End of Empire: The Rise and Fall of Dynasties Episodes

In End of Empire Australian Historian David Adams crosses Europe and Asia as he investigates the warrior kings who created vast empires only for their families to later dismember the empire as they fight over the spoils. In a real “Game of Thrones” the dysfunctional families of Attila the Hun; Timur (Tamerlane the Great); Edgar, King of the English and Charlemagne manage to lose it all.

Episode 1 – Timur

In the fourteenth century a minor local clan leader begins a career of conquest that will forge one of the largest empires the world has ever seen. During his rise and rule Timur (known in the West as Tamerlane the Great) builds awe-inspiring mosques and palaces, betrays and executes allies and is responsible for the deaths of over 17 million people – roughly 5% of the world’s population. We join Presenter David Adams as he follows in the footsteps of the man proclaimed as the Sword of Islam from ancient villages in the mountains of Uzbekistan to the shores of the Black Sea and the walls of Delhi.  David explores the wondrous buildings Timur creates – and reveals the hopes, mistakes and tragedies of a father seeking to establish a legitimate, royal dynasty. And a family who manage to lose it all as a result of civil war, betrayal, debauchery and murder.

Episode 2 – Edgar

A thousand years ago Anglo-Saxon England has survived the threat of violent Viking raids when Edgar becomes the King of Wessex in southern England. The ambitious Edgar believes it’s his destiny to unite England and bring an end to the wars between rival British kings as well as keeping the Vikings at bay. His political success in uniting England is greatly assisted by his wife, Aelfthryth. But Presenter David Adams discovers that she has ambitions of her own: she wants the throne for her own son and not Edward, Edgar’s older son from a previous marriage. Within two years of his premature death Edgar’s kingdom begins to fall apart when Edward, his confirmed successor, is assassinated by Aelfthryth’s allies and her son Ethelred is crowned King. But Ethelred is no match for the forces now arrayed against the kingdom. The treachery and incompetence of Edgar’s family results in a Danish warlord becoming the next King of the English.


Episode 3 – Attila

Attila the Hun was called the barbaric Scourge of God for the devastation he rained down on the Christian nations of Europe. But Attila was far more than a ferocious warrior. He proved himself to be a military strategist, an exceptional political mastermind – and a great deal-maker. Yet, after his death, his sons fought each other for the throne and his empire disappeared within fifteen years. In End of Empire: Attila Presenter David Adams sets out to discover the true story of Attila and his dysfunctional family. It is a journey that takes him from the plains of Hungary to the formidable walls of Roman Constantinople, from battlegrounds in France to the Hun-devastated Roman city of Aquileia and Heroes Square in Belgrade as David peels away myth and legend to reveal the true story of this great warrior king and the subsequent destructive family feud that resulted in the End of Empire.


Episode 4 – Charlemagne

At a time when life across the continent is politically fragmented and chaotic one man has a vision of a European empire on a grand scale – and the charisma, skill and the drive to make it a reality. He will become known to history as Charlemagne, King of the Franks and Emperor of the Romans. Presenter David Adams crosses Europe to show how daring tactics, brilliant leadership and sheer force of numbers make Charlemagne and his army the most feared military power in 8th century Europe. Charlemagne wages over 50 campaigns during a 45-year reign and by 814, he commands a single Christian empire that spans more than a million square kilometres. However David reveals that the Emperor’s son and successor, Louis the Pious, is not the strong warrior king needed to hold the empire together. Eventually Louis’ own sons depose him and fight amongst themselves, each seeking a larger share of power and glory. The family feud climaxes in a fierce battle that leaves 40,000 dead and a treaty that divides Europe into three parts. It is the end of Charlemagne’s empire and sets the stage for 1,000 years of conflict.