Once Upon a Time... Man
Once upon a time … the history of man from his earliest origins to our own times! Facing the problems of everyday existence in their time. Past the caves of the Neanderthal, the pyramids of the Pharaohs, the Vikings and the ancient Greeks and Romans
S01:E01 - And the Earth Was Created ...
It is five thousand million years ago. We approach the globe of the earth through thick clouds. Volcanic eruptions, rivers of lava, lightning, earthquakes and diluvial rains make up an apocalyptic outlook. Then the scene becomes more peaceful. Sunrays shine through the fog and gently touch the surface of the water. We follow this ray, shining through the water. Everything is quiet.
S01:E02 - Neanderthal Man
Peter, a robust Pithecanthropus male, marches along and, as we move on in the time bar, his morphology changes and passes through all the stages which take him from Homo-Erectus to Homo-Sapiens. He is now the Neanderthal type. Following him, we see a migrating group which includes some twenty individuals: men, women and children.
S01:E03 - Cro-Magnon Man
A group of Cro-Magnon is migrating. Are these people descendants of the Neanderthal men, or their cousins, invaders or their conquerors? Among them we find the prototypes of our heroes: Peter - solidly built, Jumbo - indestructible, Pest - forever dissatisfied, Pierrette - charming and pretty, Maestro - the wise man with the long, white beard.
S01:E04 - The Fertile Valleys
The inhabitants of a peaceful neolithic villlage have just discovered how to cultivate the soil. But the harvested grain is coveted by pillagers, and the villagers are obliged to protect themselves by erecting stockades. While our little settlement goes about its humdrum daily routine, the Middle East has already become the seat of highly evolved civilizations.
S01:E05 - The First Empires
In Mesopotamia, kingdoms rise and fall until the coming of Hamurabi, who imposes his system of law and order - of which we are given a few illustrations. It is a time of mass migrations. Under the successive waves of invaders the Assyrians grow warlike. We see them about to turn Nineva into the capital of terror. The Medes and Babylonians join forces against this bloodthirsty beast.
S01:E06 - The Age of Pericles
The streets of Knossos in 500 BC: the inhabitants are elegant and cheerful, the houses modern, it's civilization advanced. No bloodthirsty gods, no powerful army. Only the joy, the pleasure of living... It wouldn't last though. The Achaeans, jealous of its civilization, come to invade Crete. It remains for the barbarians to surpass their masters.
S01:E07 - Pax Romana
52 BC: Julius Caesar awaits the surrender of Vercingetorix, the chief of the Gauls, whom he has just defeated. On their way back to Rome with their prisoners, among whom are our friends, the legions appropriate whatever they find: a lamb, a cow, pottery or a string of onions. Caesar heads the convoy, and on the homeward journey, he dictates to his secretaries his impressions of the journey.
S01:E08 - The Conquests of Islam
While the Roman Empire declines, the Emperor Constantine has converted to Catholicism and founds the city of Constantinople. Justinian, who succeeds him, continues the policy of grandeur and of reconquest, and at the same time the war with Persia begins. After all the opulence and splendor, there finally remains only an exhausted population, the 'Cathedral of Saint Sophie' and the Justinian Code.
S01:E09 - The Carolingians
While the Roman Empire dozes peacefully under the Pax Romana, we see how processions of invaders are spreading throughout the land. Later, in a great cloud of dust we see a horde gallop by: the Huns of Attila. We see a peaceful settlement whose inhabitants - which include our friends - are going about their daily chores; their children are at play. Suddenly, the bell tower sounds the alarm.
S01:E10 - The Vikings
The first of the Viking raids on the coast of Europe took place at the end of the VIII century. But first let us take a look at these ferocious warriors, who were indomitable navigators, on their home ground. 790 AC: A Viking village in the north with its typical houses. Food is scarce, and the men are preparing a whale hunt.
S01:E11 - The Cathedral Builders
Charlemagne's empire has collapsed. The feudal system - which is very harsh on the people - has taken over. The law of "might is right" prevails. A fire has destroyed the watch tower of Baron Pest's castle. Maestro, an expert builder from the big city, proposes that the old, wooden tower should now be replaced by a solid donjon with thick walls. The new tower rises.
S01:E12 - The Voyages of Marco Polo
1271. The opulence of Venice fades. Far-off horizons are opening up to the Polo brothers, who were rich merchants of the prosperous city. Also on board of the ship with them is Marco, aged 17, the son of one of the brothers. Two priests accompany them as well. Among the crew we quickly recognize Young Peter and Young Jumbo, barely 15 years old, with whom Marco soon strikes up a friendship.
S01:E13 - The Hundred-Years War
If the thirteenth century saw the flourishing of the cathedrals, the fourteenth saw the blossoming of the universities. Leaving Rome with its rivalry between the Orsinis and the Colonnas, the Pope establishes himself in Avignon. Agriculture has made progress. The population has grown - too quickly perhaps, because famine strikes now.
S01:E14 - The Quattrocento
Fourteenth century Florence, during the time of Lorenzo de Medici, is a focal point. In the city's bustling streets where commerce flourishes, Peter Junior is returning from some errand on which his father, a draper, has sent him. The boy saunters along then stops when his curiosity is engaged by the workshop of Master Verrocchio: young artists with names like da Vinci, Boticelli, and le Perrugin.
S01:E15 - The Golden Age of Spain
The Moorish rule comes to an end in 15th century Spain, when the last Islamic bastion Granada falls in 1492. This flourishing city has some 400 000 inhabitants, 70 libraries and more than 50 schools. Its wall carries 1030 defense towers. After 500 years of war, the Spanish have become fanatic and intolerant. The Jews are being expelled and 400 000 Moors must leave the land as well.
S01:E16 - Elizabethan England
In the middle of the 16th century, queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII., marries the crown prince of Spain, Philipp II. "Bloody Mary", as is called, tries to bring back Catholicism to England. Her attempts of conversion consume quite an amount of wood though, since around 300 Protestants are forced to lose their lives on the stake. After Mary's death, Elizabeth I. mounts the throne.
S01:E17 - The Golden Age of the Low Countries
In 1533, all of the 17 provinces of the Netherlands are part of the empire of Charles V. Because of their vitality and their pecuniosity, they are counted to his most precious belongings. In 1555 his son, Philipp II., inherits everything and administrates it from Spain. However, there are riots in the provinces.
S01:E18 - The Great Reign of Louis XIV
1680: Paris has 450 000 inhabitants. The state prison, the Bastille, is situated in the East. In the West, there's the Louvre, which is the king's palace. Louis XVI has other plans though... The construction of the Palace of Versailles has been in progress for 18 years, but still there were some things missing. The interior decoration and parks need a lot of time and quality.
S01:E19 - Peter the Great and His Times
In 1689, 17-year-old Tsar Peter finds his celebratory way into the court, 600 km southwest of Moscow. He confuses the grandeur of the Kremlin with the fringe area, and he prefers the cheerful life with his friends to the etiquette at the court. Russia is quite a backward country. There's a lot of analphabets, the nobility is conceited and the judiciary is corrupt.
S01:E20 - The Age of Reason (18th Century)
The century of the enlightenment... The basic idea is that the true character of human beings is defined by reason and rational thinking. Reason contains the valid measure of value for all human creation, activity and living conditions. The reaction of the state and the church on this movement is violent.