Good morning, we are continuing with our Women Who Made History Series. These stories have been interesting to watch and I hope that there can be more episodes in the future of Women Who Made History. This time we are going to explore the life of Catherine the Great: The run time for this episode is 48:32.
Catherine was born Princess Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst. She was chosen to become the bride of the next heir to the Russian Throne: Peter. It was a journey of several months thousands of miles. It was the chance of a lifetime for Sophie and her family. She had to prove herself worthy to be Peter’s bride. When she arrived in Russia, she made a clean break from her past and became fully Russian. How would Catherine adjust to life in Russia?
This story starts off with the arrival of Catherine and her mother at a tavern. There they encounter a riotous crowd. Catherine’s mother hates the crowd while Catherine revels in the atmosphere. Her birth was a disappointment to her mother because she was neither a boy nor a pretty baby. However, things changed for Sophie when she was chosen to be the bride of Grand Duke Peter. The journey to Russia was a challenge, made even more challenging for Sophie because of the cutting her mother made her.
They arrived in Moscow where they could meet with Empress Elizabeth. It is here that Sophie meets up with her lady in waiting. It was here Sophie would learn her first lessons in the court of Empress Elizabeth. There was no privacy in the palace, even the walls had ears. Upon arrival in Moscow, Sophie meets Empress Elizabeth and her future husband.
Sophie would then convert to Orthodoxy and become Catherine. After this conversion, she married Peter. Catherine’s mother soon left the court and she would be left alone with her husband. Catherine would leave the past behind her and become immersed in Russian culture. She started learning Russian. While Catherine immersed herself in Russian culture and the Russian language, her husband Peter refused to adapt to his new country. He loved everything Prussian and felt like becoming the next Emperor was a punishment. He was also more interested in playing with toy soldiers than Catherine.
The pressure was on for the pair of them to have children. After eight years of marriage, there still was not a child. Catherine was failing in her holy duty of motherhood. The days stretched and Catherine grew bored with her life. She started reading, first novels and then history books. Books gave her something to think about other than court gossip and clothing. Empress Elizabeth stepped in. Catherine would meet someone who would break this cycle of boredom.
Catherine met Sergei Saltkow when the young court was at a hunting party. They became lovers and Catherine was soon pregnant. The news delighted Empress Elizabeth, she was relieved when Catherine told her the news. Sergei was sent away from court with the news. She would give birth to a baby boy. Empress Elizabeth took the baby away. Others would determine Paul’s fate. Catherine on the other hand was determined to make her own way in court. Catherine found her own amusements in court and eventually she took another lover: Gregory Orlov. Then there were others.
After eighteen years in the Russian Court, Empress Elizabeth fell ill. Events started swirling around and everyone jockeyed for position in the new government. Peter kept up to date on Elizabeth’s condition as well as the condition of the young Ivan. Ivan was a prisoner of Elizabeth and a contender for the Russian throne. Eventually, Empress Elizabeth died and Grand Duke Peter would become Emperor. Would Catherine rule by his side? How would Peter handle ruling the largest kingdom in Europe? How would Catherine navigate these troubled waters? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out more about Catherine.
This documentary has some mature content so this documentary should be for older students and students who can handle the content. So I would show this to a college history class. It would recommend this for college independent study students as well.
Good morning, we are continuing our way through the Women who Made History series with a look at Queen Elizabeth I. it will be interesting to see how the Germans interpret England’s Greatest Queen. The run time is 48:34, a little shorter than the other Women Who Made History documentaries.
She was a woman who fought since she was born. Men, queens, and half of Europe fought her. Queen Elizabeth I was the Queen of England and the head of the church. She had faced many storms along the way. Two queens wanted her dead. Men wanted to marry her to have the throne. The Spanish declared the war on her. The Pope wanted her dead as well. How could this lone woman navigate such stormy waters?
The episode kicks off with the Spanish Armada and the attempted invasion of England. The Spanish Armada consisted of one hundred and thirty ships and these ships had thirty thousand soldiers on them. Elizabeth is afraid that England is lost. However, she prepares her speech to give to the troops. She talks about how she dislikes war and how it is a waste of money.
