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Synodus Horrenda

A History podcast
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Episodes of Synodus Horrenda

In this new series we look at the history of blood feuds, starting with an obscure and scattered story from the era of Anglo-Saxon England, and a series of killings between two family lines that took place over 60 years of political upheaval, w
In this episode we conclude our series on shipwrecks by looking at the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, a US Navy cruiser sunk by a Japanese submarine near the end of World War II. The nearly 900 survivors of the sinking were left adrift for da
For our annual Christmas Eve ghost story, a reading of Edith Wharton's classic short story, "The Eyes," first published in 1910.
In this episode we look at the sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger liner that was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915, killing over a thousand people, including 128 Americans, and helping move the then neutral United States toward joining
In this episode we look at one of the most famous shipwrecks in world history: The sinking of the Titanic. An event layered in myth, melodrama and sentimentality, it captured the attention of the world and led to vast changes in international s
In this episode we look at the mystery of the Mary Celeste, a merchant ship that in 1872 was found having been abandoned for over a week floating in the Atlantic ocean, all who had been aboard it missing for no reason that anyone could discover
In this episode we look at the wreck of the Essex, a whaling ship out of Nantucket that in 1820 was attacked by a giant sperm whale in the Pacific and sunk, leaving its 20 man crew drifting on three whaleboats thousands of miles from land. The
In this episode, the first of a six part series on the history of shipwrecks, we look at one of the most famous shipwrecks of the 19th century. In 1816 a French frigate called the Medusa, through the poor leadership of its captain, struck a san
In this episode, the first in an occasional series on the executions and executioners, we look at the issue of botched executions, instances when the normal procedure of a state execution goes tragically, sometimes gruesomely wrong. Through thi
In the final entry for our series on unsolved serial killer cases, we look at the Zodiac Killer, who terrorized the San Francisco Bay Area with a string of killings from 1968-69 and then for years after with disturbing letters sent to the local
In the second part of our look at unsolved serial killings, we head back to the Great Depression to look at the Cleveland Torso Murders, a series of twelve murders committed by a man who left dismembered bodies all over the city. We'll look at
In this episode we start a new three part series about unsolved serial killings. We begin with one of the most famous unsolved crimes in the Western world, the Jack the Ripper killings. Beginning in August of 1888, the murders would go on to be
In the conclusion of our series on the deaths of tyrants, we look at one of the strangest and most fascinating figures of the last century, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya from 1969 when he lead a coup that overthrew the country's monarch
In our new Christmas Eve tradition, I present a reading of ghost story, this one from Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, entitled "Revelation From a Smoky Fire." You can find it in his collection "High Spirits," which collects the stories he w
In our second episode in our series about the deaths of tyrants, we look at the death of Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union after consolidating power following the death of Lenin and was soon one of the most powerful and influential men
In this new series of three episodes, we look at the lives and deaths of tyrants, starting here with the life of the Emperor Nero, the last member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and a man who's name has become synonymous with despotism. I'll be
In the final episode on our series about deaths that changed history, we look at the life of 35th President of the United States John F. Kennedy. In office for only 1,036 days before his assassination on November 22nd, 1963, he oversaw some of
Continuing our series on deaths that changed history, we look at the death of Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism and one of the most fascinating religious figures in American history. We'll follow his life from a New England that swarmed wi
We now begin a new series about deaths that changed history by happening when they did, and look at lives that could have changed history had they gone on just a little longer. In this first episode, I'll be telling the story of Julian the Apos
In the last part of our series on deaths stemming from mass hysteria, we look at the 1921 Tulsa Massacre, a violent riot that led to the systematic destruction to one of the only wealthy black communities in the country by a mob of angry white
In this episode we look at the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903, two days of looting, rape and murder directed at the Jewish community of an agricultural city in the western part of the Russian empire. The carnage of the even shocked the world and led t
In this first part of a three part series about deaths caused in mass hysteria, I look at the most famous act of mass panic in American history, the Salem Witch Trials. Lasting through most of 1692 and into 1693 in the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
In this episode I look at works of art created when famous artists attempted to paint after the death of a spouse. First we look at Rembrandt, whose wife Saskia died of tuberculosis in 1647 at the height of his career, which then went into a hu
In this episode I look at the panic over premature burial that inflamed Western culture from the mid-1700s all through the 19th century. We'll look at the waiting mortuaries of the German states, where bodies were sent to wait until putrificati
In the second of our two-part series looking at people who profited from bodies, I look at the life of Herman Webster Mudgett, aka H.H. Holmes, a swindler, bigamist, quack doctor and murderer who operated mostly around Chicago in the 1880s and
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