Each turning point in history has behind it a story and a set of principal characters whose dilemmas and conflicts form its dramatic coreand whose unique personalities influenced the outcome of events. History’s Turning Points provides a fascinating and intriguing new perspective on the significant moments that have changed the world. The Conquest of Spain – 711 AD By the 8th century, the rise of the Muslim Empire spread Arab rule over the Middle East, Egypt, and North Africa. After appointing a Berber, Tariq, to invade Spain, the Arabs enslaved the Visigoth Kingdom. Seven centuries of their Moorish rule brought accomplishments in mathematics, architecture, and science.
Jones narration is not without an occasional sardonic airalmost of the roll your eyes type, which not only lends a skeptical perspective to a frequently misunderstood era in Western Europe, but also quite frequently editorializes the events that occurred between Pope Urban II’s call for liberation of Jerusalem from the infidels of Islam and the embarrassing moment when officers of the fourth Crusade are conned out of its divine calling by the Venetians. Episode 4 Destruction – Terry Jones reports on how Richard the Lionheart set out to do battle with the legendary Saladin and discovers that inevitably, Richard was an unsatisfactory hero. Terry then re-stages the Fourth Crusade as part of the Venice festival and finds out how the Crusaders destroyed the world’s largest Christian city in a bloody orgy. The final chapter of the story sees the rise of Muslim fanaticism as a mirror to Christian ferocity.
For more than 1,000 years, the Byzantine Empire was the eye of the entire world – the origin of great literature, fine art and modern government. Heir to Greece and Rome, it was the first Christian empire, spanning 11 centuries and three continents. In the end, plundered and sacked by invaders, Byzantium nearly became extinct. Episode 4 Forever and Ever – On the last day of Byzantium, an eerie quiet fell over the city. Mehmet had told the Turks to rest, for a whole day, before the last assault. He gave the emperor time to walk with all that was left of the armies and nobles of Byzantium into the great church, and there the Greeks and the Latins joined together in a last service. Byzantium was not a kingdom of this world. It was a belief in the inevitability that the world came, had a beginning, will come to an end. So when the emperor went onto to the walls and took with him the most ancient icons of his faith, and he knew that he would die, he also knew that he was right.
The great cathedrals were the wonders of the medieval world. Many were the tallest structures on earththe highest buildings created since the pyramids and until the Eiffel Tower, yet they were built without any of the technological aids of the modern world and with little more than set-squares and dividers, ropes and pulleys, hammers and chisels. The vision was to create a sense of heaven on earth and the medieval cathedral aspired to be nothing less than the new Jerusalem. Spectacular effects were achieved as this ambition was realisedleading to a revolution in design and a golden age for cathedral architecture in England. Who were the people who built them? What drove them? And just how were they able to build with such stupendous skill, vision and ambition? Architectural historian Jon Cannon, author of the recent, acclaimed Cathedral, goes in search of the clues that shed light on how our medieval forebears were able to realise such bold ambition. From the fan vaulting at Gloucester to the stained glass at York, from the solid mass of Norwich to the soaring elegance of the Octagon at Ely, Jon climbs up above the stone vaulted ceilings, along the parapets, through the roof voids and down into the crypts of the greatest cathedrals to find out how, and why, it was done.
A team of scientists joins forces with religious scholars to take a look at biblical tales of murdermiracles and mystery. The Bible is a repository for tales of miracles and divine interventions. But did any of the miraculous events described in this sacred book really happen as recorded? This remarkable series examines the great biblical stories and the passionate quests to understand them. This is the National Geographic Series. Episode 2 Rivals Of Jesus – He healed the sick & raised the dead. His followers called him the Son of God. After his death, he rose again. He was Apollonius of Tyana, one of several preachers of the First Century who rivalled the following of Jesus.