The Aristocracy

Listen in pop-out player

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the British aristocracy. The Greeks gave us the word aristocracy; it takes its root from ‘aristo’, meaning best and ‘kratos’, meaning rule or power. And for more than five hundred years Britain was ruled by a class that was defined, at the time, as the best. They founded their ascendancy on the twin pillars of land and heredity and in terms of privilege, preferment, power, style and wealth, they dominated British society. As the Earl of Chesterfield confidently informed the House of Lords in the mid-18th century, “We, my lords, may thank heaven that we have something better than our brains to depend upon”. What made the British Aristocracy the one of the most successful power elites in the world? And what brought about its decline?With David Cannadine, Director of the University of London’s Institute of Historical Research and author of The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy; Rosemary Sweet, Lecturer in History at the University of Leicester; Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Professorial Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London.

Release date:

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Thu 19 Jun 2003 21:30

Featured in...

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

Topics: an extra way to explore our archive

How you helped us find a fresh way to discover our programmes.

Animal Farm quiz

Animal Farm

How well do you know Orwell's allegory on Stalin’s Russia?

In Our Time podcasts

In Our Time podcasts

Every episode of In Our Time is available to download.

Quiz: Where's Melvyn?

11562774-high-the-matter-of-the-north1920x1080.jpg

How many of these northern landmarks do you know?

Arts and Ideas podcast

Free Thinking

Download the best of Radio 3's Free Thinking programme.