Elizabeth’s story flashes back to her father’s rule: King Henry VIII. Her birth was a disappointment to him as she could not rule. Towards the end of his life, Henry had three children. This section explores how she grew up in the country. She learned everything that a royal princess needed to learn. However, she was a child thirsty for knowledge and got the best teachers. She was an extraordinary child who had a sharp mind. She had the best education and was better educated at fifteen than most men. She was prepared to fight for England’s crown.
Things started to change when Mary I became queen. Mary went after the heretics hard and wanted hundreds burned. She was determined to purge the land of Protestants. The church discouraged her from doing the killing and wanted to persuade the people to return to the Catholic faith. Elizabeth was eventually locked in the Tower. Eventually, Elizabeth got an audience with Mary and plead her case. I found this portrayal of Mary Tudor a bit simplistic and rather harsh. There was not any nuance to the story of Mary and Elizabeth.
After Elizabeth was freed, she moved to the country and it was in the county she learned that she was Queen of England. Now she faced new challenges. Elizabeth inherited a county that had no money that was divided by their faith. Elizabeth immediately put an end to the heretic trials and freed the prisoners. She wanted to go on a tour of England, she wanted the people to see her and to see her people. However, there would be threats against her life by the Catholics. She planned a tour of England.
There was a little sticking to her reign: marriage. King Philip proposed marriage to Elizabeth, however, she wanted to remain single. That brought up questions of who would inherit England when she died. Those inheritance thoughts angered Elizabeth. Even talks about marriage angered Elizabeth. She did not want public debates on the heir to the throne. She refused to marry King Philip.
During this time, Francis Drake searched the world and attacked Spanish ships. It was an open secret that Elizabeth profited from piracy. Francis Drake brought her treasures. There was a cute little discussion on Elizabeth’s suitors including Ivan the Terrible, King Philip, Prince Francis, and King Erik of Sweden. It even explored a little bit of her relationship with Robert Dudley. Her relationship with Robert Dudley fueled rumors all over Europe.
Then Elizabeth received news that Mary Queen of Scots had a son. This next section focuses on Mary, Queen of the Scots. How would Elizabeth react to this news of Mary’s son? What would Elizabeth do when Mary asked Elizabeth for help? Continue to watch this episode to find out.
This was a different documentary exploring Tudor England. It approached Elizabeth as a woman who wanted what was best for England. It also showed her fiery temper which was well documented in history. If you want a different interpretation of Elizabeth I’s reign then show this documentary to a history classroom.
Good morning, we are continuing with our Women Who Made History Series with the story of Joan of Arc. This documentary is also a look at Medieval History. I wish I could do Helen Castor’s excellent documentary on Joan of Arc, but this one will make up for that documentary. I hope that Helen’s documentary on Joan of Arc will show up on YouTube one day. The run time for this documentary is 50:27.
Joan of Arc liberated France. She challenged soldiers, generals, and the church. It was May of 1429 and Joan was leading her soldiers against the English holding a fortress. If the French took control of the fort, the Orleans would be free. The English had been on French soil for decades and now the French were rising against them to take control of France again. Joan of Arc was leading those French soldiers to victory.
This episode kicks off with a battle for control of the fort. Joan gets shot in the shoulder during this battle. Then Joan’s story flashes back to her life in her village in Lorraine. Her father was the head of the village and looked after everyone in the village. Joan growing up felt like she did not belong. She often went to the forest alone or a small church. She immersed herself in the world of the Saints. She felt safe when she talked with them. She heard their voices, primarily she heard the voice of Saint Margaret.
Her father found raising Joan challenging and wanted to marry her off as soon as possible. Joan was the center of gossip in the village. Joan was a young girl devoted to God and the Saints. Joan’s mother was more sympathetic to her daughter and told her stories of Saint Margaret. Joan was impacted by the story of Saint Margaret and she felt close to this saint.
France had been at war for one hundred years, facing attacks from both the English and the Burgundians. There were more and more raids in Joan’s village. There were many refugees who passed through Joan’s village. Joan would hear stories about what happened to these refugees. The King was in hiding and did not want to fight.
