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Society & Culture
History

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

Updated 2 months ago

Society & Culture
History
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A weekly podcast covering the build up to, breakout of and consequences of various conflicts in history.

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A weekly podcast covering the build up to, breakout of and consequences of various conflicts in history.

iTunes Ratings

510 Ratings
Average Ratings
435
41
14
12
8

Phoenix lawyer

By Mandingoski - May 27 2020
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The Thirty Years War and Bismark series are fantastic Zack T is a fantastic. My eight year old daughter and I listen to every episode.

Top tier

By matt_h84 - Jan 22 2019
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This is one of the most well researched and entertaining podcasts out there

iTunes Ratings

510 Ratings
Average Ratings
435
41
14
12
8

Phoenix lawyer

By Mandingoski - May 27 2020
Read more
The Thirty Years War and Bismark series are fantastic Zack T is a fantastic. My eight year old daughter and I listen to every episode.

Top tier

By matt_h84 - Jan 22 2019
Read more
This is one of the most well researched and entertaining podcasts out there
Cover image of When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

When Diplomacy Fails Podcast

Latest release on Aug 05, 2020

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A weekly podcast covering the build up to, breakout of and consequences of various conflicts in history.

Rank #1: WDF 28.0: The Second Anglo-Dutch War I

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The drought is over, the dust is settling and a new war is on the horizon. Who are we? We are When Diplomacy Fails, and we are back to our roots looking at the series of wars and events which occurred during the era of Louis XIV - the Sun King. In this episode we intro you all to the first of our twelve parter (I know!) on the Second Anglo-Dutch War, a critical war for the history of the era in its own right, and one which sets us up for so much of what's to come, so let's begin, in a makeshift room on some dingy island (and I'm not talking about my desk!). Thankssssssss! Remember history friends, you can help this podcast and ensure that this is where history thrives! Support us by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails Follow me on Twitter @wdfpodcast And visit our official website www.wdfpodcast.com

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Jul 31 2016

38mins

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Rank #2: 30YearsWar: 17th Century Warfare Episode 6

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We return with part 6 of our series on 17th century warfare, and in this episode we have something very special for you guys – an examination of the sick man of Europe, before he was sick, but when he was certainly maligned and looked down upon. For some time, it has been supposed that the Ottoman Empire could not keep pace with Western Europe, and that her eclipse by the West European powers in the 1700s was an inevitable, rational process which can be partially explained by the Turk’s reluctance to accept new technological advances. Yet, as we’ll learn here, this generalisation against the Turks is as unfair as it is unfounded. 


The Ottoman Empire possessed one of the most advanced organisational and administrative systems in the world at the dawn of the 17th century. She was equipped with some of the most educated military minds, and had on site some of the best facilities for producing the weapons of war which he soldiers needed. This was not a sick man of Europe, nor did the patient show any signs of illness – far from it. The Turk was the envy of the continent thanks to the immense successes and accomplishments of her Sultans and soldiers, and it was partially to explain away these successes that the more unflattering myths about the Turk’s barbarity did the rounds.


In this episode we’ll learn what the Turk was truly capable of, and why he made use of certain weapons which were shown to be obsolete in other parts of Europe. The Military Revolution, as we’ll see, was not the blanket theory which could be universally applied to all – advancements in technology did not arrive evenly to the continent, and even when they did, these advancements were affected by the circumstances on the ground, and issues as simple as whether Tartars were more comfortable firing a technically obsolete bow, than picking up a more ‘modern’ carbine. So I hope you’ll join me here history friends, while we examine the Turk’s prowess in the detail it deserves. Thanksss! 

SPONSORS

1) Use the code WDF15 to get 15% off your stylish new pair of headphones/earphones/listening things

2) To access some fascinating books, nerd out with like minded enthusiasts, further your knowledge of some classical works, get 25% off your first three months AND help the show, head on over to onlinegreatbooks.com!

Remember to BEFIT!

B is for blog

E is for email wdfpodcast@hotmail.com

F is for Facebook, the Page and the Group

I is for iTunes, please rate, review and subscribe

T is for TELL ANYONE!

1) Pre-order our book on the Thirty Years War 2) Are you TeamFerdinand or TeamFrederick ? It's time to pick a side, and a t-shirt! 3) Don't forget of course to support WDF on Patreon to access ad-free episodes with the scripts attached, as well an hour of extra content every month, and so much more! - $1, $2 & $5 memberships available!...  

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Aug 02 2018

31mins

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Rank #3: WDF Rem* 1: The Franco-Prussian War I

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Here we are! The first remastered episode of our special and the official beginning of a very exciting project from WDF. Now that we're finally here I can shut up about it all, and introduce you back into the world which we were last a part of...5 years ago. Thankssss for making all of this possible history friends, and remember to support us at WDF is you are as excited as I am to begin! Remember also history friends, to make sure that you BEFIT! Visit our website www.wdfpodcast.com Follow us on Twitter @wdfpodcast and find us on Patreon by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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May 21 2017

33mins

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Rank #4: BismarckRise #1: 'I, Bismarck' [1815-1851]

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Want to skip the queue and access all episodes of BismarckRise right NOW? OF COURSE YOU DO! Click here for more

Unsure of what's going on? Read this blog post for more information on BismarckRise.


In this episode, the first of eight, we explore the life of a young Otto von Bismarck, and assess the different events, influences and individuals who moved through his life. It’s a personal story, but it’s also a story about the unassuming, you could even say unremarkable, beginnings, of a man who would one day dominate Europe. At this stage in his life, only those three qualities – intelligence, ambition and energy – were palpable, but there was also something raw within the young Otto that suggested a great potential, if only it could be harnessed…


We also see Bismarck living through some incredibly significant events. Born in the final moments of the Napoleonic Wars, Bismarck seemed to come of age during the 1848 revolutions, which to his contemporaries appeared like the beginning of the end of Old Prussia, to be replaced by a new radical liberal iteration, beholden to the mob. This did not pan out, but we still see young Otto here present himself to the authorities in Berlin, and try to make himself useful. His suggestions to the royal family on how to deal with the crisis would make him a firm enemy in Augusta, wife of Prince Wilhelm, for life. By this stage though, Bismarck’s introduction to politics had already been complete – he had acquired a seat in the United Diet in 1847, so this experience of revolution was like the cherry on top of a political education without parallel in Prussian history.


In spite of his late blooming, only discovering what he really wanted to do at age 32, Bismarck quickly made up for lost time. This confrontational, coarse, but unmistakably vibrant and dynamic individual managed to charm his peers, with the result that he gained a seat in the Landtag at Berlin in 1849. Plying his trade for the next few years, Bismarck established a reputation for himself as a reactionary, a conservative Junker of the old school, when in reality, he was most interested in furthering his own career, and laying his hands on some real power. Power, for Bismarck, as he quickly discovered, was more intoxicating than anything else he had ever known, and he needed to have more. To the surprise of nobody but Bismarck, the King did not grant him a ministerial post, but he did not pass him over either. Amidst troubling diplomatic crises, the relationship between Prussia, Austria and Russia seemed destined to change. Bismarck, noted the King, could be immensely useful under these circumstances, and the King very much intended to use him.


In spring 1851, Bismarck learned that his first posting of serious significance would be in Frankfurt, the capital of German cooperation and political intrigue, where representatives from the German princes gathered. It was here that Bismarck would land first. His superiors intended for Frankfurt to be his political education – here was a chance as well to put their enthusiastic, energetic subject to good use. A friendship with Austria, so it appeared, could be best achieved with this mad Junker, who had voiced his support of the Austrian partnership in the past. And so off Bismarck went to Frankfurt, but before long, his personal role began to change. Far from willing to kowtow to Vienna, Bismarck quickly discovered just how restrictive the Austrian domination of Germany had become for Prussia. And then the idea began to germinate within him – an idea which would distinguish him from his peers, launch his political career, and redefine the Prussian Kingdom. So long as Austria reigned supreme, Bismarck believed, Prussia could never achieve its full...  

