In this episode of Blind History, we take you on a rollercoaster ride featuring some of the terrifying men (and women) who ruled the seas. Were the most famous pirates of history one-eyed, one-legged, parrot-on-the-shoulder caricatures, or were they - like so many of the greatest characters from our past - complex and flawed people, with a certain set of maritime skills they used to their advantage and everyone else’s disadvantage? Find out as we board the ship...

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The dirty, smelly Siberian peasant was a bizarre fixture at the richest, most extravagant court in the world, and for a time, he might have been the most powerful man in the Empire. Grigori Rasputin was a celebrity, a priest, a seducer of women and a healer. He was also impossible to kill...

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There was once a great emperor, who ruled over the most cosmopolitan and rich empire. This emperor built skyscrapers, palaces, giant statues and ruled for half a century. This isn’t the start of a fairytale, and it isn’t the story you might expect. This emperor was a woman... and she ruled a millennium and a half ago - in China.

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Our planet is home to an almost incomprehensible amount of living creatures. But there’s arguably only one animal that has the ability to generate fear, awe and controversy in equal measure: the shark. Great Whites are either a danger to humans, the quintessential apex predator, or a problem that needs to be solved - taking a stand on any of those viewpoints means you’re going to come up against opposition from somewhere. And that’s because sharks are largely misunderstood...

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The modern Englishman can only dream of a life of adventure, exploration, excitement and provenance. Sadly, those days may be gone. For the enduring spirit of T.E. Lawrence, his influence on the Middle East is still being felt. Lawrence of Arabia may only be familiar to you because of the movie, but his real life was perhaps even more epic.

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Our planet is home to an almost incomprehensible amount of living creatures. But there’s arguably only one animal that has the ability to generate fear, awe and controversy in equal measure: the shark. Great Whites are either a danger to humans, the quintessential apex predator, or a problem that needs to be solved - taking a stand on any of those viewpoints means you’re going to come up against opposition from somewhere. And that’s because sharks are largely misunderstood.

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The name Lucrezia Borgia is synonymous with poison. The name Cesare Borgia with murder, and the name Rodrigo Borgia with orgies, incest and nepotism. Maybe that’s why he changed his name to Pope Alexander VI when he was elected by the college of cardinals. Were the Borgias really the worst family in Rome? Find out in this episode of Blind History...

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This sign language interpreted video has been adapted from the podcast 'Blind History' - created by CliffCentral.com and Taylor Blinds & Shutters. A tiny little Queen with enormous power – reputed to have had no sense of humour. That’s how most people know Queen Victoria, but in fact she was a progressive, sensitive and quite strident woman in an age where those things were mostly frowned upon. Let’s see if you’re amused in this episode of Blind History...

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Simón Bolívar was the Napoleon of South America - although if you called him that, he might have cut your head off. He could have had the easy life of a rich landowner in Venezuela, but chose instead to create a new Europe in South America. Bolívar made a mark on South America that endures to this day... and is one of the few men in history to have a country named after him.

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Pol Pot sounds like the kind of dish you’d order at a Cambodian restaurant - but it’s actually the name of one of the most horrific people ever to walk the Earth. For some reason he never makes it to the first division of truly maniacal, genocidal monsters of history... he’s always in the second tier, despite his own murderous efforts to make his mark. In his effort to socially engineer Cambodia, he killed more than a third of his people - and millions of bodies in mass graves are his grisly monument.

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