Saint Margaret came to Joan in the forest and told Joan that she would lead France to victory against the English. Joan was terrified at what her father would say when she made the announcement. She had to contemplate that fact for a long time and then she went on a journey. She turned to Baudicourt, who was a leader in the French army. She needed his help to get to the King and she wanted his help to fight against the English. She was mocked for her visions. However, she continued to proclaim her visions and she shouted that she would fight for a free France.
Two men took her seriously and started training her. Often times she felt discouraged while she was in training. Finally, she demanded men’s clothing. The men were shocked and told her she would be burned at the stake as a witch. She got her men’s clothes and she continued to train to fight. Eventually, she cut her hair short. The people slowly grew silent and then they were amazed at Joan’s fighting skills. Captain Baudicourt will still not lead her to the King. As people continued to be drawn to her and were inspired to rise up against the English.
Eventually, Captain Baudicourt relented and took her to the King. However, the French king had not been officially crowned because of the war. Joan met with the King and told him that he was going to be crowned and that she would lead France to victory. What would the King say when he met Joan? Would Joan be able to lead the troops against the English? After meeting the king, what questions would Joan be subjected to? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out more.
This was a great overview of the life of Joan of Arc. It highlights her beginnings in her village and the moves to how she managed to get an audience with the king and eventually led her soldiers to victory over the English. This would be a good documentary to show in a history class.
Okay, now for a different documentary. I was a little bit nervous about doing this documentary, especially this documentary series because it was Germany produced with English subtitles. Happily, I found a channel with this series and it was translated into an English Narration. The series is called Women Who Made History and the subject of today’s documentary is Cleopatra. The run time is 49:02.
Cleopatra was the Queen of Egypt. However, her brother disputed her claim to the throne. A fight broke out between the siblings. Rome invaded Egypt to settle the dispute between Cleopatra and her brother. Julius Caesar wanted influence in Egypt, so he would invade to get it. Cleopatra recognized he would be an ally to her in regaining her throne. Who would win in the fight for Egypt? Would Cleopatra’s brother rule or would Cleopatra?
Julius Caesar invaded Egypt and settled in a palace in Alexandria. The Egyptians rose against Caesar and trapped him in the palace. Cleopatra smuggled herself into the palace. She wanted to get ahead of her brother in negotiation and remind Caesar of the promise he made her father. So she met with Cesar in her palace. Cleopatra had raised an army and offered to ally herself with Caesar. The Roman Army and Roman Navy arrived to rescue Caesar in time.
Cleopatra’s brother was defeated, and Cleopatra was declared Queen. Egypt would not be a province of Rome, they would remain independent for now. However, they had to supply the Roman legions with food. Cleopatra guaranteed that she would supply the Roman legions with grain. Together, Cleopatra and Caesar ruled Egypt. Here Cleopatra would give birth to their son. Afterward, Caesar brought Cleopatra and their son to Rome. She lived in a villa.
Caesar’s enemies mocked them. However, everyone was curious about them. If Cleopatra invited the nobles to the villa, they came. They gossiped behind her back at these parties. The Roman Republic was coming apart. Julius Caesar had made enemies and there were Romans who viewed him as a threat to the republic. He wanted to be king, and as a result, he was assassinated in the Senate. A civil war was coming to Rome. This crushed Cleopatra who then returned to Egypt.
Octavian and Marc Anthony worked to hunt down Caesar’s murderers. Octavian and Marc Anthony agreed to divide the empire once Caesar’s murderers were found. Egypt would have to find a new arrangement with Rome. Would the new Roman leaders recognize Cleopatra as Queen? Marc Anthony wanted to know more about Cleopatra. He summed her seven times and she did not come. As a result, he had to go to her.
Marc Anthony had a reputation for being a drunk and uneducated Man. For the most part, Marc Anthony was warned about her. So, he came to Cleopatra and she prepared a reception fit for a king. She appeared for him as the goddess Isis. The rest they say is history and they became lovers. According to the docudrama she fell in love with Marc Anthony. After this meeting, they parted and they were apart for three years.
Marc Anthony had to return to Rome to defend his power. Cleopatra provided him with the funds he needed to defend his power. During this time, his first wife died. Cleopatra hoped that he would return to her, but Marc Anthony married his rival’s sister. She also bore Anthony’s twins: Alexander Helios and Cleopatra Selene. Eventually, Marc Anthony returned to Egypt, to Cleopatra, to Alexandria. The Romans were unhappy with Marc Anthony’s choices. They started to turn against Marc Anthony.