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Apr 30 2020

3hr 15mins

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Rank #5: 30YearsWar: 17th Century Warfare Episode 7

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The fire by rank tactic used by Europeans in the 18th and 19th centuries had surprising beginnings, as we learn in this episode. While key military thinkers like Maurice of Nassau in the Netherlands played a pivotal role in changing how infantry were viewed and used on the battlefield, it is highly likely that he acquired inspiration for these ideas not just from Europe’s Ancient past, but also from Asian innovations many thousands of miles away.


The adoption of the musket on a wide scale and its incorporation into the infantry-based armies of the 1500s was a process made into legend by the Spanish, who achieved their supremacy on the continent with the tercio formations – pikemen squares surrounded by musketmen, with a secure centre and the capacity to meet any challenge, be it man or beast, on the field.

This tercio formation granted the Spanish stunning victories, from Pavia in 1525, all the way up to Nordlingen in 1634. Yet, as a tactic, it was gradually dying, to be replaced by Maurice of Nassau’s innovations in the fire by rank approach. In this tactic, men would line up as a group of musketmen several ranks deep. The front rank would discharge their weapons and march to the back of their unit to reload, with the second rank following suit, and so on. In this way, a constant volley of fire would be poured into the enemy – in this case the vaunted Spanish tercio formations, with devastating results.


This tactic harnessed the potential for superior firepower which the musket could boast, and it ensured that further innovations were possible. In this episode we trace the development of this idea from its unlikely beginnings, and in the next episode, we will see it in action for the first time. Make sure you join us for this fascinating look at European warfare in the 17th century history friends! Thanksss!

SPONSORS

1) Use the code WDF15 to get 15% off your stylish new pair of headphones/earphones/listening things

2) To access some fascinating books, nerd out with like minded enthusiasts, further your knowledge of some classical works, get 25% off your first three months AND help the show, head on over to onlinegreatbooks.com!

Remember to BEFIT!

B is for blog

E is for email wdfpodcast@hotmail.com

F is for Facebook, the Page and the Group

I is for iTunes, please rate, review and subscribe

T is for TELL ANYONE!

1) Pre-order our book on the Thirty Years War 2) Are you TeamFerdinand or TeamFrederick ? It's time to pick a side, and a t-shirt! 3) Don't forget of course to support WDF on Patreon to access ad-free episodes with the scripts attached, as well an hour of extra content every month, and so much more! - $1, $2 & $5 memberships available! 4) Of course, make sure you also follow us on Twitter, visit our...  

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Sep 02 2018

35mins

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Rank #6: Versailles #50: Deliberations on Reparations

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At long last, we turn our attention to the controversial issue of reparations. Perhaps no issue at the Paris Peace Conference, and no single tenet of the Treaty of Versailles has been the source of as much controversy as the question of how much Germany should pay to answer for its crimes of launching the Great War, yet in this first of an unofficial two-parter, we will learn that the conventional narrative of reparations is very far removed indeed from the reality. The eternal wisdom of John Maynard Keynes, we will discover, was far from so universal as historians have come to believe, and our impression of where the peacemakers went wrong and who was to blame over the reparations question is, I will explain, unfairly and unjustly skewed. It's time to set the record straight, or as straight as we can make it, so if you're eager for a revisionist take on 1919's most controversial question, look no further than our 50th episode!

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The Versailles Anniversary Project is possible because of your support and interest - make sure to spread the word, engage with the debate, and look at the different ways you can help this project succeed!

->Visit the homeland for this new project!

->Become a delegate and play the Delegation Game for just $6 a month!

->Support the podcast financially and access ad free episodes with transcripts from just $2 a month! 

->Follow WDF on Twitter! 

->Join the Facebook group!

->Subscribe on iTunes!


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Mar 27 2019

41mins

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Rank #7: 1916 - Episode 16: 'The Beginning of Ireland New'

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In our final episode (and also our longest!) we examine the complex series of events which led Ireland to exterminate its Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1918 General Election, to replace it with the Sinn Fein Party - the political arm of the 1916 Rising, and the vehicle through which revolutionary violence would dominate Ireland for the next few decades. It is a winding listen, tying together a number of issues as well as posing a series of controversial, challenging questions to you guys, so I hope you all enjoy it, and let me know what you think! MUSIC: 'The Mother' & 'James Connolly' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG/ALBUM. Remember history friends, you can help this podcast and ensure that this is where history thrives! Support us by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails Follow me on Twitter @wdfpodcast And visit our official website www.wdfpodcast.com

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Jun 15 2016

50mins

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Rank #8: Korean War #15: Ignorance Is Bliss

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Episode 15: Ignorance Is Bliss examines the behaviour of the US towards its South Korean ally. Since the American strategy was now to lure North Korea into attacking, we'll see in this episode exactly how determined the Truman administration was to chronically underfund and jeopardise the security of Seoul. Ignoring the protests, concerns and urgency professed even by some of its own State Department staff, the US behaved as though it had no concept of what was happening in South Korea in spring 1950, and that it did not know that the Soviets were now actively supporting the North as it prepared to invade.


If the North planned to invade, Washington planned to make South Korea as juicy a target as possible for its neighbours. Only in this way would the conflict necessary for the realisation of NSC68 be achieved. So Syngman Rhee was faced with complaints from Washington that inflation in his country was rife, and that he would have to sort this out before sufficient military aid would be provided. Where Rhee protested that his state was desperately vulnerable in light of rumours of Northern rearmament, Acheson(pictured here with Truman) stalled, and presented the South Korean regime as too beligerent to be trusted with greater defensive capabilities, a claim which has mostly stuck to this day.


In the height of his desperation, the uninformed American ambassador to South Korea, John J Muccio, would attempt to travel to Washington and make his case. As he planned his trip, it was difficult to believe that the Truman administration could indeed be this grossly incompetant and ignorant of the situation. As we'll see, this conventional explanation for why the US ignored the repeated warnings doesn't hold up particularly well under scrutiny. It's time to challenge what you think you know, and I'm here as always to help you do that!

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Music Used:

 "Gloomy Sunday", by Paul Whiteman, released in 1936. This iconic tune was made use of during the Hungarian revolts. It is indeed a gloomy tune, but also one of immense quality, so I hope you enjoy it! You can find it free here: https://archive.org/details/PaulWhitemanwithJohnnyHauser


1956 - The Eventful Year is now LIVE! Head on over to its new home and check out this new, originally researched series, and listen to over two hours of free content now! If you like what you hear, why not join up on Patreon for $5 a month, and get access to the complete story 1956 provides: a rich and immensely detailed saga spanning 35 episodes!? You'll be investing in WDF's future, feasting on all the best exclusive content to come, AND have access to the XTRA feed's extensive back catalogue! Thanksss!

For 1956: https://www.acast.com/1956eventfulyear

To access it all, head over to the XTRA feed: https://www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails/posts


Want to grab yourself some quality, stylish head/ear phones and get 15% off? Use the code WDF to avail of this special offer and start your listening journey with When Diplomacy Fails like never before! See: https://www.sudio.com/eu/

Want to support this podcast in other ways, as we meander through the Korean War? Check out the following links to our social media, website, source materials and Patreon below.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhenDiplomacyFailsPodcast/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1856652614380207

Twitter: https://twitter.com/?lang=en

Support us financially on Patreon and access an ad-free episodes ($2 per month) and an hour of extra content ($5 per month):

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Mar 23 2018

38mins

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Rank #9: WDF Rem* 5.5: TALK The Seven Years War

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Just as we did 5 years ago for episode 5, here us 5 times 5 people talk 5 times about 5 different fives. So you are paying attention? Good! You'll have to, as Sean and I TALK about the Seven Years War in my personal favourite episode together. Check out this classic now, brought to you because some things are too good to leave behind! Remember also history friends, to make sure that you BEFIT! Visit our website www.wdfpodcast.com Follow us on Twitter @wdfpodcast Find us on Patreon by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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May 29 2017

39mins

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Rank #10: 30YearsWar: 17th Century Warfare Episode 8

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After covering the adoption of a revolutionary new musket drill by Maurice of Nassau in the late 1590s, in this episode we come to the point where all of these innovations would be put to the test, so I hope you’re ready to listen in, as the full horrors of constant barrages of lead on the human body were felt to their full effect for the first time in Western Europe, in the relatively unknown Battle of Nieuwpoort, in July 1600.


