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Dan Snow's History Hit

History Podcasts

History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Join Dan as he digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.


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History! The most exciting and important things that have ever happened on the planet. Powerful kings, warrior queens, nomads, empires and expeditions. Historian Dan Snow and his expert guests bring all these stories to life and more in a daily dose of history. Join Dan as he digs into the past to make sense of the headlines and get up close to the biggest discoveries being made around the world today, as they happen. Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.




Scott's Last Days in the Antarctic

In the last week of March 1912, Captain Robert Falcon Scott died in his tent in Antarctica, in his failed effort to become the first person to reach the South Pole. He'd just missed out to the Norwegians under explorer Roald Amundsen. You might think the British had no chance from the beginning- Amundsen's crew were wearing sealskins and using dogs, sledding 50 miles a day while Scott's team were outfitted in kit from Bond Street, covering just 10 miles a day. The motorised vehicles they...


HMS Victory

During the Battle of Trafalgar, the men on the gun decks of HMS Victory felt the heat of fire from above and from below; they dodged enemy cannon balls shot from just 2 metres away. HMS Victory was the flagship of Nelson's fleet during that historic clash with the French and Spanish on the 21st of October 1805. She is a mighty vessel to behold; at over 70m long, 6000 oaks were felled for her planking and 27 miles of rope used for her rigging. She was and still is a feat of engineering with...


How to Prepare for Nuclear War

With Putin's war in Ukraine raging on, the threat of a nuclear conflict feels as real as ever. But since the Iron Curtain fell, our understanding of what to do in the event of a nuclear strike has waned. In this episode, we look to the past to discover the extraordinary things that the British government have done to prepare the nation for nuclear war. What plans did they put in place, and would they have worked if the missiles had started flying? Dan is joined by Julie McDowall, an expert...


Cooking for Churchill: Georgina Landemare

Clear soup, Irish stew and steamed puddings - this was the war work of Georgina Landemare, the Churchills' longest-serving cook. Throughout the war years, Georgina served the Prime Minister, delegations of diplomats and the occasional royal, as well as the other staff of 10 Downing Street, Chequers and the War Rooms. Annie Gray is back with Kate today to introduce us to Georgina; why she went into the service industry, where she learnt to cook the French way, and how she managed to make...


The Great Storm of 1703

A Stuart time capsule has emerged from beneath the sand after 320 years. In early December 1703, barometers across South-Eastern England plunged as a cyclone made landfall in Britain leaving a path of destruction in its wake. In London, the roof of Westminster Abbey was ripped off and hundreds of ships in the Thames smashed together and left in heaps. 2000 Chimney stacks were destroyed and Queen Anne cowered in the cellar of St James Palace. But the biggest damage was done to the Royal...


Islam vs Christendom

As two of humanity's great religions, Islam and Christianity have shaped much of the world's history. Empires across the globe have risen and fallen under their influence, and there have been many occasions for them to go head-to-head on the battlefield. So what have been some of the greatest military clashes between Islam and Christianity? Dan is joined by Sir Simon Mayall, a former Middle East Senior Adviser at the UK Ministry of Defence, to discuss three key clashes; the Siege of...


A Short History of Bank Collapses

Looking back at the past few weeks, it seems like banks are collapsing left, right and centre; but what exactly does this mean for us? Are these inconsequential blips on the financial radar, or will they herald the beginning of a major banking crisis? On today's episode, Dan is joined by Charles Read, who teaches economics and history at the University of Cambridge, to walk us through why these collapses happen, whether they can be predicted, and what their repercussions are. Produced by...


Soviet "Bone Music"

While rifling through a stall at a flea market in Leningrad- now St Petersburg- composer and music producer Stephen Coates came across something unusual. It looked like a vinyl record, but when he held it up to the light, he noticed he could see the pattern of human bones on it. It was a bootlegged record made from an old x-ray. He dubbed his find "Bone Music" and set out to find out more about this ghostly flexi-disc, and the many others he soon found like it. Known as "music on the ribs"...


The Death of Amy Dudley

On 6 September 1560, Amy Robsart Dudley died after falling down a staircase at Cumnor Place in Oxfordshire. But did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she throw herself down the stairs? These questions exercised Tudor courtiers and foreign ambassadors at the time. The truth mattered because Amy was the wife of Queen Elizabeth I’s leading courtier and very close friend, Robert Dudley, and his wife’s death could clear the way for Elizabeth to marry Dudley. But in practice, the circumstances of...