Octavian also started to turn against Marc Anthony, especially for his relationship with Cleopatra. No Roman would be a slave to a woman, especially a foreign-born woman. Would this relationship divide the empire? Soon there would be open conflict between Octavian and Marc Anthony. Who would emerge from this conflict? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out.
Cleopatra was an interesting documentary, there was some minor nudity in this documentary. Still, this was a fascinating look at the life of Cleopatra. It would have been interesting to see how Cleopatra’s father worked out a deal with Julius Caesar to protect Egypt. This would be a good documentary to pull clips from and not show the full episode in class.
Today we are going to look at a mystery involving Cleopatra and her sister Arsinoe. Neil Oliver investigates the story of the two sisters to answer the question did Cleopatra murder her sister? Oliver uncovers the dark history of Cleopatra. A tomb two thousand years old may hold the key to Cleopatra’s story. The run time for this documentary is 58:51.
The story begins in Ephesus. In 1920, archeologists have discovered a tomb. Inside the tomb, they have discovered human remains. The skeleton was small and of a slight frame. It appeared to be a young woman. However, the tradition held that people were buried outside. Only men of importance were buried in the city. So why was this young woman buried in the city? Who was she? The archeologists had no idea who they found so the sarcophagus was resealed.
A modern-day archeologist Hilke Thur looked into the mystery of the tomb. This tomb was octantal shaped and was buried on the Street of the Heroes. She enters the tomb with Neil Oliver. What they find is a barrel-vaulted chamber. When the archeologists originally entered the chamber, they saw the bones of the individual. What was the story of this person? Hilke wanted to discover that story and to do so, she turned to the historical record.
Hilke looked to the story of Arsinoe. Arsinoe was living in the Temple of Artemis when she was murdered on orders of Cleopatra. Was this a legend or was it the truth? Was the young woman in the tomb Arsinoe? If it was, then these would be the first remains discovered that were tied to Cleopatra.
Niel then makes a trip to Egypt to learn more about Cleopatra and her family. Cleopatra’s father had four children and when he died Cleopatra was supposed to share the throne with her brother. According to Egyptian custom, Cleopatra married her brother. However, it was a family where tensions simmered behind the scenes. Egypt was going to come face to face with the Roman Empire. Roman troops were already in Egypt. The Dynasty had a choice: rebel against Rome or ally with Rome.
Cleopatra wanted to ally with Rome. Cleopatra’s brother and Arsinoe wanted to rebel against Rome. The siblings fought against each other, and Cleopatra was driven from the palace. She was banished from Alexandria and was in exile. However, she was not finished and she wanted to get revenge on her brother. Cleopatra’s father was friends with Julius Caesar and he had written in his will that Julius Caesar should decide the succession in the Egyptian empire.
Cleopatra would use Julius Caesar’s and Rome’s help to get back at her brother. Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria and would mediate the family feud. Cleopatra would use her beauty and charms to seduce Caesar into siding with her in the succession dispute. As Neil tells the story of the family feud, he talks with scientists who are examining the bones to see what the bones can tell the world. The bones indicate that she was a younger person and a woman from the period when Cleopatra lived. The bones are the right age and sex to be Arsinoe. With computer technology, the skull of the alleged Arsinoe is recreated and this would lead to a facial reconstruction of Arsinoe.
Flashback to the succession dispute and Cleopatra has smuggled herself into the palace in a bedroll. She would have to meet Caesar in his bed and she was a woman who would do what it took to secure her place on the throne. When her brother discovered Cleopatra in Caesar’s bed the next day. The Egyptians would rise against Rome. Caesar would take Cleopatra’s brother hostage and so it fell to Arsinoe to lead the rebellion. Cleopatra and Caesar set fire to Alexandria and this drew the Egyptians away from the palace. Caesar and his bodyguard fled to the Alexandria Lighthouse for safety. However it was here that Arsinoe would lead her troops against Caesar and would claim victory over him. To continue to learn about Arsinoe’s and Cleopatra’s stories continue to watch the rest of this episode.