This episode provides a key example of what made the Military Revolution so unique and important for European warfare. From Maurice’s display at Nieuwpoort, so many other innovations would follow, including the adoption of its key lessons by other powers, and the perfecting and adding to them by others, like the Swedish and French. Before long, the drill would be the staple means by which infantry would take the field, and training these men and giving them the platform they needed to succeed would become the occupation of all competent commanders in early modern Europe. Make sure you tune in here to see what made innovators like Maurice of Nassau tick, and why he was so important for his time. We also get a window into how the Dutch government organised its military, and what they were up against in the sheer professional supremacy of the Spanish tercio system. I hope you enjoy it history friends! Make sure you spread the word – thanksss!

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Click here to pre-order the book | Click here to sign up on Patreon from as little as $2 a month and access awesome goodies! | Click here to find our dedicated section of the website | AND #1) Follow us on Twitter #2) Like us on Facebook #3) Join the history friends group!


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Sep 09 2019

49mins

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Rank #11: Thirty Years War Intro 1

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We're jumping back into the Thirty Years War and this is all super exciting, but to some of you guys it may also be a tad overwhelming, as a lot of unfamiliar stuff is about to be thrown at you. With that in mind, this episode is designed to familiarise you with the main themes, the most important figures, and the most active powers in Europe at the time.


We'll learn a bit about the constitution of the Holy Roman Empire, meet the Habsburg family, and take a gander at some other related issues in Europe at the time of the outbreak of the conflict in 1618.


As we launch into this exciting new period in WDF, make sure you visit the dedicated section of our website for Thirty Years War related goods by following the link here: Take me to the Thirty Years War section This site is where you'll also be able to freely access the script for this episode, and a document detailing all of the social media posts, so don't delay if you like some context and reading!


Make sure also that you sign up on Patreon to get all of the incoming episodes ad-free and complete with a script for each episode, for just $1 a month! https://www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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May 13 2018

34mins

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Rank #12: What Is 1956

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What's this then? Well history friend this is 1956! And it's here because, after trying to start a new feed with these sample episodes in it, I decided it just wasn't working, and that it would be better to do something more sensible, and plonk them in the regular WDF feed, so here we are!


1956 - The Eventful Year is a brand new series designed to bring you closer to the events of this incredible year in history. While on the surface, 1956 may appear like any other year of the 20th century - perhaps with less to offer than many other candidates - it is in fact rich with intrigue, fascinating characters,struggles, triumphs and tragedies. This series is actually a PATREON exclusive series, for supporters of this podcast at the $5 level or higher on When Diplomacy Fails' Patreon page. However, all listeners here will be able to listen, for free, to four episodes out of this exclusive series. Two of which will be available from launch day.


The question of what 1956 actually is can be answered by a quick gander at its structure - the series will be split into two distinct parts, since so much goes on, it only makes sense to approach the year in this way. The first part examines life after Stalin, and asks what happened in the Soviet Union when Nikita Khrushchev assumed power. The second part traces the eruption of the Suez Crisis, largely from the British perspective.

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If you're interested in learning more about WDF, then you know where to go!

Sign up to our NEWSLETTER for the latest news and deals! In April and May subscribers get 20% OFF my Thirty Years War book, so don't delay! sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/a0d49eec863c/wdfpodcast


Want to grab yourself some quality, stylish head/ear phones and get 15% off? Use the code WDF15 to avail of this special offer and start your listening journey with When Diplomacy Fails like never before! See: https://www.sudio.com/eu/

Want to support this podcast in other ways, as we meander through the Korean War? Check out the following links to our social media, shop, website, source materials and Patreon below.


History Podcasting Platform:

http://www.wdfpodcast.com/history-podcasting-platform/

Official shop where you can pick up all manner of podcast-related goodies: http://www.wdfpodcast.com/shop/

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhenDiplomacyFailsPodcast/

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1856652614380207

Twitter: https://twitter.com/?lang=en

Support us financially on Patreon and access an ad-free episodes ($2 per month) and an hour of extra content ($5 per month): https://www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

Visit the website: http://www.wdfpodcast.com/

Visit the blog: http://www.wdfpodcast.com/thevassalstate/

Look at our sources: http://www.wdfpodcast.com/source-materials/

Remember spreading the word by telling a history friend about us is still the most effective way to spread the history love! Thanksss :D


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Apr 19 2018

30mins

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Rank #13: WDF Rem* 6: The War of the Spanish Succession I

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We return to the late 17th/early 18th century with arguably one of the most infamous examples of early modern warfare EVER! It is a fascinating conflict, and since we all know Louis XIV that much better this time around, I figured it was only right to do it justice. I hope you enjoy the journey - thanksss! Remember also history friends, to make sure that you BEFIT! Visit our website www.wdfpodcast.com Follow us on Twitter @wdfpodcast Find us on Patreon by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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May 30 2017

35mins

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Rank #14: WDF Rem* 12: The Crimean War I

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The Crimean War was the ultimate showdown between Britain and its 19th century adversary in Russia, with France thrown in for good measure too! The story is a fascinating one, which shaped European relations and ideas about Russian power for years to come, so I hope you enjoy our new take on it! Thanksss! Remember also history friends, to make sure that you BEFIT! Visit our website www.wdfpodcast.com Follow us on Twitter @wdfpodcast Find us on Patreon by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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Jun 14 2017

31mins

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Rank #15: 30YearsWar: NEW Introduction

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We're back! At long last, after a lot of confusing scheduling and weird decisions, WDF is finally ready to introduce to you what we have planned for the next few years. It is an investigation of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) like you've never seen it before, and I couldn't be more excited to begin! Listen in here for a rundown of what we've done so far since our too eager release back in May 2018, and what we plan to do going forward. For those confused with what this all means, and why there's so many introduction episodes floating around, look no further than this episode, which is made up of explainers, disclaimers, and probably a few complainers! Thanksss!


Click here to pre-order the book | Click here to sign up on Patreon from as little as $2 a month and access awesome goodies! | Click here to find our dedicated section of the website | AND #1) Follow us on Twitter #2) Like us on Facebook #3) Join the history friends group!

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Sep 09 2019

40mins

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Rank #16: Korean War #1: America Dawns

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Episode 1: America Dawns, looks at the situation which greeted US policymakers between 1945-50. As an episode it serves as a good roundup of all we've learned in the Cold War Crash Course, but a simple summary episode THIS IS NOT!


We delve into the mindset behind the Truman Doctrine, ask what the goals of NATO were and investigate how Washington viewed Soviet moves by examining their additional policies and proclamations.


We also look at the problems which faced the US in the late 1940s, including the mindset which insisted that there was no money in the kitty to fight the Soviets, and that Washington would have to cut its cloth to suit its pocket. This attitude towards defence expenditure and confrontation with the forces of communism would change in time, but not yet. The three losses - of China, of its status as the sole nuclear power, and of Mao Zedong himself to the Soviet Union, after the Treaty of Friendship was signed in February 1950 - all influenced American policymakers to consider a radical change in policy, and they settled upon a blandly named report called NSC68.


What was meant by Chinese Titoism? And what had American policymakers hoped to achieve by cosying up to the Chinese communists? Could they really expect to change the perspective of the Chinese, when the Soviets loomed so large in Mao's estimation? Make sure you join us to find out the answer to this question as well as a host of others. Our first episode, at long last. I hope you enjoy it.


