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Half-Arsed History

Half-Arsed History

By Riley Knight
Welcome along to Half-Arsed History! It's a weekly podcast highlighting absurd and entertaining stories from history. For around half an hour a week, it also makes your host Riley Knight feel as though his useless history degree has some kind of real-world relevance.
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Episode 161: The Ancient Olympic Games
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the history of the ancient Olympic Games, which featured everything from naked foot races to bloodsports, and became the precursor to the modern Olympic Games we all know so well today.
47:52
July 25, 2021
Episode 160: The Watergate Scandal
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the full story of one of the biggest political scandals in recent memory - the Watergate Scandal, which brought low an entire presidential administration after a series of failed cover-ups.
42:43
July 18, 2021
Episode 159: Hudson’s Bay Company
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the long and surprisingly involved history of the Hudson's Bay Company - today a chain of department stores, but previously a fur trading company that became a foundationally important part of Canada. https://halfarsedhistory.files.wordpress.com/2021/07/159-hudsons-bay-company.mp3
51:05
July 11, 2021
Episode 158: The History of the Castle
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the history of the structures that became mediaeval Europe's military, political, economic, and administrative focal points: the castle, a fortified home for wealthy ruling nobles.
49:21
July 4, 2021
Episode 157: El Cid
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, better known to history as El Cid, a famous Spanish knight who fought for and against both Christians and Muslims in mediaeval Iberia.
38:23
June 27, 2021
Episode 156: Brunhilda and Fredegund
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the bloody, decades-long feud between two rival Frankish queens from the Early Middle Ages, Brunhilda and Fredegund.
46:45
June 20, 2021
Episode 155: The Battle of Castle Itter
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the ridiculous story of the Battle of Castle Itter, the only recorded time when American and German soldiers fought side-by-side in the Second World War.
38:20
June 13, 2021
Episode 154: Afonso I of Portugal
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the origin story of the modern state of Portugal, and the tale of the man who wrought its independence: Afonso I of Portugal.
35:55
June 6, 2021
Episode 153: The Forty-Seven Ronin
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story of the Forty-Seven Ronin, a group of ex-samurai who hatched a two-year-long plot to avenge the death of their fallen lord and reclaim his lost honour.
35:48
May 30, 2021
Episode 152: The Eureka Rebellion
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tale of the Eureka Rebellion, the closest Australian colonists ever came to a full-scale political uprising after a harsh tax led gold miners to take up arms against the government.
46:31
May 23, 2021
Episode 151: The History of Penicillin
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn how the most significant medical breakthrough in human history - the discovery of penicillin - resulted in a revolution in human health thanks to the work of some talented and dedicated scientists.
39:05
May 16, 2021
Episode 150: The Apollo Program
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the full story of the Apollo Program, the monumental scientific endeavour that successfully landed humans on the Moon for the first time in history. 
49:24
May 9, 2021
Episode 149: William and Caroline Herschel
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about the lives and the discoveries made by William and Caroline Herschel, a pair of siblings who were enormously influential on the science of astronomy.
31:49
May 2, 2021
Episode 148: Ashurbanipal, King of the Universe
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the ancient tale of Ashurbanipal, who styled himself king of the universe, and how his legacy remains alive today almost three millennia after his death.
37:52
April 25, 2021
Episode 147: The Servile Wars
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the stories of the Servile Wars, three slave revolts from ancient Rome that led to the emergence of legendary figures such as Spartacus.
41:48
April 18, 2021
Episode 146: The Final Voyage of the Whaleship Essex
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tragic tale of the whaleship Essex, the real-life inspiration for Herman Melville's Moby-Dick - a story of what happened when a giant whale attacked a ship in the middle of the Pacific.
36:40
April 11, 2021
Episode 145: The Suez Canal
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the long and very interesting history of one of the world's most important waterways, the Suez Canal, and hear about just how many times it's been blocked up over the years.
39:10
April 4, 2021
Episode 144: Assassination attempts on Fidel Castro
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about all the ridiculous stories behind the times the CIA tried - and failed - to assassinate Fidel Castro, the president of Cuba.
35:36
March 28, 2021
Episode 143: The Four Great Inventions
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the stories of the Four Great Inventions from ancient China, and how they've impacted the modern world: the compass, papermaking, woodblock printing, and gunpowder.
