Cast & Crew
Documentary that traces 5000 years of British history, from 3100 B.C. to the beginning of the 17th century. Part 1 covers the origins of life on the British Isles, the arrival of the Romans, King Arthur and the Anglo-Saxons. The threat of Viking invasion leads Saxon king Alfred to unite the various groups living there as the concept of England is born as a unifying cry against the Norseman. Also, William the Conqueror's victory in 1066 makes Britain part of the Anglo-Norman empire. This is the story of the Norman Conquest, The Battle of Hastings and the aftermath of the victory. Part 2 looks at the relationship between the state and the church, in the form of Thomas Beckett, who meets a bloody end; Henry II; Richard I; and John. Also, in the 13th century, the peoples of Britain find their proud, defiant and nationalistic voice as Edward I tries to create an English empire by extending his authority over Wales, Scotland and Ireland in bloody campaigns. Out of the slaughter comes a side effect that will impact British history: Parliament begins to include commoners when the Crown discovers that the cost of wars goes beyond its resources and needs the people's consent to head into battle. Part 3 examines the Black Death, which wipes out a third of the population in six years, scarring the British Isles for generations. Towns and villages disappear; art and literature become obsessed with death and decay. Richard II tries to be a people's king, but his failure leads to murder. Out of this anarchy and gloom, the English character is born, fueled by individualism, self-sufficiency and xenophobia. Also, the coming of the Protestant faith in the 16th century divides the Western world and sends Europe into war. Britain's official religion changes with its ruler, Henry VIII; and believing in the wrong doctrine quarantees a painful death. The Anglican Church emerges under Elizabeth I and becomes one of the greatest influences on the English-speaking peoples.