Remember history friends, you too can support the podcast and join our lovely community in the process!


Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/WhenDiplomacyFailsPodcast/

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1856652614380207/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wdfpodcast

Patreon: www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

Website: www.wdfpodcast.com

Bibliography: www.wdfpodcast.com/source-materials/

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Jan 15 2018

39mins

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Rank #17: Alt-History: What If Gavrilo Princip Missed? #1

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Welcome history friends, as we launch into a little sideshow I cooked up for you all. This is the first in a chunky 2-parter series on alternative history, where we build a different world in the style you're used to, having asked the question - what would have happened if Gavrilo Princip missed, rather than actually successfully assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand? Using all I've gathered in my years studying the First World War and the July Crisis in particular, I give you my answer, so I hope you enjoy it! Over the course of the episode we will look at several threads, such as the change in Serbian government and increasing tensions provoking reactionary policies across the Balkans, it remained to be seen whether the European alliance system would save the peace or help destroy it. Find out here, and remember to catch part 2!

Support the show!

->Visit the homeland for this new project!

->Become a delegate and play the Delegation Game for just $6 a month!

->Support the podcast financially and access ad free episodes with transcripts from just $2 a month! 

->Follow WDF on Twitter! 

->Join the Facebook group!

->Subscribe on iTunes!

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Dec 22 2018

1hr 6mins

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Rank #18: WDF Rem* 15: The Boxer Rebellion I

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Returning with better pronunciations and ideally a better analysis, we're back with the Boxer Rebellion, which occurred in a tumultuous summer in 1900. Here we examine the circumstances which led to such an event, which itself contributed significantly to the worsening international situation, and played a key part in the increasing Anglo-Russian rivalry. Have a listen and let me know what you thought. Thankssss! Remember also history friends, to make sure that you BEFIT! Visit our website www.wdfpodcast.com Follow us on Twitter @wdfpodcast Find us on Patreon by going to www.patreon.com/WhenDiplomacyFails

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Jun 18 2017

36mins

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Rank #19: 30YearsWar: 17th Century Warfare Episode 5

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Our series on 17th century warfare continues with a look at how French armies were constituted, and how their attitudes towards certain tactics changed. We begin with an examination of the massive increases of European armies across the board, but we soon refine our focus, and examine the machinations of King Henry IV of France (r. 1594-1610), who made the most of new theories in infantry and cavalry tactics. The story is by no means a straightforward one of consistent, sensible progression. Instead, it is a tale of hard knocks and tough lessons, which inculcated within the French military thinkers a respect for new methods of making war, and a willingness to experiment and take ideas they appreciated from their Dutch and Swedish neighbours.


Such developments say a great deal about the spread of new military theories in the West, as much as they provide a clear example of the interconnectedness of Europeans, who served in each other’s armies and swapped drill manuals in military institutions. It’s a story which I’m sure you’ll find fascinating, so come and join me for this latest instalment of 17th century warfare! Thanksss!

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Jul 06 2018

37mins

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Rank #20: Korean War #38: The Perfect Scapegoat

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Truman serves up MacArthur, and contrary to popular imagination, it was not the General, but the President, who schemed in the background - at least at this stage...


Episode 38: The Perfect Scapegoat introduces one of the most infamous aspects of the Korean War narrative to you guys – that insufferable tension between President and General which would eventually lead to the dismissal of the latter and harsh criticism of the former. It was a difficult relationship long before this plug was pulled though, and while we’ve seen disagreements and MacArthur’s reaction to the Truman administration’s policies vary, we take some time here to properly root a portion of our narrative in this perspective. More specifically, here we return to that meeting on Wake Island on 15th October between Truman and MacArthur, and we examine what I believe is the real reason why the President began to increasingly present himself alongside everyone’s favourite triumphant General. It wasn’t because he was in search of some of the glory for himself, instead it was because Truman was already thinking of the post-war situation, and of his own legacy. 


While he would accept, as President, a portion of the blame for allowing the war in Korea to escalate into the massively expensive but still limited war with the Chinese, he was not willing to accept all of this blame. Indeed, he was determined now to leave behind the crumbs of evidence which would later enable critics to note that MacArthur’s considerable and well known hubris was just as much to blame for the intervention of the Chinese as was the official line from Washington which continued to underestimate the Chinese stance and capabilities. When MacArthur assured his President that the Chinese would not intervene, Truman likely already knew thanks to the codebreaking that Mao had announced his intention to intervene in a cable to Kim Il-sung. In this respect then, General Douglas MacArthur was the perfect scapegoat – he was as belligerent and vain as he was totally out of the loop of what Washington was aiming for, and he would help take much of the focus from the President once the Chinese did, contrary to MacArthur’s claims but in line with Truman’s information, invade.

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Music used:

“My Sweetie Went Away” by Bessie Smith, released in Nov 1923. Bessie Smith was an American blues singer. Sometimes referred to as The Empress of the Blues, Smith was the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. Available:  http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Bessie_Smith/Antique_Phonograph_Music_Program_02172015/My_Sweetie_Went_Away_-_Bessie_Smith

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Sep 30 2018

40mins

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30YearsWar #18: 'My Kingdom Come'

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Order the book now! For God or the Devil is finally out!


After enduring Ferdinand’s repression, throwing off his yolk, formally deposing him and marching an army to Vienna, the Bohemians sought to go one better than all previous revolts had done. With Ferdinand deposed, this meant the crown of Bohemia was vacant, and it meant that someone else should be offered it. But whom? Someone, ideally, who was anti-Habsburg enough, but also powerful, wealthy and well-connected enough to defend the kingdom. Someone, ideally, who had a deep-seated hatred for the Habsburg influence. Who better to fit these criteria than Frederick V, the Elector Palatine? In this episode we answer that question, delving into the impressive connections Frederick had, as well as the root of his anti-Habsburg sentiments, which distinguished him as the ideal candidate…

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Aug 05 2020

36mins

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Our Thirty Years War Book is FINALLY out!

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The book - For God or the Devil: A History of the Thirty Years War - is finally released, and in this short announcement episode I will cover the following:

Thanksss so much to everyone who made this book possible - I couldn't do this without you!

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Jul 29 2020

13mins

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30YearsWar #17: 'On The Brink'

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Here we cover the years 1618-1619, when the fortunes of rebels, Hungarians, Habsburgs and everyone else in between would rise and fall. In this episode, we also see a critical milestone come to pass – Ferdinand, the new King of Bohemia, is formally deposed by his subjects, in protest at the heinous extent of his efforts to control their freedoms in violation of the Letters of Majesty. Our episode opens with the revolver pointed at Ferdinand's head, but his saviour was not far away.


Ferdinand focuses on stabilising his position after the unsettling events of spring and summer 1619, when Vienna seemed close to succumbing and was at the mercy of the rebels. Aid from Spain was en route, but so was an attack from that troublesome quarter, Transylvania, as Bethlen Gabor set off to stick it to the Emperor Elect. The explosive elements of a full-blown war were added, and it required only the intervention of a sworn enemy of Ferdinand, powerful enough to tip the balance, for everything to escape Pandora’s Box forever…

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Jul 22 2020

34mins

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30YearsWar #16: 'Bohemia in Revolt'

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Episode 16 of the Thirty Years War, Bohemia in Revolt, is out NOW!


Here we ask an important question – how did the Bohemia revolt become the Thirty Years War? After throwing the Habsburg magnates out the windows of the town hall in Prague, what was next for the rebels? First and foremost, the kingdom had to be brought together to fight as one, and the three estates were assembled, determining on resistance to their new King’s inflammatory policies of repression and intolerance. Bohemians must fight for their rights, but could they hope to defeat the powerful Habsburgs? Further, could they risk losing to Ferdinand when their very freedoms were on the line?