43:53
March 21, 2021
Episode 142: Marie Sklodowska Curie
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the life story of Marie Sklodowska Curie, a brilliant pioneering scientist who faced significant challenges both inside and outside the lab - but one who still managed to be the first person ever to win two Nobel Prizes.
42:28
March 14, 2021
Episode 141: Alcibiades
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tale of Alcibiades: general, diplomat, politician, traitor and turncoat (more than a few times), and an absolute lothario, who influenced the course of the famous Peloponnesian War.
51:28
March 7, 2021
Episode 140: The Lafitte Brothers
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the history of the infamous Lafitte Brothers, who were privateers, smugglers, political operatives, businessmen, spies, and all around rogues who made an unlikely alliance with the US to save New Orleans.
51:23
February 28, 2021
Episode 139: The History of the Toilet
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the history of the humble toilet, and hear how it has developed over the years from a rudimentary necessity to something that has bolstered both public health and a lot of very highbrow humour.
56:02
February 21, 2021
Episode 138: The Order of Assassins
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the true story of the Order of Assassins, also known as the Nizari Ismaili, as they pursued their political and religious goals with fanatically loyal, murderous agents.
43:26
February 14, 2021
Episode 137: Alexander Selkirk, Castaway
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Alexander Selkirk, a castaway whose incredible tale was one of the real-life inspirations for the famous novel Robinson Crusoe.
41:44
February 7, 2021
Episode 136: King Ludwig II, the Fairytale King
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the tale of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who was responsible for securing a great cultural legacy for his kingdom - including the construction of the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle.
37:06
January 31, 2021
Episode 135: The History of Football
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the history of football, from its origins as an anarchic, violent game played by hundreds to the many various codes that have developed over the years.
40:52
January 24, 2021
Episode 134: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Grandmother of Europe
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the richest and most powerful women in mediaeval Europe, and learn how she helped to shape the history of both England and France as the queen of both nations.
42:08
January 17, 2021
Episode 133: The First-Term Achievements of Every Single US President
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, test the claim made earlier this week that the outgoing US presidency represents the "greatest first term ever" by examining every single first term of every single US president in history.
01:07:19
January 10, 2021
Episode 132: History’s Shortest Reigns
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the rulers throughout history that had the shortest reigns - although not all of them are accepted, even the disputed ones make for some great stories.
41:46
January 3, 2021
Episode 131: The Mongol Invasions of Japan
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tale of the Mongol Invasions of Japan, and the unlikely way in which the invasions ultimately failed.
42:11
December 27, 2020
Episode 130: The Historic Origins of Popular Sayings
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the origins of four commonly-used modern sayings: "beyond the pale", "fiddling while Rome burns", "red herring", and "hoist with his own petard".
35:43
December 20, 2020
Episode 129: The White Australia Policy
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about an often (and perhaps readily) overlooked part of Australia's history - the racist immigration laws it upheld for much of its history that became known as the White Australia Policy.
39:27
December 13, 2020
Episode 128: Moctezuma II and the Fall of the Aztecs
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear how the Aztec Empire was destroyed by Spanish invaders led by Hernan Cortes, and the tale of the emperor who was there when it fell, Moctezuma II.
45:11
December 6, 2020
Episode 127: Moctezuma I and the Rise of the Aztecs
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tale of the Mesoamerican Triple Alliance - better known to history as the Aztec Empire - and meet one of the men instrumental in its rise, Moctezuma I.
39:24
November 29, 2020
Episode 126: History’s Weirdest Deaths
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, get across some of the weirdest and most ridiculous stories of how people have died, spanning from Ancient Greece to the modern era.
46:11
November 22, 2020
Episode 125: Burke and Hare
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be shocked at the murderous crimes of two profiteering maniacs, Burke and Hare, who killed their victims just to sell their corpses to anatomists.
49:48
November 15, 2020
Episode 124: History of Birth Control
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the way that birth control has changed over the years, from Ancient Egyptian crocodile turds to the contraceptive pill of the modern era.
40:15
November 8, 2020
Episode 123: The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tale of one of history's best recorded witch trials, the Lancashire Witch Trials of 1612.
45:30
November 1, 2020
Episode 122: The Great Stink
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn of the time that raw sewage turned central London and the River Thames into a mephitic, malodorous hellscape - a time known as the Great Stink.
