The Ancients. The Rise and Fall of Roman London. This episode features Professor Dominic Perring, Director of the UCL Centre for Applied Archaeology, who discusses what the archaeology studies conducted as part of the constant rebuilding of London have told us about the Roman phase of London’s History. I had listened and read to histories of London before (e.g. Peter Ackroyd’s London) but I tended to skip over the Roman bit to get to the 16th century parts. Now having finished my History of Rome podcasts, I have much more context to understand the ebb and flow of Roman London, and how it meshed with developments in the Roman Empire more generally. He starts off in AD43 as the first fort was constructed. Emperor Claudius came along for a 16 day trip, but did not linger in London but instead marched to Colchester. With the Boudiccan revolt of 60-61CE , London was burnt to the ground, but Vespasian embarked on a big rebuilding program as a way of asserting his legitimacy. However, there were fires in 125-6 CE, and possibly plague in 165-180 CE, which led to London growing and contracting. By the 3rd century, when the whole Roman Empire was in crisis, Britain became a good source of rebellious emperors e.g. Constantine. By the 5th century when the Roman Empire ‘fell’, London was smaller and less active because of the loss of trade and people, while other towns prospered. In effect, London had been invented by Rome and discarded by Rome
History This Week. This week in 1788, William Brodie was hanged in Edinburgh. He was the source material for R.L. Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and this episode The Hanging of Jekyll and Hyde goes through the story of this outwardly respectable church member and cabinet maker, who led a gang of thieves who became increasingly brazen.
Duolingo I don’t very often include my Spanish podcasts in these lists, but I do make an exception for Duolingo, which uses both Spanish and English in their episodes. You would be able to follow the podcast, even if you don’t speak Spanish. In Mexico City- Tenochtitlan, un ciudad oculta we are taken on a tour of the remains of the Aztec city that is covered over by the modern Mexico City. In the podcast, we travel to the Zocalo, and to ruins that were uncovered while constructing the Metro. I would LOVE to go to Mexico City.
History Hit The Energy Crisis: 2022 vs 1973 compares the mining strikes and Arab-Israeli was that led to energy shortages in 1973, compared with the crisis that is facing Britain and Europe this coming winter. In 1973, it was not so much prices that were the problem as a worldwide scarcity of oil, exacerbated in England by coal strike action. It would seem that in 2022, governments are cautious of telling people what to do anymore (burnt, no doubt, by COVID) and there is less sense of communal struggle and national unity. The episode features historian Alwyn Turner, who has a new book about crises in the 1970s called Crisis, What Crisis?
Now and Then features historians Heather Cox Richardson and Joanne Freeman. In the episode From Monopoly to Mystery Date they’re feeling a bit summery (they are from America after all), so they are looking at board games- in particular those where you throw and dice and move back and forward. I hadn’t heard of them all, but the story of Monopoly was fascinating. It was invented by a woman who wanted to demonstrate the principles of Henry George’s Single Tax theory, whereby the value of land was not intrinsic, but only a reflection of the social value ascribed to it and the status of the people who lived nearby. It wasn’t called Monopoly, but instead The Landlord’s Game. She was fairly badly ripped off (how ironic) and the game lost its political commentary in the Parker Bros. version. Then there was ‘Chutzpah’, a Jewish Monopoly game, which 50 years later looks very racist, and Mystery Date, an appallingly sexist and demeaning dating game.
There’s a wonderful museum in London, called (imaginatively) The Museum of London and if you ever get the chance to visit it, I can recommend it for their treatment of the history of the Roman invasion and before it. You can read about it on my travel blog:
Yes- we went there (in a blog that preceded the one that preceded this one). I wish that I could go there again, because I would appreciate the Roman history so much more now. I don’t know if it was a quiet day when we went, but it seemed rather out of the way.
Yes, we only knew about it because I have a book about the museums of London, and we’re steadily working our way through them each time we go…