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.


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.

Great War, Great Pessimism.

Welcome to another post on philosophical audio collections and lectures. Today we hit on a lecture that talks about one of the biggest changes in European thought, culture and civilisation. The lecture is called “The Great War and Cultural Pessimism” from the course “European Thought and Culture in the 20th Century“, which is taught by Professor Lloyd Kramer.

Professor Lloyd Kramer Professor Lloyd Kramer

Every now and then when I am not looking into philosophy courses, I probably end up listening to history lectures. The thing is that sometimes philosophical ideas drive the changes throughout history, but every so often it is the great events of the age that influence philosophical ideas. The Great War, otherwise known as World War I certainly influenced many ideas on the western stage.

If you manage to get hold of this course, pay some attention to this lecture, especially if you are interested in how Europeans saw themselves after the disastrous Great War. Lloyd Kramers lecturing style keeps the listener interested from start to go, especially since lectures on the Great War can be quite difficult since many historians still research on what was to blame in leading up to the clash of European nations and what led to the decline in European power and influence.

Within this lecture Lloyd covers what the Great War was about. We get to listen to why Britain, France and Russia (The Triple Entente) went to war again Germany, Austria and the Ottoman Empire (Triple Alliance). There are many questions that one needs to consider before listening to the lecture. Why did the war last so long? What were the freedoms of those who continued to sign up to the front? Even though so many died, why did many continue to go to the front? What ideas came out of the disaster of the Great War?

Professor Lloyd then moves on to the ideas of two famous people who experienced the Great War. The first is on Robert Graves who wrote the autobiography called “Good-Bye to All That”, which was released around 1929. Robert Graves book summarised what many people were thinking about the rapid changes after the great war. The good times for the previous generation were gone and now the age of pessimism begins. Robert Graves served as a British army officer during the battle of Loos. His book gives account of the horrors and realities of the Great War, which so many governments at the time were trying to hide within the cloak of nationalism.

Robert GravesRobert Graves

The next person Professor Lloyd focuses on is Oswald Spengler whose book called “The Decline of the West”, which was very popular after the war. Many Europeans were soul searching wondering if the ideals of Europe were the best to follow if it led to the disasters of the Great War. Within this book, we have Oswald explain that the west is currently in decline as with many other eras of the west.

His book mentions different cultures from the Babylonian, Chinese and 6 other cultures. He compares them to the western view of culture and states there are patterns where decline was inevitable for the west. Each culture goes through a season of changes from spring to winter, where winter would be the decline and fall.

Oswald SpenglerOswald Spengler

At the end of the lecture we get to look into who benefited from the war and who suffered.  Obviously those who lost their lives from the war gained nothing and they needed a voice.  Women’s rights gained some important changes as governments began to recognise the value, commitment and rights of women.  We then look at the break up of 3 empires after the war and touch on those who felt alienated from society after the war.

The Great Purge

“What a world! What a world!” That’s how lecture 9 – Stalin and the Great Terror ends as Professor Gary Hamburg finishes up explaining how Stalin caused misery, starvation and tyranny in the soviet union.

Prof Gary Hamburg is no pro-Stalinist that’s for sure as he gives detailed accounts of how Stalin purged many of his party members during collectivization. Stalin saw enemies and traitors everywhere and many show trials were put on for the people to become indoctrinated into Stalinism.

The worst was yet to come after the murder of Sergey Kirov’s (Leningrad party leader) in 1934. Sergey was seen as a successor to Stalin, because many in the party viewed Sergey as a less harsh person than Stalin. Obviously Sergey knew he was in trouble and spoke to Stalin stating that he could never replace him as leader. This was not enough to save Sergey and from Sergey’s murder, the show trials from 1934 to 1936 were used by Stalin to purge party members as traitors and conspirators.

The Great purge in the Soviet Union has always intrigued me. I have always wondered how on earth 20 million people could perish and be swept away like a grain of sand in a vast desert. It was not Stalin who did all the killings. He had manipulated, placed fear and terrorised others into doing all this work. People believed in Stalin, worked for Stalin and died for Stalin. What was to become the project of Socialism ended up as a form of Stalinism, where we see the famous worship of the cult of personality. A view which Leon Trotsky spoke out to the world, before Leon was also purged even though he was all the way in Mexico.

Prof Gary Hamburg’s lecture runs for 45 minutes and gives us an account of what happened to those who got in Stalin’s way. How Stalin out maneuvered his opponents time and time again, who was purged and why. Even Stalin’s second wife Nadezhda Alliluyeva was not spared as she had a disagreement with Stalin over his collectivization policies.

Famously Stalin was to also purge his army general, which later was to become one of his greatest mistakes as war was to loom in the not so distant future. It was almost a baffling joke as Stalin became so paranoid of who his enemies where, that he made friends with someone not only an enemy to communism, but an enemy to Stalin. That person was Hitler, which was not mentioned in this lecture. Eventually the purges went too far and the man partly responsible for the purge Nikolai Yezhov (senior figure in the NKVD), was actually purged himself.

Stalin_with_Nikolai_Yezhov              Stalin_without_Nikolai_Yezhov

If you manage to get hold of the course “Rise and Fall of Soviet Communism: A History of 20th-Century Russia” take some time to listen and re-listen to this particular lecture.  Depressing as it may sound, we can learn a lot from Russia’s history and have sympathies for those who perished during the great purge.