43:34
October 25, 2020
Episode 121: Casanova, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the second half of the life story of history's most famous philanderer - Giacomo Casanova.
43:52
October 18, 2020
Episode 120: Casanova, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the adventures and misadventures that during place during the early life of history's best-known philanderer - Giacomo Casanova.
54:12
October 11, 2020
Episode 119: Bonnie and Clyde
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the true story of two of the USA's most notorious and romanticised criminals: Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
56:28
October 4, 2020
Episode 118: Franklin’s Lost Expedition
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be mystified at the tale of Franklin's Lost Expedition, when two ships attempted to find their way through the Northwest Passage only to be lost forever.
49:03
September 27, 2020
Episode 117: Hasekura Tsunenaga, First Diplomat to Europe
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story of the disgraced samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga, who attempted to reclaim his family's honour by becoming the first ever Japanese ambassador to Europe.
53:23
September 20, 2020
Episode 116: The Battle of Kadesh
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the incredible tale of the Battle of Kadesh, and its direct consequence - the oldest peace treaty known to history.
42:01
September 13, 2020
Episode 115: The History of Gunpowder
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the history of gunpowder, an invention that changed the nature of human conflict forever, influencing warfare and military technology for centuries.
53:16
September 6, 2020
Episode 114: Joan of Arc
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Joan of Arc, the famous French hero who changed the course of the Hundred Years War and went on to become a national symbol of France.
49:38
August 30, 2020
Episode 113: History’s Shortest Wars
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about five of the shortest wars ever fought: The Serbo-Bulgarian War, the War of the Stray Dog, the Six-Day War, the Football War, and the Anglo-Zanzibar War.
42:16
August 23, 2020
Episode 112: The Seven Wonders, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about four of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
46:30
August 16, 2020
Episode 111: The Seven Wonders, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
41:14
August 9, 2020
Episode 110: The History of Money
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the long and very interesting history of money, from its beginnings as commodity money, through coinage, paper money, fiat money, all the way to the digital money of the 21st century.
54:32
August 2, 2020
Episode 109: Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the true story of the very famous Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland and his role in the First War of Scottish Independence.
52:43
July 26, 2020
Episode 108: The Shark Arm Murder
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be entertained with the story of the Shark Arm Murder, a tale of a murder investigation that was brought about when a captive tiger shark spewed up a tattooed human arm in 1930s Sydney.
31:18
July 19, 2020
Episode 107: The Münster Rebellion
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the ridiculous story of the Münster Rebellion, which had everything from a crazed self-proclaimed prophet, to forced polygamy, to good old-fashioned blood and guts and 'orrible murder.
34:19
July 11, 2020
Episode 106: The First Circumnavigation of the Earth
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the adventures and misadventures involved with the very first circumnavigation of the Earth, a story closely associated with Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
55:33
July 5, 2020
Episode 105: Hamilton vs. Burr
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the real story behind the famous duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr - how their careers intertwined, how their rivalry developed, and what fatal consequences therefore resulted.
45:22
June 28, 2020
Episode 104: Joseph Bologne, Virtuosic Swordsman
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the life story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges - who was born to an African slave but went on to become a musician, composer, swordsman, abolitionist, soldier, and revolutionary.
46:48
June 21, 2020
Episode 103: The Insurrection Act of 1807
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the mixed legacy of the Insurrection Act of 1807, a two-hundred-year-old piece of American legislation that has been used in the pursuit of both fair-minded justice and horrific oppression, firmly consigning those who invoked it either to the right or the wrong side of history.
42:30
June 14, 2020
Episode 102: The History of Clocks, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the more recent history of timekeeping and clocks, including John Harrison's marine chronometer, how wristwatches eclipsed pocketwatches, and finally how quartz and atomic watches brought us into the twenty-first century.
32:39
June 7, 2020
Episode 101: The History of Clocks, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the first half of the very interesting history of the humble clock, from its origins as a sundial and water clock, through to the technological developments that led to the first mechanical clocks, pendulum clocks, and pocket watches.
