Melvyn Bragg follows his long historical exploration of the Routes of English with 'Voices of the Powerless', the BBC Radio 4 series in which he explores the lives of the ordinary working men and women of Britain at critical moments across the last 1,000 years.
The Norman Conquest is his starting point, a time when William the Conqueror's 'harrying of the North' affected the poor apprentice, the lowly ploughman and the humble shepherd. He goes on to look at the Peasants' Revolt in 1381 (inspired by a hated Poll Tax) and the religious changes brought about by Henry VIII's Reformation. The so-called 'Plantation' of Ulster, the Siege of Chester, and the plague which ravaged Salisbury in 1627 are later stopping-off points in Bragg's journey, which also finds him traversing the country and speaking to historians and experts about the life of the ordinary citizen in each period.
First broadcast in 2002, this Complete First Series contains all six episodes of Series One: 'Castles and Cruelty', 'The Peasants' Revolt', 'The Reformation', 'The Plantation of Ireland in the Counties of Armagh and Tyrone', 'The English Civil War and the Siege of Chester' and 'Boils and Buboes'.
Guidance: due to the archive nature of the recording the sound quality may vary.
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"Whispers from history"
The series takes a look at key moments in British history from the point of view of the powerless - those who, by definition, were often voiceless at the time and therefore left out of the history books. Melvyn Bragg is a genius at getting professionals and lay experts to delve deep and go a little bit further in explaining their topic (witness the astonishing legacy he has created through his In Our Time broadcasts), and his personal passion for the impact of politics, war, disease, economics and scientific development on the under-reported majority shines through. The two series include some original research (the programme about the convicts sent to Australia), some powerfully moving moments (the programmes on Ulster and the Scottish Highlands spring to mind) and a lot of thought-provoking facts and opinion throughout.
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