Introduction to the Series
Scroll to the end of this Introduction to locate the links to the various episodes. Or watch this 3-minute introductory video “Channel Trailer”
“Historical Sketches” are produced in the Studios of TVCTV, Beaverton, Oregon and re-broadcast through the Portland Area and in various other States in the Nation.
According to Italian philosopher and historian Benedetto Croce, all history is “contemporary history”. That is, history consists essentially in seeing the past through the eyes of the present and in the light of its problems. Therefore the main work of the historian is not to record but to evaluate. This collection of video-historical sketches is not that ambitious. The objective is to cast light on some less-known history adding, when possible, anecdotes or curious events and coincidences. Keeping in mind that often, when looked at in detail, history reads almost like a novel. Nor we can omit what Shakespeare says of Nestor, “Instructed by the antiquary times,/ He must, he is, he cannot be but wise.” (Troilus and Cressida, act 2, sc. 3)
And…. although a little knowledge is a dangerous things, complete ignorance is not necessarily safer.
Episode #65 – History of Italy, part 8 – https://bit.ly/38vX3PX
The 8th Episode of the History of Italy during the First Millennium. Exploring the birth of Islam, how and why the Islamic civilization rapidly flourished, with important contributions in science, philosophy, medicine and general culture. Effect on Southern Italy when Sicily became an Emirate. Brief account of its decay.
Episode #64 – History of Italy, part 7 – https://bit.ly/38Rameo
In this episode, the Age of Charlemagne, including tabloid-style details about his private life, as narrated by his biographer Eginard. How Saxony became the seed of today’s Germany, Charlemagne’s fondness for the elephant sent to him by the Khalif of Baghdad and Charlemagne’s favorite food. Why Bavaria is called Bavaria, why, fortunately, we just missed having an ‘Avaria’ to the East of Bavaria…”and much more.”- as all product advertisements never fail to add.
Episode #63 – History of Italy, part 6 – https://bit.ly/2Inbv1B
The Longobards invade Italy and are then removed by the Franks. Emperor Justinian and the Pandectae. How the Pragmatic Sanctions effectively placed the ruling of Italy in the hand of the Pope and Bishops.
Episode #62 – History of Italy, part 5 – https://youtu.be/Jq4UU1PLcl4
The Goths’ invasion of Italy, King Theodoric’s war with Byzantium, notes on the life in Byzantium, the Goths are defeated in the war and abandon Italy. The Longobards take over.
Episode #61 – History of Italy, part 4 – https://youtu.be/yPRoa4DG19A
Did anything happen on the day before or after that (agreed-upon) fatal day when the Roman Empire ended in 478 AD? When did the “Middle Ages” really begin, how and why? Episode #4 of the Birth of Italy addresses these and other related questions.
Episode #60 – History of Italy, part 3 – https://bit.ly/2Jl79rA
The Huns and the Vandals in Italy. Official end of the Western end
of the Constantinian Empire. Romulus Augustulus, last official emperor of the West.
Episode #59 – History of Italy, part 2 – https://youtu.be/rOcVIz4DSF0
The Goths run from the Huns and Alaric sacks Rome – while the chicken-loving Honorius, emperor of the West, finds refuge in Ravenna
Episode #58 – History of Italy, part 1 – https://youtu.be/9_7b1l3mI1A
First Episode of the History of Italy. How the fortunes and misfortunes of the Chinese empire influenced the last stages of the Roman Empire.
Episode #57 –History of European Universities – https://bit.ly/2JkEi66
European Universities appeared and were established after the year 1000 AD. The video explores their birth, what was the life of a Medieval University student, and why not everyone was happy about them.
Episode #56 – History of Slavery in Europe during the Middle Ages – https://youtu.be/7oqNGfxdi3I
After the official end of the Western Roman Empire in 476AD, slavery continued in Europe during the so-called “dark ages.” And it flourished after around 1000 AD, along with technological developments and the growth of capitalism. This episode (#56) explores the evolution, the management and the changes in European slavery, brought about by shifts in political power and territorial re-configurations.
