In Search of the Dark Ages

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History Documentary hosted by Michael Wood, published by BBC in 1981 - English narration

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Follow one of TV's best loved historians, Michael Wood, as he energetically brushes through woodlands and overgrowth, camera man in tow, to get as close as possible to some remarkable historical landscapes. The enthusiasm of this Anglo-Saxon-speaking historian is irresistibly contagious in this never-before-released landmark 1981 BBC series. This Michael Wood's groundbreaking first television series explores the fascinating and mysterious centuries between the Romans and the Norman Conquest of 1066. In Search of the Dark Ages vividly conjures up some of the most famous names in British history, such as Queen Boadicea, leader of a terrible war of resistance against the Romans, and King Arthur, the 'once and future king', for whose riddle Wood proposes a new and surprising solution. Here too, warts and all, are the Saxon, Viking and Norman kings who laid the political foundations of England - Offa of Mercia, Alfred the Great, Athelstan, and William the Conqueror, whose victory at Hastings in 1066 marked the end of Anglo-Saxon England. Reflecting recent historical, textual and archaeological research, this Michael Wood's classic series overturns preconceptions of the Dark Ages as a shadowy and brutal era, showing them to be a richly exciting and formative period in the history of Britain. Known for his critically acclaimed series In Search of the Trojan War (1985), The Story of India (2007) and Michael Wood's Story of England (2010), this was the screen debut for the history Professor. Though his original ambition was to become a medieval historian, Wood says he was 'drawn away by television' and the chance to popularise history, his lifelong passion. With subjects ranging from the chivalric King Arthur to the terrifyingly named Eric Bloodaxe, no part of the series was filmed in a studio, as maverick presenter Michael Wood preferred to get as close and personal with the landscapes that shaped the face of history. Overturning perceptions of the dark ages as a shadowy and brutal era, this series reveals it to be a surprisingly eventful and formative period in the history of Britain. A BBC Manchester Production (1979 - 1981)

[edit] In Search of Boadicea

The first programme deals with the revolt in AD60 of Queen Boudicca, the Warrior Queen of the Iceni against the Roman invaders of Britain. Though her moment in time was short, Boudicca is a towering figure of British history. As the leader of a large popular uprising, she has been lauded for her defense of Britain from excessive taxation, property loss, and enslavement under the Roman Empire.
It is thought that, fearing capture and torture, Boudicca fled home to her kingdom in southern Britain after the final battle, during which her forces were massacred. Recent archaeological discoveries provide new and sometimes grisly evidence of the trail of terror left by Boudicca's liberation army. Newly-built cities were destroyed, their citizens slaughtered. Her forces are said to have slaughtered over 70,000 Romans and pro-roman Britons before her defeat in the last desperate battle. Boudicca then took poison and died.

[edit] In Search of Arthur

Arthur, a Celtic king born of deceit and adultery, grew to become one of the most famous rulers of Britain. Camelot, Avalon, the Holy Grail, the Knights of the Round Table - there is no myth in British history as potent as the legend of King Arthur. When the Romans left these islands in the fifth century, warlike and barbarian Anglo Saxons poured into Britain across the North Sea. Did Arthur lead the British resistance against these invaders? If so, where should we look for him? Glastonbury? Tintagel? Or, as Michael Wood suggests, somewhere else?
Legend tells of King Arthur, mortally wounded at the hand of the traitorous Mordred in the final battle of Camlann. Before he was taken to the magical Vale of Avalon, Arthur declared that one day he would return, when the kingdom of Logres was once more in need of his leadership. The legends of King Arthur have over the centuries grown into a mixture of historical fact and carefully cultivated myth -- so much so that it's difficult for many observers to tell where truth ends and fancy begins. This is a controversial re-assessment of the historical truth behind the Arthurian myth.

[edit] In Search of Offa

The third in a series of films about England before the Norman Conquest, written and presented by Michael Wood. King Offa is best-known as the builder of the great dyke which still dominates the Welsh border country.
Two gold coins. Half a page in the Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The greatest man made construction of Dark Age Britain - Offa's Dyke. Until recently, these were virtually the only traces of the legendary King of the Mercians. Now, archaeologists have begun to discover fresh clues about eighth century England - and the first man to unite the warring Anglo Saxon tribes.
Michael Wood follows the path Offa's warrior band might have taken 1,200 years ago - to Repton, Hereford, London, Tamworth, and the dyke - in search of new evidence about this great King and his concept of the Kingdom of the English.

