BBC: The Long View

The Long View is a radio programme aired on BBC Radio 4 that examines present day events from a historical perspective. Some of the earlier programmes can still be heard through the BBC website, including four episodes that deal with medieval history:

Thomas Beckett and Church and State

From 2002: The delicate relationship between Church and State led to dramatic events once before: in the clash between Thomas Becket and Henry II. Henry thought he’d appointed a man who would do his bidding. But Thomas Becket turned native and became devoted to the Church. In the end their story shows the impact that a turbulent priest can have, and the price he may pay for holding out on questions of principle.

A Crusade to the Middle East

From 2002: The leader of the West talks about a crusade to the Middle East. George Bush recently used the word in relation to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It’s traditional context goes back to the Middle Ages when Western Europe’s Christian powers attempted to re-capture Jerusalem from the new Islamic regional Power. What are the parallels between these two attempts to lead crusades (and maintain coalitions) into the Middle East?

A Medieval Criminal Gang

From 2003: Examines the current day problem of gang violence by examining a similar group from the 14th century. The Folvilles were a Leicestershire gentry family who, throughout the 1320s and 30s, terrorised their local community, committing numerous crimes. In 1310 the father of the family, John de Folville, Lord of Ashby Folville, Leicestershire and of Teigh, Rutland, had died leaving a widow, Alice de Folville and seven sons. The eldest, also named John, inherited the manor of Ashby Folville and seems to have lived within the law. However, his brothers, Eustace, Laurence, Richard, Robert, Thomas and Walter formed the core of a criminal gang.

The early 14th Century was a particularly lawless time, characterised by the chaos of Edward II’s rule in which rival factions – Despenser, Mortimer and Lancaster – struggled for power. The first recorded Folville crime was the murder, in 1326, of Roger Bellers, an unpopular baron of the exchequer and judge who had risen to power under the Despenser regime. Although not the actual killers, three Folville brothers, Eustace, Robert and Walter, were present at the scene and indicted as accessories. However, the Folvilles and others accused were all later aquitted – suggesting that they had powerful local connections.

The Search for Hereward the Wake

From 2003: Aired before Saddam Hussein was captured by coalition forces, the programme looks at another outlaw, Hereward the Wake, who fought against the rule of William I after the Norman Conquest of EnglandĀ in the 11th century.

Click here to see the homepage for The Long View

Click here to see our feature The Middle Ages on BBC Radio

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