Greg Jenner

Public Historian (co-host BBC2 'Inside Versailles', Historical Consultant, BBC 'Horrible Histories')

Greg Jenner is the author of A Million Years In A Day: A Curious History of Daily Life, From The Stone Age To The Phone Age and is also Historical Consultant to CBBC’s Horrible Histories. He has spent the past 12 years making historical TV programmes, before which he studied History & Archaeology BA and Medieval Studies MA at York University. He has stupid hair.
How Did Women Deal With Their Periods? The History of

How Did Women Deal With Their Periods? The History of Menstruation

The evidence suggests that even in the ancient world, women were using what may seem similar to modern hygiene products. The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates of Kos, who is known as the Father of Medicine, is widely referenced on the internet as mentioning that small wooden sticks, wrapped with soft lint, might be inserted into the vagina as a primitive tampon.
01/01/2016 20:12 GMT
The Richard III Reburial: What Does It Say About

The Richard III Reburial: What Does It Say About Us?

Yesterday's funeral was about us: about what we feel when we talk about the past, or the concept of death. It was a wish-fulfilment exercise for our own confused emotions about who we are as people, and where we originated...
23/03/2015 13:27 GMT
Jeremy Clarkson: The Denim-Wearing Jester We Like to

Jeremy Clarkson: The Denim-Wearing Jester We Like to Boo

Clarkson would have appealed to Francois Rabelais, the humanist scholar of 16th Century France whose grotesque satire was deeply offensive, despite his being a man of the cloth. The most celebrated Rabelaisian writing focused on the Carnival which perpetuated the medieval traditions of the Feast of Fools in which society briefly revelled in anarchic chaos.
12/03/2015 17:48 GMT
Michael Gove Is Wrong: Mary Seacole Belongs on the School

Michael Gove Is Wrong: Mary Seacole Belongs on the School Curriculum

If this Coalition government really is trying to instil more civic pride and individual responsibility in the public, then there are few more compelling icons of altruistic endeavour than a woman who traipsed half-way around the world to support those fighting in her name. Was she a saint? Not at all, and she herself struggled at times to deflect racial taunts by trying to distance herself from those with darker skin, so she might better fit in.
06/01/2013 22:56 GMT
A Weird History of Xmas, Part III - Bizarre British

A Weird History of Xmas, Part III - Bizarre British Traditions!

In the 17th Century, the Christmas Mince Pies (yes, more meat...) were famous for having a little baby Jesus on the crust, which sounds rather nice, but was a horrifying act of blasphemous cannibalism in the eyes of Oliver Cromwell. It should be said, Olly was not a miserabilist most of the time, but he did feel Christmas was meant to be a period of holy reverence. Accordingly, he did away with it all, and even ordered the confiscation of Christmas dinners from people's tables. Strangely, attending church was also prohibited on Jesus' birthday, which seems a bit weird, even by his standards.
20/12/2012 17:17 GMT
A Weird History of Christmas, Part Two - Who on Earth is

A Weird History of Christmas, Part Two - Who on Earth is Santa?!

St Nick was said to secretly give gifts of cash to those in need, thereby making him the Patron Saint of children, sailors and prostitutes... which is a slightly worrying combination that would no doubt have caused a lot of finger-pointing in the ancient offices of BBC <em>Newsnight</em>.
18/12/2012 22:49 GMT
A Weird History of Christmas, Part One - Christ's Birthday or Roman

A Weird History of Christmas, Part One - Christ's Birthday or Roman Carnival?

All things considered, the modern Christmas is pretty bizarre. However, this is entirely in keeping with tradition - as far as we can tell, Yuletide has always been a curious head-scratcher. For the historian like me, teasing out what Christmas used to be like, and why it even exists, is a blooming nightmare.
16/12/2012 19:09 GMT
A Boozy History: Why I Welcome Alcohol Price Minimum (Please Don't Lynch

A Boozy History: Why I Welcome Alcohol Price Minimum (Please Don't Lynch Me)

Booze is even in the Bible - the first thing Noah does after the Great Flood is plant a vineyard, drink the wine, and then get his todger out in a drunken stupor, only to be discovered sleeping naked by his son. It's reassuring to know that even God's chosen zoo curator would probably have plonked a traffic cone on his head and run naked down the high street, if he'd had the opportunity to join a university rugby club.
28/11/2012 22:19 GMT
The US Election: Please Say It's Finally

The US Election: Please Say It's Finally Over?!

<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/greg-jenner/obama-us-election-please-sa_b_2086915.html" target="_hplink"><img alt="2012-11-05-HP_World_Graphic_300x70.png" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2012-11-05-HP_World_Graphic_300x70.png" width="300" height="70" /></a>In American politics, more so than ever, the size of your friends' wallets determines how much of an influence you can have over voters. If you want to be the Leader of the Free World, nothing comes for free.
07/11/2012 08:49 GMT
Halloween - What's It All About? And What's With the Sexy Nurse

Halloween - What's It All About? And What's With the Sexy Nurse Costumes?

