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Empire: Total War

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Original Thread: BBC Radio 4 Presents Empire: Total War



Welcome to the BBC Radio 4 archive. Here we have compiled the full series by Dr. David Stephenson on his Empire: Total war series.

This series focuses on the intense wars of Europe and the powerful Empires forged from it. Following the perspective of the United Provinces starting in the 1700s, we'll be chronicling the wars waged under the Dutch banner.

For more information about warfare in this period, we recommend the following link.

If you are tuning in from our archives instead of live, we have included a gallery of paintings, photographs, demonstrations and maps with captions in the full script provided for the hearing impaired.

The Second Eighty Years War

November 2 Broadcast
The series begins with a look into the circumstances that began the conquest of Paris in the famed battle of Le Havre, and the siege and fall of Paris. Professor David Stephenson begins by explaining the espionage and subterfuge that allowed a small yet wealthy trade nation bring an industrial and military giant to its knees, as well as the build up of armies that would fight only a few years later.

November 5 Broadcast
Following the military conspiracy to split the French armies, the Dutch begin their daring assault on France fighting their way through the English channel, to Le Havre, to the streets of Paris.

November 8 Broadcast
After the conquest of France, the Dutch army deals with an outdated army, the election of 1704, and the Mustard Rebellion of France.

November 11 Broadcast
The Dutch settle into a short period of peace and prosperity as they build their economy and military to attack the Spanish Empire at home and abroad. The scientific revolution begins ushering in the industrial age.

November 14 Broadcast
The peaceful years of Dutch advancement continues as they further solidify their hold on France, organize their internal politics. Now is the time to consider their place in the world stage, and the other actors upon it.

November 17 Broadcast
The peace is shattered by the Spanish invasion across the Pyrenees mountains. Finally, the Dutch have the will, the resources and the drive to eliminate their hated enemies in Spain.

November 20 Broadcast
The French, using the Spanish as a distraction commit to an all out charge against the Dutch army stationed in Paris. Met at the border, this was the Battle of Nancy.

November 23 Broadcast
The Dutch hunt down the Spanish in their greatest revenue producing provinces, hoping to completely eliminate the Spanish nation. Sensing that only a cursory cleanup would be needed to finish Spain, the Dutch direct their attention to Mysore in India.

November 26 Broadcast.
The Dutch invade India in the first part of what is to become known as the 80 years war. The legendary battle of Nicolaes pass ensue, as well as many others all across India.

November 29 Broadcast.
The Dutch consolidate their position in India as both sides lick their wounds. However, a new and overzealous cabinet begin a war with every neighbor of the United Provinces, starting the second 80 years war in Europe.

December 2 Broadcast
The Dutch efforts are scattered over 5 continents as the war's initial movements are played out. Now with room to breathe, the Dutch consider their options and the direction this war will take.

December 5 Broadcast
With the Dutch tied down in wars all across the globe, a new cabinet seeks to reorganize their armies to defend and expand. But what armies will they raise? What nations will attack them? What lands will they conquer?

December 8 Broadcast
The Dutch conquest regains momentum, but the same pitfall arises stopping them in their tracks after just 2 years. What will their solution to this perpetual problem be?

December 11 Broadcast
The Dutch need to expand their army. But how much could they afford? What about the Dutch let them afford the enormous army that they had? The Dutch factories, farms and trade are discussed and analysed.

December 14 Broadcast
The Dutch settle in for more economic and military reforms. This time, they react much more proactively to enemy raids, and their armies are already showing the strength needed to conquer the world.

December 17 Broadcast
The Dutch can't stay on the defensive forever. Eventually, they'll have to move forward from their borders to attack. Now, with the phantom British army on the horizon, the Dutch plans, motivated more by politics than the war effort are completely altered after a surprise attack.

December 20 Broadcast
Politics rather than prudence begins to dominate the direction of the Dutch Empire, and the tremendous army continues to voraciously consume their money. The Austrians had nearly been knocked out of the war, with the unstoppable Dutch prepared to take Vienna, and prepared to advance across all of India, where will the reversal to their fortunes take place?

December 23 Broadcast
The Dutch were a competitor through Asia, be it China, Korea or the East Indies. However, they had been the sole traders from Europe to a small island nation that would become one of today's technological giants. How did the Dutch come to influence the Japanese?

December 26 Broadcast
The Dutch are finally able to clean up India, and are in a position to draw their soldiers back to Europe. Austria is on their last legs. With success everywhere but the Americas, the Dutch were now completely in a state of military paralysis. Running out of fronts to advance through, the Dutch needed to complete one of their wars to consolidate their forces into a single theater to end the war.

December 29 Broadcast
Everything in place, the Dutch make their move against the Maratha. With an advance across all of India, the Maratha had already been defeated. After the final conquest of India, what would the future of the Dutch soldiers in India be?