Episode #55 https://youtu.be/DFUAvxHdFNo
The Shay’s Rebellion
The Shays’ Rebellion, in Massachusetts (1785-1787), greatly influenced the Federalist faction in America and prompted the formulation and the establishment of the American Constitution. An event that confirmed the victory of the “Hamiltonian,” the federalist unified, centralized vision of America, versus the “Jeffersonian” vision of America, as a constellation of independent states.
Episode #54 https://youtu.be/WZZX31lydsU
Historical Roots of Russian Communism, part 3
Third and last video on the roots of Russian Communism, and on the life and ideas of important Russian thinkers of the XIXth century. Plus the “one-minute Hegel” for those who, like me, must be in perfect health in order to read Hegel and his philosophy.
Episode #53 https://youtu.be/0M1-BNOBKmY
Historical Roots of Russian Communism, part 2
Exploring the life and the controversies among Westernisers and Slavophiles, plus notes and considerations on the life and influence of Alexander Herzen on Russian political and social thought.
Episode #52 https://youtu.be/TNLg0AJkFNk
Historical Roots of Russian Communism, part 1
Searching for the historical roots of Russian Communism part 1. The 5 main stages of Russian history. Peter the Great as the first Bolshevik
Episode #51 https://youtu.be/4qRrZPji4o8
The Protestant Revolution
On Oct 31, 1517 Luther affixed his 95 thesis on the portal of Wittenberg Cathedral. This video explores the antecedents and the characters involved in this momentuous social-religious upeheaval, which split Europe into a North and a South. Plus some tit-bits that make history interesting.
Episode #50 https://youtu.be/fF-9_vfh2fI
History Russian Revolution part 4
After the Feb 17 Revolution, the situation remained unstable. A reformist, bourgeois government seemed likely to remain in power, leaving things the same, apart from the conversion of Russia from a monarchy into a republic. But then the October 1917 second revolution and events changed the course of history
Episode #49 https://youtu.be/DfB_z6633LI
History Russian Revolution part 3
There were two stages in the Russian Revolution of 1917, respectively in February and October. After February many believed that the Revolution had ended…. but it had not. This episode illustrates the dynamics of the February uprising, of the Provisional Government and of the various conflicting factions
Episode #48 https://youtu.be/Kt8dcozr__s
History Russian Revolution part 2
Brief background of the 1917 Revolution and the three key stages of Russian History. How WW1, the army rebelling against the war and the last reigning Romanov Tsar facilitated the Revolution – some curious extracts from the diary of Tsar Nicholas II.
Episode #47 https://youtu.be/O1uiddzQEbM
History Russian Revolution part 1
Opinions on the Russian Revolution reflect personal ideologies, often unconnected with the historical, social and economic background of the actual event. To help prevent overly biased judgments on the 1917 revolution, the episode discusses, among other things, the interpretation of ambiguous terms, (democracy, oligarchy, etc.,) whose very ambiguity enables large discrepancies in the interpretation of history at large. Including the 1917 (probably) most successful social revolution in world history, compared, say, to the English Revolution of 1648 or the French Revolution of 1789.
Episode #46 https://youtu.be/0BQL9nkr_SM
The Destruction of Dresden, part 2
During the night of Feb 14, 1945, two months away from the end of WW2, allied forces destroyed by fire-bombing the beautiful Saxon city of Dresden, killing 135,000 people (almost twice as many as at Hiroshima).Part 2 covers the 3-phase air attack and the techniques developed by the allied air forces to ensure maximum slaughter and the practical annihilation of the city.
Episode #45 https://youtu.be/_V8aV5l5f9k
The Destruction of Dresden, part 1
During the night of Feb 14, 1945, two months away from the end of WW2, allied forces destroyed by fire-bombing the beautiful Saxon city of Dresden, killing 135,000 people (almost twice as many as at Hiroshima). Part 1 explores the background, the logistics and describes the beginning of the slaughter.
Episode EX 1 https://youtu.be/_-O2SFmkAj0
Brief History of Memory and a related Software Application
The cultivation of memory was taught in schools as a separate and independent subject from 500BC to the 1700. The episode briefly traces the history of memory and describes a software application (Mnemonic Frames), that entertains the user and strengthens his mnemonic powers in ways almost incredible until pesonally experimented – capitalising on the (otherwise unfortunately) disregarded power of aesthetic in all forms of education.