Consider this for a moment - there's a fair chance that you, or someone in your family, spent the weekend dressing up like a rotting corpse, and standing in a room with various other ghouls and demonic creatures, munching on eyeball cupcakes and drinking witches' piss punch. Odd, isn't it? That's the curious thing about history; even when it loses all its meaning, some traditions just cling on regardless, making us look a bit weird in the process. Anthropologists sometimes call this teleological superfluity, when the original purpose of something is lost but it continues being used anyway, like wooden handles on steak knives.
30/10/2012 16:03 GMT
50 Years of Bond and The Beatles - An Idiot's

50 Years of Bond and The Beatles - An Idiot's Perspective

On 5 October 1962, two culturally momentous events took place on the same day. No-one at the time would have possessed the foresight to scan ahead 50 years, and envision the impact these two titans might have upon the world; how could they? It was just another movie release, and just another debut single from a rhythm and blues band. Except, of course, that movie was a certain 'Dr No'; and that song was 'Love Me Do' by The Beatles.
04/10/2012 17:10 BST
Royal Nipples and Scrotums: The Triumph of

Royal Nipples and Scrotums: The Triumph of Voyeurism

However, when the issue at stake is not immorally-accessed video footage of illegal drone strikes on civilians, but instead pictures of a famous person's floppy bits, then the philosophical momentum drains somewhat from the freedom of the press argument.
14/09/2012 15:39 BST
Richard III - Should We

Richard III - Should We Care?

So, should we care that he may have been found? What more does it tell us, other than he maybe had a curved spine but wasn't a hunchback? It's a story with innate glamour - the last king to die in battle, famous from Shakespeare, the final act of the Wars of the Roses, and we DO love the monarchy these days - but it actually adds very little to our understanding of the late 15th Century... However, it could be a thing of tremendous potency; a reminder that historical and archaeological research does warrant all that effort and diligence.
12/09/2012 22:44 BST
Team GB - Perennial Footballing

Team GB - Perennial Footballing Underdogs

So, finally they are here. After seven years of counting down the days, the Olympic Games are no longer an expensive and controversial smudge on the horizon. Like, love or loathe them, few can deny the Olympics provide plenty of drama - not all of it sporting - and the Great Britain football team has been a particularly inflammatory subject in the protracted lead-up.
27/07/2012 08:16 BST
A Bizarre History of the

A Bizarre History of the Olympics

Aside from bonkers Olympics events, there has also been a long history of hilarious cheats. The modern day drug-doping scandals are so very boring when you compare them to the enjoyably crap attempts at cheating in the past.
02/07/2012 23:43 BST
Why the Queen Makes It Hard to Be a

Why the Queen Makes It Hard to Be a Republican

I have been, for as long as I can remember, a staunch republican. I skipped the Royal Wedding and went on holiday to Florence, home of the Renaissance Republic, as it seemed the most delightfully pleasant form of protest. I think monarchy is an outdated and inherently absurd form of political power that contradicts every philosophical tenet in my heart - the idea that you can only be born into true royalty is at total odds with modern Britain's democratic principles and emphasis on meritocratic social mobility. Yet, there is a whopping great problem with my frothy-mouthed rhetoric... I bloody love the Queen!
23/05/2012 17:33 BST
It's Time to Slay St George's

It's Time to Slay St George's Day

Hi, my name's Greg, and I'm embarrassed to be English... Now, before you say anything, it's not just because of Piers Morgan. Alas, Britain is a union under threat, and if Scotland withdraws in 2014 then that union will likely collapse. Under such circumstances, I will be forced to call myself English. This will cause me acute concern, partially because Americans will confuse me Hugh Grant, but mostly because of this... I am ashamed of the St George's Cross flag. I'll pause there, so you can fetch the kindling for my pyre...
18/04/2012 23:04 BST
Easter: What's With All The Bunnies And

Easter: What's With All The Bunnies And Stuff?!

Easter is just one of many confusingly indistinct holidays that blend weird paganism, Christian theology, and modern marketing into a seamless melange of oddly abutting practices and customs... so how much of Easter really is Christian in origin? It may be more than you realise.
06/04/2012 00:27 BST
Losing Our Marbles: Should Britain Return the Elgin Marbles to

Losing Our Marbles: Should Britain Return the Elgin Marbles to Greece?

The unwritten rules of decorum state it is impolite to discuss sex, politics or religion at dinner parties. I would like to add one more topic to that list - cultural repatriation. Now, just months from the Olympics, the campaign is being stepped up once more for the return of the Elgin Marbles to the Greek nation...
03/04/2012 22:54 BST
How to Be Popular: Historical Tips for

How to Be Popular: Historical Tips for Leaders

Today, our politicians are rarely associated with philanthropy. Indeed, perhaps the most famous carer for the needy is the Manchester City footballer Mario Balotelli, who is renowned for driving around dishing out cash to random strangers.
21/03/2012 22:26 GMT