Heart and Stomach of a Queen

Today we have another course from “The Teaching Company”. This one is called “History of England from the Tudors to the Stuarts” a massive course with 48 lectures lasting 30 minutes each. Luckily this course is taught by Professor Robert Bucholz who will keep you interested in the course from the get go.


Professor Robert Bucholz

I decided to start from lecture 19 – Heart and Stomach of a Queen – 1588-1603. This lecture centres in on Queen Elizabeth I.



Queen Elizabeth I

One of the most famous Queens of England. Her reign was not an easy one. This lecture continues the story of the war with Spain after the execution for Mary queen of Scots. England was going through some major problems and this course eventually tackles how James the 6th of Scotland soon comes to be king of England.

Still around 26 minutes is spent on Queen Elizabeth’s reign and quarrels with Spain. The lecture mentions how the year 1588 was long struggle to outlast many kings. The War with Spain spread to 3 continents involving vast armies and Navies. All this shows how much trouble a religious war can bring. The Queen and her privy council were looking for a way out of the war and were also torn between two strategies. The war at sea or the war on land.

Sir Walter Raleigh concentrated on the war at sea by harassing King Philip’s II of Spain’s ships. He launched a campaign, which only ended up sacking the Spanish port of carona, with many of the sailors being drunk and quite a few dying of disease.



Sir Walter Raleigh

While Lord burly and sir Robert Cercel concentrated war on land, but they were no match for the Spanish army. The Queen’s army was mainly a militia, though still quite a vast army, many were land workers, vagrants and criminals. They were not paid so well and this caused so many problems with English soldiers. Many died of disease, which was rife and this led to many desertions.



King Philip’s II of Spain

The lecture mentions one famous Dutch prince Morris were supported by the English. He was a great tactician and caused major problems for the Spanish. Still some more luck was on the English side. The lecture moves to year 1589 in another front was open mainly through France. The French king died and next in line was Henry of bourbon, but as usual Philip of Spain wanted the throne so 4000 men were sent from England to help Henry of bourbon to secure the French throne. Eventually the war was won this time by England.

There were other problems caused by the English themselves, mainly due to setting up plantations due to conversation of land. Old English were being replaced as land owners and sent to Ireland. They were being replaced by protestants. English shires, courts and laws slowly being produced and extending English rule, causing many resentments between different clans. One of them “The Gaelic clans” being one of the most resentful. This caused rebellions.

The Butlers rebelled, plus the earls of Desmond, one of the worst rebellions was the hall of ulster of 1594. The lecture points out that these were mainly local feuds and not religious feuds, however the English were most cruel in putting these rebellions down. Many woman and children were brutally massacred.

The lecture mentions many Quotes from various famous witnesses of the devastation.

During the ulster uprising, we have Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, leading the Ulster rebels. He asks for help for from Old English. He then asks for help from Pope and King of Spain, but this time he got help. Still, the English win, but with some difficulty. There was 17000 troops under Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, whose campaign was not well planned. Elizabeth eventually replaced him with Charles Blunt, who successfully won the campaign. ulster was devastated and famine ravaged Ireland.


Hugh O’Neill, the Earl of Tyrone

The lecture again provides us with several Quotes of the terror

Since the win from English troops, we ended up with the flight of the earls. Plantation of ulster was developed leading to many catholic and Gaelic peoples being turned out. 35% of Ireland was increasingly owned by England causing even more Irish resentment. Still the war with the Spanish was draining the English treasury. England was fighting at sea, in Europe and putting down rebellions. The cost of all this was hitting 300000 a year. To compensate for all the cost the Regime had to sell off some land to pay for this war.

The lecture moves on to how this caused problems with the Queen’s Parliament. The lecture goes into detail how Queen Elizabeth had to call parliament 7 times to keep Elizabeth paying for the war. Every time Queen Elizabeth the 1st called Parliament. The ministers keep asking questions about how the money is spent. Eventually they begin to ask the queen about her marriage prospects. Then they start asking about religion and foreign policy, also asking about who is in line for succession. The queen obviously is irritated by these constant questions and at some point had MPs imprisoned. The lecture talks about one famous Member of Parliament “Peter Wentworth”. He ended up dying in the tower. Other times the Queen used her power of veto.

This was not the end of how parliament clashed with the Queen. Through 15 years of war and high taxes, plus worst famine to hit England. The Death rate rose by half. The lecture explains what was also causing these problems. It turns out to be monopolies causing price rises on the consumer. The Government begins to attack the monopolies. Eventually a bill was produced to outlaw the practice. The queen hated this and this lecture describes in great detail how she turned on the old Tudor charm to win over parliament.

We get to hear several of the queens speeches and quotes on how she won them over.

At the turn of the century, Elizabeth much older, her reign was coming to and end, but who will take new power?

Lastly the lecture looks at the last rebellion on the queen. This came from Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, who got into a massive argument with the queen when she slapped him. He then tries to rebel against the queen by also seeking London to rise up against her, but this fails and eventually he is executed.


Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

The reign under queen Elizabeth the 1st was extraordinary, but throughout the reign the English Oppressed the Irish, offended the Scots and caused a lot of poverty for their own as the long war raised taxes during harsh times.

There is a lot more to this lecture I missed out, so if you can get hold of it, you will learn so much more from English history. Prof Robert talks with a lot of emotion and you do not loose interest on his lectures. Some may not like this style, but I find it appealing.

You can buy the course here.