37:34
May 31, 2020
Episode 100: Seven Short Stories
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about Liechtenstein's weird involvement in the Austro-Prussian War, the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, the doomed romance of Peter I and Ines de Castro, Wilhelm Voigt's audacious heist, the untold riches of Mansa Musa I, the women in charge of Sydney's Razor Gangs, and the death-defying adventure of Alan Magee.
54:37
May 24, 2020
Episode 99: The History of Coffee
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story of coffee, one of the most popular drinks in the world, and hear how it was spread and popularised while influencing politics, history, economics, and of course culture.
41:24
May 17, 2020
Episode 98: Ching Shih, Pirate Queen
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Ching Shih, one of the most powerful pirates the world has ever seen, who at her peak led a fleet of hundreds and a crew of tens of thousands.
36:02
May 10, 2020
Episode 97: Colonel Blood, Thief of Crowns
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed by the incredible exploits of "Colonel" Thomas Blood, a thief, kidnapper, con man, turncoat, impersonator, traitor, and rogue who attempted the heist of the century when he tried to steal the Crown Jewels of England.
36:10
May 3, 2020
Episode 96: The Bone Wars
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the bitter rivalry between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, two palaeontologists whose undying hatred for one another resulted in the Bone Wars.
39:06
April 26, 2020
Episode 95: The Mechanical Turk
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of the Mechanical Turk, a chess-playing automaton from over 250 years ago that stunned and mystified with its chess-playing skill and fiercely-guarded secrets.
40:44
April 19, 2020
Episode 94: March of the Ten Thousand
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of the Ten Thousand: "an epic tale of marooned Greek mercenaries in enemy territory, with betrayal and beheadings, a Persian brotherly blood feud, and a foot bridge made of slaughtered animal herds."
37:45
April 12, 2020
Episode 93: The Cod Wars
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore an interesting and overlooked bit of Cold War history - the Cod Wars, which helped to shape 20th century politics, geography, and British haute cuisine.
51:36
April 5, 2020
Episode 92: The History of the Potato
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the surprisingly interesting history of the humble potato, and how it has strongly influenced the course of history and made the world into what it is today.
42:06
March 29, 2020
Episode 91: The Tragedy of Ignaz Semmelweis
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the tragic story of Ignaz Semmelweis, a man whose pioneering medical work has saved millions of lives over the years - as well as being especially relevant today.
36:37
March 22, 2020
Episode 90: The Black Death
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about one of the most devastating diseases the world has ever seen - the Black Death, which killed countless millions of people and reduced Europe's population by up to sixty percent.
39:17
March 15, 2020
Episode 89: Diogenes the Cynic
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the life and times of Diogenes the Cynic, a famous Ancient Greek philosopher who was known for living in a jar, making a mockery of the establishment, and relieving himself in public.
30:40
March 8, 2020
Episode 88: The English Longbow
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn all about the English longbow, which played a decisive role in the military history of western Europe between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, and hear the stories of the battles in which it played a key role.
48:04
March 1, 2020
Episode 87: Edward Jenner, Father of the Vaccine
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the life of Edward Jenner, a man who perhaps saved more lives than any other human in the history of our species by developing a vaccine for smallpox.
31:21
February 23, 2020
Episode 86: Irene, Byzantine Empress
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of Irene of Athens, who rose to rule the Byzantine Empire in her own right through a combination of political cleverness and brutal and bloody authority.
31:51
February 16, 2020
Episode 85: Peter Tordenskjold, Norway’s Han Solo
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the incredible exploits of the brazen sea captain Peter Tordenskjold, who fought for Denmark-Norway against the Swedish during the Great Northern War.
30:54
February 9, 2020
Episode 84: Black Agnes and the Siege of Dunbar
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the ridiculous story of the Siege of Dunbar, where a Scottish noblewoman known as Black Agnes thoroughly humiliated her English foes as they laid siege to her castle.
27:48
February 2, 2020
Episode 83: Johann Friedrich Struensee
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the tale of Johann Friedrich Struensee, who took control of the Kingdom of Denmark in the eighteenth century, by winning over the king and sleeping with the queen.
34:34
January 26, 2020
Episode 82: Norwegian Heavy Water Sabotage
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the remarkable tale of the Norwegian and Allied saboteurs who fought a secret and dangerous war against the Nazi nuclear weapons program during the Second World War.
