European History

A Brief History of Ballet, Pt. 1

For a long time, there was no formalized dance in western culture. Eventually, court performers in Europe were asked to also teach their audiences how to dance, blending the worlds of performance and social dancing, and creating a new art form.

Unearthed: Francisco Franco

We’re taking a look at Francisco Franco and the Spanish Civil War. We've talked about Spain’s parliament voting to exhume the remains of dictator Francisco Franco and relocate them to a state-funded mausoleum, and we’re giving that entire situation more context.

Auguste Escoffier

Any chefs in our listening audience undoubtedly know about Auguste Escoffier, but people who haven’t studied cuisine may not realize that this one man revolutionized food preparation and restaurant dining in ways that are still part of almost any meal you may be served today. 



Kristallnacht

Kristallnacht was a massive act of antisemitic violence that was named for the shards of glass left littering the streets in more than a thousand cities and towns in the German Reich. NOTE: This episode is not appropriate for young children.

The Allegedly Haunted Island of Poveglia

This uninhabited Italian island that has come to be called all manner of scary things, including, “plague island,” “island of ghosts,” and “the Venetian island of no return,” among others. What's the real story on Poveglia?

Magnus Hirschfeld and the Institute for Sexual Science

Magnus Hirschfeld was a groundbreaking researcher into gender and sexuality in Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work was dedicated to scientific study with the hope of dispelling stigma around homosexuality. 




Christine de Pizan and the Book of the City of Ladies

Christine de Pizan is often described as a late-Medieval writer. But just “writer” does not really sum up everything she did. She wrote  verse, military manuals, and treatises on war, peace and the just governance of a nation. She was the official biographer of King Charles V of France and wrote the only popular piece in praise of Joan of Arc that was penned during her lifetime. 



Battle of Amiens

We’re coming up on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Amiens, near the end of World War I. Amiens was the start of what came to be known as the 100 Days Offensive, which was the Allies’ final push to win the war. 




Six Impossible Episodes: Evacuating Children

All six of today’s topics are mass evacuations of children and youth because of a war or other unrest, and include Kindertransport, Operation Pedro Pan, and Operation Babylift. 

The First Celebrity Chef: Marie-Antoine Carême

Today, there is an entire industry around celebrity chefs. But the first celebrity chef in the western world's history was born in late 18th-century France.