Episode #44 https://youtu.be/cm3neU0hHww
The History of the Borgia Family, part 2.
The second and concluding episode on the Borgias focus more on the lives of Pope Alexander VI’s notorious offspring, Cesare Borgia (Valentino) and Lucrezia Borgia. As well as Giulia Farnese, last lover of Alexander VI, and sister of Pope Paul III, who launched the Counterreformation.
Episode #43 https://youtu.be/3U8cekfKuHY
The History of the Borgia Family, part 1.
Pope Alexander VI Borgia and his family are most controversial personalities, who lived in the spring of the Renaissance, along with other kings, rulers and artists who shaped the history of Europe. The first of two episodes explores the background of the Borgias and the episodes that contributed to their fame,or infamy.
Episode #41 https://youtu.be/GQwdJlFCass
The Life and Times of John Brown – an American Hero. The American Civil War of 1861-1865 had been brewing for a long time. John Brown was hanged in 1859 for his anti-slavery action. A villain at the time, he became a national hero.
Episode #40 https://youtu.be/pTyd3LihJYI
The Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. 55 years have elapsed since the failed attempt to overthrow the Cuban government via an American invasion, staged as if it were a spontaneous rebellion of the Cuban people. Many believe that Kennnedy’s reluctance to unleash the whole of the American forces against Cuba was the main reason he was killed.
Episode #39 https://youtu.be/R8oh4-pZkBk
Essence of Marxism, part 4. Imperialism as the last phase of capitalism, with finance-capital substituting parliamentary democracy
Episode #38 https://youtu.be/AL6IBnX7OiU
Essence of Marxism, part 3. How capitalism evolves from monopolies into finance-capitalism and inevitable wars. A new and more applicable definition of working class.
Episode #37 https://youtu.be/Y0pcHGCavfY
Essence of Marxism, part 2. From free competition to monopolies – some of the self-contradictions of capitalism.
Episode #36 https://youtu.be/JpOw-LuSOYw
Essence of Marxism, part 1. Especially in neo-con circles, Marxism is usually associated with ideas such as the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, and similar. That is, a destructive ideology believed or practiced by outcasts of society. Actually Marxism is an original set of tools to analyze society as a continuous evolving & revolving phenomenon, in which economy & ideology are intertwined. This sub-series, within the “Historical Sketches” series is to be viewed as an introduction and familiarization with the actual key concepts of the Marxist Economic Theory.
Episode #35 https://youtu.be/mCyclYjJiYM
Life of Stalin part 5. The conclusion of the life of an extraordinary character (extraordinary per se and independently of ideological leanings). Includes the effect in the USSR of the explosions of the atomic bomb in Japan, the death of Stalin, the XXth Party Congress, the denunciation of the ‘Cult of Personality’ and the effect that this Congress had on the life and the future of the USSR.
Episode #34 https://youtu.be/BgovqnTMQU0
Life of Stalin part 4. Dedicated to the 1930s, perhaps the most controversial decade of the Soviet Union. This episode discusses briefly the most critical issues, collectivization, emphasis on heavy industry and the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact – inexplicable without realizing the background and the antecedents.
Episode # 33 https://youtu.be/OZvbII7EghQ
Life of Stalin part 3. Covering the period approximately 1900 to 1924. Stalin’s introduction to socialism, his relentless activity in the Caucasus, the multiple exiles in Northern Russia and Siberia, his flings, his marriages, his sons, in and out of marriage. The combination of circumstances that made the 1917 revolution successful. What Lenin saw in Stalin for the continuation of the revolution.
EPISODE #32 https://youtu.be/VStKhZpt5NY
Life of Stalin part 2. Considerations on Russia when Stalin was born (1882), and Russia’s conditions vis-a-vis Europe – how socialism reached Georgia plus unknown facts about Stalin’s education, exiles, flings and revolutionary activities.
EPISODE #31 http://bit.ly/1m4L1Ul
The Wives of Henry VIII. The anecdotal history of the six wives and marriages of Henry VIII. Who was beheaded, who survived and why.
