Forbidden Families

Bettany Hughes tells the stories of remarkable women denied their families by the march of history.

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Episodes

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012008080620090811

In 842 AD, Dhuoda's two sons were kidnapped.

This terrible loss spurred her to write a manual for her stolen boys, advising them on the skills they need to become men.

We eavesdrop on a woman, bereft but unbroken, as she becomes a mother on paper, as she can no longer be one in the flesh.

022008081320090818

Destined to live the life of a rural housewife in Tudor England, Anne Askew married and had two children.

But a new religious faith, Protestantism, came between her and her staunchly Catholic husband.

Her new-found faith tore her family apart, causing her to leave her children to follow her God.

Bettany follows her transformation from mother to martyr.

Her new-found faith tore her family apart, causing her to leave her children to follow her God and to enter the deadly games of the Tudor court.

03 LAST*2008082020090825

Brilliana Harley was an aristocrat whose husband's parliamentarian sympathies led to her being besieged in her own castle home on the Shropshire borders during the English Civil War.

She died emaciated and ill, but wrote 375 letters, smuggled out in vegetable boxes, describing her hopes, her frustrations and her faith in her absent husband and son.

Throughout her ordeal, her faith in the power of love and the delight of having a family never wavered.