Chalke Talk

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


Chalke Talks for CVHFYEAR: 2018


  • 02. THE KING’S WITCH: JAMES I AND THE GUNPOWDER PLOT
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    In this talk, inspired by her debut novel partially set at nearby Longford Castle, Festival favourite Tracy Borman takes us into the turbulent world of the early Stuart court, where King James I waged a war on witches and Catholics alike. It was not long before a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament […]

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  • 04. THE PARIS PEACE TREATIES
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    This talk by Dr Peter Caddick-Adams for senior pupils at the Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, challenges some assumptions about the aftermath of the First World War. The armistice in 1918 was a truce but fighting continued in Eastern Europe and the Middle East for several years. He explains that the Treaty of Versailles […]

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  • 07. THOMAS JEFFERSON AND THE EMPIRE OF THE IMAGINATION
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    Worshipped, pilloried, and forever debated. Such is the fate of Thomas Jefferson, whose actions and ideas — more than those of any of the other Founding Fathers —still divide Americans two centuries later. Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Harvard Professor Annette Gordon-Reed extends the analysis of Jefferson in light of prevailing attitudes towards politics, slavery, genetics, […]

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  • 15. BEHOLD, AMERICA: A HISTORY OF AMERICA FIRST AND THE AMERICAN DREAM
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    Professor Sarah Churchwell offers a history of “America First,” one of Trump’s campaign slogans. Although popular wisdom attributes the phrase to Charles Lindbergh and the isolationist “America First Committee” of 1940-1941, the expression has a longer, and darker, history, a story of nativism and the Ku Klux Klan, of “100 percent Americanism” and isolationism, and […]

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  • 22. REMEMBERING THE FUTURE: HISTORY AS A CORDIAL FOR DROOPING SPIRITS
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    We cannot change the past, but we are responsible for how we remember it. The Irish, Welsh and Scots have recovered their sense of identity through a fresh remembering of their heritage. Richard Chartres, former Bishop of London, proposes a creative response to the post-Brexit challenges to the English national identity and examines what needs […]

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  • 28. SALAFI-JIHADISM: THE HISTORY OF AN IDEA
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    No topic has gripped the public imagination as dramatically as the spectre of global jihadism. While much has been said about the way jihadists behave, their ideology remains poorly understood. Shiraz Maher, an authority on radicalisation, charts the intellectual underpinnings of Salafi-Jihadism from its origins in the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the jihadist […]

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  • 30. THE BURNING CHAMBERS: THE FRENCH WARS OF RELIGION, HUGUENOTS v CATHOLICS
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    Kate Mosse discusses one of the darkest periods in French history. The Wars of Religion began in 1562 and ended, after millions had been massacred or displaced, with the Edict of Nantes in 1598. She examines the power struggles between Catholic and Protestant factions in Carcassonne, Paris, London and Amsterdam and how this dark history […]

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  • 41. THE AGINCOURT ARCHER
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    Experimental archaeologist Dave Allan discusses the daily life of an English longbowman from his training to the skills needed. Drawing upon real artefacts from different bows to arrowheads, this offers a compelling insight.

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  • CRAEFT: HOW TRADITIONAL CRAFTS ARE ABOUT MORE THAN JUST MAKING
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    In a period of meaningless mass manufacturing, handcrafted products command a premium. But there was a time when craft meant something very different; the Old English word cræft possessed an almost indefinable sense of knowledge, wisdom, and power. Historian and broadcaster Alex Langlands investigates the mysterious lost meaning, resurrecting the ancient craftspeople who fused exquisite […]

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  • CHINA’S WAR WITH JAPAN 1937-45: A STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
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    In 1937 the ‘Marco Polo Bridge Incident’ plunged China and Japan into a conflict of extraordinary duration and ferocity – a war that would result in many millions of deaths and completely reshape East Asia in ways that we continue to confront today. Professor Rana Mitter explains how Japan’s failure to defeat China was the […]

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  • ARNHEM: THE BATTLE FOR THE BRIDGES, 1944
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    The battle of Arnhem, the great airborne fight for the bridges in 1944, was a courageous strategic gamble that failed. Britain’s best- selling historian Antony Beevor, using often overlooked sources from Allied and German archives, reconstructs the terrible reality of the fighting and questions whether this plan to end the war could ever have worked, […]

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  • 57. A DISGUSTING LOOK AT HISTORY: FROM THE BLACK DEATH TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE
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    Comedian, author and lover of quirky history, Charlie Higson takes us on a journey through some of the more disgusting and revolting parts of history, from the bubonic plague and other horrible diseases and hideous agues to the myths of the zombie apocalypse. Despite the grotesque subject matter, this is suitable for all ages.

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  • 60. ELIZABETH I AND HER WORLD
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    In this talk for secondary schools, historian and author of important textbooks Ben Walsh covers the background to Elizabeth I’s reign. He explains the lives of ordinary people in England at that time giving context to the events of the period. He also shows how historians investigate their subjects.

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  • 61. THESE ISLANDS: A LETTER TO BRITAIN
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    In the first ever CVHF Directors’ Lecture, Professor Ali Ansari reveals, in a passionately eloquent plea, why Britain should re-examine some of its historical myths, and why misrepresentations of the past are harming the unity that is the bedrock of our United Kingdom.

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  • 62. CHATSWORTH
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    Chatsworth has one of Europe’s most significant and diverse art collections which has grown with each generation, encompassing Old Masters, antiquities, contemporary ceramics, modern sculpture and computer portraits to name but a few. The 12th Duke of Devonshire talks through his predecessors’ contributions to the collection, the house and the surrounding landscape and touches upon […]

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  • 66. FOOD AND COOKERY IN IRON AGE BRITAIN: FROM THE DIG TO THE PLATE
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    Caroline Nicolay, an experimental archaeologist specialising in Iron Age Britain, discusses just what it was that Iron Age men and women ate and what evidence they left behind, explaining much about our Celtic past.   

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  • 68. AUNTIE’S WAR: THE BBC DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR
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    As an essential propaganda tool and the voice that relayed news of all the key moments of World War II to every household, Auntie – the BBC’s enduring nickname – played a crucial role during World War II. Veteran BBC Radio presenter and journalist Edward Stourton provides a remarkable portrait of a unique institution and […]

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  • 77. WEIMAR AND NAZI GERMANY
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    In this excellent talk for secondary schools, Professor Alexandra Richie, concentrating largely on Berlin, and the life and career of Adolf Hitler, shows how Weimar was a result of the First World War, and that, despite the image we have of Weimar, there were a great many continuities from Weimar Germany into Nazi Germany.

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  • 79. RICHARD III: BROTHER, PROTECTOR, KING
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    Richard III remains one of England’s most controversial monarchs. There are few parallels in English history that can match the drama of his reign, witnessed here in its full bloody intensity. Chris Skidmore strips back the legends that surround Richard’s life, showing the man as his contemporaries saw him, and presenting him as one of […]

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