The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore

Christian Martyrs, Civil War, kings, and queens – a two thousand year history of Spain is explored in an intense and thrilling three-part series on BBC Four.

In the new series, developed by the BBC in partnership with The Open University, historian and internationally acclaimed author, Simon Sebag Montefiore guides us on a journey across Spain and introduces its rich, and often tense history.

Blood and Gold – The Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore: Episode Guide

Episode One – Tuesday 8 December 2015

Early Spain – a battleground for the great empires of history. This episode spans the early years of the nation, when Iberia was a minor province of Carthage, through to Spain’s Moslem and the Cordoba Caliphate ages of glory. Simon travels to Cadiz to visit the sacred island where the Carthaginian warrior, Hannibal, received the blessing of the gods.

Episode Two – Tuesday 15 December 2015

Simon learns about the history of his own family. Christianity in the North re-awakens; one-by-one the Moslem states fall and the pious Islamic sects of North Africa attempt to win back Spain. By the end of the 1400s, Granada falls and 700 years of Moslem rule comes to an end. The period also brings the expulsion of the Jews and the launch of the Spanish Inquisition.

Episode Three – Tuesday 22 December 2015

The final episode. With the power of Spain boosted by the spoils of the American Empire, King Philip II progresses Spain towards its Golden Age; he founds the capital of Madrid and launches the great Armada attack on England. The last Hapsburg king, Charles II, dies without an heir and Spain succumbs to Bourbon rule, becoming part of the Napoleonic Empire. Spain survives a dictatorship under Franco and a devastating Civil War, emerging as a modern nation of the twentieth century; a model of democratic monarchy.


The Open University has extensive content related to the series on its online learning platform, OpenLearn, including an interactive timeline on women throughout Spanish history and an exploration into Spanish culture and society.

This series was commissioned by the Open Media Unit and is supported by the Faculty of Education and Language Studies, with particular relevance to L194 Beginners Spanish and L140 Intermediate Spanish.

  • Commissioned by Caroline Ogilvie
  • Academic Consultant: Inma Álvarez
  • Media Fellow: Fernando Rosell-Aguilar
  • Broadcast Project Manager: John Sinton
  • Online Project Producer: Freyja Taylor-Law