Episode 24: Blood

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat’ (Winston Churchill). For this episode let us join the colander of calendars, Professor James Daybell and the father figure of the fact, Dr Sam Willis as they get our pulses racing and stir up the unexpected history of blood. Our vampiric duo will lead you on a blood-curdling journey from the French Revolution and Madame Guillotine to Powderham Castle and the lineage of the Courtenay family, from the reign of Elizabeth I and the astrologer and herbalist Simon Forman’s dangerous menstruating woman to Mansur ibn Ilyas’s fourteenth-century work on anatomy, and from the Royal College of Surgeons and the Hunterian Museum to Las Vegas and the Bodies Exhibition, not forgetting a jaunt through Catholic blood relics along the way!

James and Sam will coagulate the links to discover that this unexpected history is actually all about: the female life cycle, male fear, feuds, medicine, purging, inheritance, law, identity, culture, magic, art, tradition, religion, ritual, and the price we place on a life.

Listen out as James reveals that he’s related to a king-killer (Walter Tyrrell), and find out why Nelson’s trousers are so valued. Keep an eye out for the next Histories of the Unexpected spinoff in to adult colouring books ‘Colour of Blood’… maybe not, but if you want to know the colour of beetle blood listen closely.


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