David Starkey - The Churchills episode 1

David Starkey - The Churchills episode 1

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since the duel between Rome and Carthage there had been no such World War [Music] we devolved all the civilized people's it extended to every part of the accessible globe [Music] it was the peril that the supremacy of
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one race and culture would be imposed by military force upon all others in no world conflicts have the issues been more real and vital in none as the duty to defend a righteous cause been more compulsive from the British nation the tone is unmistakable the words could only be by Winston Churchill Prime Minister of Great Britain during the tragedy and triumph of the Second World
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War but they're not about the Second World War instead they're about another great though now largely forgotten conflict fought 300 years ago at the beginning the 18th century it was a war to save Europe from domination by louis xiv france and it was the first truly global conflict of the modern age the british were victorious in that war also they were even led by another Churchill Winston's
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great ancestor John Churchill Duke of war bruh but John Churchill was more than just Winston's ancestor he was his inspiration he was his subject for Winston spent the ten crucial years before the Second World War researching and writing and massive biography of him more bruh is life and times it's almost impossible for us now to think of this
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as a serious activity for a great politician because very clearly none of our politicians none ever could possibly undertake subtitles they like the ancestry they like they like the experience they like the appetite and they like the talent and the most they can do is have their memoirs ghosted I think this matters it was writing his biography of more bruh which above all
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transformed Churchill from a politician and frankly of a rocketing one into a statesman it sharpened his rhetoric he clarified his ideas and it prepared him for the immense intellectual task of leading the Allies to victory over Nazi tyranny so this is a work of history which changed history it's a book about a great war leader which helped make
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another greater war leader in an even bigger bloody award [Music] [Applause] this is Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire where our story begins Winston Churchill was born in this room on the 30th of November 1874 the baby was a typical product of English rank and American money his mother Jennie Jerome was a New York heiress his father
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Lord Randolph Churchill there was the third son of the seventh Duke of Marlborough and this room is one of over 40 bedrooms at Blenheim Palace which was designed and built for John Churchill first you could more bura and remains his family's seat to this present day Winston never lived at Blenheim but as the Dukes grandson he was a frequent visitor so we can imagine him as a small
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boy rooming these spectacular rooms but Blenheim is more than just another stately home however magnificent above all is a building designed inside and out to tell a story the story a war and victory inside a glorious series of large tapestries a sort of eighteenth-century graphic novel show in historically accurate detail how more brief a Sheila's troops into the greatest
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fighting force in Europe outmaneuvered and outfought lure the 14th and turned the new nation britain into a superpower so it's no wonder that the young Winston developed an early and lifelong fascination with soldiering this shows in his first surviving letter written when he was age 7 from Blenheim and address to his mother to thank her for
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his Christmas presents I hope you'll quite well I thank you very much for the beautiful presents those soldiers and flags in castle they are so nice it was so kind of you at Harrow school Winston was in the army class and then went on to Sandhurst graduating as a cavalry officer in the Hazara he was no toy
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soldier he saw action in India the Sudan and South Africa his experiences provided the material for another great passion and talent writing his dispatches as a war correspondent and several will received books made him a public figure and helped get him elected to Parliament while he sat in the Commons most of his life Winston never stopped writing producing a constant stream of articles and books
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he even tried emotional picture screenplay but the project closest to his heart where the soldiering of the writing came together was his biography of Britain's greatest general his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough this is the long library at Blenheim where Churchill came to research more Burrus voluminous papers the resulting book would take him almost ten years to write
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it would have a million words and it would fill four huge magnificently bound heavily illustrated volumes is one of the most remarkable works of history ever written and it is so because it's the work of someone who wielded power the sword as well as the pen yet the book was written when it seemed that Winston's days of political power were behind him in 1929 when he signed
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the contract to write the book he just lost office after spending nearly 20 years of the cabinet where he had been Home Secretary in a Liberal government and Chancellor of the Exchequer in a conservative one all through the 1930s Winston languished on the back benches it was a period that bears a striking similarity to today a financial crash led to prolonged economic depression