I would show this documentary to a history classroom and science classroom. I also found Arsinoe’s stories fascinating and something that should be shared with a history classroom. Her story is a good break from the history of Cleopatra!
Good morning, we will continue with our exploration into the Ancient World with a documentary about Nefertari. The run time for this documentary is 1:00.
Nefertari: The Life of an Egyptian Queen, she was known as one of the most beautiful queens in the world. Her name even means “Beauty of the Beauties.” She was the favorite wife of Ramses II. She came from a noble family. She was educated and a clever woman. Eventually, Ramses II would name her a goddess and had a temple built in her honor. So, who was this extraordinary woman? This is an independently produced documentary by an Egyptian enthusiast.
The first part of the documentary talks about the genealogy of the Egyptian royal family and the challenges of family lines ending. So who would become Pharoah amongst this chaos? Ramses was an ordinary man who rose in the ranks. He rose in the ranks of the army as well as in the Pharaoh’s court. He became an advisor to Pharaoh and this pharaoh would name Ramses co-Pharoah. Ramses had Seti, a son, and Ramses, a grandson, so the succession to the Egyptian throne would be secure.
Seti would become Pharoah and Nefertari was a child when this happened. Nefertari would meet Ramses and would eventually become his wife. It was clear from the start of their relationship that Ramses adored Nefertari. The record goes further and hints that Ramses worshiped his wife. She would give birth to the first male heir and would become the Great Royal Wife. She was Ramses’ favorite wife and would remain so all her life. She was from a noble family and this would have given legitimacy to the new dynasty. After Nefertari married Ramses, Ramses’ mother took Nefertari under her wing and taught her all she needed to know about how to be a queen.
Nefertari gave Ramses six and possibly eight children. She was one of the original women who entered the palace when Ramses was a prince. When Ramses became Pharoah, she always appeared by his side. He gave her many titles including “Great Royal Wife” and “god’s wife of Amun.” She ran the court and would select women who would serve the Pharoah. She took care of the religious duties in the temple. She wore the vulture-feathered crown and dressed in fine white linen. Ramses’ other wives and women did not have this privilege.
Both she and Ramses lead temple rituals. Ramses made sure she was portrayed in all his statuary. She was sculpted at standing at his knee. She would use her intellect to help her husband. Nefertari would receive diplomats and would receive gifts from the different ambassadors. A silver pair of earrings was a treasured possession passed to her oldest daughter. Nefertari acted as co-regent, especially when Ramses was away fighting.
Despite this, Nefertari would have found her life in danger. A group made their way to Egypt and this group of men wanted to kidnap Nefertari. However, she was able to escape and a lady in waiting alerted the guards. Nefertari was saved. Unfortunately, kidnapping attempts continued and Ramses would take her on a campaign where she would be protected by special guards.
Nefertari was the consummate politician and wrote to other queens. There was a letter from the Hittite queen that has been preserved. She was a true partner and a true equal to Ramses and was the only queen who corresponded with other dignitaries. Her correspondence would lead to peace treaties and everyone in Egypt would have admired Nefertari for her skills. The Hittite King would send a daughter to Ramses for him to marry to preserve peace.
It was a challenge to get used to the narration because it was choppy from the start to finish. To me, it seems that a robot was narrating the documentary. There was no flow to the documentary and it made it strange to follow. Joann Fletcher’s section on Nefertari in Egypt’s Lost Queens was better, it is a shame that she could not have taken on this subject.
I was left disappointed with this documentary. Its choppiness made it a challenge to review and the volume was really low! This documentary should only be used for research only and not in the classroom setting.
For Athens - Episode 1
Good morning, we are going to explore ancient Athens and the relationship between Athens and the Persian Empire. This is a French-produced documentary. This episode talks about the Battle of Marathon. The run time for this documentary is 50:59.
The Persians dominate the Middle East. Miltos, a city in the empire starts rebelling against the Persians. They appeal to the Greek-City States for help and Athens sends help. Eventually, the Greeks capture Sardis. This touches on a long struggle between the Persians and the Greeks. The episode kicks off in Prince Xerxes’s bedroom, he has woken up from a nightmare. He dresses and goes to the throne room and meets his father, King Darius.