[edit] In Search of Alfred the Great

Churchill called Alfred 'the greatest Englishman'. Like Churchill, he fought a decisive rearguard action in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. So, appropriately, the story of Alfred's decisive struggle against the Vikings begins - deep under London - in Churchill's own Cabinet War Room. From here, the strategy of Alfred's final campaign unfolds on the maps of a Dark Age Western Front.
This is the story of an extraordinary ninth century King of Wessex, who saved the essentials of English culture when it seemed all would be swept away. 'I set out to administer, virtuously and justly, the authority given me... To live honourably and leave to those to come after me my memory in good works.'

[edit] In Search of Athelstan

In a corner of the ruined Abbey of Malmesbury, Wiltshire, stands a monument to a great but forgotten king. He was the founder of the first British Empire. He reigned from 925 to 939, just 14 years.
The search for King Athelstan takes us from the coasts of Devon to the dramatic fortress of Dunnottar in Scotland. In Durham Michael Wood discovers the splendid royal treasure given to St Cuthbert. In Hampshire he traces the bounds of the estate Athelstan gave to his armour bearer.

[edit] In Search of Eric Bloodaxe

Eric Bloodaxe: a name from fairy tales; an image from a childhood adventure story. He was in fact twice king in York, the last ruler of an independent Northumbria. Filmed in the autumnal colours and light of Northumberland and Cumbria, Michael Wood describes a deep-seated split between north and south, re-creating the 'thought-world' of a tenth century warlord.
After Athelstan's conquest of Britain, Northumbria longed for a king of their own, free from southern control. Eric's arrival on the English scene re-established that idea-a strong, powerful northern king. Formerly king of Norway, Bloodaxe's lurid career and death were recorded in a lost chronicle written in York. Michael Wood has, for the first time, reconstructed that lost chronicle and, with it, the life of the most famous Viking of them all, Eric Bloodaxe.

[edit] In Search of Ethelred the Unready

Ethelred the Unready has the poorest reputation of any English king. His reign is synonymous with decline and moral failure. Michael Wood in his search for Ethelred sets out to discover the truth behind the legend. Was Ethelred really unready? Through one of the most remarkable pieces of English historical writing, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a story of disaster, defeat and governmental collapse unfolds.
The Danish raids on England throughout Ethelred's reign led to vast payments of Danegeld, protection money, to make the Danes go away. But, despite the hand-over of thousands of silver pennies, the constant ravaging and devastation of England continued. The Anglo-Saxon empire finally collapsed in 1016 and, in an attempt to save what was left, Ethelred's son, Edmund, led an army against the young Viking, Canute. In a field in Essex, a famous place in British history, ' The flower of the English fell' and with them passed what had been the most powerful dynasty Britain had yet seen.

[edit] In Search of William the Conqueror

The Norman Conquest is the most famous event in British history. It is also the most controversial. What actually happened in 1066 and why? Michael Wood concludes his personal history of the so-called Dark Ages by going in search of William the Conqueror in Normandy and England.
In Normandy, William's dukedom, the sense of history is ever present. Where the Normans set off in 1066, the allies landed in 1944. Caen, citadel of William the Conqueror; Bayeux, where the great tapestry reveals Harold's fateful advance to the English throne. St Germain de Montgomery, ancestral home of the Field-Marshal who returned in 1944. In England, the Battle of Hastings and the Conquest represent the climax to this film and the series. As the Normans forged their hold on England by building motte and bailey castles everywhere, the Anglo-Saxon era came to an end. In the Public Record Office in London is the Domesday Book; here Michael Wood reveals his own sorrow at the passing of the chief makers of England.

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[edit] Technical Specs

Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L4
Video Bitrate: 1 812 Kbps
Video Resolution: 720x544
Display Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frames Per Second: 25.000 fps
Audio Codec: AAC (LC)
Audio Bitrate: 127 kb/s VBR 48000 Hz
Audio Streams: 2
Audio Languages: english
RunTime Per Part: 39 min - 55 min
Number Of Parts: 8
Part Size: 536 MB - 777 MB
Source: DVD (Thanks to Andrew@a.b.documentaries)
Encoded by: DocFreak08

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