31:11
January 19, 2020
Episode 81: The Beast of Gévaudan
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the remarkable true story of the Beast of Gévaudan, a monstrosity that plagued and terrorised the French countryside in the 1760s.
35:00
January 12, 2020
Episode 80: Tycho Brahe, the Brass-Nosed Astronomer
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the life of Tycho Brahe, who balanced his astronomic and scientific genius with, like, just a whole bunch of really weird stuff.
37:16
January 5, 2020
Episode 79: Operation Pastorius, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the second half of the story of Operation Pastorius, when eight Nazi saboteurs were sent across the Atlantic in submarines to attempt to wreak havoc within the US.
42:17
December 29, 2019
Episode 78: Operation Pastorius, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the first half of the story of Operation Pastorius, when eight Nazi saboteurs were sent across the Atlantic in submarines to attempt to wreak havoc within the US.
45:25
December 22, 2019
Episode 77: Artemisia and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the origin of one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and the woman who was behind its construction, Artemisia II of Caria.
34:17
December 15, 2019
Episode 76: The Norman Conquest of England
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of the Norman Conquest of England, an event which put a new line of kings on the throne of England and forever changed the course of world history.
46:32
December 8, 2019
Episode 75: The Great Emu War
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover one of the most humiliating defeats ever suffered by the Australian Army - the Great Emu War, when artillerymen and machine guns from the Australian Army were deployed to fight tens of thousands of emus, and lost.
24:34
December 1, 2019
Episode 74: Mutiny on the Batavia
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of the Mutiny on the Batavia, when a Dutch ship ran aground off the coast of Western Australia and ended up with a murderous psychopath in charge, resulting in treachery, betrayal, and of course 'orrible murder.
36:19
November 24, 2019
Episode 73: USS William D. Porter, History’s Unluckiest Ship
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the hilarious and near-world-changing story of the USS William D. Porter, a ship whose crew almost accidentally killed US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt before suffering the weirdest kamikaze attack in history.
31:27
November 17, 2019
Episode 72: Bowie, Crockett, and the Battle of the Alamo
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, find out the truth about the famous Battle of the Alamo and its role in securing Texan independence, as well as the stories of some of the famous men who were there, including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett.
47:10
November 10, 2019
Episode 71: Queen Nzinga of Ndongo and Matamba
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the tale of Queen Nzinga, who spent a lifetime fighting against the Portuguese colonisation of Angola - and in doing so, united two kingdoms and made a name for herself as a clever, pragmatic, and ruthless leader.
34:16
November 3, 2019
Episode 70: Four Generations of the Dumas Family
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the incredible story of the Dumas family, who for four consecutive generations produced a succession of "distinguished men" - a revolutionary general, a celebrated author, a talented playwright, and an Olympic double-gold medallist.
50:25
October 27, 2019
Episode 69: The Eighty Years’ War, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear more of the ridiculous stories that came out of the Eighty Years' War, including a sixteenth-century Trojan Horse story, the establishment of the Dutch East India Company, and the only time in history a Spanish treasure fleet was ever captured.
58:22
October 20, 2019
Episode 68: The Eighty Years’ War, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear some of the ridiculous stories that came out of the Eighty Years' War, including the surfing pirates of the Siege of Leiden, the tens of thousands left dead after the Spanish Fury, and William the Silent paying for his assassin's pistols.
49:37
October 13, 2019
Episode 67: Josephine Baker: Singer, Spy, Activist
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the incredible life story of Josephine Baker, who went from the slums of St. Louis to international stardom as a singer, while also working as a spy during the Second World War and a civil rights activist in the years afterwards.
37:20
October 6, 2019
Episode 66: Juan Pujol García, Self-Made Spy
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the incredible exploits of Juan Pujol García, who went from being a Spanish chicken farmer to one of the most important double agents during the Second World War.
44:55
September 29, 2019
Episode 65: Tarrare, the Eating Machine
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the amusing and tragic adventures of Tarrare, a French man who had perhaps the most voracious appetite the world has ever seen, eating everything from his own bodyweight in meat to wood and rocks.
37:25
September 22, 2019
Episode 64: John Paul Jones, Father of the US Navy
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn the story of John Paul Jones, a daring naval commander whose early victories against the British during the American Revolutionary War earnt him the title "Father of the US Navy".
