Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Trial of King Charles I - In Our Time

In Our Time will be on BBC Radio Four tomorrow with a new program. The latest issue about the trial of King Charles the first will by then be taken out of the feed.

The trial of King Charles is treated as an exceptional novelty at the time. It replaces the sheer coup with regicide to a process in which the leader of the nation is held responsible before the law. This seems like a logical follow-up to the chapter about the Magna Carta, where also the reign of the king is bound to the law. The next step was to bind the King also to values and principles of Justice. Thus Charles could be beheaded for this and set a precedent for the trial of King Louis in the French Revolution up to the War Crime tribunals after WW II.

The interesting thing in the discussion is that Charles saw it otherwise. He was the sovereign, who but God could hold him responsible. It took him by surprise that they were actually going to execute him. And so this trial also has traits of a staged case. In that respect it also sets precedent for the future that followed. Show trials all over.

More In Our Time:
St. Paul,
Whale evolution,
Magna Carta,
BBC's In Our Time - always recommended,
Brave New World.

World history between 100 BCE and 1200 CE - MMW 3

Here is a final recommendation for the history lecture series MMW 3 The Medieval Heritage by Matthew Herbst from UC San Diego. If you remotely consider looking into this one, go and get your files before UCSD take them off line, as they usually do.

MMW 3 gives world history from 100 BCE to 1200 CE in the widest sense. Whereas most general history courses focus on Western history, MMW attempts to take on every region in the world. This I already wrote in my previous review, that covered the first half of the course and this is all the more true for the second half that I have finished just now. There is attention for West-Africa, Ethiopia, Medieval Europe, Sung China and even the Incas and other nations of the New World, that were still isolated from the rest in this time period.

The strength of this series, that it covers indeed the whole world, comes at a price. Especially by the end, the chronology is very difficult to get a grip on. It is therefore especially important to pick up the last lecture in which Professor Herbst summarizes the main learning points of the course, one of them being contact and exchange. Apart from the Inca Empire, no part is completely isolated and through trade routes, not only goods but also cultural content is exchanged to and fro.

More MMW:
MMW 3,
UCSD's lecture podcasts,
MMW 2,
MMW 4,
MMW 6.