In such desperate times, desperate measures were sought out, and these were pursued in the foreign connections Bohemian officials had built up over the years. Publishing their Apologia to the world, the Bohemians gathered with enemies of the Habsburgs such as the Duke of Savoy, and marched an army to Vienna. The Emperor, utterly unprepared at the storm he had been warned against provoking, called in some foreign aid of his own, and the ingredients were already in the offing for a terrible calamity quite unlike any which Bohemia, or indeed Europe, had ever seen.

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Jul 08 2020

35mins

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30YearsWar #15: 'The Right to Conspire'

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Episode 15 - what's in the box?

Well, Bohemia continues to descend into rebellion, but its activism did not stop merely on the local, national level. Instead, Bohemians contacted known advocates of an anti-Habsburg conspiracy, and they landed on Ferdinand’s arch-rival, Frederick V, the Elector Palatine and sworn foe of the Habsburg supremacy. In the years since he had come to the office of Elector Palatine, Frederick’s regime had distinguished itself thanks to the policies of Christian of Anhalt, a radical anti-Habsburg, and charger of policy in Frederick’s stead. Anhalt arranged the more controversial agreements, and guaranteed that the British marriage went ahead, but Frederick was very far from his puppet. The Elector Palatine was more than willing and able to make moves himself, and Bohemia seemed to present the ideal opportunity to strike.


It wasn’t as though the Bohemians wished to instigate the Thirty Years War – above all, they wished to be able to trust their new King, Ferdinand. But try as they might, something seemed off. In a fit of optimism, their leaders made the cardinal error of approving Ferdinand’s position, only to regret it soon after. The new king had made a public show of accepting the Letters of Majesty, thereby accepting Bohemia’s claim to tolerations and privileges which made Ferdinand’s skin crawl. So how had he agreed to it? Well, to put it simply, he lied his head off. Princes might be required to honour agreements and treat honestly with their subjects, but Ferdinand’s religious advisors had assured him that breaking such deals with the Bohemian heretics was not a sin at all, and was in fact to be encouraged. Thus duped, the Bohemians were bound to do what Bohemians did best, and launch a rising for the third time in a decade. The writing was on the wall, but Ferdinand ignored it, and thus the first phase of a conflict which was to end in three decades at Westphalia was begun.


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Jun 24 2020

43mins

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BismarckRise #8: 'A Danish Vindication' [1864]

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Blood and iron, the Alvensleben Convention, and then the Congress of Princes – Bismarck’s first year as Minister President was certainly a busy one, yet it was about to become busier still. As a happy accident, the Danish crown became vacant upon the death of its king, and with this succession looming, Danish control over its German duchies, Schleswig and Holstein, loomed to the forefront of European politics once again, in a manner which it hadn’t done since 1848. The problem was that the Danes wished to retain their grip on the German duchies, through a constitution which would formalise the union between Danes and the duchies for good. The population of the duchies though, which was made up mostly of nationalist Germans, refused to have anything to do with such a scheme. The Danes refused to back down, but neither did the German Confederation – by a vote of one, in November 1863, the assembly at Frankfurt voted to return Denmark to its old constitution and protect the status quo of the duchies, by force if necessary. Just like that, a new crisis had fallen into Bismarck’s lap.


The Schleswig Holstein War would only last a few months, but Bismarck quickly ensured that the interests of Prussia were tied up in it. Before Prussian soldiers got involved, Bismarck demonstrated his flair for coups of a different kind – in the diplomatic sphere, Bismarck had broken through his own principles apparently, and forged an alliance with Austria. This alliance made, the combined forces of the two powers were turned against the Danes, and the outcome of the war became only a matter of time. The key question was what to do with the duchies; Bismarck believed in annexation, since Holstein and Schleswig boasted some strategically important land, as well as valuable farmland, and the potential to craft the Kiel Canal and improve the prospects of a Prussian navy. Yet there were several complications that got in the way of this aim. One of the great pleasures of this episode is to marvel at how Bismarck overcame these complications and limits to his power, and made an unpopular option – the annexation of the duchies – into the accepted state policy of Prussia. What was more, Bismarck managed to drag Austria along with him for the ride. The outcome proved more beneficial than Bismarck could ever have imagined.


Here we also say farewell to Bismarck for the moment, and we leave him in the aftermath of his great triumph until next time, when Hardcore WDF examines Bismarck’s next short sharp war, this time against Austria. I hope you’ll join me for that in the distant future, but I hope first and foremost that you have enjoyed listening to this series for the last few weeks or hours if you’re a patron! It took many months to make this, and 100,000 words of notes, fifteen hours of audio, and several headaches from reading too many Bismarck articles, but the end product is something I’m proud of, and something I’m happy to present to you listeners as a gift. From Zack to you, thanksss so much history friends, patrons, PhD Pals all, and I’ll be seeing you all, soon!

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Jun 18 2020

2hr 38mins

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BismarckRise #7: 'Domination & Manipulation' [1863-1864]

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Episode 7 – Domination and Manipulation: 1863-64.

He had made his fair share of errors, but it was fair to say at the same time that Bismarck wasn’t going anywhere. By the summer of 1863, the Polish business was mostly forgotten, and Bismarck could look further afield and see what developments in foreign affairs provided an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. He didn’t have to wait long. The Austrian Emperor Franz Josef claimed to desire a new constitution, one which all Germans should cooperate in crafting. To learn more, my fellow Germans, I wish to summon you to Frankfurt, where we can discuss the pending unification of Germany under Austrian control in more detail. This initiative had been on the cards for some time, but once it was announced, it was obvious to Bismarck what he had to do. Over the course of August 1863, Bismarck worked on the King. To Bismarck’s horror, Wilhelm saw no issue with the fact that he had been summoned, and his sense of tradition and pride at being summoned first meant that Bismarck would have a real fight on his hands.


If Your Majesty went to Frankfurt and kowtowed to the Austrians, Bismarck insisted, then Prussia would be forever ruined, and forever viewed as little more than a vassal state. Furthermore, your army would be placed at Austria’s command, your soldiers would become cannon fodder, your legacy would be destroyed, and your kingdom subordinated to Vienna. It was a concentrated and detailed verbal attack, launched against the exhausted king who lay on a sofa and just absorbed it all for nigh on three hours. By the time Bismarck was finished, he was in tears, at the height of nervous anxiety, and ready to walk out of the door and into the Prussian wilderness. But Bismarck’s state was nothing compared to the King’s – Bismarck had broken the poor man, and within hours, it was plain that Prussia would not in fact be attending the Congress of German Princes which the Austrians had intended to host in Frankfurt.


Wilhelm could lament that he was missing out on a great honour, but Bismarck proved correct – the Frankfurt meeting was little more than Austria’s last effort to unite Germany under its aegis, with Austrian rules, Austrian soldiers, and Austrian predominance guaranteed. The realisation of the dream of national German unity was intoxicating for some, but not for Bismarck. If Germany was to be unified, then it must be under Prussia, and if the King of Prussia couldn’t see this, Bismarck would make him see it. All in all, it was a merciless campaign of bullying and persuading by Bismarck, yet if he hadn’t engaged in it, history would have turned out very differently indeed. Here, not for the last time, Bismarck changed history, and set Prussia on a course which was to end in triumph. 

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Jun 11 2020

2hr 15mins

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30YearsWar #14: 'Bohemian Rampancy'

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Episode 14 of the Thirty Years War, 'Bohemian Rampancy', is out NOW!


Other than the ingenious title, what else does this episode offer? First and foremost, it offers and unparalleled look at Bohemia in the second decade of the 17th century. It is here that the Thirty Years War would be touched off, but precisely how would this transpire? At the heart of Bohemia’s problems, Wedgewood claimed, was a ‘dismal confusion’, but it certainly didn’t help that Bohemia itself was at the centre of the Habsburg hereditary lands. There could be no rest, and no relenting, from creating in Bohemia the kind of Kingdom Ferdinand II had always envisioned. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, the Bohemians had seen him coming.