45:43
September 15, 2019
Episode 63: Admiral Yi Sun-Sin
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the tale of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, one of the greatest naval strategists the world has ever seen, who never lost a battle or even a ship at sea throughout his entire career.
39:51
September 8, 2019
Episode 62: James Lind and the Cure for Scurvy
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, enjoy the uplifting story of James Lind, a medical visionary who was ahead of his time in helping to cure scurvy and conducting what might have been the world's first clinical trial.
42:55
September 1, 2019
Episode 61: John R. Brinkley, the Goat Testicle Quack
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, try to contain your bewilderment as you hear the story of John R. Brinkley, a man who made his fortune by transplanting goat testicles into humans after marketing them as a miracle cure-all.
49:08
August 25, 2019
Episode 60: Alexander’s Siege of Tyre
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn how Alexander the Great besieged Tyre, with hundreds of ships and a human-made causeway, altering not only the course of world history but also the course of world geography.
32:01
August 18, 2019
Episode 59: Neutral Moresnet
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story of Neutral Moresnet, a fascinatingly unique geographical and political anomaly in 19th-century Europe, famous for zinc mining, smuggling, gambling, and Esperanto.
42:20
August 11, 2019
Episode 58: Elagabalus, Rome’s Dirty Emperor
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be shocked at the debauchery of Elagabalus, who ruled Rome as emperor during the third century with some and gained an outrageous reputation for salaciousness and promiscuity.
33:52
August 4, 2019
Episode 57: Stede Bonnet, Gentleman Pirate
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, enjoy the life story of the gentleman pirate Stede Bonnet, who left behind a life of comfortable wealth to take to the seas as a pirate in the Golden Age of Piracy.
42:12
July 28, 2019
Episode 56: Robert Smalls
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the incredible life of Robert Smalls, who went from being born into slavery to becoming a war hero and a congressman, securing his freedom by stealing a Confederate gunboat.
42:07
July 21, 2019
Episode 55: Gregor MacGregor, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at one of the most brazen and audacious confidence tricks in history - the Poyais Scheme, run by Gregor MacGregor, who invented an entire country and swindled people into investing in and emigrating to it.
44:37
July 14, 2019
Episode 54: Gregor MacGregor, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the wild soldiering career of the famous swindler Gregor MacGregor, who talked his way into (and out of) all sorts of wild adventures while fighting for various Latin American independence movements.
44:24
July 7, 2019
Episode 53: La Maupin, Operatic Swashbuckler
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be entertained by the wild life story of Julie d'Aubigny - better known as La Maupin - who was a swordfighting, convent-burning, and incredibly amorous opera singer in seventeenth century France.
32:31
June 30, 2019
Episode 52: Arkipov and Petrov, World-Savers
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be shocked at just how close we've come to a nuclear apocalypse, and how the actions of brave individuals such as Vasiliy Arkhipov and Stanislav Petrov mean that we're still around today.
41:16
June 23, 2019
Episode 51: William Buckley, Escaped Convict
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the story of William Buckley, a convict who was transported to Australia only to make a daring escape and live amongst the local indigenous population for decades.
31:17
June 16, 2019
Episode 50: The Darien Scheme
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at an untold piece of Scottish History: the Darien Scheme, when Scotland attempted to start a colony in Central America, in the hopes of bridging the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.
36:06
June 9, 2019
Episode 49: Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the swashbuckling lives of Calico Jack, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read, three famous pirates that caused all sorts of havoc and mayhem at the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.
43:49
June 2, 2019
Episode 48: The 1904 Olympic Marathon
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the total lunacy that surrounded the 1904 Olympic Marathon, which featured people coughing up blood, getting attacked by dogs, stopping for naps, taking rat poison as a performance-enhancing drug, and even taking cars to the finish line.
33:41
May 26, 2019
Episode 47: Mutiny on the Bounty, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the consequences of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, and the fates of both the loyalists and the mutineers after the ship was seized.
37:26
May 19, 2019
Episode 46: Mutiny on the Bounty, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about the leadup to and execution of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty, when malcontent British sailors seized control of a British vessel from their captain, William Bligh.
31:19
May 12, 2019
Episode 45: The Second Pacific Squadron
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the adventures and misadventures of the Russian Second Pacific Squadron, which sailed 29,000km to fight in the Russo-Japanese War.
