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Footnotes of History

Author: Dan Nesbitt / Tim Philpott

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Description - the podcast that sails confidently into the uncharted waters of the past, bringing back incredible treasures for its listeners. You'll wish you'd listened harder in school as we reveal the oft-forgotten history of the nineteenth century .
30 Episodes
In this episode, your daring hosts examine the tangled story of the Congress of Berlin. In 1877, having spent the entire preceding century at each other’s throats, arch-rivals Russia and the Ottoman Empire went to war again.Russia considered itself the leader of the Slavs and the prosector of the Eastern invaders, looking to free the Holy Lands from Ottoman control. The Ottomans were an ailing, fragile superstate, inheritors of the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem and now stretched thinly over South-Eastern Europe. Cracks had already begun to appear - in Greece, in Serbia and in several other places.In a very Russian fashion that some might recognise from other historical episodes, Russian-sponsored troops from Serbia and Bulgaria were encouraged to rise up and after much struggling, managed to defeat the Ottoman army in battle.This led to an overly ambitious Russian attempt to redraw the Balkans as it would like to see it, a dangerous move that provoked the ire of the watchful Great Powers. In this episode, we set the scene as the South-Eastern rivals are hauled in front of a jury of their peers and betters and Russia is hauled across the coals for its troubles. In this episode:Why even the most powerful of the Great Powers were secretly desperate to avoid a warThe mystery of “Greater Bulgaria” and why it terrified the AustriansHow an exhausted Russia could still threaten the interests of five industrialised nations simultaneously Why after 500 years, Christendom had “won back” Jerusalem… but didn’t want itHow - in seeking peace - the Great Powers inadvertently sowed the seeds of the First World WarSo plug in your headphones and click the play button at the top of this page to listen to the episode right now!Alternatively, you can click subscribe button above to get the episodes immediately sent to your phone and you can listen on the go!If you’re still reading this then I’ll throw you a bone - for more FOH content and our exciting twice-weekly email series, subscribe at 
Short story long: The one with the biggest army gets to make the rules regardless of whether they’re morally legitimate.This is essentially the story of German unification. Historians will argue that Bismarck was “clever” and that he “manoeuvred” politically etc.But realistically none of it could have been achieved without a massive Prussian army that first whipped Denmark, then crushed Austria and finally bulldozed France.D, A and F were all big players at the time.Bavaria, an ancient kingdom on the border with Switzerland and Austria was a large and wealthy state with a beautiful heritage and a very traditionalist Catholic culture, but it was never in the same league as the big players.Crucially, militarism was never a hobby for the Bavarians.So when it came to resisting Prussia, they didn’t stand a chance. When the chips were down it took them nearly two weeks to mobilise their troops. By that time, their nearest allies were all defeated by the speedy Prussian war machine.Bavaria was reduced to a vassal state of the German Empire.If you listen in to this episode, you will discover:- The real life “Disney” castles that were one ruler’s desperate escape from a painful reality- Why one rebel province still marches out of step with Germany even now- The mysterious disappearance of Germany’s last “true” KingVisit the shownotes pages at
Britain had a good nineteenth century.To know this, you really only have to compare it to other nations of Europe (and actually the world).The “Concert of Europe” – a loosely coordinated regime of quite punishing military repression, censorship and heavy taxes really did for most of the rest of Europe.Repression led to the cultural and nationalist outbreaks of 1848, which – while initially unsuccessful – eventually saw by 1870 the complete destruction of the 1815 post-Napoleonic settlement.In pursuing the opposite route, Britain actually took a secret path. It dodged most of the challenges of aggressive revolutionary groups within society by industrialising its population out of the kind of poverty that was all too common on the continent.Of course when I say “pursued” I actually mean “allowed” – since there was no coordinated “industrialisation” government agenda per se – unlike in France or Germany. So all well and good right?Well there was one area where the British regime bore more than a passing resemblance to the Concert of Europe and that was in Ireland. What were the results of this “loophole” in domestic British politics and liberal philosophy?Well I’ll let you find out in the episode, where Dan and I use the recently released Black ’47 film as a drama prop to illustrate our point.But safe to say it really wasn’t pretty.  In this episode you’ll find:- The old system that doomed Ireland to starvation and that Britain never seemed to fix- Why a law passed during the wars against Napoleon magnified the suffering- The cultural “kink” the Irish had that prevented them from undergoing the same transformation process as the rest of the UKClick the link below to get the full
He was a man who personified his country’s culture but also rose above it – fusing Russian influences with Western to create music pieces which remain some of the world’s favourites today.By the end of his life he was wildly rich, yet subject to such emotional trauma that some say he took his own life.If you want to know more about this epic tale of the first Russian Rockstar, click on and you will discover:The rockstar who personified Russia’s nineteenth century insecurity and schizophrenia – both politically and culturallyThe mystery benefactor who covered his escape from academia and enabled his work to shineThe dark demise of and the conspiracy theories around both his life… and his deathAs always, thanks for listening – you an visit the website at and if you do enjoy our episodes, you really ought to leave us a positive review on your podcast platform – this will help more people to see and listen to all this good stuff!
Back in 1848, a gang of rather pretentious young men with a sentimental disaffection for daily life started their own cultural revolution. They were artists, poets and intellectuals of independent means, intent on shaping a new, idealised world of their own through their own creations.The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were to some extent an early version of the 1960s cultural revolution. Their artistic achievements have left a stunning legacy. Many would agree that works like Ophelia and the Lady of Shallot truly embody the modern perception of what art is supposed to be.But there is a darker side to this glorious success story.In many of their works is depicted a woman – a red-headed, pale and often fragile depiction of femininity that repeats across innumerable works by the Pre-Raphaelites.In this episode you’ll discover:- The powerful tragedy behind the world’s most famous red-haired muse - The soaring artistic heights and the depraved troughs of the Pre-Raphaelites’ counter-cultural lifestyle- The poignant legacy of a female artist whose life was cut short all too soonFind more on our site: the FoH Legion:
Having overcome our slight distraction by showbiz and movies in the last few episodes, Dan and I return to form in this episode, dabbling classic Victorian industrial revolution material with a bit of art. Henry Tate was a towering individual whose humble beginnings would make him a cliche in any novel. Cliches exist for a reason however and Tate represented in many ways the Victorian spirit - he was born poor, built his own commercial empire through serving his neighbours and - as a bonus of sorts - shared the wealth in the process.You can get the shownotes as usual at you can try our new personality quiz at
Would you believe, this week it’s our SECOND episode about the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.Some people would probably have stopped at one.To tell you the truth, most people would probably have stopped at zero.But not us.Your courageous podcasters are back this week with our reviews of the film that recently hit screens in various niche locations across the country. In this episode, you’ll learn:•Why the director’s emphasis on personality was probably realistic•Why having the average citizen conversing about the big issues of the day was plausible•How the film delivered a masterstroke – an emotional killer blow at the end
23 - Famine & Fury on Film

