Napoleon’s Greatest Victory

This documentary tour de force on the world’s greatest battles and the fearless men who won them. From King David and El Cid to Napoleon and Marshal Zukhov’s capture of Berlin The Conquerors brings the terrifying rumble of tanks and the deadly arrows of conquest vividly to life. Traveling the globe and spanning two millennia, The Conquerors examines 12 legendary figures that altered the course of history through military brilliance and sheer willpower. Diary entries, interviews with scholars and heart stopping reenactments examine the strategies, weapons of conquest and the significance of each engagement in the annals of history. Hosted by decorated war veteran Captain Dale Dye, formerly of the U.S. Marines. This series blends incisive scholarship and dramatic re-creations to bring iconic figures to life. Filled with visits to important sites and interviews with leading historians.
Episode William the Conqueror – He was a ruthless leader with a gift for politics. In an age of short and often brutal lives, he reigned for over thirty years. And only then did he embark upon the campaign that made him a legend. This documentary tells the remarkable story of William, the man whose ambition remade the Western World. Through ancient documents and modern scholarship, see how he came to power in France in 1035 and solidified his rule through marriage, diplomacy, battle, intrigue and intimidation. Discover the origins of his claim to the English throne, and follow his famous campaign, an 11th-century version of D-Day in reverse. Finally, William the Conqueror examines the innovations that William brought to the lands he ruled, ensuring that his legacy would not fade over the centuries.
Episode Fremont Conqueror of California – Meet the larger than life personality who fomented the Bear Flag Rebellion and helped bring California into the Union. It was one of the most significant land grabs in history. Acting on what many believe to be secret orders from President Polk, John Charles Fremont fomented the Bear Flag Rebellion in June of 1846, which led to Mexico ceding the vast California territory to the United States. It was just one chapter in the full life of the man who mapped the Oregon Trail and became Arizona’s first governor. The Conquerors explores the tense relationship among Fremont, Commodore Robert Field Stockton and General Stephen Watts Kearney, who worked together to wrest California from Mexico. See how Fremont came to occupy the dominant place in this rivalry, and examine his accomplishments both during the Mexican War and in the years afterwards.
Episode Cortes Conqueror of Mexico – See how a Conquistador ordered not to engage in combat destroyed the mightiest empire in the New World. He is one of the greatest conquerors in history, and among the most brutal. Hernan Cortes’ thirst for gold and power led him to Mexico in 1519, where he launched a conquest unlike any other in history. As The Conquerors details, Cortes undertook his campaign in violation of explicit instructions, his was supposed to be a more diplomatic than military mission. Yet his first contacts in Mexico resulted in a battle that so terrible that the Aztecs fled into the interior. They had never seen the guns, horses, and shiny metal armor of the conquistadors. In approximately two years, Cortes owned the Aztec empire, and their once proud ruler Montezuma was dead. Through brilliant execution, from an often precarious military position, Cortes killed hundreds of thousands of Aztecs and brought down the 300 year old empire the first major American civilization to fall to the Spanish.
Episode King David – After slaying Goliath, King David fought his way to the top while establishing Israel as an independent nation and capturing Jerusalem in 995 B.C. Famed as the slayer of Goliath, King David’s greatest triumph came when he united the tribes of Israel. See how David accomplished what scores of rulers before him had failed to do. His reign of conquest began in 1,000 B.C. with the death of King Saul. King David vanquished all other contenders to the throne of Israel. He then turned his attention outwards, rapidly defeating the Philistines, the Moabites, the Aramaeans, the Edomites, and finally the Ammonites, establishing Israel as an independent national state and greatly extending its territories. Just five years after assuming the throne, David captured the Jebusite city of Jerusalem and made it the capital of Israel. With his kingdom in hand, David maintained his hold on power by removing anyone who got in his way.
Episode General Howe Conqueror of New York – Take triumphantly to the streets of New York who wrested the colonial city from the grasp of George Washington’s army. Colonial accounts bring Howe’s battle with Washington to life. He was an experienced commander sent to impose order on a rebellious colony. He soundly defeated the man who would come to be called “the father of the country.” Yet in the end his victory proved fruitless. The Conquerors illuminates the career of the British General whose decisive victory in the Battle of Long Island let him claim to the greatest prize in the colonies New York City. Military historians detail the stages of the crucial battle and reveal how Howe’s victory extended the war. Yet even with control over the center of finance, the largest port in the colonies and the gateway to the American interior, the British could not secure victory in the war.
Episode Andrew Jackson Conqueror of Florida – See how Andrew Jackson took on a superpower in defiance of presidential orders. Follow Andrew Jackson’s defiant campaign into Spanish Florida. He was a national hero, the commander who defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. Five years later, he took on another European superpower in a private campaign that ultimately helped carry him to the White House. The Conquerors reveals how, in 1817, President James Monroe ordered General Jackson to stop Seminole attacks in Georgia. Instructed not to violate Spanish-controlled Florida unless in hot pursuit, Jackson invaded anyway, overthrew the governor, seized the military post at St. Marks, and executed two British citizens for inciting the Seminole. Along the way, he seized runaway slaves and destroyed the so-called “N. Fort.” Jackson’s actions caused an international incident and while some called for his head, Madison backed him and Spain ceded the territory to the United States less than two years later.
