Historically Speaking Podcast

Historically Speaking Podcast

Uncommon history with an unconventional pair. Join married hosts Rebecca Robbins (a Broadway actress) and Kim Kimmel (her college history instructor) as they delve into topics that run the historical gambit. A gifted storyteller, Kim taught history at the collegiate level for 29 years while as a student, Rebecca always sat in the front row of his Western Civilizations class soaking up every word he said. For the record, she made an A in his class. She went on to pursue a Broadway career (The Phantom of The Opera, A Tale of Two Cities) while he continued to teach at her alma mater (Curtis Institute of Music). Though you couldn't get more different than these two with their 23-year age difference, together they bring history to life with their unique perspectives, entertaining banter, and shared love of the past. Sometimes quirky, sometimes obscure, this is the kind of history you’ll actually want to remember. Now in our Second Season. New episodes bi-weekly on Wednesday mornings.


August 25, 2022 31 mins

Legend has it that there once was a King named Arthur who allegedly lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries and who, with his many companions, successfully fought off numerous enemies in Britain. But was there actually an historical Arthur of real flesh and blood? The Arthurian stories are arguably the greatest legends in Western history, and here in our 50th Episode we explore how the fabled Arthur compares with the historic...

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It was a political scandal that rocked France to its core and proved to be a watershed event for European antisemitism. A French officer, Alfred Dreyfus, was accused of passing military secrets to the Germans. He was found guilty by a military tribunal and sent to Devil’s Island, one of the most notorious penal colonies in the world. What happened next will shock and appall you as it did not only France but the entire world. Here i...

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July 28, 2022 38 mins

There have been many impostors throughout history and in this 48th episode we deal with six of them, two related to English history and four related to Russian history. All at one time or another had many who believed in them (or at least tried to use them for advantage). All six went a long way to pulling off their ruse and we discuss many of the details in this episode.

Episode Notes:

  • Ivan IV (the Terrible) was Grand Prince of ...
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After a six-week hiatus, we’re back and with a fast-paced adventure story that rivals even the best of Hollywood. It’s the story of Hannibal Barca. When outnumbered by the Roman military two to one, this fearless Carthaginian general, complete with eye patch and riding atop a black stallion, defied all odds in one of the bloodiest battles in all of antiquity, thus becoming one of the greatest military commanders the world has ever ...

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June 1, 2022 34 mins

Imagine being hung three times… unsuccessfully. That’s exactly what happened to Englishman, John “Babbacombe” Lee in 1885. Or in the case of Herman Göring, being slipped a cyanide pill just hours before you were scheduled to be hung. Or foiling your pursuers by killing yourself first and being laid out in full regalia upon their arrival. Here in Episode 46, we explore seven individuals who cheated the hangman one way or another.

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“Let them hate me, so they but fear me.” ~ Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (aka Caligula)

Caligula, the third Julio-Claudian emperor of the great Roman Empire, was known as a cruel, erratic, sex-crazed and delusional tyrant. Not only did he decree that his horse was a Roman consul, but he also marched his troops all the way to the English Channel only to have them pick up seashells, and he’s also said to have committed incest with ...

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May 4, 2022 46 mins

South Africa has a fascinating, complex, and often tragic history. From the migration of the Bantu to the settlements by the Dutch and British; from the Boar Wars to the fight to abolish apartheid, here in Episode 44, we explore the history of this geologically and culturally rich nation - a nation that is still striving to reach its full potential. 


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April 20, 2022 35 mins

What do Georgetown University, St. Joseph’s University, and Loyola University have in common (besides basketball)? They were all founded by the Jesuits, and the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church was highly instrumental in the phenomenon known as the Counter Reformation. Once Luther, Calvin and others challenged the authority and teachings of the Catholic Church, the Church had no choice but to respond to these accusations and alt...

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The Protestant Reformation was one of the single greatest events in the history of Western Civilization. Led by Martin Luther, this protestation against the Catholic Church altered all of Western history. Here in Episode 42, we take a closer look at this exceptional, though conflicted man, as well as other early protestant reformers like Ulrich Zwingli and the formidable John Calvin, who together rocked the very foundation of weste...