50:15
May 5, 2019
Episode 44: Qin Shi Huang
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the amazing - and utterly ridiculous - life and times of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.
43:10
April 28, 2019
Episode 43: Korean Axe Murder Incident
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover one of the most ridiculous military operations in history - when the US mobilised over ten thousand troops to cut down a single tree.
29:33
April 21, 2019
Episode 42: Boudica, the Rebel Queen
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed by the bloodthirsty butchery perpetrated by the Britonnic queen Boudica, when she campaigned against the Romans in the first century.
32:54
April 14, 2019
Episode 41: Hannibal Barca, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover what happened when Hannibal Barca attacked the Roman Republic after crossing the Alps, including the famous Battle of Cannae.
51:43
April 7, 2019
Episode 40: Hannibal Barca, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the legendary Hannibal Barca and his crossing of the Alps to stage a land invasion of the Roman Republic.
35:48
March 31, 2019
Episode 39: Le Gentil and the Transits of Venus
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the life of Guillaume Le Gentil, who was fraught with unbelievably bad luck while attempting to observe the Transits of Venus in 1761 and 1769.
42:43
March 24, 2019
Episode 38: The Great Race of Mercy
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about the Great Race of Mercy, where twenty courageous dog sledders attempted to prevent a deadly epidemic from wiping out the remote Alaskan town of Nome.
28:13
March 17, 2019
Episode 37: Burke and Wills
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, relive the Burke and Wills Expedition, one of the first attempts to cross the inland of Australia from south to north.
37:22
March 10, 2019
Episode 36: Queen Zenobia
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the life of Queen Zenobia, who forged an empire to rival Rome almost two thousand years ago.
32:21
March 3, 2019
Episode 35: The Spanish Armada
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story surrounding the famous Spanish Armada - what it was, what it was trying to do, and just how catastrophically it failed.
39:43
February 24, 2019
Episode 34: Mary Anning
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about an extraordinary figure from early palaeontology, whose fossil discoveries forever changed our understanding of the prehistoric world - Mary Anning.
31:51
February 17, 2019
Episode 33: Caligula, the Mad Roman Emperor
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the life and times of Caligula, a short-lived Roman emperor known throughout history for his pants-on-head insanity.
28:53
February 10, 2019
Episode 32: Andree's Arctic Balloon Expedition
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed by the foolish optimism of Salomon Andree and his attempt to reach the North Pole - by hot-air balloon.
28:50
February 3, 2019
Episode 31: Thomas Midgley, Jr.
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the enormous environmental damage done by one of the most terrible inventors in the history of our civilisation: Thomas Midgley, Jr. https://halfarsedhistory.files.wordpress.com/2018/12/031-Thomas-Midgley-Jr..mp3 Download Episode (Right click and select “Save as…”) Image: Blank & Stoller. Thomas Midgley, Jr. Circa 1930. Photograph.
19:20
January 27, 2019
Episode 30: Vlad the Impaler
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, separate the truth from the fiction when it comes to the legacy of the brutal Vlad the Impaler, who is known for the harsh cruelty he showed to his foes.
31:12
January 20, 2019
Episode 29: The Mary Celeste
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be mystified at the tale of the Mary Celeste, a ship that was discovered in the middle of the Atlantic, abandoned by its crew with all its cargo untouched.
21:10
January 13, 2019
Episode 28: Wu Zetian, Empress of China
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the life of the only female ruler of China, known for ruthless and strong leadership, the empress Wu Zetian.
19:10
January 6, 2019
Episode 27: Wilhelm II, the Last German Emperor
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the absolute lunacy of the last emperor of Germany, Kaiser Wilhelm II.
29:48
December 30, 2018
Episode 26: The Cadaver Synod
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about the utter insanity involved in the Cadaver Synod, where a pope was dug up to be put on trial months after he'd actually died.
20:23
December 23, 2018
Episode 25: The Defenestrations of Prague
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about how a group of angry Bohemians chucked some blokes out of a window to trigger a religious war - and then did it again two hundred years later.
24:24
December 16, 2018
Episode 24: Lord Timothy Dexter, the Whacko Entrepreneur
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the insane economic genius of "Lord" Timothy Dexter, the original cashed-up bogan who built his fortune through ridiculous business decisions.
