In Our TimeAuthor: BBC Radio 4
21 May 2018

In Our Time

Download, listen or watch all podcasts

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas

  • Listen

    The Emancipation of the Serfs

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the 1861 declaration by Tsar Alexander II that serfs were now legally free of their landlords. Until then, over a third of Russians were tied to the land on which they lived and worked and in practice there was little to distinguish their condition from slavery. Russia had lost the Crimean War in 1855 and there had been hundreds of uprisings, prompting the Tsar to tell the nobles, "The existing condition of owning souls cannot remain unchanged. It is better to begin to destroy serfdom from above than to wait until that time when it begins to destroy itself from below." Reform was constrained by the Tsar's wish to keep the nobles on side and, for the serfs, tied by debt and law to the little land they were then allotted, the benefits were hard to see. With Sarah Hudspith Associate Professor in Russian at the University of Leeds Simon Dixon The Sir Bernard Pares Professor of Russian History at UCL And Shane O'Rourke Senior Lecturer in History at the University of York Producer: Simon Tillotson.

  • Posted on 17 May 2018

    download
  • Listen

    The Mabinogion

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the eleven stories of Celtic mythology and Arthurian romance known as The Mabinogion, most of which were told and retold for generations before being written down in C14th. Among them are stories of Pwyll and Rhiannon and their son Pryderi, of Culhwch and Olwen, of the dream of the Emperor Macsen, of Lludd and Llefelys, of magic and giants and imagined history. With common themes but no single author, they project an image of the Island of Britain before the Anglo-Saxons and Normans and before Edward I's conquest of Wales. They came to new prominence, worldwide, from C19th with the translation into English by Lady Charlotte Guest aided by William Owen Pughe. The image above is of Cynon ap Clydno approaching the Castle of Maidens from the tale of Owain, or the Lady of the Fountain With Sioned Davies Professor in the School of Welsh at Cardiff University Helen Fulton Professor of Medieval Literature at the University of Bristol And Juliette Wood Associate Lecturer in the School of Welsh at Cardiff University Producer: Simon Tillotson.

  • Posted on 10 May 2018

    download
  • Listen

    The Almoravid Empire

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Berber people who grew to dominate the western Maghreb, founded Marrakesh and took control of Al-Andalus. They were desert people, wearing veils over their faces to keep out the sand, and they wanted a simpler form of Islam. They called themselves the Murabitun, the people who gathered together to fight the holy war, and they were tough fighters; the Spanish knight El Cid fought them and lost, and the legend that built around him said the Almoravids were terrible and had to be resisted. They kept back the Christians of northern Spain, so helping extend Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, before they themselves were destroyed and replaced by their rivals, the Almohads, from the Atlas Mountains. The image above shows the interior of the cupola, Almoravid Koubba, Marrakesh (C11th) With Amira K Bennison Professor in the History and Culture of the Maghreb at the University of Cambridge Nicola Clarke Lecturer in the History of the Islamic World at Newcastle University And Hugh Kennedy Professor of Arabic at SOAS, University of London Producer: Simon Tillotson.

  • Posted on 03 May 2018

    download
  • Listen

    The Proton

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the discovery and growing understanding of the Proton, formed from three quarks close to the Big Bang and found in the nuclei of all elements. The positive charges they emit means they attract the fundamental particles of negatively charged electrons, an attraction that leads to the creation of atoms which in turn leads to chemistry, biology and life itself. The Sun (in common with other stars) is a fusion engine that turn protons by a series of processes into helium, emitting energy in the process, with about half of the Sun's protons captured so far. Hydrogen atoms, stripped of electrons, are single protons which can be accelerated to smash other nuclei and have applications in proton therapy. Many questions remain, such as why are electrical charges for protons and electrons so perfectly balanced? With Frank Close Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Oxford Helen Heath Reader in Physics at the University of Bristol And Simon Jolly Lecturer in High Energy Physics at University College London Producer: Simon Tillotson.

  • Posted on 26 Apr 2018

    download
  • Listen

    Middlemarch

    Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what Virginia Woolf called 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'. It was written by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans (1819-80), published in 8 parts in 1871-72, and was originally two separate stories which became woven together. One, 'Middlemarch', focused on a doctor, Tertius Lydgate and the other, 'Miss Brooke', on Dorothea Brooke who became the central figure in the finished work. The events are set in a small town in the Midlands, surrounded by farmland, leading up to the Reform Act 1832, and the novel explores the potential to change in matters of religion, social status, marriage and politics, and is particularly concerned with the opportunities available to women to lead fulfilling lives. The image above shows Rufus Sewell and Juliet Aubrey in the BBC adaptation, from 1994 With Rosemary Ashton Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London Kathryn Hughes Professor of Life Writing at the University of East Anglia And John Bowen Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of York Producer: Simon Tillotson.

  • Posted on 19 Apr 2018

    download

Follow Playlisto