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March 16, 2022 33 mins

"Into the valley of death rode the six hundred." Here in Episode 41, we take a closer look at the events that inspired Lord Alfred Tennyson to write those words in his epic poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade". We also explore both the long-term and short-term causes of the Crimean War and why it was a "first" in many areas of modern warfare, interrupting as it did a largely peaceful 19th century Eur...

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March 2, 2022 33 mins

Lawrence of Arabia is the stuff of legend. There have been numerous books written and films made about him, but who was T.E. Lawrence actually? What made this man with so many talents, who was also immensely brave and resourceful, act and think as he did? Our 40th Episode explores some of the possible reasons. 


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February 9, 2022 27 mins

Many diseases throughout history have wiped out entire families, villages or even towns, but nothing even comes close to the death and destruction that would become known as the Black Death. It made periodic appearances throughout the centuries, dying out for some and reemerging for others. Today, modern medicine can cure this disease, but even so, hundreds of people still die from this disease every year, even in America. So, what...

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January 26, 2022 36 mins

Imagine sitting in a 97-degree court room in the middle of July while you’re being prosecuted for a crime you’re not even sure you committed. This is exactly the situation twenty-four-year-old John T. Scopes found himself in during the summer of 1925. Almost overnight this trial became a national sensation and put the small town of Dayton, Tennessee on the map. It would involve two of the most famous attorneys of the day going head...

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January 5, 2022 41 mins

Napoleon, was he hero or villain? An enlightened genius or supreme egotist? Superb diplomat or an immoral usurper? All of the above? Continuing with Part II of our Napoleon series, we take a closer look into his greatest achievements as well as his greatest mistakes. From his coronation as Emperor at Notre-Dame in 1804 to his loss at Waterloo in 1815, this man’s story is seemingly inexhaustible. Has the world ever seen his equal ei...

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December 22, 2021 36 mins

Are great leaders made or just born that way? It seems that in the case of Napoleon, he truly was born to lead. It is said that his troops would have followed him into the gates of hell. But how good or bad was he and what is his legacy? Here in Episode 36, we explore these questions and take a closer look into the early life of Napoleon from his upbringing on the island of Corsica through his early victories in Italy and elsewhere...

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December 8, 2021 37 mins

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” —Napoleon Bonaparte
Here in Episode 35, we take a closer look at two perhaps lesser-known great leaders in history. When all hope was lost and the odds were stacked against them, they defied all probability and led their men safely home. These are two of the most fascinating adventure stories ever told. Sir Ernest Shackleton and Xenophon did the extraordinary and both lived to tell their tales. <...

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November 24, 2021 32 mins

There are a handful of people in history who seem to have had an uncanny ability to escape death. Whether evading a lone assassin, dodging friendly fire during the heat of battle, or simply defying the laws of nature by smoking over 200 cigarettes a day, these four historical figures featured in Episode 34 proved they were all Hard to Kill.

The Reign of Elizabeth by J.B. Black

Washington: The Indispensable Man b...

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November 3, 2021 45 mins

The Restoration period is known as probably the most bawdy era in English history. And who was it that ushered in this remarkable age? Why, the Merry Monarch himself, Charles II. In addition to having a great fondness for the ladies and the good life, Charles had many remarkable qualities. Here in our first episode of Season 2, we take a closer look at this loveable rogue and the times in which he lived.

Episode Edits:

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October 20, 2021 35 mins

The years 1692-1693 were some of the darkest times in American history. They were the years when mass hysteria ruled the land and young girls were inexplicably stricken with fits of screaming, barking, shaking, and crying. It was a group of roughly 9 girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, who were taken at their fantastical word of being physically tormented by certain members of their own village which eventually led to over 200 p...

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October 6, 2021 39 mins

During the late summer and fall of 1888, a district in East London was being terrorized by an unknown Victorian serial killer. In a September 25th letter addressed to the Central News Agency, the yet to be identified murderer boasted of his recent killings and signed the letter “Jack the Ripper”. That name has endured for over 133 years, and the case remains open to this day. Why are we still fascinated by this case? With over 100 ...

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