Years of chafing under Habsburg rule had moved the Bohemians to demand a list of privileges, called the Letters of Majesty. This effectively granted Bohemia religious toleration before it was cool, though this was anything but cool to Ferdinand. In an era when religious uniformity and loyalty to the state were considered to be one and the same, it was impossible for Ferdinand to allow the religiously diverse Bohemia to continue on as it had under his cousins. Various trains were set in motion, the most ruinous of which lay in Ferdinand’s own intolerant personality, and which would explode into Prague in a matter of months.

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Jun 10 2020

38mins

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BismarckRise #6: 'Blood, Iron and Tears' [1862-63]

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In this episode we examine the opening six months of Bismarck’s regime, and what a regime it was. It began, to Bismarck’s surprise, with a somewhat bumpy road. In the course of his first speech before the Landtag as Minister President, Bismarck discovered that his very reputation might prove the greatest danger to his premiership. In the course of this ‘Iron and Blood’ or blood and iron speech, Bismarck simply set forth the ideas and principles which he had always held dear, and which he had never tried to hide. Later, he would claim that he was trying to bring the deputies round to his way of thinking, in that they might see the need to place power in the Prussian army’s hand, thereby giving Prussia the chance to seize the day. To his contemporaries though, Bismarck’s speech was like the denunciation of Christian, moral principles, a rejection of the political independence which liberals so valued, and a reiteration of the nationalist, high Prussian guff which they couldn’t stand. Within a short while, Bismarck became vilified, and King Wilhelm came to terms with the fact that he would have to get rid of his minister. By this point, Bismarck had been in power for less than a month.


That Bismarck’s regime would be a mere flash in the pan was a hope entertained earnestly by his enemies, but they failed to account for two things. First, that the King would not be strong enough to fire his subject, and second, that Bismarck would never have allowed himself to be fired, not at this early stage. He turned on his head the mission of the disenchanted Wilhelm, and fired up his king with talk of defending the monarchy to the end, as a soldier defends his honour. The soldier in Wilhelm was touched deeply, with the effect that Bismarck, after this episode in manipulation, had never been so secure in his position. What was more, Bismarck had learned a valuable lesson just in time – that although the King was a decent man all told, he was not a particularly strong character, whereas Bismarck’s force of personality was already a commonly known fact. This combination proved essential to Bismarck’s staying power, not to mention his success.


Within weeks, Bismarck would have a new crisis to sink his teeth into – this one emanating from the Polish provinces of Russia, where a new Polish revolt was erupting. For just over a year, from 1863-64, the Poles fought a doomed campaign against the occupying Russian forces, and the Austrians and Prussians looked on. Now ensconced in his official post, Bismarck moved to make use of an active foreign policy, and over the course of a few days, established what seemed like a good working relationship with the Russians to cooperate in the destruction of the Poles. The Alvensleben Convention was the result, but this agreement, signed in February 1863, was far from a perfect solution. It sent a firm signal to the rest of the world, about where Prussia stood, but it was also somewhat hasty in Russian minds. Had Bismarck failed again, and if he had, could another such failure be survivable? The shaky initial months of this political genius were to show that Bismarck did not have it all figured out, at least, not quite yet. 

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Jun 04 2020

2hr 56mins

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BismarckRise #5: 'Power at Last' [1861-1862]

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Episode 5 – Power at Last: 1861-62.

Years of struggle and disappointment had finally led to this moment. On 22 September 1862, a fatalistic and hesitant King Wilhelm finally did it, he finally agreed to appoint Otto von Bismarck as Prussian Minister President, or Prime Minister. It was a decision which Wilhelm felt forced to take in the heat of the moment, what with those darned liberals still refusing to relent and give Prussia the military reforms she needed. Yet it was a decision which was to have profound consequences for Prussians, Germans, and the world. Bismarck’s career was made that day, but as we’ll see in this episode, it took some time for the nightmare to be over, and for confirmation of this appointment to filter into Bismarck’s anxious mind.


As he waited for news, throughout late 1861 and much of 1862, Bismarck sought to make himself both scarce and somehow useful. He went on holiday to London, then to a seaside resort in Biarritz. Yet he kept his toe in the water, insisting on retaining the position of ambassador to France, a post which would have suited him very well, we imagine. But Bismarck felt deep down that this French posting wasn’t long for this world. So long as the crisis in Berlin continued to escalate, and so long as Bismarck’s superiors couldn’t make up their mind as to what they all wanted, Bismarck was left adrift. Very well, he said, in effect, if I am not needed, I will retire from public until I am. Over the course of the fateful six-week holiday which Bismarck enjoyed in the summer of 1862, he fell in love, met with future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, and felt his former optimism return. A rejuvenated Bismarck then began to respond to his mail, and before long, found that he was to go to Berlin after all.


What happened next soon entered into legend. The King couldn’t stand his subject, but also couldn’t afford to ignore him. He didn’t trust him, but he distrusted the liberals all the more. One choice was abdication, the other was Bismarck, and with Roon there to push him onward, King Wilhelm went with Bismarck. The decision may have been regretted by Wilhelm years later, when he realised what kind of monster he had just employed. Yet Wilhelm must also have realised something else – that Bismarck was utterly unlike any Minister President which any Prussian king had ever had. Now that he had been given power, Prussia was never to be the same again…


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May 28 2020

1hr 45mins

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30YearsWar #13: "The Pax Hispania"

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Take a break from the Bismarck party, because Episode 13 of the Thirty Years War, the Pax Hispania, is out NOW!

In this instalment of our series, we look at how the moment of peace moved the Spanish to act in concert with their Austrian Habsburg cousins. More specifically, we assess the relationship of the Emperor and the King of Spain and, it may surprise you to learn that it wasn’t especially good! In fact, mutual slights and unpaid bills had soured relations between the…relations, over the previous years, to the extent that a Treaty repairing the damage was necessary. The Onate Treaty was born, the product of Count Onate, a Spanish official and later ambassador in Vienna. Onate conceived of the Treaty not merely as a way to better the Habsburg dynastic relationship, but also to settle once and for all on the question of the succession. After many years, you see, the Austrian Habsburg line which was descended from Charles V’s brother Ferdinand I, was dying out.


All that remained were those childless Emperors Rudolf and Matthias. When they died, only Ferdinand of Styria would be left. Would Vienna push him forward, despite his shortcomings, or would they side with Philip III, and grant the King of Spain an even greater inheritance, the likes of which had not been since the days of his grandfather? Fortunately for the Habsburgs succession, but unfortunately for the peace of Europe, and of Spain, Vienna elected to go for Ferdinand of Styria. Per the terms of the Onate Treaty, Ferdinand of Styria would become Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, and he would enjoy the full support of Madrid. All he had to do in return, was promise Spain a short list of concessions…


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May 27 2020

43mins

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BismarckRise #4: 'Ambassador Extraordinaire' [1859-1861]

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The Bismarck Party rolls on...


As he soon discovered upon returning to Berlin in early 1859, he was not bound for a ministerial post, but a new role as the Prussian ambassador to Russia. It was still a great promotion for a man who had only a slim record of diplomatic training – now he was to be head of the Prussian embassy! But Bismarck was less than thrilled. He was not only disappointed in not grabbing the brass ring of a ministerial post, he was also irritated that he would have to leave Frankfurt in less capable hands. This surely made no sense, and what was he to do in St Petersburg that someone else could not do instead? Was this simply an effort by the new King Wilhelm to be rid of him? It was hard to argue against that theory, but in the spring of 1859, Bismarck simply had to accept his new post and move on, into the next eventful chapter of his life. Leaving Frankfurt behind him forever, Bismarck trudged through the snow and ice to reach his new post in the Russian capital.


