Whilst all of these podcasts and their episodes are brilliant and well worth a listen, here are the top 10 of the most popular episodes from 2022. If you haven’t listened to these yet then get them on your playlist.
1. Ukraine and Russia: A Quick History (Dan Snow’s History Hit)
Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine. As European leaders gathered and Ukraine made preparations to defend itself, the world watched. At the time, in light of this escalating situation, host of the Gone Medieval podcast, Matt Lewis stepped in for Dan and ran through a brief but complex history of the relationship between Russia and Ukraine.
He provided some context to the way in which the two states view each other and why Russia asserts that Ukraine is a possession of Moscow despite Ukraine’s fierce independence. In doing so, Matt covers a millennium of history that includes Vikings, Mongols, horrifying famine, nuclear disaster and the fall of the USSR.
2. Russia’s Threat to Invade Ukraine (Dan Snow’s History Hit)
Amid Moscow’s increasing build-up of troops along the Ukrainian border and the preparation of infrastructure for a possible invasion, tensions between Ukraine and Russia continued to mount. Dating back centuries, the history of the relationship between the two countries is one of complexity – but one that is important to understand to make sense of the current crisis.
A. D. Miller is a former Moscow correspondent for the Economist, and the Booker Prize-shortlisted author of ‘Independence Square,’ a novel set in Kyiv during the Orange Revolution. In a conversation about the historical dispute behind Russia’s current threat to invade Ukraine, A. D. Miller and Dan discussed the key events in the 20th century, including the turning point – the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the relevance of NATO. They also detailed the consequences of the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the most recent of tensions.
3. The Troubles: How It Started (Dan Snow’s History Hit)
With Kenneth Branagh’s film, Belfast, hitting cinemas – we ran down the historical background of the early years of the decades-long conflict in Northern Ireland.
Dan was joined by Tim McInerney, co-host of The Irish Passport podcast, for this deep dive into the pivotal events of 1969 to the early 1970s. This episode establishes the century-long roots of sectarian tensions, paints a picture of the political atmosphere in Northern Ireland as the decade came to a close, and tracks the series of escalating conflicts that climaxed in the deployment of British Troops.
4. The Origins of London (The Ancients)
London is today one of the greatest cities in the world, and the story of its origins is fittingly spectacular. Founded by the Romans as Londinium in around 47-50 AD, the metropolis served as a major commercial hub and indeed military target until its abandonment in the 5th century. It wouldn’t be until the turn of the following millennium that London regained its eminence under the Anglo-Saxons.
Thanks to centuries of astonishing discoveries and decades of key archaeological research, we actually know quite a lot about Londinium; perhaps even why the Romans chose to found it there in what was previously a rural and peripheral landscape under the Celtic Britons.
In this episode, Tristan chats to ‘Mr Roman London’ himself Dr Dominic Perring, Professor of Archaeology at UCL, who shares incredible insights into the origins of London and what its artefacts tell us about the very first Londoners.
5. The Execution of Charles I (Dan Snow’s History Hit)
On 30 January 1649, Charles I, king of Great Britain and Ireland, stepped out of the Banqueting House in Whitehall, to be beheaded in front of a huge London crowd. It was a deeply shocking moment not just in the lives of those people who witnessed it, but also in the longer span of British history. But the regicide didn’t just happen out of the blue, it was part of a truly revolutionary period – one that experienced civil war, regime change, religious upheaval and, for the only time in British history, a period of republican government.
Rebecca Warren, an early modern historian who specialises in the history of the church during the British civil wars and interregnum between 1640-1660, joins Dan on the podcast. They discuss the reason king and parliament went to war, the Battle of Preston in August 1648 as a turning point, the day-by-day details of the trial, and how the image of Charles as a martyr became immediately fostered as a result.
6. Sitting Bull: The Life and Death of a Native American Chief (Warfare)
Sitting Bull, best known for his initiative and victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn, is a greatly revered Native American Chief. But he was more than a fierce leader of his people. Bestowed the name ‘Sitting Bull’ at only aged 14 by his father, he showed characteristics of courage, perseverance, and intelligence beyond his years – traits that would come to define him, and the relationship between Native Americans and the US government for generations.
In this episode, James is joined by Professor Jeff Olster, who specialises in the impact of the United States on Native Americans between the 18th to 20th centuries. Together they discuss who Sitting Bull was, the journey that led him to Little Bighorn, and the injustices inflicted upon the Native American people by the US Government.
7. Crisis in Ukraine: Putin & NATO (Warfare)
Ukraine has been invaded by Russia. But why? What is NATO’s purpose, and why does it bother Vladimir Putin so much?
In this episode of Warfare, we’re joined by Jamie Shea, the Former Deputy Assistant Secretary-General at NATO, who’s sat across the table from the Russian President himself.
Jamie and James explore the birth of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the questions surrounding its membership, and how it impacts the current situation in Ukraine. Jamie has decades of experience working for NATO since the Cold War era, and shares incredible insights into the ups and downs of its relationship with Russia over the years.
8. After Nuremberg (Dan Snow’s History Hit)
The 1950s in West Germany saw a sharp decline in Nazi war crimes investigations and trials. Instead, there were campaigns for amnesties and reductions of earlier sentences, many led by former high-level Nazis and supported tacitly by conservative politicians. Prosecutions lacked any serious or systematic effort, and in both German states, the emphasis was more on integration and rehabilitation, with the aim of stabilising their war-torn societies, rather than the rigorous investigation of Nazi crimes.
This began to change in West Germany following scandals about former Nazis in prominent positions. As the 50s wore on, several new trials spotlighted the horrors and scale of Nazi atrocities.
Rainer Schulze, Professor of Modern European History at University of Essex and Editor of The Holocaust in History and Memory, joins Dan on the podcast for a conversation about the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in post-war Germany.
They discuss the turning point of the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann, how the 1963-1965 Auschwitz Trials in Frankfurt brought the Holocaust back into broad public consciousness and the legacy of Nuremberg in the present day with the case of the 100-year-old man who stood trial in Germany in 2021, charged with assisting in the of the murder of 3,518 people as a former SS guard at Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
9. Who Was Joan of Arc? (Gone Medieval)
Joan of Arc is a name that’s instantly recognisable to most. A controversial figure in her own day, she has remained so ever since, often being adopted as a talisman of French nationalism. But how much do we really know—or understand—about the young woman who ignited France’s fightback against England during the Hundred Years’ War, but who paid the ultimate price at the age of just 19?
To get to the heart of the real ‘Maid of Orléans’, Matt is joined in this episode by Dr Hannah Skoda, a Fellow and Tutor in Medieval History at the University of Oxford.
10. ENDURANCE22: A Story of Antarctic Survival Part 1
In late 1914, the charismatic and brilliant explorer Ernest Shackleton led 27 men on a voyage to cross Antarctica from one side to the other. But what should have been a successful expedition turned into a two-year nightmare of hardship and catastrophe when their vessel the Endurance was crushed in the Weddell Sea pack-ice and sunk. Stranded with no ship, no contact with the outside world and limited supplies, it would be up to the men to find their own way back to civilisation.
This is the first part of a special mini-series that dramatically retells the extraordinary story of the 1915 Endurance Expedition.