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with which heavily indebted governments struggled to cope [Music] in Britain the upheaval led to the downfall of the first Labour administration and a period of coalition government in Germany it led to the rise of fascism and in Europe to a seemingly inexorable drift towards another world war it was against this background that the four
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volumes of the more bruh biography were published one by one between 1933 and 1938 one hesitates to use word like magic when you're talking about something as sober as history but with this book there is repeatedly a sense of you're not quite sure which century and which tense anything is referring to [Music] laura is the great war leader the great
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war leader who is not simply the great general but the manager of the great International Coalition in exactly the same way Churchill in the Second World War is going to be just that except of course Churchill is writing about more breh almost as though he were in the present before Churchill himself has moved into that future you see what I mean it's as though church has suddenly made the past a story that runs into the
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present and then into the future chart where Winston Churchill's house in the country it was a considerable extravagance for a man with only a backbench MP salary fortunately Churchill was also the highest-paid earth of his day for the biography of his ancestor John Churchill Duke of moba his publishers advanced him
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a total of 20,000 pounds not far short of a million in today's money that gave Winston the means to employ a small team specialist historical researchers [Music] the MOBA biography begins with brilliant display of Winston's historical imagination the man who built Blenheim Palace was the richest and most powerful aristocrat in Britain but he was born
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plain John Churchill the son of the man in this picture an impoverished country gentleman with his long hair and lace cravat the first Sir Winston Churchill is the archetypical Cavalier a supporter of King Charles the first in his war against the Roundheads of parliament where the Cavaliers lost the civil leader King Charles lost his head the Sir Winston lost his estates [Music]
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without the means to support his family Winston the Cavalier was forced to move in with his mother-in-law who would back the other side in the Civil War than was as ardent a round head as he was a loyalist in Chapter 1 Winston the historian fashions an unforgettable picture of the household straightened in circumstances and bitterly divided in ideology and allegiance into which John Churchill was born in 1650 when England
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was briefly a republic most those years have been a crowded brood in a lean and Wars guardhouse between them and whose owner may the fierce contentions of the times then Winston speculates softly and sensitively about the effect of such an upbringing of the boy and his character the two prevailing impressions which such experiences might arouse in the
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mind of a child would be first a hatred of poverty and dependence and secondly the need of hiding thoughts and feelings from those to whom that expression would be repugnant that ability to keep his true feelings hidden would serve John well [Music] fortunately for the Churchill family england's experiment with republicanism lasted just 11 years the 25th of May
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1660 Dover the two sons of Charles the first set foot again on English soil James Duke of York the King's brother but of a vastly different temper his gracious Majesty King Charles the second whose charm and ease of manner is matched only by his sea fleet energy beat in the affairs of state or all the love Charles the second fathered many children but none of them was legitimate
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and so James as his brother was heir to the throne [Music] at last the Winston's steadfast loyalty to House of Stuart was rewarded with a position for his daughter Arabella as a maid of honor in James's household their brother John soon followed her as a page [Music] what happened next is described by
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Winston with mock prudishness our readers must now brace themselves for what will inevitably be a painful interlude we must follow the fortunes and misfortunes of a maiden of seventeen and her younger brother as they successively entered a dissolute Court king charles ii is famous for his string of mistresses but his brother James was of anything an even more a big womanizer
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Winston tells a story of how Arabella here was out riding with the Duke when she was thrown from the horse she lay senseless upon the ground with her skirts thrown up to reveal that naked limbs anymore for remember then ladies did not yet wear knickers we are told that while arabela's face presented no more than the ordinary feminine charms her figure was exceedingly beautiful and that James was inflamed by the spectacle of beauty in
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distress and also in disarray after this beginning it didn't take James long to seduce young Arabella who became his mistress and this was just the beginning of a long intimate and complex relationship between the Churchill family of the Royal House of Stuart thanks James his patronage John Churchill was soon rising young officer in the guards equally dashing under fire
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and at Port he is it God this religion was this this man sublime handsomeness beauty of figure he is infinitely charming he is culture but now John courted royal displeasure by beginning an affair with the Kings long-standing mistress Barbara Villiers she was 29 and he 20 for more than three years this wanton and joyous couple shared