23 - Famine & Fury on Film


See the show page at This time round Dan and I are discussing a controversial flick with its roots in the struggles between Britain and Ireland.Or I ought to say England and Ireland (since Ireland was at the time a formal part of Great Britain).Or I ought say some aspects of England and some of Ireland!No more disclaimers, we’re discussing the Black ’47 – a grim, violent film about the Irish famine of 1845. We’ve danced around the topic for a bit in some of our other episodes.In Episode 2 for instance, we pointed out that many of the New York populace drafted for the American Civil War were not long arrived from the Emerald Isle and many of them had taken flight around 1845 to escape a hellish existence.Obviously the film is set two years after the famine so it’s not as if things have got any better.A bit of everything in this episode though – with historical context at the fore. Hopefully it won’t ruin your tea!
Show notes: release of a new film this very year means one particular event is undoubtedly going to be crowding the headlines of any right-thinking tabloid and broadsheet this autumn.This is of course the Peterloo Massacre. Its exact anniversary is August next year, but the film commemorating the event – directed by Mike Leigh of kitchen-sink-drama fame – is being polished for “The Can” as we speak.And we at FOH wanted to get our wild opinions out there before you all rush out to see it.The Peterloo Massacre of course - as you will all know – was a monstrous incident in which a demonstration in Manchester’s St. Peter’s Fields on 16 August 1819 was attacked by the army. Accident or otherwise, at least 15 were killed, with up to 400 injured.As you will find out in this episode –Mike Leigh captures a whole host of other issues that we are excited to see pan out on-screen.And it wouldn’t be Footnotes of History without being a bit contrarian!
It’s a time when everyone alive remembered the French Revolution. To the British elites, it seemed conceivable that similar uprisings could still take place closer to home.Our second episode examines three flashpoints in this period.First, the establishment of the Metropolitan Police. This swept aside the ineffective parish police with a centralised force, loyal only to the Home Secretary. However, neighbourhoods were often far from happy with their streets now being patrolled by agents of the regime.Second, the re-introduction of “emergency” Income Tax. With budget deficits ballooning the budget needed to be brought back under control. Peel bore the criticism for invading people’s personal affairs.The last part is a look at the relationship with Ireland. Across the period, Ireland was an angry, discontented member of the UK family and perpetually susceptible to revolutionary rumour.If that doesn’t sound exciting then there really is no hope for you.
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