Once Upon a Time... The Explorers
"The Explorers" take us to unknown lands and horizons. They will show us how we came to know our planet which a very few centuries ago, we must never forget, was just a terra incognita...
S01:E01 - The First Navigators
Ever since he started walking, man has been inventing new means of transport. Rafts, canoes and paddles have been with us since the dawn of humanity, and the sail since the Neolithic age. Is it not more pleasant to drift on water, carried by currents, rather than to trod along tiring and often dangerous foot-paths?
S01:E02 - Alexander the Great
400 b.c. - Greece lives in the shadow of the mighty Persian empire. It is in the small kingdom of Macedonia that Alexander grows up. Son of the king, he is taught the art of war and commandment at an early age. He also learns from the philosopher Aristotle the precepts of wisdom, although his teacher endlessly warns him against his fiery nature.
S01:E03 - Erik the Red and the Discovery of America
The discovery of America is usually associated to one date and one name: 1492 and Christopher Columbus. This ignores the fact that 500 years before the Spanish navigators touched land with their caravels, a handful of hardy Scandinavian sailors crossed the same ocean in their streamlined knorrs.
S01:E04 - Genghis Khan
Was Genghis Khan really a barbarian risen out of the Asian steppe to bring terror and death onto Christendom, the direct successor of Attila the "wrath of God"? Europe certainly lived in holy fear of the mongol horsemen, for these nomads were the antithesis and the enemies of the "civilized" farming societies that populated the fertile plains of the West at that time.
S01:E05 - Ibn Battuta (In Marco Polo's Footsteps)
1325 - Ibn Battuta, a young Maroccan, leaves his home town Tanger to go, as all good Muslim should, on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Little does he know that he is embarking on an extraordinary odyssey, perhaps the greatest journey of all times.
S01:E06 - The Great Junks
At the end of the 13th century, the Venitian traveller Marco Polo was amazed to see, in China, huge 5-masted junks with sails of red silk and crews of 300 men. But these vessels that so impressed him were merely the forerunners of what was to become, in less than two centuries, the most astonishing of fleets ever to sail the seas.
S01:E07 - Vasco De Gama
We are at the end of the XVth century. Spain and Portugal both seek the maritime path to India and the fabled spice islands. Nutmeg, pepper, clover: these are products worth their weight in gold ! When King Juan II of Portugal gives Vasco de Gama commandment of four ships to reach India by circum- navigating Africa, he knows that this young captain has the talent to succeed.
S01:E08 - The Taxis and the First Postal System
The end of the Hundred Years war, in 1453, announces for christian Europe a time of expansion and innovation. Spain unites around Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille to achieve the "Reconquista". A vast empire comprising Germany, Burgundy, the Netherlands and Spain is slowly building itself up.
S01:E09 - The Pinzon Brothers
When one thinks of Colombus, it is of course as the discoverer of the Americas. But having considered the importance of his discovery, there are still many things to be said about this man who remains a mystery despite his fame. The great discoveries were often the result of efforts made by unknown heros and the Pinzon brothers belong to this category of "undiscovered" discoverers.
S01:E11 - Magellan and Del Cano
In 1518, Captain Fernando de Magellan and his friend the astronomer Rui Faliero are at the court of the king of Spain to present young Charles the Fifth with an astonishing project. The aim is to join the spice islands by heading due west and crossing the Atlantic, whereas since Vasco de Gama's trip in 1488, the Portugese sail to India via Africa, therefore heading south.
S01:E12 - Cabeza De Vaca
The year is 1528 and America is as of yet an unexplored continent. Five caravels appear off the cost of Florida, from which 600 men disembark under the orders of the conquistador Panfilo de Navaez. It is the golden age of the conquistadors, who persue their dreams of Eldorado at the expense of the Indian tribes they encounter.
S01:E13 - Bering
The life of an explorer is never an easy one, but few have had a terrain of action as hostile as that which brought fame to Vitus Bering: the vast expanses of the Siberian North and the frozen seas surrounding it.
S01:E14 - Bougainville and the Pacific
Exploring the Pacific, the greatest of all oceans, is no small affair, and it took many years and intrepid navigators before each of its numerous islands was charted out.
S01:E15 - Bruce and the Nile
Born in 1730, the Scotsman Bruce is part of an old aristocracy which the modern world, now at the dawn of the industrial revolution, threatens to eradicate. Proud and individualistic, some would say arrogant, Bruce is certainly not an easy man, though he definitively is an enthusiastic duelist.
S01:E16 - La Condamine
1735 - a heated argument is raging in the distinguished Science Academy of Paris. Is the earth round as a potato as Newton has said, or is it rather pear- shaped, a theory favoured by some of the French scientists ? There is but one way to find out : an expedition shall go to take measurements at the Equator, and another one in Lapony.
S01:E17 - James Cook
In 1764, the Frenchman Bougainville, searching for the fabled "terra australis incognita", stumbles upon Tahiti, but fails to find the elusive southern continent that all maritime explorers are so eager to discover.
S01:E18 - Humboldt
Scientist and philosopher, humanist, founding father of ethnology and anthropology: impossible to describe in one sentence the vast palette of talents which belonged to Alexander von Humboldt, one of the most brilliant figures of enlightenment!
S01:E19 - Lewis and Clark
The story of Lewis and Clark is something of a "western" before its time ! It is due to their endeavours that the huge and beautiful western territories were opened up, to become the future scene of so many heroic adventures.
S01:E20 - Stuart and Burke and Australia
Ninety years after Cook's arrival at Botany Bay, the inside of Australia remains unknown, as much to the English government as to the early settlers. From the foundation, in 1787, of Sydney's penetenciary colony, right up to the development of several coastal towns in the first years of the 19th century (Bathurst, Albany, Cranberra, Brisbane, Adelaïde, Melbourne, Darwin...).