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A History of Britain

Streaming Episode Guide
The Fate of Empire
7.6
| The British Wars
8
| At the Edge of the World?
8.2
| Specials | Top 5 Episodes
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Season 3
The Fate of Empire  
7.6
Here he illuminates the period from 1776 to 2000 through a variety of historical themes, including Victorian advances in technology and industry, women's increasing role in society, and the burgeoning British Empire which promised civilisation and material betterment for all. This volume also looks at key characters from the period, including Wordsworth, Burke, Queen Victoria, Churchill, and Orwell, whilst examining some lesser-known lives, such as Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first woman doctor, and Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse in the Crimea. Finally, Schama reflects on the overwhelming presence of the past in the 20th century, and the struggle of our leaders to find a way of making a different national future.
The Two Winstons (1910 - present)
Episode 4 - 6-18-2002
Schama's last programme is a meditation on the place of the past in Britain's 20th-century history. Personified in the sharply different reactions of two of its greatest figures, Winston Churchill and George Orwell, the programme explores the fate of the country through two world wars, the slump and a nervous postwar peace. What was the impact of the crusades and the protests of the century, and did Winston Smith, hero of Orwell's 1984, foresee the contemporary political landscape?
 7.9/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The Two Winstons 1910  present
The Empire of Good Intentions (1830 - 1925)
Episode 3 - 6-11-2002
The British Empire promised peace, stability and prosperity but in Ireland and India it coincided with violence and famine. The programme examines the origins of agonies which continue to resonate today, and how political justice failed to feature in the administration of the time. As Victorian prime ministers, Gladstone and Disraeli promoted very different visions of Empire, but despite their lofty ideals, Schama observes how 'common humanity was sacrificed to the fetish of the market'.
 7.6/10
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Haven't Seen
The Empire of Good Intentions 1830  1925
Victoria and Her Sisters (1830 - 1910)
Episode 2 - 6-04-2002
Queen Victoria came to the throne at the tender age of eighteen, to rule over a country in the throes of a painful but supercharged industrial transformation. Chaos and revolution had been predicted by both socialists and traditionalists but in fact family life provided a bedrock of stability. This is how Britain's women, from the Queen to Chartist charladies and West Indian nurses managed the intense change and attempted to galvanize social reform for their Victorian sisters.
 7.6/10
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Haven't Seen
Victoria and Her Sisters 1830  1910
Forces of Nature (1780 - 1832)
Episode 1 - 5-28-2002
Britain never had the kind of revolution France experienced in 1789, but came close to it. This programme explains how 'the romantic generation' discovered the politics of sympathy with the common man. Nature was turned into a revolutionary idea by radicals and poets like Thomas Paine and William Wordsworth, and events across the channel following the fall of the Bastille initially seemed to point a way forward for Britain. But when the terrifying reality of the French Revolution set in, nature was recruited by the patriots.
 7.4/10
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Haven't Seen
Forces of Nature 1780  1832
Season 2
The British Wars  
8
The British wars began on the morning of 23 July 1637, heralding 200 years of battles. Most were driven by religious or political conviction, as Republicans and Royalists, Catholics and Protestants, Tories and Whigs, and colonialists and natives vied for supremacy. Of the battles not fought on home territory, many took place across Europe, America, India, and also at sea.
The Wrong Empire (1750 - 1800)
Episode 4 - 5-29-2001
How did a people who thought themselves free end up subjugating so much of the world, a nation with such a distrust of armies become the greatest military power on Earth, an empire of the free become an empire of slaves?Britons took the flag across the globe and created an empire built on ambition and slavery, exploration and daring. Trade flourished in the addictive commodities of tea, sugar and coffee, as did the deplorable trade in people. Taxation lost Britain the American colonies, but paved the way for dominance in India, as tax gatherers became administrators and merchants, emperors. The Wrong Empire is the exhilarating and terrible story of how one small group of islands came to dominate the world; a story of exploration and daring, but also one of exploitation and conflict.
 7.8/10
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Haven't Seen
The Wrong Empire 1750  1800
Britannia Incorporated (1690 - 1750)
Episode 3 - 5-22-2001
In 1690s England, the victors of the Glorious Revolution celebrated the dawn of a new era under a new king - William III. In Scotland, the Jacobites still supported the deposed King James II and the country suffered crippling poverty and famine.Relations between Scotland and England were tainted by the Glencoe Massacre in 1692 and Westminster's strategy to scupper the Darien venture. Half a century later, however, the two countries were forging a partnership, based on profit and interest, which evolved into the Act of Union in 1707.
 7.9/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Britannia Incorporated 1690  1750
Revolutions (1649 - 1689)
Episode 2 - 5-15-2001
In the aftermath of Civil War, Britain was a kingless republic led by Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell ruled with an iron hand; when Parliament dared defy him, he marched in and closed it down. He ruled as king in all but name, with his Major Generals imposing Godly Puritan rule on the counties. The anarchy that prevailed at his death led to the Restoration of Charles II, who survived the Great Fire and a dynastic crisis triggered by anti-Catholic paranoia. James II's Catholic fervour threatened to trigger another revolution; he was deposed by the troops of the Dutch King William.
