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Britain’s Lost Battlefields (with Rob Bell)

Channel Five’s reputation for history programmes has risen greatly over the past few years. At the heart of this, first in a Great Fire of London series with Suzannah Lipscomb and the ubiquitous Dan Jones, has been the “engineering historian” Rob Bell, who has toured bridges, ships, buildings and lost railways in his own amiable, enthusiastic but authoritative style.

Now, only four days after completing series two of Britain’s Lost Railways, Bell is back, touring some of our great battlefields. The series, initially shown on 5Select, starts at Bannockburn, progresses to Hastings, Watling Street, Bosworth and Naseby, as well as Kett’s Rebellion. Perhaps the six episodes could have been shown chronologically by the battle years?

The third, fourth and fifth shows, however, do form a neat triangle in the East Midlands, if you accept the suggested location of the Battle of (the very long) Watling Street. Featuring historians such as Matthew Lewis, Julian Humphreys and Mike Ingram, the hangun (or arquebus) is described with respect to Bosworth, as is the evolution of the musket to the forms used at Naseby, together with commanders such as Fairfax and the Bohemian brothers: Rupert and Maurice.

C17 deja vu all over again

Consider the following coincidences:

1) The Mortimer-York army in 1458-60 was led by the Duke of York, two sons, a brother-in-law and a nephew. Charles I’s principal commanders were himself, two sons and two nephews.
2) Richard of York had four healthy sons, one named after himself who became King. Charles I had three healthy sons, one of whom bore his own name and eventually succeeded him.
3) Richard III was crowned because his nephews (and nieces) were illegitimate, as was James VII/II.
4) Henry of Buckingham’s revolt was apparently coordinated with that of his cousin, Henry “Tudor”, as was James of Monmouth’s with the Earl of Argyll.
5) “Tudor” sought to land in Dorset, which Monmouth actually did.
6) Autumn 1483 and summer 1685 were both exceptionally wet, hindering the revolts.
7) Buckingham and Monmouth both went into hiding but were eventually captured.

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