It was just as he left that a new war erupted between Austria and France. As Bismarck choked with rage that he should miss such an opportunity, he was given additional reasons to despair when he learned how timid the Prussian policy had been in that war, even mobilising six army corps to aid the Austrians. Prussia could never be empowered with a policy like this! But what could Bismarck do so far from the action? He would at least be able to assess Russian attitudes – it cheered him up that the Russians, of all ranks, seemed to hate the Austrians with a burning passion. The potential for a Russo-Prussian understanding seemed guaranteed, and Bismarck got along famously with the Russian Imperial family, who seemed to regard this Junker as a rising star. Perhaps they were believing Bismarck’s own hype about himself?


Yet another development began to build in the background during the period, which would soon explode in Bismarck’s favour. Prussia, through its attempt to mobilise its army, had aimed to get on Austria’s good side, but the disorganised and ragtag Prussian units brought shame, rather than pride. Cue the arrival of a man determined to fix the army and prepare it for the future. Albrecht von Roon became minister of war in late 1859, and from that point onward, became consumed by the sole mission of getting a military reform bill passed the Landtag. The problem was, those liberal deputies would never consent to the bill, because they feared the King might use this army against them, and also because it cost a bomb. This disagreement, inconsequential though it seemed, would build in the background for the next few years, until it reached such a fever pitch by autumn 1862, that Bismarck seemed the only man capable of solving it. That was all to come, but first Bismarck had to make his name on the world stage, starting with Russia.

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May 21 2020

1hr 48mins

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BismarckRise #3: "The Ultimate Opportunist" [1853-59]

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Episode 3 – The Ultimate Opportunist: 1853-59.


The Crimean War changed everything in Europe. It left Austria alienated, her Russian ally bitter and the Tsar vengeful, after Austria’s display of perfidy. ‘Austrian ingratitude’, claimed the new Tsar Alexander II, ‘killed my father.’ Under these circumstances, it was possible that Prussia could take advantage. Could an agreement with Russia be created, to be directed against Austria? But then there was the issue of France, and what Napoleon III intended to do with this new power balance. In Bismarck’s view, France presented an opportunity. We ought to negotiate with France, or at least give the impression that we were negotiating to spook our enemies, Bismarck opined. But this was too much for his superiors, even with the change that came in the aftermath of the Crimean War. Austria was still the traditional friend of Prussia; France was still the traditional bogeyman of all true Junkers.


To change this, Bismarck would have to get into power, and change the system from the inside. Until this happened, he would march on in Frankfurt, crafting a niche for himself among his fellow deputies, in the hope that some day soon, he would be noticed, and called upon for bigger and better things. In a long and detailed correspondence with his friend and mentor Leopold von Gerlach, Bismarck would explain his views and plans for Prussia’s future, but these letters, written in 1857, were not the product of a man in control of his own destiny. Bismarck had to go where the pace of events took him, and by the end of 1858, with King Frederick William incapacitated by a stroke, the moment seemed ripe to hope that now, under a new sovereign perhaps, Prussia would call upon this mad Junker at long last. It was a hope he would nourish right up to the point of his actual appointment in September 1862. Before he got there though, Bismarck would have to endure a great deal of disappointment and stress first. As was to be expected, he didn’t suffer these trials in silence…

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May 14 2020

1hr 47mins

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30YearsWar #12: "The Roots of Spain"

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Put that Bismarck party on hold, and check out the latest episode of the 30 Years War!

Here we look at a rarely mentioned aspect of Spain – the fact that it was still teeming with citizens of a different culture and religious persuasion than those of the Catholic, Castilian majority. These were the Moriscos, first or second generation Muslims who had converted to Catholicism rather than leave the country, but in many cases, this official conversion was in name only. Moriscos varied from province to province in Spain, but generally, they tended to still practice their religion in private, and retained many of their old Arab customs and traditions. The Spanish government, largely, failed to stop these practices, mostly because they lacked the resources, but also because many provincial governors lacked the will to care what a minority of their residents were quietly doing in private. If that sounds somewhat unlike the suffocating levels of control over Spanish citizens which we are often provided with, then you’re right – it was quite unlike it!


Fears about what would happen if the Moriscos left Spain, and took their wealth with them also aggravated the problem, but with the arrival of peace between Spain and the Dutch in 1609, some in Madrid attempted to conceive of a solution. The solution was familiar to that posed by Philip II many generations before – convert genuinely, or leave completely. What followed was an additional exodus of citizens, but Spain’s Arab neighbours were not willing to stand by and do nothing. The coastal provinces were surprisingly poorly defended, and while Madrid feared what might happen if Arab pirates landed and tried to rouse the population to revolt, few measures were ever implemented to guard against this – as a result, several close calls were to follow. The story of Spain and the Moriscos is a vital element of the religious and political patchwork which made up early 17th century Europe, so I hope you’ll join me in unravelling it!

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May 13 2020

31mins

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BismarckRise #2: 'First Taste of Intrigue' [1851-1853]

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When we last left Bismarck, he had established himself in Frankfurt, and prepared to meet the challenges which Prussia faced, following several years of bungled, humiliating foreign policy. The constraints upon Bismarck seemed obvious, the greatest restriction by far being the Austrian domination of the German Confederation. This domination, an established fact since 1815, was to Bismarck the greatest flaw in Prussian diplomacy – made worse by the fact that few in Berlin, if any, seemed willing to contest this domination. Should we just let Austria have all the benefits of this Confederation, even if it was to Prussia’s detriment? Yet how could Austria even be combated? Bismarck had an idea, spending the next few years making his name as Vienna’s primary opponent in Frankfurt. ‘When Austria hitches a horse in front’, Bismarck proclaimed, ‘we hitch one behind!’ It was as plain a manifesto as the mad Junker could give us, but beneath this declaration was a man undergoing a remarkable transformation. Bismarck had gone to Frankfurt an untested commodity, and he would leave it a force to be reckoned with. But first he would have to reckon with the status quo, and this status quo, Bismarck insisted, meant that Prussia would never reach the heights of its power.


Very well then, it was plain that nothing, not the ideal of German unity, not the tradition of Austrian power, not the fact of Prussian isolation should stand in the way. It was all to play for, and Prussia should look wherever it could to find potential friends, even in revolutionary France. These ideas stunned and horrified his traditionalist superiors, but they also gave us a hint of the kind of principles which Bismarck possessed. He was unrestricted by old assumptions, no matter how ingrained, and he was adamant that unless Prussia thought outside the box (or outside of Germany) she would never be supreme. A supreme Prussia was the only thing Bismarck could accept. Impossible, said his superiors, Austria is Berlin’s friend and ally, and besides, Vienna has the power of Russia behind her – we cannot contest those two powers together! No matter, said Bismarck in effect, we should wait and see whether circumstances might change. And change they soon did. Bismarck would be rewarded for his patience, because with the eruption of the Crimean War, everything was about to change.


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May 07 2020

1hr 17mins

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BismarckRise #1: 'I, Bismarck' [1815-1851]

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In this episode, the first of eight, we explore the life of a young Otto von Bismarck, and assess the different events, influences and individuals who moved through his life. It’s a personal story, but it’s also a story about the unassuming, you could even say unremarkable, beginnings, of a man who would one day dominate Europe. At this stage in his life, only those three qualities – intelligence, ambition and energy – were palpable, but there was also something raw within the young Otto that suggested a great potential, if only it could be harnessed…


We also see Bismarck living through some incredibly significant events. Born in the final moments of the Napoleonic Wars, Bismarck seemed to come of age during the 1848 revolutions, which to his contemporaries appeared like the beginning of the end of Old Prussia, to be replaced by a new radical liberal iteration, beholden to the mob. This did not pan out, but we still see young Otto here present himself to the authorities in Berlin, and try to make himself useful. His suggestions to the royal family on how to deal with the crisis would make him a firm enemy in Augusta, wife of Prince Wilhelm, for life. By this stage though, Bismarck’s introduction to politics had already been complete – he had acquired a seat in the United Diet in 1847, so this experience of revolution was like the cherry on top of a political education without parallel in Prussian history.


