S2.25 David I

25Apr

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David came to the throne in 1124 as the last of Malcolm III and Saint Margaret's six sons following a period of internal fighting and short reigns. However, unlike his brothers, David had luck on his side. He won favour and wealth in England as a protege of Henry I and then took advantage of the Anarchy in England to pursue Scottish interests in Cumbria and Northumbria, whilst also introducing far-ranging reforms. But how successful would he be in his efforts, would he be too Norman for Scottish tastes and will he get the Rex Factor?

William Marshal (Premium Episode)

10Apr

In our second premium podcast, we review the life and times of the medieval knight and courtier, William (the) Marshal. William had an incredible career at the heart of the Plantagenet courts of Henry II, Richard the Lionheart and, in particular, King John, being a central figure in the Barons Wars, the creation of Magna Carta and seeing off a French invasion. Described as "the greatest knight" and famed for his loyalty, he went from a young man of limited prospects to a friend of kings and the saviour of the kingdom. William's story involves adventure, capture and charmingly self-deprecating anecdotes as well as one of the most important (though often forgotten) battles in English history. This bumper edition two hour episode is not to be missed!

S2.24 Alexander I

18Mar

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Alexander's peaceful succession in 1107 marked a move away from the chaos of the preceding decade of internal conflict but that's not to say that Alexander himself would have an easy time of it. Pressured by his younger brother, David, and the powerful King of England, Henry I, Alexander struggled to find his own niche but looked to make big reforms to the Scottish church that would wrest some independence back from the interference of England. Would Alexander be a fresh start for Scotland or just another nearly man?

S2.23 Edgar

19Feb

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The death of Malcolm III in 1093 led to something of a succession crisis in Scotland and by 1097, Malcolm's brother (Donalbain) and one of his sons (Duncan II) had not done a very good job of ruling the country. Next up was Edgar, backed by the English king, William Rufus, and his namesake uncle, Edgar the Aetheling, Edgar sought to re-establish stability in Scotland, but would he be the king to get things back on track?

S2. 22 Duncan II

5Feb

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The death of Malcolm III and his queen, Margaret of Wessex, sent Scotland back into the chaos of dynastic conflict. Malcolm's brother, Donaldbain, stole the throne in 1093 but there were many sons of Malcolm ready to challenge him and first up was Duncan II. In Duncan's favour, he was a well-trained knight, brought up at the Norman court and backed by the King of England, William Rufus. On the downside, he was a well-trained Norman knight, brought up at the Norman court and backed by the King of England. Would the Scots accept this Anglo-Norman figure, or would Duncan be sent packing?

S2.21 Donald III (Donaldbain)

22Jan

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The death of Malcolm III in 1093 (as well as his son and queen) left a power vacuum in Scotland. Despite having 5 sons, it was Malcolm's brother, Donald III (Donaldbain in Shakespeare's Macbeth), who decided to take advantage and steal the throne. After thirty years of stability under Malcolm, Donald III took Scotland back to the chaotic years of dynastic wars of succession. With the English king, William Rufus, keen to have his own man on the throne, Donald would have to use all his craftiness to hold on to his crown - but could he outlast his rivals?

The Battle of Waterloo (Premium Episode)

9Jan

In our first ever special episode, we take an in-depth look at the Battle of Waterloo - an epic battle that brought to a close nearly 30 years of warfare in Europe after the French Revolution. In particular, we focus the three commanders in the battle: Napoleon (France); Wellington (Britain and her Allies), and Blucher (Prussia). Napoleon was meant to be finished when he was exiled to Elba but his dramatic escape in 1814 heralded the beginning of an incredible campaign and one of the biggest and most significant battles in European history. Who would come out on top in the battle and which of the three commanders would win our hearts - the genius and ambition of Napoleon, the discipline and dry wit of Wellington or the half-mad passion of Blucher?

S2.20 Malcolm III

18Dec

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With the reign of Malcolm III, Scotland emerges from the dark ages and into the chaos of 1066 and the Norman Conquest of England. With his marriage to the Saxon princess (and future saint) Margaret, Malcolm is set on a collision course with the Normans and the battle for dominance in Cumbria and Northumbria. Margaret is one of the extraordinary figures of the age and together Malcolm and Margaret oversee reforms in church and at court that have a lasting impact on Scottish history. But for how long can Malcolm try his luck with the Normans and will it be enough to earn him the Rex Factor?

(Please note that we are using new microphones - haven't quite figured out the settings yet so the audio is a bit quieter than usual and we also need to get pop filters!)

S2.19 Lulach

23Nov

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Macbeth's death at the hands of the future Malcolm III did not mark the end of the Moray dynasty, for into the breach stepped Lulach. Sandwiched between two of the more notable of Scotland's medieval monarchs and equipped with a less than flattering nickname, expectations for Lulach are probably not high but could there be a little more to him than there first appears?

S2.18 Macbeth

8Nov

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Yes, Macbeth was a real king! But, was he the murderous, tyrannical villain as depicted by Shakespeare or has the bard done the real-life Macbeth a disservice? In this episode, we look at Shakespeare's version of Macbeth before considering the real life biography of 'The Scottish King' and then decide whether he has the Rex Factor. We also consider why it was that Shakespeare chose to write about Macbeth at all and why he characterised him as he did.

(Please note that the episode image and the audio excerpt at the start of the episode are the property of Studio Canal for the 2015 film, Macbeth)

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