January 4 Broadcast
The Dutch have the Maratha in the palm of their hands. Soldiers are eager to return home, or to greater and more lucrative glory in Britain. But the Maratha weren't the only power in India. Aspirations of their return to greatness, the Mughal try to reclaim what was once theirs, but the Dutch, the most powerful nation in the world, show them just how far they have fallen.

January 7 Broadcast
The Dutch have conquered India. But since 1734, the Dutch had been moving, preparing and fighting in North America. With the British and Iroquois presenting a difficult wall for the Dutch to breach, how would they hold out? What would let them advance?

January 10 Broadcast
The Dutch have made their mark over more of the known world than any empire preceding them. Across their territories are the most diverse range of ethnic groups, all with their own demands, rights and influence. As the Empire expands, election, rule and politics become incrementally more labyrinthine. What were the Dutch considering at the time?

January 13 Broadcast
The Dutch are victorious everywhere, but Brittania is not truly beaten until she is beaten at sea. The Dutch prepare a massive naval undertaking to face down the British navy that is sowing havoc across the Americas.

January 16 Broadcast
The Dutch again bogged into an undesirable war with the Italians, but the war was poorly timed both for the Italians and the Dutch. The returning troops had hoped to finally end the war against Britain, but at the same time, the Italians had not expected the thousands of troops from India. Though predictable, this is how the war unfolds.

January 19 Broadcast
The Dutch fight it out with Britain in the last remaining strongholds of Boston and Maine. With new wars springing up across their entire empire, the Dutch were forced to stretch their forces to the absolute limit. The world had become a much smaller place for the empire, and it was obvious that the rest of the world would be needed to oppose it.

January 22 Broadcast
The Dutch, still just scarcely locked in the Mediterranean by the Genoese are finally forced into a fight in both Bastia and Genoa. With such a dramatic lead in men, morale, training and experience in both battles, the Dutch are at a tremendous advantage. All that is left for the Genoese to do, is to make the battle as bloody for the Dutch as possible.

January 25 Broadcast
The attacks by the British intensify year by year in the English channel. The Dutch navy, tired and in need of repair and refit are slowly being worn down. With the Dutch still holding firm, a hammer blow from a powerful navy could shatter the weakened Dutch navy. The British are clearly hoping for such an attack, but will it be from the British Navy, or someone else?

January 28 Broadcast
As the Dutch elections come to the fore once more, the Republicans need to improve their standing both with the Dutch and abroad. Still at war with Venice, the Dutch needed an opening to negotiate peace with Poland. Who would the new government of the United Provinces be? Would they be wise enough to keep their massive empire together?

January 31 Broadcast
The Dutch continue their minor wars in the Mediterranean, but even as they do so, the battle over British soil was soon to be under way. As the second 80 years war comes close to its fortieth year, a whole new generation take the reigns, completely ignorant of a life at peace.

February 3 Broadcast
The Dutch encounter a deadly British fleet, but it's been badly wounded. Desperate to prevent them from making it to port, the Dutch navy springs into action to intercept them, but the presence of a powerful British fleet which had eluded Dutch intelligence until that point had far greater consequences than just a naval assault.

February 6 Broadcast
The Dutch have finally found themselves before the walls of London. With the British tied up in a battle over the port of Bristol, the Dutch had landed the guard directly south of London, and while slow deployment would guarantee the British time to respond, would it provide enough time for them to push out the Dutch?

February 9 Broadcast
The Dutch hold London. People in the streets of their Empire celebrate the end of the war, but in London, the Dutch are prisoners of their own conquest. With thousands of British soldiers, and an inability to control the revolt forming from the countryside, the Dutch could not hold London. Now, the Dutch needed to fight to survive.

February 12 Broadcast
With the Dutch beaten in London, and facing turbulance at home, and with the British in dire straights across the channel, both sides need to find peace. For Britain, it is no longer possible to attain this peace through force of arms, and so Britain turns to diplomacy, finding their allies, and even negotiating with the Dutch.

February 15 Broadcast
The Dutch buy off their populace to try and unify the country under a majority government, but with a nation pulling itself apart in every which direction, the Republicans were going to need to find new ways to consolidate their rule. With the 1758 election looming, they did not have much time to secure the support they would need.

February 18 Broadcast
The Dutch are at peace, the Republicans in control. But within two years of office, the Western Atlantic Federation is going to receive an offer that will shock the world, and change the course of history for over two hundred years. When the Ottoman Empire comes to join the Dutch Empire, when the world's two largest and most powerful Empires are poised to merge, the consequences can be nothing but earthshaking.

