Tag Archives: Britain

The French Revolution: The Directory

This A Level and IB History revision podcast charts the rise and fall of the Directory from 1794 to 1799.  Beginning with the execution of Robespierre, the Thermidorean Reaction and the onset of the White Terror, it goes on to explore the terms of the Constitution of Year III.  The challenges to the Directory are described, and the government’s various failures and successes are explained.   The episode finishes with Napoleon and the Coup of Brumaire.

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The Battle of Fishguard

The Battle of Fishguard: an overview of the last invasion of Britain in 1797

On 22nd February 1797  the last invasion of Britain by a hostile foreign force began when French troops under the command of the Irish-American Colonel William Tate landed near the Welsh town of Fishguard.

Britain joined the War of the First Coalition against Revolutionary France in 1793. Three years later the French General Lazare Hoche devised a plan to invade Britain in support of the Republican Society of United Irishmen under Wolfe Tone.

Two of the three intended invasion forces were stopped by poor weather, leaving only the 1,400 troops of La Legion Noire (The Black Legion) to launch their attack on Bristol. Since the professional French army was serving under Napoleon in Europe, La Legion Noire included 800 irregular soldiers ranging from republicans to recently-released Royalist prisoners. Well equipped, and dressed in dyed captured British uniforms that gave them their name, they arrived off the English coast in four warships. Unable to land in Bristol due to adverse weather, Colonel Tate instead anchored at Carregwastad Head near the Welsh town of Fishguard late on 22 February.

Soldiers and equipment were put ashore as darkness fell, faced only by a small force of volunteers under Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Knox. When dawn came Knox realised that he was heavily outnumbered and retreated to meet up with reinforcements led by Lord Cawdor. By this time the undisciplined French troops had begun looting local settlements where they became increasingly drunk after finding wine from a recently-wrecked Portuguese vessel.

A number of locals soon joined the defence, including cobbler’s wife Jemima Nicholas who single-handedly rounded up 12 Frenchmen and locked them in a church. With his troops in disarray, Tate submitted to an unconditional surrender on 24 February.

Treaty of Vienna

The signing of the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna

The ‘Final Act’ of the Congress of Vienna was signed on the 9th June 1815, nine days before Napoleon’s final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. The purpose of the Congress was to review and reorganise Europe after the Napoleonic Wars, in an attempt to achieve a lasting peace.

Having first met after the defeat and surrender of Napleonic France in 1814, the Congress continued in spite of the renewal of hostilities following the period known as the Hundred Days in which Napoleon returned from exile and took back control of France. Chaired by Metternich, the Austrian principal minister, the Congress was led by the so-called Four Great Powers of Austria, Russia, Britain, and Prussia alongside France.  In total over 200 states were represented in some way at the Congress, making it the largest diplomatic event of its time.  However, the key terms were discussed and decided by the Great Powers in informal meetings.

The Final Act of the Congress set in place a map of Europe that remained largely unchanged for the next forty years, and – some may argue – set the scene for the First World War. Indeed the delegates were often criticised in the later nineteenth century for focusing more on achieving a balance of power than on maintaining peace. Nationalism, for example, was largely ignored in the final settlement. Although this was a key factor in the disputes and conflicts that emerged later, it’s important to remember that the Congress did succeed in its primary aim of securing wider European peace for the best part of a century.


Italy 1849-58: The emergence of Piedmont

This IB and A Level History revision podcast explores Piedmont before and after Cavour’s appointment as Prime Minister. Political aspects covered include the Statuto, the Siccardi Laws and the Connubio. Piedmont’s involvement in the Crimean War is also addressed, as well as Cavour’s relationship with Napoleon III. The podcast ends with a summary of the Plombieres agreement.

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The 14 Points

Woodrow Wilson’s announcement of the 14 Points in 1918

On the 8th January 1918, United States President Woodrow Wilson made a speech to Congress in which he outlined his principles for world peace, known as the Fourteen Points. Keen to distance the United States from nationalistic disputes that fuelled European rivalries, he sought a lasting peace by securing terms that avoided selfish ambitions of the victors.

The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference

This revision podcast is aimed at GCSE and IGCSE History students, although AS and IB History students may find it helpful.  The episode focuses on the background to the Paris Peace Conference. You may also wish to look through the Paris Peace Conference PowerPoint.

The revision podcast outlines the ‘Big Three’ (David Lloyd George, George Clemenceau and Woodrow Wilson) and the different aims that they each had. Their aims are explained with reference to the attitude of people at home, the effect of the war, and the arguments for and against treating Germany harshly. Specific details are given of the 14 Points, along with disagreements between the three leaders.


The Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference

The terms and effects of the Treaty of Versailles

This GCSE and IGCSE History revision podcast focuses on the terms and effects of the Treaty of Versailles.  You may also wish to look through the Paris Peace Conference PowerPoint. In this IGCSE and GCSE History revision podcast, the mnemonic GARGLE is used to outline the terms of the Treaty of Versailles:

  • Guilt
  • Arms
  • Reparations
  • German Territory
  • League of Nations

This is followed by an assessment of Germany’s reaction, and presents a number of specific examples that could be used to explain why Germany was unhappy with the terms. The final part of the podcast looks at how to approach an exam question about ‘how fair’ the Treaty of Versailles really was.  This is done by presenting evidence for and against the Treaty that could be used in an answer.


The Big Four at the Paris Peace Conference

The Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles

This is a short revision podcast which presents an overview of the Paris Peace Conference the Treaty of Versailles.

For more detailed revision podcasts, you should instead see the specific podcasts on The Big Three at the Paris Peace Conference and The Treaty of Versailles.

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Other peace treaties

The ‘Other’ WW1 Peace Treaties

This GCSE and IGCSE History revision podcast focuses on the post-war treaties of St Germain with Austria, Neuilly with Bulgaria, Trianon with Hungary, and Sèvres with Turkey. They are often overshadowed by the Treaty of Versailles, but the four treaties had an enormous effect on Europe and the Middle East in the interwar period. This podcast is designed to give an overview of the terms of these treaties with Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria as well as exploring the specific effects of the Treaty of Sèvres with Turkey.


Scapa Flow

Why did the Germans scuttle their fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919?

On the 21st June 1919, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter ordered the scuttling of the German High Seas naval fleet in Scapa Flow, a large natural harbor in the Orkney Islands in Scotland. The ships had been confined there under the terms of the Armistice that ended fighting in the First World War.