History documentaries

From the dawn of civilization to the emergence of modern-day superpowers, BBC Select hosts a wide-ranging collection of world history documentaries. If you live in the US or Canada, you can sign up to watch these BBC history documentaries hosted by the likes of Bettany Hughes, Lucy Worsley, Simon Schama and David Olusoga today.

The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors

The Ottomans: Britain's Muslim Emperors

It was the world’s last Islamic empire. From its capital in Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire was a super-power that matched the glories of Ancient Rome. After six centuries in power, it collapsed less than a hundred years ago. So why do so few realize its importance in today’s Middle East? Journalist Rageh Omaar examines this great dynasty from a religious, economic and social perspective.

Ep 1: From Nomad to Sultan
Discover how the Ottomans were transformed from nomads to rulers of a vast empire. How did nomadic horsemen in a rural backwater of modern-day Turkey become rulers of a vast empire? Rageh Omaar investigates the roots of the Ottomans and the incredible speed with which they ruled over Baghdad and Cairo in the south, controlling the holiest sites of Islam: Mecca and Jerusalem. Soon they reached deep into Europe, taking Sarajevo and threatening the gates of Vienna.

Ep 2: Contrasting Fortunes
What was a Muslim world run from Europe really like for residents of the Ottoman Empire? What was life like in the Ottoman Empire? Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different sultans. Suleiman the Magnificent lived in the golden age of the 16th century. By contrast during the 19th century reign of Abdul Hamid II, the failing Empire was dubbed ‘the Sick Man of Europe’. Rageh also examines the cultural, religious and political legacy of the Ottomans.

Ep 3: Empire’s End
How did the mighty Ottoman Empire collapse and why is its failure still being felt today? How did an Empire as vast and mighty as the Ottomans finally collapse? Rageh Omaar looks at the last days of the Ottomans, the reasons for its demise and why its achievements were largely lost in the trauma of its final years. The fallout from its failure and the carve-up of former Ottoman lands created tensions that still resonate across Europe and the Middle East today.

Last Battle Of The Vikings

Last Battle of the vikings

Marine archeologist Dr. Jon Henderson tells the story of the Norsemen in Scotland. Visiting fascinating archeological sites across Scotland and Norway, he reveals that their presence continues to shape the identity and culture of Scotland.

The Catacomb Mystery

The Catacomb Mystery

Deep beneath the streets of Rome is an amazing underground world. A labyrinth of tunnels and vaults more than 360 miles long. This vast subterranean cemetery was created by ancient Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. In recent times, a catacomb containing thousands of human skeletons was unearthed. Now a team of specialists is on a mission to unlock the secrets of the skeletons.

The Last Days Of Anne Boleyn

In 1536, Anne Boleyn, the wife of Henry VIII, became the first queen in Britain’s history to be executed. The brutal speed of her downfall and the astonishing nature of the charges against her – treason, adultery, even incest – make her story shocking even to this day. The truth behind her brutal death, and who was responsible, has been the subject of fiery debate across six centuries.

The Most Dangerous Man In Tudor England

Image of the most dangerous man in Tudor

He was a man whose life and legacy have been hidden from history, but whose impact on Christianity in Britain endures today. In this BBC history documentary, Melvyn Bragg explores the dramatic story of William Tyndale and his mission to translate the Bible into English. His radical work made him a profound threat to the authority of the church and set him on a fateful collision course with Henry VIII’s heretic hunters.