February 21 Broadcast
The past decades have been a time of tremendous economic and scientific progress in the world. As more discoveries are made every day, the Dutch find scientific discovery slowing, and that their economy, though powerful, was finding it difficult to grow. What were the reasons for this change, and what was being done to combat it?

February 24 Broadcast
The Dutch have been in a state of peace for four years. In the tumultuous times of the 1700s, peace could not last. Not in the United Provinces, and not anywhere in the world. With Britain thoroughly intimidated by the Dutch, what threats would arise to challenge the monolithic Dutch Empire?

February 27 Broadcast
The start of a modern crusade. Peace was no longer within reach for the Dutch as religious extremism spread through the Poland, and as the Polish army forces their way forward in a series of attacks and counter attacks, what would it take for the Dutch to end the war?

March 2 Broadcast
With Dutch forces securing a path to Berlin, and investing Breslau and Prague, the Polish prepare for their counter attack. The Dutch cannot allow the Polish menace to grow in strength with the call for crusade, and so hope to defeat their forces swiftly, but with crusading warriors from within their own ranks, how will the Dutch cope?

March 5 Broadcast
The Dutch continue their press into the Crusader state of Poland, but as the war unfolds, support from the British is becoming more and more clear. With clamour over the continuation of a war that should have been finished, the Orange party find their support on the rise. Their peace was short, but has led to the continuation of the 80 years war, and the first great war.

March 8 Broadcast
The Polish have failed to break through the Dutch lines. Now, with an opportunity to create a powerful buffer region between themselves and the Polish crusaders, the Dutch prepare to deliver the final blow to the cities of Berlin, Dresden and Prague. Once secure, the Dutch will be free to send over ten thousand men across the channel and into Britain.

March 11 Broadcast
The Dutch army is in a position to finally end the threat of the British Empire. With firm and just reason for war against the British, their preparations entirely in order, and all the means to completely destroy Britain in a single stroke, the Dutch were about to embark upon the greatest naval invasion of history.[/i]

March 14 Broadcast
Edinburgh, Ireland and every colony has been captured. The Dutch guard, focused on a single point are knocking on the doorstep the London once more. The British guard, which had been split between Scotland and England lay halved, the entire Scottish contingent dead. With the hangman's noose tied, the Dutch had not to do but kick away the chair.

March 17 Broadcast
The Dutch, now masters of all of Western Europe find themselves embroiled in a conflict in both the East as the Polish attempt to break through, and in the west against English rebels. By then, the Dutch had such a military that no one in the world could oppose them. And still, the rebels kept on raising their futile resistances, and the Polish crusaders threw themselves into the invincible Dutch armies.

March 20 Broadcast
The British have formed their first rebellion, but it was not the only one. The second and third Cambridge rebellions, the East Anglia rebellion and the Birmingham rebellion were all to follow. The Dutch guard, well stationed in London were ready to act, but would they hold out for eight long years of rebel attacks?

March 23 Broadcast
Even as the British rebel, the crusaders continue their fight against the Dutch, extending the eighty years war as the Dutch remain at war with the remaining allies of the British. While no longer exposed to the Polish forces themselves, the Dutch were not entirely in the clear. In the Baltic, and in the mountains in the east, the Dutch find themselves still embroiled in conflict around the world.

March 26 Broadcast
The Dutch come upon the 1776 election, and the most benevolent of enlightened minds form the Republican party. In a case of a single party defining not only the way the world was understood, but also partitioning the world as we know it today, the Dutch create a true Federation of states. Only one nation fully dissents from this turn of events, and it is the only nation within the Federation powerful enough to tear them apart.

March 29 Broadcast
As the Federation settles, Amsterdam stirs. With success, conquest and glory should have come wealth and riches, but the soft, inept Republican party was too weak to grab what they had earned, throwing it at the feet of their conquered subjects. Sick of seeing the fruits of their labour granted to everyone but the citizens of the United Provinces, the Orange conspiracy begins.

April 1 Broadcast
Just like this documentary, the eighty years war ends for the Dutch. Becoming an independent nation from their own creation, the Dutch throw Europe into chaos, and their inability or unwillingness to break the dividing line between East and Western Europe leads to a series of conflicts that would last until the eighties.

Additional updates to the archive will be made as the series progresses.

Also, the Making of BBC Radio 4: Empire Total War is now on television. Please make sure to watch it if you are curious about this program. The show's video on demand can be found here

For the second episode of the Making Of, please click here

For the third episode of the Making Of, please click here.

For the fourth episode of the Making of, please click here.

For the fifth episode of the Making of, please click here.

A special thank you from the crew and cast of the Empire total war series here.

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Our collection of all questions and answer relating to this series compiled for archival purposes:

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November 16

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November 23

November 26

November 27

December 1

December 4

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December 7

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December 16

December 24

December 27

December 31

January 1

January 2

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