Joseph Stalin is in the big three of the truly evil people of the 20th century, along with Mao and Hitler. Their combined body count is well over 100 million souls, and most of those weren’t soldiers. Stalin did however raise Russia to power, might and glory – and his personal story is human and full of flaws. Join us in this penultimate episode of Blind History season 3, and discover that even monsters can start off just like you or me.

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Charlemagne’s reign marks the end of the dark ages and the start of the medieval era. In this episode we explore the origins of France and Germany, the genealogies of all the kings and queens of Europe, and the first emergence of Northwestern Europe from savagery and barbarism, since the fall of the Roman Empire.

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During his short but expansive reign, he brought millions of souls under the banner of the Mongol Empire. Riding and fighting on horseback, he and his horde advanced into Persia, eastern Europe and China with such ferocity that even long after his reign had ended, the mere mention of his name would make men shudder, women weep, and children hide. Such was the reputation of the great Genghis Khan.

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Eva Perón was born poor, unimportant and ordinary, but she was ambitious. Her ambition was so great that it propelled her into power, influence, glamour and wealth. By the time she died at only 33, she received one of the most ostentatious funerals ever held – and ever since, Argentina has considered her a saint.

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From his silver throne in the glittering palace of Versailles, Louis XIV watched over his kingdom, resplendent in majesty. Everything about being a king was designed, considered, exalted. He taught the world what kings should look like, sound like, how they should walk and eat. He made himself the centre of the French universe, and epitomised the very idea of absolute monarchy. Within a hundred years of his death, everything he had painstakingly imbued into France had been ripped apart by revolution. Join us on a journey into the history of France in this episode of Blind History…

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In central Iran, at the foot of a low hill overlooking a seemingly endless plain, stand a few broken columns reaching impossibly high for ruins. Atop one or two are the stern, proud faces of bulls and eagles, battered by the sands of 2300 years of history. In the great appadana that once stood there, Darius, King of kings, used to sit and preside over a parade of nations that had come to honour him. The most diverse, multicultural empire of the ancient world: Persia.

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In a time of men – of the enlightenment and of extraordinary change, a young German princess found herself at the reins of the great Russian Empire. She was never anyone’s wife or lover – she made the rules. Catherine the Great was precisely that… great.

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Perhaps no other American family was ever so photographed, written about, talked about, admired, hated and controversial. Were they brilliant, heroic, extraordinary people or arrogant, competitive, self-absorbed children of a wilful, overambitious patriarch? Most people think they know the Kennedys. We’ll tell you what you don’t know.

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History isn’t just stories from the past, it’s also about things that humanity has been through that might be more relevant now than ever. Take great plagues for example: Humankind has faced some truly horrible diseases and pandemics in the past… and as awful as coronavirus is, it’s not nearly as scary as some of those that wiped out millions of us before – or the truly terrifying treatments they used to apply.

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Perhaps no other single human has had such a lasting and powerful effect on the idea of civilisation. For his long reign, Augustus mostly wanted to be called ‘First Citizen’, but in effect he was one of the most powerful men to ever walk the Earth. He instituted a period of peace called the Pax Romana, something that was unknown in the brutal ancient world. He made laws, elevated culture, commissioned public works and vanquished all his enemies. By the time he died, he had brought about the creation of the greatest empire known to man.

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