 7.8/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Revolutions 1649  1689
The British Wars (1603 - 1649)
Episode 1 - 5-08-2001
The turbulent civil wars of the early seventeenth century would culminate in two events unique to British history; the public execution of a king and the creation of a republic. Schama tells of the brutal war that tore the country in half and created a new Britain - divided by politics and religion and dominated by the first truly modern army, fighting for ideology, not individual leaders.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The British Wars 1603  1649
Season 1
At the Edge of the World?  
8.2
The story of Britain from the earliest settlements in 3000 BC to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. To look back at the past is to understand the present. In this vivid account of over 4,000 years of British history, Simon Schama takes us on an epic journey which encompasses the very beginnings of the nation's identity, when the first settlers landed on Orkney.
The Body of the Queen (1558 - 1603)
Episode 7 - 11-11-2000
This is the story of two queens - Elizabeth I the consummate politician and Mary Queen of Scots the Catholic mother. It is also the story of the birth of a nation.
 8.7/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The Body of the Queen 1558  1603
Burning Convictions (1500 - 1558)
Episode 6 - 11-04-2000
Here Simon Schama charts the upheaval caused as a country renowned for its piety, whose king styled himself Defender of the Faith, turns into one of the most aggressive proponents of the new Protestant faith.
 8/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Burning Convictions 1500  1558
King Death (1348 - 1500)
Episode 5 - 10-28-2000
It took only six years for the plague to ravage the British Isles. Its impact was to last for generations. But from the ashes of this trauma an unexpected and unique class of Englishman emerged.
 7.7/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
King Death 1348  1500
Nations (1216 - 1348)
Episode 4 - 10-21-2000
Nations is the epic account of how the nations of Britain emerged from under the hammer of England's "Longshanks" King Edward I, with a sense of who and what they were, which endures to this day.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Nations 1216  1348
Dynasty (1087 - 1216)
Episode 3 - 10-14-2000
There is no saga more powerful than that of the warring dynasty - domineering father, beautiful, scheming mother and squabbling, murderous sons and daughters, (particularly the nieces). In the years that followed the Norman Conquest, this was the drama played out on the stage of British history.
 8.5/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Dynasty 1087  1216
Conquest! (1000 - 1087)
Episode 2 - 10-07-2000
1066 is not the best remembered date in British history for nothing. In the space of nine hours whilst the Battle of Hastings raged, everything changed. Anglo-Saxon England became Norman and, for the next 300 years, its fate was decided by dynasties of French rulers.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Conquest 1000  1087
Beginnings (3100 BC - 1000 AD)
Episode 1 - 9-30-2000
Simon Schama starts his story in the Stone Age village of Skara Brae, Orkney. Over the next four thousand years Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings and Christian missionaries arrive, fight, settle and leave their mark on what will become the nations of Britain.
 8/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Beginnings 3100 BC  1000 AD
Specials  
The Rest Is History
Episode 1 - 10-03-2000
An introduction to the documentary series A History of Britain. Mark Lawson talks to Simon Schama about the background to the series.
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The Rest Is History
Top 5 Episodes
Top 5 Highest Rated Episodes
The Body of the Queen (1558 - 1603)
Episode 7 - 11-11-2000
This is the story of two queens - Elizabeth I the consummate politician and Mary Queen of Scots the Catholic mother. It is also the story of the birth of a nation.
 8.7/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The Body of the Queen 1558  1603
Dynasty (1087 - 1216)
Episode 3 - 10-14-2000
There is no saga more powerful than that of the warring dynasty - domineering father, beautiful, scheming mother and squabbling, murderous sons and daughters, (particularly the nieces). In the years that followed the Norman Conquest, this was the drama played out on the stage of British history.
 8.5/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Dynasty 1087  1216
Conquest! (1000 - 1087)
Episode 2 - 10-07-2000
1066 is not the best remembered date in British history for nothing. In the space of nine hours whilst the Battle of Hastings raged, everything changed. Anglo-Saxon England became Norman and, for the next 300 years, its fate was decided by dynasties of French rulers.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Conquest 1000  1087
Nations (1216 - 1348)
Episode 4 - 10-21-2000
Nations is the epic account of how the nations of Britain emerged from under the hammer of England's "Longshanks" King Edward I, with a sense of who and what they were, which endures to this day.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
Nations 1216  1348
The British Wars (1603 - 1649)
Episode 1 - 5-08-2001
The turbulent civil wars of the early seventeenth century would culminate in two events unique to British history; the public execution of a king and the creation of a republic. Schama tells of the brutal war that tore the country in half and created a new Britain - divided by politics and religion and dominated by the first truly modern army, fighting for ideology, not individual leaders.
 8.3/10
Set Title Status
Haven't Seen
The British Wars 1603  1649
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