Join BBC Historian Jon Rosebank & HBO, BBC & C4 script and series editor Penelope Middelboe as they delve into the murky waters of history. Drop in to the History Cafe weekly on Wednesdays for discussions that give old stories a refreshing new brew.
#40 Henry VIII: the pope, Katherine, Anne and Florence
After years of negotiation and confrontation, Pope Clement VII was heard swearing unpapally over Henry VIII’s divorce. And no wonder. The history of Henry’s pope is a murky tale of code-breaking and ruthless sieges that involves Michelangelo and Machiavelli and a great deal of double-dealing. Pope Clement was trapped between a rock and a hard place: the only way to save his Medici family’s city of Florence was to refuse Henry his divorce and split Christendom.
TASTER: Henry VIII: the Pope, Katherine, Anne and Florence
The history of Henry’s pope is a murky tale of code-breaking and ruthless sieges that involves Michelangelo and Machiavelli and a great deal of double-dealing. It shows what Henry was up against.
#39 Newton and the Occult - Ep 2 Was Newton the last of the Magicians?
Having considered the arguments in favour of defining Sir Isaac Newton as an early 'scientist', we now consider the other side of the coin.
Newton’s best-known breakthrough – the identification of gravity – belonged not to the latest tradition of European Cartesian rationalism, but to a very English strand of occult philosophy.
In fact it was only because Newton worked in this tradition that he was able to think of gravity as an unseen and mysterious force.
Europeans like Leibnitz wrote the idea off as magic.
More striking, like other English philosophers, Newton believed that all this had been known to ancient thinkers going back to Noah, and spent much of his life trying to decode the myths and symbols they left behind. He was, he believed, the only man in his generation privileged to understand them. The last of magicians? Maybe.
Taster: ‘The Fourteenth Day’ - Ep 6 How Kennedy loses the Cuba Missile Crisis
28 October 1962: by holding his nerve Kennedy defuses the crisis in just 13 days. He says it’s over although he’s unable to verify whether Khrushchev ever withdraws his missiles or not. The last missiles do indeed leave Cuba on day 48 of the crisis but for very different reasons.
Taster: Newton and the Occult
Taster for Ep 2 Newton and the Occult in the series Was Newton the last of the Magicians?
Having thought about all the arguments that what Sir Isaac Newton was up to now looks like good, if early science, we now consider the other side of the coin. The last of magicians? Maybe.
#38 Newton the alchemist - Ep 1 Was Newton the last of the Magicians?
[WE'RE TAKING A BREAK FROM SUFFRAGETTES FOR 3 WEEKS AND WILL BE BACK WITH EP 5 ON 3 MARCH 2021]
Newton the alchemist. Ep 1. The short answer to the question, ‘was Newton the last of the magicians?’ is, yes …. And also … no. Newton and alchemy turn out to be ‘a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.’ We toss a coin and take a heads-and-tails approach. In this podcast we argue that the alchemical experiments he undertook had nothing to do with magic. Newton’s alchemy now looks to historians like good science (although he would have called himself both a natural philosopher and a chymist). It was well conceived and measured and drew on the work of his contemporaries and of many men before him. And Newton was certainly not the last person in Europe to practice alchemy of this kind. Within fifty years of his death it would simply evolve into modern chemistry.