Episode

In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, History

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History 19
Society & Culture 63

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas

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The Eunuch

February 26th, 2015

Episode 436 of 522 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the history and significance of eunuchs, castrated men who were a common feature of many civilisations for at least three thousand years. Eunuchs were typically employed as servants in royal households in the ancient Middle East, China and classical antiquity. In some civilisations they were used as administrators or senior military commanders, sometimes achieving high office. The tradition lingered until surprisingly recently, with castrated singers remaining a feature of Vatican choirs until the nineteenth century, while the last Chinese eunuch of the imperial court died in 1996. With: Karen Radner Professor of Ancient Near Eastern History at University College London Shaun Tougher Reader in Ancient History at Cardiff University Michael Hoeckelmann British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of History at King's College London Producer: Thomas Morris.

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