Big Brother is still Watching you

Here is a lecture I have been listening time and time again.  It’s from the audio company, which is called “The Teaching Company” and the course is called “Books that Can Change Your Life” taught by J. Rufus Fears.
Well what can I say about this particular lecture? I have watched the film starring John Hurt.  I read part of the book, listened to the play narrated by David Niven and now I get a detailed analysis of the famous book “1984”. The book was written by George Orwell and in a nutshell the book was aimed at communist Russia just after the Second World War.
1984 book cover
This lecture is number 19 out of 32 lectures, I could not help skip some of the other lectures.  They are all important books and I am sure listen to them in time, but 1984 is so controversial, so terrifying and almost predicts what could happen in the future.  Well about the style of the lecture. It is always fun listening to Rufus, he never seems to talk in a one tone voice, it is almost as if he is beckoning you further with his style. Drawing you into the story of the book and what the book is about.  Rufus sometimes breaks into voice acting of the characters and does voice of Winston Smith (The main character of the book) superbly.
You really get the feel of the terror and mystery of Big Brother, which is the dictatorship style of government Winston Smith is living under.  You see the thing is Winston Smith does not like Big Brother, I mean when he does not life Big Brother, he literary HATES Big Brother and from there we get an epic story.
I will not go into the full details of the story 1984, you can either listen to this particular lecture or get hold of the book. I also recommend that you watch the film starring John Hurt (watch trailer), which actually did come out in 1984.
Why did George Orwell write this book? Why did he perceive communism as evil and how does this book even relate to problems of communism? Come to think of it, how does this book change your life?
george orwell
George Orwell
So many questions and hopefully the lecture will answer them for you. I can also try and answer a few questions myself about this book.  George Orwell was unfortunate enough to take part in the Spanish civil war of the 1930’s and although he came to participate of his own willing, he had to ally himself with those who wanted to push for communist ideals in Spain while fighting against those with fascist ideologies.
Well, George saw what the Russians under Stalin were like and he did not like this one bit.  Over the years throughout the Second World War, he could not keep what he saw bottled up and wrote the book 1984.  He foresaw what life would be like under Stalin once the war would draw to a close.
Why was this book banned?
Well Russia took the main brunt of the war against the Nazis. The British government felt that at the time such criticisms of Russia and communism was going too far and could damage relations. Yet in time Winston Church (does the name “Winston” ring a bell?) spoke out in his famous speech of “The Iron Curtain” closing down over Eastern Europe.
How can this book change your life?
To be honest, any book can change your life.  Yet this book is unrelenting on how a government can turn on its citizens.  We can almost imagine ourselves living under this style of government and come to think of it. parts of Big Brother can be implemented in the governments of today, think of surveillance eroding into your privacy.
The big question is, would you take a stand like Winston smith? Would you try to make a change? Or would you keep your head down. Perhaps would you bow to the government and do as they tell you to, even if you know deep down it is wrong, but be so fearful of your life that you cannot afford to displease big brother.
Take some time to listen to this lovely lecture and maybe it will inspire you to think carefully about the times we are living in, but remember……
Big Brother is WATCHING YOU!!

Egypt – The gift of the Nile

On this review we have the course “Foundations of Western Civilization” taught by Professor Thomas Noble. This course has 2 parts, the second part being taught by Professor Robert Bucholz. However lets concentrate on this course for now, which has 19 sections from Southern Iraq all the way up to The Romans. This post is on section 3 “Egypt – The gift of the Nile”.

Professor Thomas Noble

The title basically says it all, No Nile, no Egypt. The Nile was critical to Egypt’s life and use of irrigation, but it was not always an easy story for the Egyptians. War was a common theme for control of Egypt.

This lecture explains a bit about the 750 miles river, often floods and deposit a layer of silt. The Nile is critical for Egypt to sustain life. The course goes on to explain how the Nile influences Egyptian history, culture, politics and more.

The lecture moves on to explain how Egypt started out with upper and lower Egypt and then began to unify.

Irrigation became influence by larger organisations. The need to cooperate in political way in order to lessen the impact of wars. An important part of this lecture is that it mentions “Geography is destiny”, which is also mentioned in “Foundations of western civilization part II”

Several tribes were encountered in Egyptian history, one of them being the Hyksos people. Who then were eventually driven out by Egypt. The Egyptians after many wars began to try and establish new kingdom as a way to ward off another invasion. The problem was to establish such a kingdom would also mean difficult ways in defending it. This was to strike first against Egyptian neighbours, one of this encounters led to the formation of Libya.

The lecture then moves on to the Hittites. The course explains a bit about their language. Then the lecture moves on the various battles fought between the Egyptians and Hittites. The War dragged on for very long until the great battle fought to a draw at Kadesh around 1272. The constant battles lead to both empires going into a state of decline.

Professor Thomas Noble moves on to talk a bit on the Culture of Egypt. He explains about the Pharaohs, and the Egyptian two class society. Thomas Noble mentions here that people tended to speaking thorough the Pharaohs. The Pharaoh was a god, but when it came to death Egyptian people wanted this life to continue, particularly when buried, they would take stuff from this life to continue.

Focusing more on Egyptian culture, the lecture moves on to explain a bit on Egyptian temples being built. Then the lecture moves on to the worshipping of gods, plus how worship of more gods began to appear.


I loved the part in this lecture about the Egyptian idea of The scales of justice. We get told a story about how Isis measured a soul against a feather, must be lighter than the feather, or it is evil.

This story explains a lot about the ethical dimension, how your life effects your afterlife. We then get introduced to The cult of Arkan. The Worship of one god, without the other.

There is lots more to this lecture and Prof Thomas does not speak so quickly as the other lecturers, he goes a bit more slowly, however I do sometimes feel emotion is a little lacking in some parts compared to “Foundations of Western Civilization II”. Do not let you put that off, as even though the course might not be hammed up, there is a lot of depth in education here.


Check the course out if you can.