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Sunday, April 22, 2012


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Another great podcast, and thanks so much for the maps and notes.


I'm loving the podcasts. Great to hear a different angle on King John. I'm a self confessed history addict with a real passion for the plantaganets, but I'm also fascinated by William the Marshal. Having researched him extensively (and bored my family in the process!) he'd be on the top of my dinner party guests along with Richard III. I'm so looking forward to your interpretation of him!! Good cop or bad cop??? I have a question: At what stage did the upper end of the class scale start speaking English? I know that French was spoken by the upper classes(certainly around William the Marshals time)but I'm not sure when English became the prefered language. I'd love to know.

The History of England

Hi Benji - and thanks, I am a sucker and glutton for flattery, so keep it coming! I love maps anyway...

And hi Tracey, really glad you are enjoying it too. I surprised myself a bit with John - I had fully intended to give him a thorough kicking. I still think he was a miserable failure, but there's a bit more to it than meets the eye.

The English thing is really interesting - I did do something on it a while back, but can't remember exactly which episode. The comment that really interested me was by the historian Frank Barloe, who pointed out that normally our story is about plucky old English - it survives and makes a great comeback despite the Normans etc etc. His point that in fact given the numbers of French speakers comparative to the English speakers, it's amazing how long it lasts. And part of the reason it survives so long was that here are so many versions of English - so if you'll pardon the pun, French becomes a Lingua Franca, the language of law and commerce. Anyway, I think that it takes until the late 14th century for English to become the common language of the Nobility. In 1258' the provisions of Oxford are the first official document since the conquest to be issued in English, which chimes with the radicalism of those days; there are signs in the biography of William the Marshal of a feeling of difference between the English Nobility and their French cousins; the fall of the Angevin empire accelerates the process, and the complaints under Henry III about 'aliens'. Edward III is the first king to address parliament in English. I do a fair amount of copy writing, and it's always interesting to see how formal French words area compared to Anglo Saxon - basically, if you want to be simple, direct and comprehensible, use Anglo Saxon, if you want to impress without saying anything, use French derived words!
And yes, I love the story of William too; I did cover him in episodes 35 and 36. Like Alfred, he's lucky in that so much of what comes down to us is coloured by the propaganda of his biography, but basically I think he's a good guy; though I think he was no angel. He certainly pulls a fast one over his Noeman lands in 1205, and bears some of the responsibility, as John's chief advisers, for the fall of Normandy in 1205. But he's an attractive character isn't he?

OK enough for now!


I haven't actually listened to this podcast yet. I wanted to thank you for putting together such an interesting series. It's obvious you put a lot into each one. I also appreciate the notes and maps and photos too. I found this podcast series a few months ago and have been skipping around just listening to 'favourites'. I have just downloaded the whole bunch though and am planning on spending some time listening in actual order (what a novel idea HaHa)

Rob Shinnick

Might be my imagination, but it seems like the audio levels are better in these recent episodes? I listen on a computer at work, with not much in the way of speakers, and I've had to strain to hear a few past episodes in places. But you're sounding clear as a bell now- in fact, I could even hear birdsong behind your audiobook announcement in this episode! 'Tis nice to know that somewhere in a green and pleasant land across the sea, the birds are singing and all is well with the world. :-)

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