Satire & Scandal in Georgian England

Can we trace the 'British sense of humour' back to the Georgian period? It was an age of royal madness, political intrigue, the birth of modern celebrity, the French revolution, American independence and the Napoleonic Wars so the satirists of Georgian Britain had plenty to work with. In the late 18th century, artists like Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and Isaac Cruikshank took on the establishment with cartoons, forever changing how we the public view those in power. History Hit...


What is a Fascist?

This is everything you ever wanted to know about fascism. Are the British government's new proposals to stop refugee boats arriving fascistic? Were the 2021 insurrectionists at the Capitol building fascists? Is Muslim persecution in India today fascism in action? They're certainly attacks on democracy but can they accurately be described as fascism? Dan puts that question to a world-leading expert in today's episode, Roger Griffin, Emeritus Professor in Modern History at Oxford Brookes...


The Glencoe Massacre

Glencoe in the Scottish highlands is a beautiful landscape with a dark past. While folks from all over the world travel to this beautiful valley to hike, in 1692 it was the site of a treacherous massacre that had repercussions for Scotland and England into the next century. Scottish government troops had been sent on orders from King William III of England, to make an example of the MacDonald clan who had missed the deadline to pledge their allegiance to him as the new monarch. Government...


The Chinese Cultural Revolution

By the early 1960s, Chairman Mao Zedong's campaign to modernise Communist China had ended in disaster. Known as the Great Leap Forward, it resulted in turmoil on such a scale that many had begun to question Mao's authority. In response, he set out to claim absolute political supremacy by launching a grassroots movement called the Cultural Revolution. A decade of terror ensued that would permanently alter the fabric of Chinese society, and result in the deaths of up to 2 million people. But...


Samuel Adams

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Samuel Adams was a political force of nature. Stacy Schiff tells Don how Adams, fuelled by discontent under British rule, instilled a revolutionary spirit in his peers. The result was the Declaration of Independence - and the fight to earn it. Produced by Benjie Guy. Mixed by Joseph Knight. Senior Producer: Charlotte Long. If you'd like to learn more, we have hundreds of history documentaries, ad-free podcasts and audiobooks at History Hit...


The Psychiatric Hospital that Fought Fascism

There are descriptions of suffering early in this episode that some listeners may find distressing. As hospitals and institutions across the European frontline were taken over to serve the war effort in the 1940s, what happened to psychiatric hospitals, housing some of the continent's most vulnerable in often prison-like conditions? Well, approximately 45,000 psychiatric patients died of starvation and disease in France alone. One psychiatrist described the scenes he witnessed during that...


The Women Who Organised the Battle of Britain

In a suburb of North-West London, among housing estates and residential streets lies a secret bunker, you may never have heard of it but it's one of the most important World War Two sites in Britain. Here, deep underground, the RAF built its Uxbridge headquarters where it commanded the defence of the country in the Battle of Britain. The pilots who fought in the skies are rightly hailed as heroes and affectionately known as 'the few', but they wouldn't have been able to do what they did...


Uniting Europe After WWII

Count Coudenhove-Kalergi was one of the most influential 20th Century European thinkers that you've never heard of. He was a pioneer of European integration, advocating for the free movement of people across European borders, a common currency and a single passport. Unsurprisingly, his ideas attracted the ire of right-wing thinkers across the continent; Hitler angrily denounced him in Mein Kampf, and even today he is the subject of a right-wing antisemitic conspiracy theory called 'The...


The Making of 'All Quiet on the Western Front'

All Quiet on the Western Front is the 2022 film adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's famous anti-war novel. Told from the German perspective, it presents a gruelling depiction of life and death in the First World War, emphasising the despair and disillusionment of the soldiers who fought in it. The film has enjoyed great success, having already won seven BAFTA Awards and been nominated in nine categories at the upcoming 95th Academy Awards. But what does it take to transform a film like this...


The Last Nuremberg Prosecutor

102 year old Ben Ferencz is the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials and a direct witness to the horrors of the Nazi death camps. Born in Transylvania he emigrated to the United States with his family as a child to escape antisemitic persecution. He trained at Harvard Law School, graduated in 1943 and served in the US army in the campaign to liberate western Europe. In 1945 at the end of the war, he was assigned to a team charged with collecting evidence of war crimes during...


Lady Hamilton: Muse and Nelson's Mistress

The Kim Kardashian of Georgian England; she was a young housemaid who became one of the most famous socialites in the Western world and stole the heart Lord Nelson. Emma Hamilton, born Amy Lyon, grew up in abject poverty and at 13 travelled to London from Wales, where became a service maid. She was enthralled by the beauty and glamour of the actresses in Covent Garden and would miss work to go see them, eventually getting herself fired. She ended up destitute on the street until self...