Winchester academics join BBC History Weekend

29 Sep 2017

Academics from the University of Winchester History department explore the lives and roles of members of medieval British royalty as part of BBC History Weekend (6-8 October).

During the weekend festival, the University of Winchester presents three intriguing talks covering the rebel nephew of Alfred the Great, the reign of ill-suited monarch Henry VI and misunderstood royal matriarchs throughout history.

Dr Ellie Woodacre , Senior Lecturer in Early Modern European History, and Dr Carey Fleiner, Senior Lecturer in Classical and Early Medieval History, investigate the role and reputation of royal mothers. Drawing upon case studies that range from dysfunctional mother-son relationships to mothers valued by offspring as sage advisors for effective rule, the talk revaluates the image of royal mothers from Ancient Rome to Restoration England.

Exploring the story of the nephew of the King of Wessex, Alfred the Great, Dr Ryan Lavelle, Reader in Early Medieval History, will present the historical picture around ætheling (prince) Æthelwold, son of King Alfred's predecessor, Æthelred I of Wessex. Recounting a story of intrigue and opposition in the heart of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex in the age of the Vikings, Dr Lavelle will delve into what we know of Æthelwold's hopes and plans, his frustrations and his death in battle at the start of the tenth century.

Was Henry VI a good king? Dr James Ross, Reader in Late Medieval History, analyses the disastrous reign of the fifteenth century monarch. Dr Ross will seek to understand Henry's character and the ways in which he was spectacularly ill-suited to be king, illustrating how this led to his final defeat in the Hundred Years War and the outbreak of the Wars of the Roses.
Dr Ryan Lavelle and Dr Ellie Woodacre will also provide historical walking tours around the city of Winchester during the weekend, offering an Anglo-Saxon tour and Royal Winchester tour respectively.

This year, the University of Winchester's fringe event, History Bites, is set to return. The event features eight short talks from postgraduate students and staff from the University of Winchester, including a discussion of poetic competitions in Ancient Greece, an insight into the spending habits of Henry VII and VIII, and a study of four fifteenth century royal women who were accused of witchcraft.

"The BBC History Weekend is a great opportunity for our staff, students, and the public to share our interests and to bring together different viewpoints on exciting and innovative research projects," said Dr Carey Fleiner.

Winchester academics will be joined by popular history speakers Dan Jones, Michael Wood and Tracy Borman, as the BBC History Weekend festival returns to the city for its second year, before moving onto York from 24-26 November. The Winchester BBC History Weekend takes place between Friday 6 and Sunday 8 October:

The Man Who Would Be King: The Rebel Nephew of Alfred the Great by Dr Ryan Lavelle: Friday 6 October, 6-7pm

History Bites: Saturday 7 October

Henry VI (1422-71). A 'Good, Simple and Innocen'" man by Dr James Ross: Sunday 8 October, 10.30-11.30am

Misunderstood Matriarchs?: The Role and Reputation of Royal Mothers from Ancient Rome to Restoration England by Dr Ellie Woodacre and Dr Carey Fleiner: Sunday 8 October, 12-1pm

Anglo-Saxon and Royal Winchester historic walking tours: throughout the weekend

Find a full schedule of events and book your place on the BBC History Weekend website:

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