EPISODE #30 http://youtu.be/weH3ElNKrAk
Life of Stalin part 1. Following the birth of Stalin in Gori, Georgia, his parents and the first part of his youth in Gori and Tbilisi
EPISODE #29 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLrT77jQt7s
History of Libya. This episode includes two sections, the first is a brief history of Libya, from its origin and definition as a country to the current time. The second is an extended trailer (with English subtitles) of the movie “Maledetta Primavera” (Cursed Spring). The Director filmed the movie in Libya at the time when Ghadafi was assassinated.
EPISODE #28 https://youtu.be/OVNEuVzg-iM
War of the Roses. The War of the Two Roses (White Yorkist and Red Lancastrian) is considered as the milestone dividing the Middle Ages from the following age of the centralized states. The episode follows the Shakespeaere’s narrative, adding both graphic material and some insight on the actual conditions, characters and culture of the time.
EPISODE #27 https://youtu.be/SOPX7AQgYGQ
Second and concluding part of the sketch on “Sacco and Vanzetti.”
It follows the vicissitudes of the protagonists and of the anarchism movement in the US, and its blending with the ‘red scare’. Also how the anarchism has evolved into the episodes of individual but empty and counter-productive rebellion
EPISODE #26 https://youtu.be/pNg7r4TdYbg
The names of Sacco and Vanzetti, – executed on the electric chair in 1927 for a crime they did not commit – are gradually fading into forgotten history. The first part of these two Historical Sketches presents some intriguing background on the protagonists and on what turned them into anarchists. It also attempts to clarify and question some myths surrounding the immigration to the US from Europe in the first part of the XXth century.
EPISODE #25 http://youtu.be/kx1ZfekT6Ao
History of US Slavery in the XIX Century, part 3 of 3
Annexing Texas becomes imperative to ensure the expansion of slavery to the West. After Texas comes the war on Mexico. President Polk wants to annex Mexico too, along with the West of the United States. Next is Cuba (a Bay of Pigs 120 years ago). The abolitionist movement (in the North of the US) begins to assert itself. The episode, and this series of 3 Historical Sketches, ends at the onset of the Civil War (1861-1865)
EPISODE #24 http://youtu.be/5VNuqmgdnNM
History of US Slavery in the XIX Century, part 2 of 3
Slavery becomes an essential ingredient in the economy of the lands acquired with the Louisiana Purchase. Slaves become commodities and collateral. Entrepreneurs are driven to the South in search of quick fortunes, bank credits, unlimited sex and legal rape of slaves.
EPISODE #23 http://youtu.be/K8hzP7o1kAo
History of US Slavery in the XIX Century, part 1 of 3
Slavery saw its greatest expansion in the US during the first half of the XIX Century, following the Louisana Purchase and the invention of the Cotton Gin. The episode describes the drive to expansion and the mass transfer of slaves from the South East to Louisiana and adjacent areas.
Native Americans are ethnically cleansed and removed in mass to Oklahoma.
EPISODE #22 http://youtu.be/7ClQwRXwvfY
History of the Magna Carta
2015 is the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, reluctantly signed and quickly disregarde by the famous (or infamous depending on the point of view). The episodes describes the major complicated events and most important characters associated with this famous document.
EPISODE #21 http://youtu.be/xnxSSCoY8SA
The Schism of 1054 AD, part 2 of 2
How a conflict brewing for 600 + years ended in the official Schism of Jul 16, 1054 and in the effective severance between the Churches, after the last Crusade.
EPISODE #20 http://youtu.be/_Kcv1UjxjJ8
The Schism of 1054 AD, part 1 of 2
The Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches, is one of the defining moments in European History. Its consequence are felt and palpable even today
EPISODE #19 https://youtu.be/n0duqF4ENE0
Council of Konstanz, 1414-1418.
The Council of Konstanz reduced the number of extant Popes from 3 to 1, whereas before, each of the 3 accused the others of being the Anti-Christ. But the Council was also a kind of Woodstock of the 15th Century, well documented by the chronicles and the beautifully preserved paintings of Ulrich Riechental – some of which are shown in the video.