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pleasures and hazards the cynical promiscuous sagacious indulgent sovereign was outwitted or outfaced eventually the story goes charles ii discovered john hiding in a closet in Barbara's bedchamber the young man fell to his knees in terror the King laughed the matter off go he's supposed to have said you are a rascal but I forgive you because you do it to get your bread
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Winston doubts the story but his research has proved that Barbara did indeed pay for John's services by giving him five thousand pounds this was a colossal sum which John characteristically used to buy himself an annuity that gave him financial security for life this is the temple of diana in the grounds of Blenheim Palace
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it was here August 11th 1908 that Winston Churchill MP proposed to was accepted by trementina hozier a 22 year old beauty with whom he'd fallen in love earlier that year Winston knew that Blenheim was in part the fruit of a successful marriage fertile Churchill would probably never have amounted to much had it not been for the girl he met
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in 1675 the name was Sarah Jennings at the mature age of 15 she was already a precocious charming figure fair flaxen hair blue eyes sparkling with audacity and a nose well chiseled but with a slightly audacious upward tilt she also was entirely self possessed and by inheritance she owned when roused the temper of the devil Jonel Sarah were eventually married in
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1677 it turned out to be a lifelong love match complete with the occasional lover's quarrel Winston who himself was the beneficiary of the prehab a marriage rights movingly about the MOBAs relationship they're not as movingly as sarah herself who long after mobile was dead turned down a proposal of marriage from the Duke of Somerset the grandest grandi of the day with magnificent if I were young and handsome
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as I was are not old and faded as I am and you could lay the Empire of the world of my feet you should never share the heart and hand that once belonged to John Duke of Marlborough for both John and Winston marriage was the rock upon which their whole lives were built it one important respect however the two marriages were very different Clemmy had the good sense not to get too involved in Winston's political career
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johnandsarah on the other hand were a very modern thing the power couple and Sara's power depended on her relationship with the woman this portrait this is an the daughter of James the King's brother and was third in line to the throne after her father and her elder sister Mary Ann and Sarah probably first met when Sara came to court in 1673 an aged eight formed a
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schoolgirl crush on Sara aged 13 and it blossomed into a passionate though platonic love affair that was to last for almost 30 years but there was dissension in James's family while am and her sister Mary had been brought up as Protestants sometime in the 1670s their father James converted to Roman Catholicism it was a decision with devastating consequences from House of
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Stuart Sara's relationship with man placed her on the very fault line of the schism that rams with the royal family a schism that was both religious and political was a position of unique influence which John and Sara would use to shape the course of history [Music] [Applause] [Music] Germany 1932 the government reeling from the economic effects of the depression
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is under siege from right and left Communists and followers of the National Socialist Workers Party fight bloody battles of the street [Music] as they steadily gain ground the elections it seems of the National Socialists of Nazis under their leader Adolf Hitler may soon be in power to
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foreign observers the Nazis were a perplexing phenomenon worthy a bunch of buffoons a menace to the Peace of Europe or a useful bulwark against communism at first even Winston Churchill himself was ambivalent I had no national prejudices against Hitler at this time I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat he had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose
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Winston's main preoccupation during the Ottoman winter of 1932 was trying to finish Volume one of his biography of his ancestor the Duke of Marlborough in many ways the most remarkable chapter in this first volume is the one that should really be deadly which is this is the background of foreign policy it's it's called the Europe of charles ii but in fact it's a brilliant analysis of choice essentially what he says is there were
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two choices facing England at this point one is to be swallowed up by this hegemonic totalitarian ideological France and the second is to resist it their supreme effect upon the continent in the latter half of the 17th century was the might of France a civil wars were over all internal divisions had been effaced and louis xiv reigned over a united nation of eighteen or nineteen
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million souls possessed of the fairest region on the globe [Music] the wealth and power of France was symbolized by Versailles the Great Palace built by lure the 14th a monarch who wielded absolute sway over his subjects and who was worshipped almost as of God the Sun King
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si is a him in gilt and stone to Louie's military ambitions this room indeed is known as the Hall of War the salon de la guerre its principal feature is this great bass relief of lure the 14th dressed as a Roman Emperor enforcing a crossing of the Rhine as he tramples German barbarians underfoot it commemorates an actual incident the
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capture of Strasbourg which carried the frontiers of France right up to the Rhine Churchill thought that Lewis ambitions stretch even further and that he aimed to reconstitute the Empire of Charlemagne which at once embraced on either bank of the Rhine France and Germany with ambitions like these none of Lewis neighbors could rest in peace instead in Winston's words again they cowered beneath his unrelenting laughs