Prince Xerxes talks about the nightmare with his father. He dreamed that the Greeks had defeated the Persian Empire. King Darius scoffs that the prospect. The Persian Empire was the strongest in the world. The duty of every Persian Emperor is to strengthen the Empire and then expand its borders. After the rebellion in Miltos and the capture of Sardis, the Persians want their revenge. Miltos, the seat of rebellion is first punished. Its inhabitants are reduced to slavery. Darius has taken his revenge. Any city that helps the Greeks is in King Darius’ sights.
Athens is unaware of what has happened. Their citizens carry on as if nothing has happened. They party as if the Persians were not plotting revenge against them. Themistocles is a man in search of honor and fame. He took a chance in politics. He was a great orator and enjoyed solving problems. He was a military man and trained hoplites in military discipline. He took a page out of the Spartan handbook when it came to training soldiers. The Athenians scoffed at the idea of teamwork and working together, however, Themistocles pushed for collectively obeying orders.
Miltiades, a general, saw what Themistocles was doing. Miltiades had worked among the Persians and knew how they operated. Both Miltiades and Themistocles needed to persuade the Greeks to come together to fight against the Persians. Hippias, a Greek exile was in the court of Darius the Great. The Athenians had treated him poorly and he wanted revenge. He would help the Persians conquer the Greeks. Hippias was the last tyrant of Athens. His ousting ended forty-five years of tyranny.
Darius launches his attacks against the Greeks. He demands earth and water. City by city falls to Darius and accepts submission to Darius. Hippias looks forward to helping Darius to conquer Athens. He advises the General to attack by sea and then by land because the Athenians have no military experience. However, there are a few people who do not trust Hippias because he had betrayed the Greeks. There was the potential that he could betray the Persians. Darius believes that Hippias’ hatred of the Athenians would prevent his betrayal.
The fleet and soldiers prepare to subjugate Greece. The Aegean Sea is under Darius’ control. Finally, Athens sees the danger. Miltiades recognizes that danger and tries to talk to the Athenians about it. Some Athenians want to welcome Darius because at least they will keep their identity. However, Miltiades points out that they will be slaves to the Persians. The choice is freedom or slavery, what will the Athenians choose?
The Persian fleet reaches another Greek-City-State. Eretria, the city immediately capitulates. The temples are burned to the ground and the inhabitants are forced into slavery. Darius continues to avenge Sardis. The Persians set their sights on Marathon. Hippias, the Greek traitor picked the site because he was familiar with the location. The Persians work to prepare for battle.
Athens realizes the scale of what has happened and what is coming for them. Themistocles works to reassure his fellow Athenians that they will have a chance against the Persians. The Athenian army has less than 10,000 soldiers to defend their city against the massive Persian Army. Athens turn to the Spartans for help. Will the Spartans want to join with the Athenians to protect the Greek homeland? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This is an interesting series and the build-up to the Battle of Marathon. This would be a good series to show to a history classroom. The information is good and is presented in a storytelling style.
Good morning, we are going to look at life in the Renaissance Court of Cosimo Medici. This document is part of the How to Get Ahead Series with historian Stephen Smith. The run time for this documentary is 59:18.
Stephen Smith explores Florence and the reign of Grand Duke Cosimo Medici. Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to the Medici Family. They were a family of bankers who turned into royals. They were the patrons of the arts and finer things of life. Artists and thinkers flourished in the Medici Court. Cosimo was a man interested in the finer things in life. He was a man who reigned during the same time as Henry VIII. He was the man who wrote the book on how to be a Renaissance Prince.
The Grand Duke Cosimo set to work to make Florence the Grandest City in Europe. When he became Grand Duke he threw a lavish party and it was his wedding party. He married Eleanora of Toledo. It was a love match and a good start to Cosimo’s reign. She was rich and a beauty. She was the original trophy wife. She was shown off throughout Florence and was heralded throughout the city. The part went on for days. This party showed up the splendor of the court. Florence had never seen a party like this in years.
So what do you do if you are a Renaissance monarch and you become a Grand Duke? Well, if you are Cosimo you just annex the town hall. Decorators and artists from the city descended onto the town hall to redecorate. The town hall used to be the center of the city, where all people were equal. This town hall would be the center of Cosimo’s court and he was the only voice that mattered. Every wall and ceiling proclaimed Cosimo and his characteristics.