In spite of his late blooming, only discovering what he really wanted to do at age 32, Bismarck quickly made up for lost time. This confrontational, coarse, but unmistakably vibrant and dynamic individual managed to charm his peers, with the result that he gained a seat in the Landtag at Berlin in 1849. Plying his trade for the next few years, Bismarck established a reputation for himself as a reactionary, a conservative Junker of the old school, when in reality, he was most interested in furthering his own career, and laying his hands on some real power. Power, for Bismarck, as he quickly discovered, was more intoxicating than anything else he had ever known, and he needed to have more. To the surprise of nobody but Bismarck, the King did not grant him a ministerial post, but he did not pass him over either. Amidst troubling diplomatic crises, the relationship between Prussia, Austria and Russia seemed destined to change. Bismarck, noted the King, could be immensely useful under these circumstances, and the King very much intended to use him.


In spring 1851, Bismarck learned that his first posting of serious significance would be in Frankfurt, the capital of German cooperation and political intrigue, where representatives from the German princes gathered. It was here that Bismarck would land first. His superiors intended for Frankfurt to be his political education – here was a chance as well to put their enthusiastic, energetic subject to good use. A friendship with Austria, so it appeared, could be best achieved with this mad Junker, who had voiced his support of the Austrian partnership in the past. And so off Bismarck went to Frankfurt, but before long, his personal role began to change. Far from willing to kowtow to Vienna, Bismarck quickly discovered just how restrictive the Austrian domination of Germany had become for Prussia. And then the idea began to germinate within him – an idea which would distinguish him from his peers, launch his political career, and redefine the Prussian Kingdom. So long as Austria reigned supreme, Bismarck believed, Prussia could never achieve its full...  

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Apr 30 2020

3hr 15mins

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30YearsWar: #11 - "Northern Tremors"

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In this episode we radically change our focus, away from the Empire and towards a brand new theatre of Europe – Scandinavia. It was there, in the sphere of the Baltic, Eastern Europe and the wild North, that an incredible drama was playing itself out, as the House of Vasa divided over matters or religion and leadership, with profound results for Poland, Sweden, Russia and pretty much everyone else in the region. The House of Vasa’s predominant King, Sigismund III, rowed away from Sweden in the late 1590s, never to return again. His uncle, Charles IX, had effectively deposed him in the name of Lutheran leadership and more rights for the nobility. It was a watershed moment for both Poland and Sweden, and shaped relations between the two of them for more than a century.


Here we examine the shots which were fired before the ascension of a new King, Charles IX’s son, Gustav Adolph, better known to posterity and history nerds the world over as Gustavus Adolphus. But the latter did not rule a majestically powerful kingdom when he assumed the throne in 1611. Sweden was exhausted and divided, surround by enemies in Denmark and Russia as well as Poland, and there was no guaranteed way to keep his Polish Catholic cousin away from his new throne. The conflict between the two cousins was destined to be bloody and all-consuming, and this story forms a vital part of the wider narrative of the Thirty Years War, so I hope you’ll join me for it!

**DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW THESE LINKS!**

1) To support the podcast financially in return for some extra audio content, check out Patreon!

2) To find a community of history friends, look at our Facebook page and group!

3) To keep up to date with us, follow us on Twitter!

4) For everything else, visit our website, where you'll find the shop, archive, and much more!

5) To purchase merchandise of all sorts, including mugs, books and clothing, check out our Merchants' Quarter


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Apr 29 2020

33mins

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Hardcore WDF Presents - Bismarck: Rise

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SURPRISE!

At long last, I can finally share the secret which has been at the front of my mind for months! Bismarck, and as you've never seen him before. That's right, on Thursday 30 April, we're starting a new series called Bismarck: Rise, which will look at the Iron Chancellor's life and times in some serious detail, in the period 1815-1864. This is the legend of Bismarck, now watch him rise!


Seriously though, I am super excited about this, and when you listen in I'm sure you'll be too!

Or, have a read of this informative blog post if you're not up listening: http://www.wdfpodcast.com/thevassalstate/bismarck-rise

Sign up on Patreon to skip the queue, and get ALL episodes of Bismarck: Rise the moment they're released!

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Apr 27 2020

4mins

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30 Years War: #10 - "Thick as Thieves"

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It's time to meet Ferdinand of Styria and the rest of his lovely Habsburg family! Taken together, these were the kind of people who would fight doggedly for their rights and their faith. They also seemed to have a real hard time leaving Prague alone (foreshadowing!)


The counterpoint to Frederick V, Ferdinand of Styria was the heir designate to the Imperial throne, but he brought to the table a legacy which many would have found unsettling. A history of oppression and repression in his native Styria, in Inner Austria, had not merely forced many Protestants there to convert or flee, it had also demonstrated Ferdinand’s single-minded pursuit of a goal, regardless of the consequences.


And these consequences were indeed dire. A rising in Prague in 1611 provided a grave example of what could happen when the Emperor did not listen to the fears and concerns of his subjects, but was Ferdinand paying attention to this display? It seemed that, unfortunately, he was, but to the wrong parts of the story. Within a few years, the citizens of Prague would launch another uprising, and this time they would play for keeps, formally deposing their new Bohemian King Ferdinand, and pushing the Empire over the chasm into the volcano of war. The preceding years were a chance for Ferdinand to learn from the mistakes of his predecessors, but these lessons were not learned, and because of this, Europe could not be spared what happened next...

**DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW THESE LINKS!**

1) To support the podcast financially in return for some extra audio content, check out Patreon!

2) To find a community of history friends, look at our Facebook page and group!

3) To keep up to date with us, follow us on Twitter!

4) For everything else, visit our website, where you'll find the shop, archive, and much more!

5) To purchase merchandise of all sorts, including mugs, books and clothing, check out our Merchants' Quarter


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Apr 15 2020

30mins

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30YearsWar: #9 - "First of His Name"

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Thanks for your support on Patreon Deborah, and make sure you don't trust that Empress!


Episode 9 of the Thirty Years War, First of His Name, is out NOW!

You can’t have a Habsburg protagonist without also having the anti-Habsburg antagonist, and in the years before the war, few individuals were better placed to challenge the Habsburg position than the Elector Palatine, one of seven men granted the honour of voting for the next Emperor, and a greatly influential ruler in his own right, holding sway over the disconnected lands that snaked along the Rhineland and beyond. Frederick V, Elector Palatine, was a Calvinist member of the House of Wittelsbach, but that wasn’t all. He was also pledged to be married to Elizabeth, daughter of King James I and VI.

This granted him supremely useful connections, which he proved determined to make use of in the coming years, to the detriment of the Empire, but to the wonder and fascination of history friends like us. Check out this instalment of the series to get up close and personal with the REAL Elector Palatine, rather than the idealised version which tends to paint Frederick as feckless, lazy or just plain stupid. On the contrary, Frederick was an amiable, considerate, intelligent ruler, in possession of something profoundly important for posterity – an inherited mission to combat Habsburg influence wherever it could be found.


**DON'T FORGET TO FOLLOW THESE LINKS!**

1) To support the podcast financially in return for some extra audio content, check out Patreon!

2) To find a community of history friends, look at our Facebook page and group!

3) To keep up to date with us, follow us on Twitter!

4) For everything else, visit our website, where you'll find the shop, archive, and much more!

5) To purchase merchandise of all sorts, including mugs, books and clothing, check out our Merchants' Quarter


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Apr 01 2020

33mins

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iTunes Ratings

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Phoenix lawyer

By Mandingoski - May 27 2020
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The Thirty Years War and Bismark series are fantastic Zack T is a fantastic. My eight year old daughter and I listen to every episode.

Top tier

By matt_h84 - Jan 22 2019
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This is one of the most well researched and entertaining podcasts out there