EPISODE #18 http://youtu.be/lcuHuksVNOE
The War of 1812 between America and England, part 3
Conclusion of the War of 1812 between England and America, including the occupation and burning of Washington in August 1814 and the birth of the American National Anthem, with the original lyrics of the drinking song – and the tune sung in the episode.
EPISODE #17 http://youtu.be/AmZeEvkKPGo
The War of 1812 between America and England, part 2
Second part of the War of 1812 between England and America, covering battles on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
EPISODE #16 http://youtu.be/urpdaLARf5w
The War of 1812 between America and England, part 1
The first imperialist war with the objective of occupying and annexing Canada. The effort was unsuccessful but several events happened that had important historical consequences
EPISODE #15 http://youtu.be/taBVoEZ0DG8
History of Ukraine, part 6
World War 2, Ukrainization of the Republic, Kruschev, Gorbachev and concluding thoughts on two different world-views
EPISODE #14 http://youtu.be/J43gG_uTaII
History of Ukraine, part 5
From the turmoil of WW1, to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine to the beginning of WW2
EPISODE #13 http://youtu.be/oXrekiNqJqc
History of Ukraine, part 4
Galician Ukraine under Austria and the effects on the nationalist movement prior to WW1 and the October 1917 revolution
Episode #12 http://youtu.be/sszAg2cNy_I
History of Ukraine, part 3
The birth of a Ukrainian national movement in the XIX Century
Episode #11 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLQnpM61WMg
History of Ukraine, part 2,
From the Union of Brest to the triumph of the Cossacks (1649)
Episode #10. http://youtu.be/IfgD6teXvKg
A brief History of Scotland, with some emphasis on how and why there has always been a cultural affinity between Scotland and France.
Episode #9. http://youtu.be/pADajoVGel8
History of Ukraine, part 1
Tracing the history of Ukraine to its beginning and, in particular, to the consequences of the Great Schism 0f 1054 AD between the East Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church of Rome.
Episode #8. http://youtu.be/dGUlRfZ5KxQ
The Battle of Bouvines (Jul 1214)
It is not commonly known that the first European World War occurred on July 27, 1214 at Bouvines, near Lille (France). It was the battle between Philip Augustus of France and the emperor Otto IV of Germany. Philip’s victory determined the continued existence of France and its development into a nation. This Historical Sketch describes the events that led to the battle and its outcome
Episode #7. http://youtu.be/IPlKbFz25Jo
Pisa and the Court of the Miracles
Unusual information about the history of PIsa, Pisa’s Court of Miracles, the Cathedral and the Leaning Tower. Including a recording of the extraordinary and eerie compounded musical echo, inside the Baptistery (at about 20 min inside the video)
Episode #6. http://youtu.be/SJTHREUbdvk
Tamerlan, Emperor of Central Asia
While Central Asia may be talked about in the mainstream media, little is spoken about its history, including the golden era of Tamerlan the Great and his achievements in art and architecture.
Episode #5. http://youtu.be/pekYYQCo-Yc
Brief History of the Gypsies
The Gypsies have at least a 2500 year old history. Thie episode tracks their origin, main tribes, peregrinations and customs from their origin to the present.
Episode #4. http://youtu.be/slew93oJICc
The Saint that grew Younger with Age
St. Joseph is one of the most popular saints among the Roman Catholics. In art, folklore and literature he was at first depicted as old and decrepit, but through the centuries he has been transformed into a young and vigorous adult male. This episode explores the reasons for this remarkable transformation.
Episode #3. http://youtu.be/KszgPT9Eg2Y
Escape from Waterloo, p3
This is the third and last part, covering Napoleon the First’s adventurous flight from Waterloo. Last minute dilemmas on what to do, having reached the French Atlantic Coast. Decision to deliver himself to the English and go into exile to St. Helena, with a small retinue of the faithful.
Episode #2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7-2YmDqZZQ
Escape from Waterloo, p2
This is the second of three parts, covering Napoleon the First’s rocambolesque flight from Waterloo. From Paris to the French Coast, hoping to escape to America.
Episode #1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tf-0uV8RCFU
Escape from Waterloo, p1
Introduction to the series. This is the first of three parts, covering Napoleon the First’s rocambolesque flight from Waterloo. Confusion after the battle and travel from Waterloo to Paris