomas Dunne, who has been Lord-Lieutenant of Hereford since 1977 and chairman of the Lord Lieutenants Association.

Former prime ministers are usually made members of the order soon after their retirement from office.

The order already includes former Prime Ministers Baroness Thatcher and Sir John Major.

New members of the order are traditionally announced on St George’s Day but the ceremonies take place in June, on the Monday of Royal Ascot week, known as Garter Day.

Prince William, who will be the 1,000th Knight in the Register, will wear a blue velvet cape and black velvet hat with white ostrich plumes for a procession from the castle to the chapel.

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I’ve been perusing the feedback left on iTunes, and I assure you not out of narcissism. I genuinely appreciate the comments left there, including the negative ones – although I will admit constructive criticism gives me something to work with; while you’re more than welcome to leave something like “This podcast is terrible,” which is helpful for people looking for something to which to listen, it doesn’t tell me why the show is terrible (a condition which, understandably I should think, is something I’d like to fix). Perhaps “This podcast is terrible because…” would be a bit more helpful.

There are several enthusiastic responses there as well, and of course those are wonderful. I’m glad the show has grown, and while I wish I could simply quit my job and do this all day (which I would do with much vim and vigor!) that’s just not possible. I’ve got something brewing now that was suggested to me by a listener, and I’m getting more interested in it as I go. Tomorrow night will see me into the library until the wee hours, to be sure!

In short – thanks to everyone who offers input, be it positive or negative. If you’d like make a suggestion longer than the space in iTunes allows, feel free to contact me at BritishHistory101@gmail.com. I’m always happy to talk!

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I had plenty of time to peruse the July issue of British Heritage whilst soaring across the American southeast and midwest skies. I thought the following items were of particular interest:

Britannia Banned at the Mint (p. 9): “The Royal Mint has announced they are removing Britannia from the 50p coin…the trident-wielding lady should be retained according to 90 percent of the people responding to a poll by the Daily Mail. Britannia first appeared on a farthing minted in 1672, and her image has appeared on British coinage continuously ever since…[t]he old girl will be sadly missed.”

Step into the life of Georgian England at Colonial Williamsburg (p. 17): “For Anglophiles and fans of British history it is not even necessary to cross the Atlantic puddle to experience historic Britain. In fact, perhaps nowhere in Britain can you step so completely into the life of Georgian England as at Colonial Williamsburg. After all, the largest living history museum in the United States is devoted to portraying life in an 18th-century British colony.”

Our Sceptered Isle: The Continuing Search for Britain (p. 12): “Until recently, being British never needed defining. It was just there. After all, being British was something that evolved over the centuries, unlike in the States where our national identity was purpose-built. Great Britain’s defining institutions and traditions, from a cup of tea to the Church of England, a pint in the pub and the Royal Family, Guy Fawkes Night and a flutter on the Derby, simply existed as part of the fabric of everyone’s lives. To be sure, all these things were hard fought and hard won over the centuries. But they created a sense of common identity, and provided a sense of belonging that didn’t have to be thought much about….[but] as the 21st century unfolds before us, Britain is engaged in its most serious identity crisis the Act of Union brought the kingdoms together.”

British Heritage is a decent magazine, and I think worth the US $5.99 cover price. Check it out!

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I thought I’d pass along this small section from Robert Lacey’s Great Tales from English History, the book so kindly sent to me by Kelly in California:

“The Celts were fearsome in battle, stripping down to their coarse woven undershorts and painting themselves with the greeny-blue dye that they extracted from the arrow-shaped leaves of the woad plant. Woad was the war paint of Albion’s inhabitants, and it is thought to have inspired a name that has lasted to this day. Pretani is the Celtic for painted, or tattooed folk, and Pytheas seems to have transcribed this into Greek as pretannik√©, meaning ‘the land of the painted people.’ When later translated into Latin, pretannik√© yielded first Pretannia, then Britannia.”

How very interesting! The true, exact nature of the derivation? Who knows, but I like to think that’s how it happened.

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