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in pain and fear during the whole of his life noe the 14th was the curse and pissed of Europe no worse enemy of human freedom has appeared in the trappings of polite civilization insatiable appetite cold calculating ruthlessness monumental conceit pity and mediocre in all except his lusts and power the Sun King disturbed and harried mankind
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during more than 50 years of Aragon pomp [Music] what I think is striking is Churchill's ability to if you like personalized ideology he highlights Louie's colossal vanity this sense of a king always starting in front of a mirror what we would call the cult of personality Louie is the God of War who lures a Roman Emperor
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it's this image of war as vanity as a supreme expression of the leader and of course he seems the very beginnings of the Latsis he doesn't meet Hitler but he watches him and he sees this enormous overblown personality he notices the cult of war he realizes just like louis xiv France Louis remember dies on his deathbed saying I have loved war too much and he sees Hitler as
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somebody who loves war too much creating an ish which is every aspect of which is mobilized for war but in the 17th century as in the 1930s it was not England but Louie's immediate neighbors who were most threatened by France Louie coveted the rich towns and cities of the Spanish Netherlands roughly speaking modern-day Belgium then a province of
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the declining Spanish Empire of the Dutch to the north fearing that they would be next determined to fight for the Netherlands their leader William of Orange became Louise implacable foe England's vital centuries-old concern with the control of the channel meant but it was more or less inevitable that she would join in the war but would she ally with France against Holland Holland
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against France and again as in the 1930s this choice was not just a matter of power politics it was also a question of ideology not a fascism or democracy [Music] but a Protestant or Catholic [Music] following the great 16th century schism in Western Christianity known as the
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Reformation both England and France had fought a civil war about religion but with the opposite result in England Parliament and Protestantism had won in France it was the monarchy and Catholicism that was triumphant as here in the Royal and religious splendors of the great chapel at the Palace of Versailles in both countries however there survived an important minority of the defeated religion Protestants in France and Catholics in England but they
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were viewed with profound suspicion by both the government and the majority as potential subversives or worse to lure the 14th Protestantism was a hostile ideology he was determined to elute from France he began a campaign of forcible conversion it climaxed in the revocation
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of the Edict of not an act which Lua had commemorated in this allegorical painting which hangs in the side the edict which was issued by Louie's grandfather King Henry the fourth had brought the terrible French Wars of Religion to an end by offering toleration to Protestants but in 1685 Louie decided that he could no longer endure what he saw as an affront to his Catholic conscience and his kingly
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dignity the edict was revoked and Protestantism was outlawed throughout France the allegory of the painting depicts the revocation up here as all sweetness and angels and light but the reality into that just hinted at down here was very different it was confiscation extreme violence imprisonment exile and even death in
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short what we might call religious cleansing as Winston work to finish volume 1 of his biography events in Germany began to echo lure the fourteens France elections in 1932 established the Nazis as the largest part in Parliament and in January 1933 Hitler became Chancellor in a coalition cabinet to most observers it all seemed democratic enough but within
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weeks legislation was passed which granted Hitler power to rule by decree [Music] soon after that legal discrimination persecution against Germany's Jewish citizens began in Britain criticism from both politicians and the press was muted there's no one wish to offend Germany however on the 13th of April Winston rose in the house to warn bluntly and in unambiguous terms about
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the real nature of the new dictatorship which had seized power in Germany about its persecution of the Jews and about the threat they posed to the whole peace and security of Europe intellectually smoothly stood to ender Church was astonishingly quick off the mark and the reason is he's watched Louie the fourteenth doing exactly the same thing and I think it's the
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experience it's the soaking in the world of the late 17th early 18th century that enables Churchill not only to understand the 1930s better than skin temperature understand them faster exactly the moment that everybody else in Britain is saying mr. Hitler is a man that we can do business with Churchill says look what he really is he is murdering the Jews and if you don't stop him he'll
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murder you in January 1685 king charles ii of england suddenly felt hill long live King Charles was succeeded by his brother James [Music] for John Churchill the accession of his long-standing patron and friend could have been should it be the Gateway to influence and wealth but James was a Catholic whilst John and Sara like
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James's daughter Ann were sincere Protestants and James was determined to coax or if need be curse is realm back to her ancient allegiance to the Roman Church soon John Churchill the courtier would have to choose between his king that is gold by late 1685 lure the fourteens brutal campaign against French Protestants was
