Thousands of history enthusiasts descended on the city of York last weekend for BBC History Magazine’s annual three-day festival.
Taking place from 19–21 October, our York History Weekend saw speakers including Alison Weir, Michael Wood and Helen Castor deliver sell-out talks on a variety of subjects, from the Anglo-Saxons to the Tudors.
Many historians used their platform at the weekend to reveal their latest research and insights – and revelations were aplenty.
On Friday, Ian Kershaw talked about his experience living in Germany following the fall of the Berlin Wall. “My overriding memory of East Germans is that they were always carrying bunches of bananas, because of course you couldn’t get fresh fruit in East Berlin,” he told the audience.
In a fascinating talk about Mary, Queen of Scots on Saturday morning, Kate Williams discussed the influence and ambition of the royal’s French family. “We could call the Guise family the Kardashians of the 16th century,” she said.
Later that day, Helen Rappaport dispelled the popular view that the Romanovs were not evacuated to safety in 1917–18 because of King George V. “He had no power to offer asylum to [his cousin] Tsar Nicholas II and his family,” she revealed. “He couldn’t simply act out of family loyalty.”
Elsewhere, Tracy Borman – author of a new book about Henry VIII – unveiled her latest research into the Tudor king’s softer side. “Looking at Henry VIII through the eyes of his men gave me a completely different view of him,” she said. “He seemed fragile, vulnerable and capable of great loyalty.”
Suzannah Lipscomb, meanwhile, revealed that the persecution of witches in the 16th and 17th centuries was a “judicial process”, as opposed to a “frenzied free-for-all”.
- Kings and Queens in profile: Mary, Queen of Scots
- The Romanovs: how is the last Russian royal family remembered in Russia?
- 5 facts about Henry VIII
Many historians shared their experiences of the History Weekend across social media – and here the revelations were a tad more light-hearted.
Before his talk on King Æthelred and the Vikings, Levi Roach confessed that he had spotted a mistake in his PowerPoint presentation:
Very excited to be in York today for my first @HistoryExtra History Weekend! So far, I've seen @FernRiddell from afar at breakfast and spotted a mistake in my PowerPoint. Am I doing this right? #HistoryWeekend pic.twitter.com/tni61fKq5F
— Levi Roach (@DrLRoach) October 20, 2018
Tracy Borman, meanwhile, tweeted a picture of herself with her daughter, Eleanor, at the event:
— Tracy Borman (@TracyBorman) October 20, 2018
History fans made sure to tweet their feedback, too.
Rebecca Hill particularly enjoyed Max Adam’s talk on the turbulent reign of King Alfred, commenting that it “showed with genuine thought how the Vikings […] used the river and road system”.
Another fascinating talk @HistoryExtra #HistoryWeekend. Max Adams on the hidden importance of geography in the turbulent reign of King Alfred.
He showed with genuine initiative thought how the Vikings aka "Scandinavian Entrepreneurs" used the river and road system.
Buy his book! pic.twitter.com/rCGTGdCCUX
— Rebecca Hill (@soulchaserbecky) October 20, 2018
While Helen Brazier tweeted her appreciation of Suzannah Lipscomb’s talk on witchcraft. A “great topic” so close to Halloween, she said.
— Helen Brazier (@Coffee23Helen) October 21, 2018
Our York History Weekend followed on from a successful event in Winchester, which took place earlier this month and featured speakers including Lucy Worsley, Dan Jones and Bernard Cornwell.
— Danica R. Starks (@DanicaRachele) October 5, 2018
As in previous years, one of the venues for the Winchester History Weekend was the medieval Great Hall, replete with its replica of King Arthur’s round table.
Friday talks included Diarmaid MacCulloch on Thomas Cromwell and Helen Castor on Elizabeth I – both of which went down a storm with their respective audiences.
Helen a really fantastic talk. Thank you for signing my book and for the photo. Travelling over from Dublin it really was amazing to meet you!
— Louise Hancock (@LouiseH86) October 7, 2018
Dan Jones and Marina Amaral took to the stage on Saturday to discuss their collaboration to retell the history of the world from 1850 to 1960 through a series of newly colourised photographs. Can you believe that the photo on the projector screen was taken in 1865?
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Can you believe the photo of the person on the projector screen was taken in 1865? His name was Lewis Powell and he was a conspirator with Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth. In their #historyweekend talk, @d_a_n_jones and @marinaarts chat to @drsamwillis about the history of the world from 1850 to 1960 through a series of newly colourised photographs. #colouroftime #americanhistory #abrahamlincoln #historyweekend #bbchistorymagazine #historyincolour #history #historybuff #historynerd #historylesson #historygeek #historylover #historyinpictures #historymatters #historygram #historyfacts #historyiscool #historical
On Sunday, Nicholas Vincent revealed why Magna Carta was King John’s “least significant achievement”, while Olivette Otele – who has recently been awarded a professorship and chair in history at the University of Bath – explored how people of African descent integrated into European societies between the 16th and 21st centuries.
Our History Weekends will be returning again next year. Look out for more information on our events page here.
In pictures: York History Weekend 2018