Dr David Starkey reveals how the story of British music was shaped by its monarchy. In this first episode he begins with kings who were also composers - Henry V and Henry VIII - and the golden age of English music they presided over. He discovers how the military and religious ambitions of England's monarchy made its music the envy of Europe - and then brought it to the brink of destruction - and why British music still owes a huge debt to Queen Elizabeth I.
Featuring specially recorded music performances from King's College Cambridge, Canterbury Cathedral and Eton College, and early music ensemble Alamire; and the music of Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, John Dunstable and John Dowland.
Dr Starkey reveals why Henry V took a choir with him to the Battle of Agincourt, and hears the music the king wrote to keep God on-side in his crusade against the French - rarely performed in the centuries since, and now sung by the choir at Canterbury Cathedral. He visits Eton College, founded by Henry VI, where today's choristers sing from a hand-illuminated choir-book which would have been used by their 16th-century predecessors; King's College, Cambridge, built by successive generations of monarchs and still world-famous for its choir; and the Chapel Royal at Hampton Court Palace, where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I heard works created especially for their worship by some of the greatest composers in British history.