The next thing Cosimo did was create royal regalia. One piece of artwork remains that shows the splendor of the Crown Jewels that he created. Cosimo had robes with diamonds and jewels. His ducal crown was a masterpiece. Stephen walks with a master goldsmith about the crown. The crown has been lost to history. At the time it would have symbolized his power and it was decorated with precious stones and pearls. It would have been heavy to wear. The cost would have been staggering.
Cosimo’s court was a place where artists could find support. Michelangelo, who was from Florence fled to Rome and Cosimo wanted to try to get him back. He wrote Michelangelo to persuade him to return to Florence. Would Michelangelo return to Florence? Cosimo also sought to have the perfect portrait taken of him. Stephen examines a neglected bronze in a forgotten corner of a museum. The problem with the bronze is that Cosimo hated it. The bronze was a little too lifelike, it showed Cosimo as a barbarian king. A barbarian king who could do anything he wanted. A portrait of Cosimo would have to demonstrate him as just and a great leader. He had to be a warrior with a heart.
The Prince also came out during this period. It was a primer on how to cheat and deceive your way to the top. It was a tough world, and ruthlessness would be part of Cosimo’s rule book. He fired all his generals and hired mercenaries. These mercenaries were loyal to Cosimo alone and they would protect him from assassination attempts. In fact, he had a secret walkway installed in the city, that way he could make his way through the city without being seen. So how does one get ahead in Cosimo’s court? Continue to watch this episode to find out.
This documentary was time-stamped, so if you want to show clips to a classroom, then you can easily find the clip you need. Additionally, this was a series I did not plan on featuring on the blog because I did not really care for the narrator or his style. However, in my search for Renaissance documentaries, this was an episode to pop up so I gave it a go. I would show clips from this episode, especially clips on Machiavelli. For the most part, this is a documentary to skip.
The Machine That Made Us
Good morning, we are going to look into the history of the Printing Press and the inventor of the Printing Press: Johann Gutenberg in the Machine that Made Us. The run time for this documentary is 58:56 and is hosted by Stephen Fry.
Stephen Fry examines the story of Johann Gutenberg, the genius who invented the printing press. He was the man who launched the first media revolution and launched the modern world. Fry helps makes a medieval printing press. However, Guttenberg’s story is mysterious and Fry hopes that by recreating a printing press he will get to grips with the man.
The documentary starts with Stephen Fry pulling out a game that would have been familiar to children in England. It is the John Bull Printing Outfit and it would have been Stephen’s first experience in how printing work. It taught him how to print with moveable type. He muses about the history of books and movable type. Who was the man who brought us the wonder of printing and books?
Johann Guttenberg was the genius behind printing. He made the possibility of books a reality. Books would be carried all over Europe and would fuel the Renaissance. One of the first books Guttenberg created with his printing press: was the Bible. How and why did Guttenberg invent his machine? Stephen Fry will do a historical experiment to get into the mind of Guttenberg. He will help recreate an original Guttenberg Press. Unfortunately, there were no illustrations of the press. So Stephen Fry will have to be a detective to find out what the original press looked like. He talks over the process with a craftsman Alan May who talks about how the printing press evolved.
All printing presses up to 1800 had a central part that pressed down on the type and a means of transporting the paper to the press. Earlier presses could print two pages at a time. However, based on studying the Guttenberg Bible, Guttenberg’s press could only print one page at a time. Stephen works with Alan May to start working on making a fully functional Guttenberg Printing Press. He gets his hands dirty carving a piece of the printing press. Fry wishes to reproduce a page from the Guttenberg Bible, so he will have to track down materials to help reproduce the page.
However, first Fry heads to the birthplace of Johan Guttenberg where he meets with Barbara Rupp a local historian. Together, they walk the city where Guttenberg was born and talk about the man himself. There is very little evidence of Guttenberg’s childhood. His mother owned land and his father was a metal worker. He grew up in the heart of the German wine industry as well. He studied at university. It seemed that he had the mind of an engineer and a merchant.
Alan has a theory that Guttenberg gained his inspiration for the printing press by observing the wind industry. It would take years of experimentation and money to develop the printing press. Guttenberg would have to move from his hometown to start his printing experimentations. In the meantime, the experimental printing press continues. The screw is being worked on, and Alan needs to make the counter thread for the screw.
