Sutton Coldfield

Foreign History

Place: United Reformed Church, Sutton Coldfield, B73 6AA
Day: Weekly on Thursdays.
Time: 2.00 pm
Cost: £2
Speaker: Toby McLeod

Definitive meeting dates are displayed in the Monthly Programme.

#Subject: Foreign History -

"As you will be aware it is now evident that we will not be able to attend any further meetings of the Sutton Coldfield U3A for some considerable time. We were due to recommence our series of Foreign History talks after Easter on Thursday 23 April with the final lecture of the Spring term on Thursday 28 May before our Summer break.

This will not now be possible. May I thank you for your past support. Keep well and safe during the Summer months and we look forward to welcoming you all back in the Autumn.

In the meantime I have read a preview of a four-part series from Michael Portillo, the first of which is on the British East India Company, to be broadcast on Channel 5 on Friday 15th May at 9.00pm.

As this is of great interest to us following Toby's recent lectures on 'The Days of the Raj' I have previewed the programme below.

Portillo’s Empire Journey

“How did a small island on the edge of Europe end up dominating the world?”

“Michael Portillo asks at the start of his latest international peregrination; but before you think this might have any whiff of creaky triumphalism, he is quick to add an appropriate caveat about the shameful failings of ‘the biggest empire the world has seen’.

In his first episode he is exploring India, the jewel in the crown. Wandering the ruins of what was once the grand residence of Clive of India, he muses on how the East India Company defeated the declining Mughal Empire, and, in doing so, went from trading venture to ruthless military power, presided over by Robert Clive. As a local expert put it, ‘Clive turned a group of accountants into swashbuckling pirates.’

Soon the company had the right to collect taxes, which unleashed ‘an era of rapacious corporate greed’. This didn’t go unnoticed. When Clive died in mysterious circumstances in 1774, Samuel Johnson suggested: ‘He’s acquired his fortunes by such crimes, that his consciousness of them impelled him to cut his own throat’.

Portillo traces the story of the East India Company to the governor-general’s palatial residence in Barrackpore, along the way explaining the story of how opium became a key item in trade, and how the regime’s attempt to impose western ‘civilisation’ on India led to uprisings and brutal crackdowns. It becomes hard to feel much pride in our glorious imperial past. The programme is a whistlestop tour through all this, perhaps, but told with a straightforward clarity that’s easy to digest.”

With kind regards from Toby, Colin, Carol and the Foreign History team.

If you would like to learn more about this group, please send our organiser a message via the 'flying bird' icon at the top right hand side of this page (or at the foot of the page if viewing on a mobile device).

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