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gathering force thousands and thousands of refugees began to pour into England to the English these refugees were living proof that Catholicism meant persecution and tyranny James so more and more of his subjects felt was plotting to become an English louis xiv and subvert the liberties and religion of his people but though james was a catholic his heirs his two surviving children from his first marriage Mary
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and Anne were both Protestants the elder Mary was married to William of Orange the military leader of the Dutch Republic and so everyone knew that when king james ii died england would once more have a protestant queen her consort the leading opponent of french aggression it was a comforting thought but in June 1688 after 15 years of childless marriage James's second wife
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Queen Mary of moderner gave birth to a healthy baby boy this changed everything James was no longer a Catholic aberration in an otherwise Protestant royal family instead he was the founder of a new Catholic dynasty that might rule England forever the fort as Winston put it was unendurable to Protestant England the solution was to invent a lie
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a noble lie in Plato's phrase the baby Prince it was claimed wasn't James's child at all instead it was a changeling smuggled into the Queen's bed in a warming path for many in England the only salvation from a fraudulent Catholic succession now lay across the North Sea with William of Orange and his Protestant army in a coded message seven leading
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parliamentarians invited William to bring a Dutch army to England to defend the Protestant faith and assert his wife Mary's claim to the throne as William weighed his options and mr. Sidney arrived with another letter it was from John Churchill Winston reproduces it in facsimile as well he might if it is one
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of the most significant letters in British history [Music] mr. Sydney will let you know how I intend to behave myself I think it is what I owe to garden my country if you think there is anything else I ought to do you have but to command me and I shall pay an entire obedience to it being resolved to die in that religion but it has pleased God to give you both the will and power to protect first
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sight this letter is somewhat elliptical as John Churchill describes his motives for action patriotism and Protestantism but not the act itself but that's hardly surprising since the act neither more nor less to what she was committing himself was treason as William would have realized the moment he read the letter here was England's leading general and James's right-hand man committing himself to help William invade England and by extension
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to overthrow James on October the 15th William embarked 15,000 troops in an armada of over 500 ships [Music] in England everybody including James knew that the invasion was coming the rebellion even had a theme song Lily bolero whose lyrics mocked the Irish Catholic truths that James was supposed to be bringing over to defend
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his crown to sung in taverns and street corners across the land [Music] he said that James really knew there was a military conspiracy when he heard the century at his door who slammed the tube [Music] on the 5th of November symbolic day 1688
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William landed at Torbay in Devon but James quickly concentrated 25,000 men on Salisbury Plain between William and London his army was larger but would it be loyal James hurried from Windsor to join his troops with John Churchill it aside newly promoted leftenant General the 23rd of November James held a council of war John Churchill as usual believing that attack
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was the best form of Defense recommended advancing towards William but the French General that James had put in overall command instead advised falling back towards London James concurred that same night John Churchill and 400 officers and men crept out of the royal camp and rode for their lives to join William it was the end James fled England for France we scarcely a shot fired the
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English had got rid of the last king who would ever try to claim absolute authority over them from now on Parliament would be sovereign and the monarchy in the shape of William and Mary would be Protestant and England at that point embarks on a new path not simply a dependent a satellite of France but a new rival power representing a new
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different way of doing things and at that moment in 1688 with more precise with that letter that we looked at a new chapter or rather a new book a new volume in English and European history opens and it continues through war after war with first of all France as the enemy then Germany [Music]
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and that of course is what Churchill sees his own career about is what each trying to remind people in 1932 and 1933 is at stake representative government democracy the legacy of 1688 is an ancestors legacy these are all at stake and Churchill feels that it will be is destiny to take up barber sword to defend them waging the first volume of more bruh and open Winston's eyes and helped him to be
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the first to recognize the Nazi threat to Britain over the next six years his work of the remaining three volumes took him still further he gave added weight to his repeated warnings of the dangers of German rearmament and as time went by it marked him out more and more as the man to lead Britain in a forthcoming life-and-death struggle with Hitler and the Nazis [Music]

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