Fry continues to follow Guttenberg’s trail down the Rhine River. He moved to Strasberg, a much bigger city than his hometown and a good place to start a business. A merchant class was rising up in this city and this class was much more interested in investing in their future on earth than they were in a heavenly here. Guttenberg would meet up with the people who would help finance his printing press idea. So would Guttenberg be able to find the funding for his big idea? Who would Guttenberg bring together to work on the printing press? Will Alan be able to complete a working Guttenberg press? Did an engraving of the printing press survive? Continue to watch this episode to find out more.
On top of the historical aspect of this documentary, there is also a strong element of experimental history. As a result of this scientific element, I would go ahead a show this episode to a science class and would ask the students what elements of the scientific method they see in this episode. This documentary is highly recommended for both a history and a science class.
Mummy Forensics continues with a forensics humdinger: a fisherman mummy. The run time for this episode is 47:29 and is called the Fisherman Mummy.
Joann Fletcher and her team are back on the case, this time they are investigating an Ancient Peruvian mummy. This mummy has been hidden for 100 years and is unusual for a mummy from Peru. Normally Peruvian mummies are buried bundled together in a fetal position or laid out flat. However, this mummy was found buried in a cross-legged position. This is one puzzle that the team will have to unlock.
Joann takes the lead and does an initial examination of the mummy. The mummy itself looks more skeleton than a mummy however, there are remains of soft tissue. In Peru, the mummies were bundled together with wrapping. Unfortunately not much is known about the mummy other than it came from South America, possibly Peru. There are no hints to the culture it came from. No records as to how it came to England.
The first thing Joann notices is the condition of the rib cage, headdress, and fishing net. Joann starts her examination and nicknames the mummy “The Fisherman.” The forensics team will have a challenge on their hands as they attempt to unwrap the mummy’s story. Joann shows the team the photographs she took and immediately thinks of the Chinchurro culture. They would have resided in South America and they lived on the sea and were fishermen. They are considered the world’s oldest mummy makers.
Stephen, a team member, gathers samples from the mummy to do a chemical analysis. These investigations may hint at where the mummy came from, the mummy’s status, and the cause of death. The chemical analysis will further this mummy’s story. Duncan, another team member is off and is looking to create a 3D Model of the mummy. He is intrigued by how the mummy was buried.
How did this mummy end up in London? It seems that it was brought over by a philanthropist Sir Henry Welcome. Welcome started using the profits from his pharmacy to cultivate a collection of historical wonders. He financed expeditions around the world and collected hundreds of thousands of objects each month. With the number of objects coming in, it was impossible to get all the objects cataloged. The mummy was bought for one hundred pounds. Other than an entry in an inventory, the team will have to rely on the body to tell its story.
Joann brings in a bone expert for a more thorough examination. This bone expert has worked with Peruvian mummies. The expert’s first impression is that the mummy is male, she points to bones in the face. However, it would have been a delicate male. The mummy would have been over twenty and at a minimum was at least thirty to forty. He had no teeth and his jaw shows signs of serious infection. This infection would have been released the infection into the bloodstream. However, this infection was not the cause of death for this mummy.
The Peruvians used natural methods for mummies. They wrapped their mummies and left them to dry in the desert. However, Joann seems to think that this mummy was mummified with artificial means. She points to several features on the mummy that hint at this artificial intervention. So was this mummy mummified by artificial means? The chemical analysis will reveal that.
In the mean time Duncan has his scan and animation done. With this animation, he is able to stretch the mummy out. The mummy was small.
The next item to tackle on the list is to identify the culture where this mummy came from. For this Joann talks with an expert in the Chinchurro culture. She shows the expert the photos and he immediately points out that the mummy did not come from the Chinchurro people. The weaving techniques and the colors used in the cloth hint at a more sophisticated culture. This culture would have had fishing village origins but would have been further inland and come from Central Peru. Who was this man? Where did he come from? Continue to watch this episode to find out more!
So this episode would be more appropriate for an American History class. If I remember rightly, in seventh grade we talked about the ancient cultures of Central and South America. Additionally, this could be shown in a science class or a forensics science class.
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