Seven Ages of Britain
Seven Ages of Britain is a BBC television documentary series which is written and presented by David Dimbleby.
The series covers the history of Britain’s greatest art and artifacts over the past 2000 years. Each episode covers a different period in British history.
1. Age of Conquest. The first part of the chronicle begins with the Roman invasion and ends with the Norman Conquest. David travels throughout Britain in search of the greatest works of art from the time: the mosaics of Bignor Roman Villa, the burial treasure of Sutton Hoo, Anglo-Saxon poetry and Alfred the Great’s Jewel.
Click on the links below to watch the rest of the episodes.
2. Age of Worship. The story of British art in the Middle Ages, spanning from the murder of Thomas Becket in 1170 to the death of Richard II in 1400. It was an age defined by worship – whether worship of God, the king, or one’s lady love.
3. Age of Power. This episode looks at the Tudors and spans from Henry VIII’s accession in 1509 to the first performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII exactly 100 years later.
4. Age of Revolution. In the 17th century, when the people of Britain learned to question everything. The result was the Civil War, in which everyone, including artists, had to take sides. Out of it came a reinvented monarchy, a scientific revolution and, ultimately, the great Cathedral of St Paul’s.
5. Age of Money. In the 18th century, the triumph of commerce led to the emergence of a new ‘middle’ class, a group of people who craved pleasure and novelty, and developed its own tastes in art. The result was a golden age in painting, with Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough reinventing the British style.
6. Age of Empire. The story of the British Empire from 1750 to 1900, revealed through its art and treasures. David Dimbleby travels through Britain, America and India, tracing the descent from adventure and inspiration into moral bankruptcy as the Empire became a self-serving bureaucratic machine.
7. Age of Ambition. In the last episode, David Dimbleby looks at how the 20th century saw ordinary Britons upturning ancient power structures and class hierarchies. The catalyst was the First World War, which embroiled the whole nation and called traditional values into question.