28:56
December 9, 2018
Episode 23: Georg Elser and his Plot to Kill Hitler
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the story of an unsung German hero, Georg Elser, who attempted to kill Hitler all by himself just after the outbreak of the Second World War.
36:42
December 2, 2018
Episode 22: Jeanne de Clisson, Lioness of Brittany
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the incredible life of Jeanne de Clisson, who became known as the Lioness of Brittany after a brutal career from boring noblewoman to bloodthirsty pirate.
24:36
November 25, 2018
Episode 21: Ned Kelly, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about the final years of the Ned Kelly and his gang, including bank robberies, murders, and of course the legendary Siege of Glenrowan.
30:53
November 18, 2018
Episode 20: Ned Kelly, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the ridiculous nonsense that went on during the early life of Ned Kelly, before he became the notorious bushranger and outlaw.
30:38
November 11, 2018
Episode 19: Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, uncover the complicated and tragic relationship between the cousins, rivals, and queens: Mary, Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I.
36:31
November 4, 2018
Episode 18: Leo Major
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed by the story of Leo Major, a Canadian soldier who single-handedly (and single-eyededly) liberated a Dutch town.
24:04
October 28, 2018
Episode 17: The Mongol Conquest of Khwarezmia
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, witness the ruthless brutality of the early Mongol Empire as they engaged in the Mongol Conquest of Khwarezmia.
27:50
October 21, 2018
Episode 16: Deborah Sampson
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, find out about Deborah Sampson, a woman disguised herself as a man so she could fight in the American Revolution.
18:47
October 14, 2018
Episode 15: The Battle of Tours, Part 2
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, get amongst what happened during the Battle of Tours, and the ongoing debate about its significance in world history.
22:36
October 7, 2018
Episode 14: The Battle of Tours, Part 1
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, get a sense of the lead-up to an event that is said to have changed the course of world history - the Battle of Tours.
19:34
September 30, 2018
Episode 13: The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, get more information about a hugely significant event in world history: The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
25:35
September 23, 2018
Episode 12: British K-Class Submarines
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, be amazed at the sheer magnitude of idiotic disasters that were involved with the British K-Class Submarines.
26:37
September 16, 2018
Episode 11: The War of the Oaken Bucket
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, discover the battle with the most ludicrous casus belli you've ever seen - the War of the Oaken Bucket.
16:15
September 9, 2018
Episode 10: The Affair of the Diamond Necklace
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear the story of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, where Marie Antoinette suffered at the hands of a daring con artist, Jeanne de Valois-Saint-Rémy.
19:15
September 2, 2018
Episode 9: The Battle of New Orleans
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear of the stupidly unlikely outcome of the Battle of New Orleans, the final conflict of the War of 1812.
21:08
August 26, 2018
Episode 8: The War of 1812
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, get stuck into the insane stories that emerged from the War of 1812, an often-overlooked piece of history.
33:13
August 19, 2018
Episode 7: D.B. Cooper
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about the sky pirate D.B. Cooper and his clean getaway after skydiving away with over a million bucks.
29:26
August 12, 2018
Episode 6: The Fenian Raids
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, find out about the absolute lunacy that was the Fenian Raids, where a group of Irish nationalists invaded Canada to secure freedom for the Emerald Isle.
20:24
August 5, 2018
Episode 5: The Fourth Crusade
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, learn about one of the most colossal stuff-ups in history, wherein an army of Crusaders managed to sack not one, but two Christian cities: the Fourth Crusade.
31:58
July 29, 2018
Episode 4: Olga of Kiev
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, hear about how Olga of Kiev took brutal vengeance for her husband's murder by burning down a city and burying her enemies alive.
24:09
July 22, 2018
Episode 3: The Assassination of James A. Garfield
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, find out about how the 20th President of the United States, poor old James A Garfield, got gunned down by an absolute lunatic named Charles Guiteau.
29:44
July 15, 2018
Episode 2: The Terra Nova Expedition
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, find out about the first losers in the race to the South Pole - the Terra Nova expedition, let by Robert Falcon Scott.
28:17
July 8, 2018
Episode 1: Frederick the Great
In this episode of Half-Arsed History, explore the life of the red-hot pistol that was Frederick the Great, the most famous of the Prussian kings.
29:49
July 1, 2018