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Tom Holland is joined by Alice Taylor and Thomas Asbridge to discuss William Marshal and anti-semitism in the 13th century.

The rags to riches tale of our greatest knight, the man who ensured the legacy of Magna Carta. Alice Taylor and Thomas Asbridge join Tom Holland to discuss the life and times of William Marshal.

Dr Sean Cunningham and Helen Castor are in the National Archives at Kew to explore anti-semitism in the 13th century and the expulsion of the Jews in 1290.

Finally, the historian of the First World War Heather Jones explains why a book on the East German secret police would make ideal reading for any budding history student.

Producer: Nick Patrick
A Pier Production for BBC Radio 4.

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28 minutes

Last on

Tue 10 Mar 2015 15:00

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Tom Holland takes the chair as historians and archaeologists come together to discuss issues and share the latest historical research. 

In this episode William Marshall our ‘greatest knight’ and his role in Magna Carta; what led to the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 and Dr Heather Jones shares her inheritance books with us.


Dr Alice Taylor from King’s College London and Dr Thomas Asbridge from Queen Mary University of London join Tom for this week's programme. 

William Marshal and the Magna Carta

Marc Morris met with Tom Holland at the British Library to hear more about the turmoil surrounding King John’s last days and the role of William Marshal as, first, one of the chief mediators in the years leading up to Magna Carta and then regent in place of the nine-year old Henry III. 

William remained loyal to John right up to his death and was a key player in the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215. He led English troops against Prince Louis and the rebel barons, most notably at the Battle of Lincoln in 1217 and re-issued Magna Carta before and after the peace. It is argued that it was he who saved the Angevin dynasty from the disastrous reign of John and his actions also ensured the lasting importance of Magna Carta.


British Library Exhibition: Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy 

Marc Morris is the author of “King John Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta”

William Marshal

Thomas Asbridge's book The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones, tells the story of William Marshals rise from nowhere to become, arguably, the most important person in England during the final years of the 12th century and early years of the 13th.


Find out more about William Marshal

The Expulsion of the Jews in 1290

Helen Castor talks to Dr Sean Cunningham, Principal Records Specialist at the National Archives about Edward 1st Statute of Jewry of 1275 and what lay behind the expulsion of the Jews in 1290.

Read Sean's blog,'Remembering England's Medieval Jews' 


Inheritance Books

Dr Heather Jones from the London School of Economics talks to Tom Holland at the BBC History Magazine Festival in Malmesbury about the book that encouraged her to become a historian and the one she would leave behind to encourage others. 

The book that enthused her as a teenager was Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth published in 1933.

The book that Heather would leave behind is The File: A personal History By Timothy Garton Ash


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