Highlights from our History Weekends 2018

Our History Weekends in York and Winchester took place earlier this month and featured sell-out talks from some of the biggest names in popular history, including Alison Weir, Michael Wood, Tracy Borman and Ian Kershaw. Here are just some of the highlights from the two events…

York History Weekend 2018. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike)

Thousands of history enthusiasts descended on the city of York last weekend for BBC History Magazine’s annual three-day festival.

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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.

We could call the Guise family the Kardashians of the 16th century

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”.

Henry VIII. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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:

Tracy Borman, meanwhile, tweeted a picture of herself with her daughter, Eleanor, at the event:

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”.

While Helen Brazier tweeted her appreciation of Suzannah Lipscomb’s talk on witchcraft. A “great topic” so close to Halloween, she said.

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.

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.

The Great Hall in Winchester proved a firm favourite with our audience. (Photo by Steve Sayers)
The Great Hall in Winchester proved a firm favourite with our audience. (Photo by Steve Sayers for BBC History Magazine)

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.

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?

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

The speakers:

Historian Levi Roach delivered an animated talk on King Æthelred and the Vikings. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Historian Levi Roach delivered an animated talk on King Æthelred and the Vikings. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Historical novelist Alison Weir drew on new research to cast fresh light on Jane Seymour during her talk on Henry VIII’s third wife. (Photo by Mark Bickerdale for BBC History Magazine)
Historical novelist Alison Weir drew on new research to cast fresh light on Jane Seymour during her talk on Henry VIII’s third wife. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Archaeologist Max Adams explored the landscapes of Britain in his talk on the Viking age. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Archaeologist Max Adams explored the landscapes of Britain in his talk on the Viking age. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Although Henry VIII is famous for being the king who married six times, it was the men in his life who shaped the Tudor king, historian Tracy Borman revealed. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Although Henry VIII is famous for being the king who married six times, it was the men in his life who shaped the Tudor king, historian Tracy Borman revealed. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
In a fascinating talk on Mary, Queen of Scots, historian Kate Williams discussed the influence and ambition of Mary’s French family. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
In a fascinating talk on Mary, Queen of Scots, historian Kate Williams discussed the influence and ambition of Mary’s French family. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley on depictions of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Egyptologist Joyce Tyldesley on depictions of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)

The venues:

Our York History Weekend was hosted in two fantastic venues: Yorkshire Museum, one of the first purpose-built museums in England, and King’s Manor, a stunning collection of Grade I listed buildings. Here you can see the courtyard of King's Manor. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Our York History Weekend was hosted in two fantastic venues: Yorkshire Museum, one of the first purpose-built museums in England, and King’s Manor, a stunning collection of Grade I listed buildings. Here you can see the courtyard of King’s Manor. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
History enthusiasts queue outside Yorkshire Museum. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
History enthusiasts queue outside Yorkshire Museum. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Inside the Tempest Anderson lecture theatre at Yorkshire Museum, an audience watches as historian Tracy Borman delivers a talk on Henry VIII and the men who made him. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Inside the Tempest Anderson lecture theatre at Yorkshire Museum, an audience watches as historian Tracy Borman delivers a talk on Henry VIII and the men who made him. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
York History Weekend festival-goers inside the Tempest Anderson lecture theatre at Yorkshire Museum. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
York History Weekend festival-goers inside the Tempest Anderson lecture theatre at Yorkshire Museum. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
History fans were able to purchase limited edition BBC History Magazine merchandise from our history hub in King's Manor. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
History fans were able to purchase limited edition BBC History Magazine merchandise from our history hub in King’s Manor.  (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Inside the King's Manor lecture theatre. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Inside the King’s Manor lecture theatre. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
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Book signings:

Levi Roach. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Levi Roach. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Tracy Borman. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Tracy Borman. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Henry Hemming. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Henry Hemming. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Joyce Tyldesley. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Joyce Tyldesley. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Kate Williams. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)
Kate Williams. (Photo by Mark Bickerdike for BBC History Magazine)