Episode 4: Stephen of Blois

Episode 4 of the podcast is up here. Check it out.

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In the Minnesota Valley

Today, Caren and I toured the Minnesota River valley with a special focus on the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

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We visited the Lower Sioux Agency site, where the war started when local U.S. government agents refused to give over annuity payments and food due to the tribe members. We also visited the Battle of Birch Coulee, bloodiest and longest (1.5 day camp siege) battle of the war. As someone who is used to the size of Civil War battles, these sites seem tiny, but when you consider the population and density of Minnesota in the 1860s, these actions were huge earth-shattering occurrences. The prairie was certainly on fire.

The end result was the Dakota reservations being dissolved, the native people being exiled to other states, and (most infamously) the hanging of 38 natives in downtown Mankato in December 1862. It still the largest execution ever ordered by the US Government.

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More happily, we also hit the Starkeller in New Ulm for some sour beers and viewed the bizarrely huge Hermann Monument. A good birthday weekend.

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Podcast: The Anarchy

Here it is: the first official announcement on my upcoming history podcast.

It will look into the background, causes, character and aftermath of the Anarchy in 1100s England.

This is an exciting but rarely discussed (among non-professional historians) period that connects the Norman Conquest with the Plantangenet/Avengin Empire of Henry II and his heirs.

It features a dynasty destroying shipwreck, several powerful female characters which pre-date the over-examined Eleanor of Acquitaine, and a decades-long war that left England largely rulerless.

Bottom line: Empress Maud should have a popular history book and ultimately movie or TV series. This is my effort to jump start that.

I envision this as my first series of podcasts focusing on medieval history. Right now, I feel like it will last about 10 1-hour episodes. Maybe more, maybe a little less. No promises there. And once those are wrapped up, I don’t have a second series topic picked yet. We’ll see what kind of traction I get and I’ll see if the audience has particular interests. More links coming as I get things set up. First episode in June.

As a final request: I need a title for the podcast as a whole. I’m leaning toward Illuminated Medieval right now, but I’ll take suggestions.