Episode Cromwell Conqueror of Ireland – See why the man who called himself the protector was viewed by many as a cruel traitor, usurper, and hypocrite. Examine the massacre that has fueled Irish-English tensions for centuries. Many said he was a cruel traitor, usurper, and hypocrite. Others found him broad-minded, tolerant, passionately religious, and ferociously moral. Cromwell’s influence as a military commander and politician during the English Civil War dramatically altered the landscape of the British Isles. The massacre of nearly 3,500 people in Drogheda including civilians, prisoners, and Catholic priests has fuelled Irish-English strife for over three centuries. The Conquerors reveals why Cromwell felt justified in ordering the massacre and details the cunning precision and military mastery who effectively brought Ireland to its knees.
Episode El Cid – Cross Spain on the trail of the 11th-century warrior whose name means the leader. Probe the myths and misconceptions surrounding the 11th-century Spanish warrior. Though his name was Rodrigo Diaz, he was known simply as El Cid (The Leader). Yet recent scholarship has exposed many gaps between truth and myth in the tales about Spain’s first national hero. Was he, as one contemporary said, “the scourge of his time”? Or are the tales recorded in the epic Poema de Mio Cid a more accurate picture of this unique man? The Conquerors visits his homeland in Valencia and interviews renowned historians in search of the real El Cid. During the production of the El Cid EpisodeDirector Scott Billups was chagrined to find that none of the Actors hired to portray Spanish Soldiers knew how to shoot a bow and arrows, but his Director of Photography, Joe di Gennaro was a trained Archer. So, he dressed his DP in Armour and photographed him in front of a green screen, launching arrows at the camera. The Result: Every one of the two thousand soldiers defending the Castle Valencia was portrayed by his Cameraman.
Episode Sherman’s March To The Sea – See how Sherman’s destruction of the South laid the foundation for a new generation of warfare. Military historians trace Sherman’s brutal advance across Georgia. On November 15,1864, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman left Atlanta with 62,000 men and headed toward the Georgia coast. Traveling the rail lines to Savannah, his army laid waste to the countryside, burning crops, confiscating supplies, destroying buildings, and ripping up rail tracks. When Sherman reached his destination in December, the South had been dealt a blow from which it would never recover and the brutal general had written a chapter in military history that would be studied by generations of commanders.
Episode Caesar Conqueror of Gaul – Follow the extraordinary campaign that extended Rome’s influence to the Atlantic. Examine the tactics that allowed the Roman legions to subjugate a continent. In 58 BC, Julius Caesar pushed north from Rome into the unruly lands of the barbarians. Less than eight years later, the empire extended all the way to the Atlantic, and Roman Legions were making incursions into Britain. The key to Caesar’s victory lay not in the superiority of the Roman war machine but in his mastery of strategy, tactics, discipline, and military engineering. According to Plutarch, Caesar’s campaign resulted in 800 conquered cities, 300 subdued tribes, a million slaves, and 3 million dead on the battlefield all this, not to mention becoming First Man in Rome.
Episode General Zhukov WWII Conqueror Of Berlin – In April 1945, Stalin was in a hurry. The Americans had recently crossed the Rhine and he was worried they might capture Berlin. To speed up his campaign, he split command between Marshal Zhukov in the center and Marshal Konev in the south triggering a race between his most senior commanders both eager to be credited with conquest of the German capital. On April 15, Soviet forces launched one of history’s most powerful artillery barrages. But the Germans had withdrawn to fortified positions on the Seelow heights further inland, having learned of the imminent Soviet attack. It took Zhukov three days to break the resistance, and his losses were devastating. Over 30,000 Soviet soldiers died compared to the 10,000 lost by the Germans. One local witness remembers how the narrow paths leading through the forest were piled high with corpses. It took the local population months to clear the site. Even today,1,000 corpses are found each year in and around Berlin.
Episode Napoleon’s Greatest Victory – From his ascension to power in France, to campaigns in Italy, Egypt, Austria, and Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from commoner to general to king to emperor. One of the greatest military commanders of all time, he conquered the larger part of Europe and did much to modernize the nations he ruled. His name is, without question, synonymous with that of Conqueror, though he never considered himself as such. He said he was a liberator, bringing enlightenment to the people of Western Europe. Yet his actions and prowess as a military commander rank him among the greatest conquerors of all time. From his ascension to power in France, to campaigns in Italy, Egypt, Austria, and Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte rose from commoner to general to king to emperor. At the height of his power, he ruled most of Western Europe. In this episode, we consider his stunning victory at Austerlitz.