Main content

Promises, Promises

As Brexit negotiations approach crunch point, Sarah Dunant examines the history of promises made between rulers and their people, and the bitter consequences when they are broken.

Sarah Dunant presents a monthly dive into stories from the past that might help us make sense of today. This month, as Theresa May‘s Brexit negotiations approach crunch point, Sarah examines promises throughout history, how they bound rulers and their people, and the bitter consequences when they were broken.

From the ambitious pledges that return to haunt Ethelred the Unready in the 10th century, to the trust-based oaths sworn by Swedish monarchs in front of their subjects, Sarah traces the litany of promises made through the centuries and exposes the paradoxes and tensions that plague our leaders today.

And, as we consider a political environment charged with the rhetoric of division, disappointment and betrayal, Sarah examines the ultimate moment of broken promises - the execution of Charles I, and the lasting wounds that it inflicted on a nation.

Sarah's guests are Dr Levi Roach of the University of Exeter, Dr Sari Nauman of the University of Gothenburg, Professor Jeremy Black of the University of Exeter, and Dr Clare Jackson of the University of Cambridge.

Presenter: Sarah Dunant
Producers: Natalie Steed and Nathan Gower
Executive Producer: David Prest
Readers: Keith Wickham and David Weiss
A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 5 Nov 2018 23:00

Contributors and further reading

Dr Levi Roach, Exeter University

Æthelred The Unready

Professor Jeremy Black, Exeter University

A History of Britain: 1945 to Brexit

Dr Clare Jackson, University of Cambridge

Charles II

Dr Sari Nauman, University of Gothenburg

The Force of Words/ Political oaths in Sweden, 1520- 1718

Broadcast

Podcast