Chalke Talk

The podcast from the Chalke Valley History Festival
Released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings


Chalke Talks for CVHFYEAR: 2017


  • 05. HERODOTUS: THE FATHER OF HISTORY
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    The ‘Father of History’ was a Greek living in Persia in the 5th century BC but was the first person to write down the stories from the past. Herodotus’ Histories remains one of the richest and most read books of all time, and in this talk renowned classicist Professor Paul Cartledge discusses the life of […]

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  • 08. IMMIGRATION IN ANTIQUITY
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    Immigration is one of the most hotly debated matters of our current age, but it’s far from being a recent phenomenon. Rather, the mass movement of peoples was as relevant to those living in ancient times as it is now. In this timely talk, Tom Holland questions how people in antiquity felt about immigration and […]

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  • 09. ISTANBUL: A TALE OF THREE CITIES
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    Award-winning historian, author and broadcaster Bettany Hughes gives a captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul based on meticulous research gathered over a decade and brand new archaeological evidence. A ground-breaking history of this world-class city from its very beginnings in Neolithic times through 8,000 years of human habitation to the present.

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  • 11. THE NOBLE REVOLT: THE ENGLISH CIVIL WAR
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    John Adamson is one of the country’s most brilliant historians and a leading authority on the Civil War. In this talk, he discusses what he calls ‘the noble revolt,’ challenging some of our perceptions of that conflict between Parliament and King while casting new and relevant light onto one of the most tumultuous and significant […]

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  • 13. THE CRUSADES AND MEDIEVAL WARFARE
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    In this talk for senior schools, Professor Jeremy Black gives an insight into the motivations of the Crusaders. In addition to the notion that Jerusalem should be ‘freed’, this period saw the expansionism of European feudal society, a new role for the papacy, and developing commercial opportunities, as well as a desire to protect Constantinople. […]

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  • 16. A BRIDGE TOO FAR: A VETERAN OF ARNHEM
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    Peter Clarke was a glider pilot who landed and then fought with his fellow airborne troops at Arnhem in September 1944. Here, in conversation with Paul Beaver, he talks about and discusses his memories of that doomed battle and the remarkable story of what followed.

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  • 18. THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONS
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    In this talk for senior school pupils, Jonathan Fenby outlines the causes of the French Revolution which began in 1789. He explains that this was the beginning of a cycle of revolutions followed by counter-revolutions and discusses how the French liked to believe that their country was a beacon of humanity with progressive values of […]

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  • 19. GAME OF QUEENS: THE WOMEN WHO MADE SIXTEENTH CENTURY EUROPE
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    Best-selling Tudor biographer Sarah Gristwood turns her expert eye to the Renaissance courts of Isabella of Castile, Margaret of Austria, Katherine of Aragon, Marguerite of Navarre, Anne Boleyn, Catherine de Medici, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth Tudor, Mary Stuart and others. An extraordinary cast of women who held power throughout the Continent in the face of great […]

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  • 21. MARGARET THATCHER: A LIFE AND LEGACY
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    As Britain’s first woman Prime Minister, and one of the most controversial figures in twentieth century Britain, few people have been more discussed than Margaret Thatcher. Preeminent academic Sir David Cannadine gives a historian’s perspective on the life, politics and legacy of this formidable leader. He is Dodge Professor of History at Princeton, and General […]

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  • 23. THE FIRST WORLD WAR: THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE AND LEGACY
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    The First World War still captures the imagination, but how do you paint a picture of people that are long gone? How do you put their existence in context with the manner in which they died, so that future generations retain a connection to the human impact of WW1 that transcends tales of strategic success […]

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  • 29. THE SECRET LIFE OF BLETCHLEY PARK
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    The code breakers of Bletchley Park played an absolutely crucial part in the Allied victory in the Second World War. Best-selling historian Sinclair McKay tackles the story of this iconic place, drawing on his conversations with many of the brilliant men and women who served there during the war.

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  • 31. NATO: SAFEGUARDING FREEDOM – 1949 TO THE PRESENT
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    General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, a former Commander of UK Land Forces, spent three years as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, working with our NATO allies. This talk outlines his thoughts on the history of NATO, the challenges it has faced and those that still confront it today as the ripples of discord sweep across […]

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  • 36. THEY CALLED IT PASSCHENDAELE
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    Lyn Macdonald remains revered as the great chronicler of the human experience of the Western Front and has recorded interviews with more veterans of the First World War than any other. In this talk she returns to the subject of her first book, the Battle of Passchendaele, fought over a hundred years ago in 1917, […]

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  • 38. THE SHEPHERD’S LIFE
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    James Rebanks’s personal memoir and history of life as a Lakeland shepherd was a surprise best-seller, inspired by reading W.H. Hudson’s iconic account of a Wiltshire shepherd as a young man. In this talk he explains the timeless nature of this special form of farming which, in the Lakeland fells, remains largely unchanged over the […]

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  • 39. A BRIEF HISTORY OF EVERYONE WHO EVER LIVED: THE STORIES IN OUR GENES
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    In a captivating journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford, geneticist and broadcaster, argues that our genomes should be read not as instruction manuals, but as epic poems. Touching on everything from Neanderthals to murder, redheads to race, and dead kings to plague, he decodes the mystery behind who we are and how […]

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  • 42. AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS
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    In this talk to senior school pupils, Dr Gareth Davies explains what ‘Jim Crow’ was, and what sustained it before examining what destabilised and finally destroyed it. He finishes by discussing what replaced ‘Jim Crow’ and shows evidence of progress.

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  • SAS: ROGUE HEROES
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    The history of the SAS is an exhilarating tale of fearlessness and heroism, recklessness and tragedy. Ben Macintyre, best-selling author of Agent Zigzag, tells the story of David Stirling, the eccentric young officer who was given permission by Churchill to recruit the most ruthless soldiers he could find, thereby founding the most mysterious military organisation […]

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  • CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN THE VICTORIAN COUNTRYSIDE
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    In this talk for junior pupils at the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, Jamie Byrom tells of ‘Sarah’s Sad Story’. Using the local records in Devon from the Victorian era, he follows her from early childhood to her first job as a servant aged ten (although claiming to be thirteen) to her incarceration in […]

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  • 54. US FOREIGN POLICY SINCE THE COLD WAR
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    In this lecture to senior school pupils, Dr Christopher Fuller starts with an overview of a 100 years of history in a few minutes in order to understand the decisions made by policy-makers at the end of the Cold War. He covers the emergence of a unipolar age; the ‘end of history’ interpretation; how globalisation […]

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  • 63. M: MAXWELL KNIGHT, BRITAIN’S GREATEST SPYMASTER
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    Maxwell Knight was a paradox. A jazz obsessive and nature enthusiast, he is seen today as one of MI5’s greatest spymasters, a man who did more than any other to break up British fascism. Drawing on declassified documents, private family archives and interviews, Henry Hemming reveals not just the shadowy world of espionage but also […]

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  • 73. THE LIFE OF A ROMAN LEGIONARY
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    Ben Kane is a best-selling author of historical fiction who has immersed himself in Roman history. After all, he has not only walked Hadrian’s Wall in full Roman legionary kit, but has also recreated Hannibal’s route through the Alps. In this exciting and interactive event, Ben explains what it was like to live and fight […]

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