I’m a storyteller who makes history accessible because I believe that it’s a powerful pathway for understanding who we are, our place in the universe, and getting in touch with our own humanity.
Before we get to all that, though, what the heck is a podcast?
If you don’t know, a podcast is simply a syndicated audio program that you can subscribe to so that you always get the latest episodes. For iPhone users, you can use iTunes to subscribe to the Renaissance English History Podcast. Android folks, like me, can use PocketCasts. Subscribe for free, and never miss an episode. To get you started, here are some of my most popular shows.
Black Tudor History
Reviews of The Renaissance English History Podcast:
There are some wonderful shows out there, and if you’re new to the podcast medium, I recommend you check out any of the other shows that are part of my network, The Agora Podcast Network, which is mostly made up of history shows. You can spend hours and hours binge listening to great shows, and it will rock your commute.
So now, why history, and who cares, anyway?
Let me tell you a story. I grew up in a house that was old by US standards. Our living room had been a toll house on the original Philadelphia to Lancaster turnpike, and through the years it had grown from a one room cabin to a complicated 3 bedroom house with two stairways that went to exactly the same place, creaky doors, and a huge ball and clawfoot bathtub with pipes that rattled.
I used to lay in bed at night and wonder about all the people who had lived there before me. I never saw a ghost, but I felt their presence. Not necessarily specific people, but of the collective group. I felt the essence of everyone who had lived there, or passed through. Whenever I was upset, I would comfort myself by leaning back against the wall and feeling the house wrap me up in a big hug.
Those people became my friends. I’d call them imaginary friends, but they were so real to me. In this world of IM’s, DM’s, @mentions, Instagram tags, snapchat, where nothing seems permanent, and communication seems ethereal, these people were my link to my deeper self, and to humanity as a whole. That’s what history provides – the warm comforting hug of someone who has been there before, of someone who has truly experienced your struggle (because nothing we experience is fully new), and of the reminder that we all get through it, and become part of this greater story of humanity’s progress.
What does history have to do with this, particularly Renaissance England?
History is simply stories about people, and the events of the past were made by people who had goals and desires just like we do. People who had things at stake out of the results, and people who had preconceived notions about others the same way we do. From a distance of five hundred years, it’s easier to try to understand the actions of people like Henry VIII (or Napoleon, or Henry V, or any other famous person) because there isn’t the same charge we experience with current events.
By putting yourself into that person’s shoes, you start to practice empathy. It’s my belief that the world could do with a good dose of empathy right about now.
When you can look at Henry VIII and start to understand that he was more than the stereotype of the fat tyrant, and that he was a man who justified his actions based on his own beliefs and understanding of the way the world worked, it’s not as big of a leap as you might expect to look at someone you disagree with politically, and see that they believe what they do based on their own understandings of the way the world works.
In short, through history you can practice walking a mile in another’s shoes without the emotional charge, and then by exercising that muscle it becomes easier to take that to contemporary issues.
And why Renaissance England?
Well, first because I love it. But second, because so many of the issues that 16th century England were dealing with are applicable today. Fear of an influx of foreign immigrants that are a threat to the native population. Worry about unfair trade agreements. Excitement over new technology, and new ways of easily disseminating information to the masses without the need of an elite class of scholars to curate and distribute the information. The creation of a military state with new weaponry never before seen. Sound familiar? Talk to me about the wave of European immigrants, the English wool trade, the printing press, and the iron industry.
Okay Heather, that makes sense. I get it. History repeats itself. But who are you, anyway?
I was born and bred in Amish Country Pennsylvania (though I’m not Amish and never have been), and I have lived in lots of places including Nashville, Los Angeles, London, New York, and Spain. My first job in high school was as a student docent at Rock Ford Plantation, the Georgian home of General Edward Hand, Washington’s Adjutant General during the Revolution. I still have most of the 45 minute tour memorized, almost 25 years on.
I really fell in love with history during the evening candlelight tours when I was alone in a room, surrounded by the personal items that had been lovingly purchased or made two hundred years ago. These people were still so close to me and could still move me; we were only separated by time. And by bridging that gap I could understand more about myself, and my world today.
I have a BA in history and am pursuing my masters in research in music and Catholic worship in Elizabethan England. When I was 24 and in love with the English choral tradition, I hopped on a plane and moved to a teeny tiny bedsit in Muswell Hill in North London. I spent my weekends throwing darts at my map of England, and wore my Young Person’s Railcard out. I immersed myself in history and music, and listening to Evensong services from Wells to Durham, and most places in between.
Professionally I spent ten years at California’s largest library consortium and then in 2015 I left to pursue podcasting full time. In addition to the podcast, I run history tours, design gorgeous planners and journals that are inspired by Tudor England, and I work with museums and historians to create ways to bring history to life online.
You can catch me occasionally on TRE Talk Radio Europe talking about historical things. Like this sample below, from July, 2017. I come on about 25 minutes in.
If you’re curious what the opening music is for the podcast – it’s John Fleagle’s Blow Northern Wynd, which you can check out on YouTube here.
When I first launched the podcast, way back in the stone ages of podcasting, there weren’t a lot of resources for intro music, and I found this one place called Magnatune, which had approximately four pieces of music that might fit. I fell in love with this music at that point, and have stuck with it!
There are lots of ways you can get in touch with me, and the podcast. I love hearing from listeners!
p: 801 6TEYSKO
y: youtube.com/hteysko (for the Tudor Minute)
Visit http://www.heatherteysko.com to find out more about me personally, and professionally.