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SYMHC Classics: Gertrude Bell, The Uncrowned Queen of Iraq, Part 2

2018-07-21 | 🔗

The second installment of this Sarah and Deblina classic two-parter follows Gertrude Bell on her adventures after World War I begins. The British army asked her to help them retain their influence in the Middle East. But how did she get from there to helping found modern Iraq? 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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yeah look into the pot cast iron deployment chuck reporting and i'm fair daddy and we are continuing on here with our discussion of gertrude bell who is a british arc i'll just mountain climber and desert explorer and as we see in this episode also unintelligence officer and a diplomat too she said to have been one of them powerful women and the british empire one time but today her name really isn't that widely known so we wanted to take a look at her life and why she was called the unground queen of iraq what's recap just a little bit before we get too far into this in part one of this package we talked a bit about gertrude scholarly pursuits plus some of her dare devil adventures as a young woman climbing hopes we followed her on some of her early adventures through the middle east during times when she explored area
that no woman in many cases nobody at all had ever explored before places that were considered extremely dangerous one of the most exciting of these adventures was when she explored the territory of the secretive drew's fact and charmed the drew's king and these cases and i mean especially with that example it was her bravery and her charm that really seem to pay off really seem to win over the locals and in doing so by by becoming so friendly with the people she met she was really able to learn a lot about the area in its history that really were not previously known by foreigners and also helped her with her various archaeological pursuits though to which we are lined a bit in the last up a sword and we also discussed her first meeting with thomas edward lawrence better known as lawrence over rabies in we haven't seen the last of him he's gonna pop up again
in gertrude bell story so stay tuned for that but although she didn't necessarily think this of all women gertrude also obviously believed herself capable of many things but as we see in this episode there were some instances in which people were ready to challenge them before that though we should really dwell on this idea of bell being capable of anything that i just mentioned for just for a second because it certainly seemed like she was when it came to most pursuits but we do know that up to this point our story she hasn't been able sort things out in her personal life really that well especially in the marriage department even though it would have been back of a woman with her background to of work that out early on so we talked about her first love a little bit not first episode it was a year british diplomat named henry could dug in whom bells father didn't approve of because he just didn't have
the financial raised exactly the financial means to take care of her and he actually passed away soon after their courtship closing that door for good for her but somehow in the midst of all these adventures and scholarly pursuits gertrude dead manage to find love again at me she sounds kind of like she's are sitcom heroin we're talking about right now but she she did find a second love when she was in her forties come across the british diplomats army officer richard dodi wily while travelling in turkey where he had been stationed and when the two of them back in london for a time and nineteen thirteen they really clicked finally they start up in a fairer and according to janet while ex article in the smithsonian apparently had a lot of passion between them at least early on they had a lot in common they were both adventurers but there relationship didn't last very long flamed up pretty quickly for one thing daddy wily was married and here
who got reassigned he was reassigned to the balkans and after that gertrude just really threw herself into another great adventure this time going to the desert of northern arabia where no westerner had travelled in twenty years really looking for something new to do after this this second flame right and not only was this area not well travelled i mean just it given idea dangerous really was there were two tribes in the area that work that they had a brutal war going on between them at the time so dangerous exactly in the british because of that advised her not to go and she also didn't have permission from the turks to travel there but she did it anyway she went ahead and and set off on this journey and she reached her goal of making it to hail which is a walled city which was once a stop for pilgrims on route to me
but among other misadventures she ended up during this journey being held captive by a powerful tribe there for nearly ten days and you can imagine during this time she really thought she wasn't going to get away the tribe apparently had quite the reputation for for murder and may him so she she just feared life really but finally her anger just sort of overcame her fear i guess and she demanded that they set her free and surprisingly they did not really sure why they did that may be they were just really shocked and impress sheep spoke up for yourself i don't know maybe i would address of charm is sometimes effective at theme true by the summer of eighteen fourteen she as back in england and you might think you're a leave to be home and be safe and be alive but she was feeling kind of down let down but you might feel after a particularly exhilarating trapper in her case a life threatening trip according to
while ex article she wrote to dirty wily at this time in and said the end of it ensure always leaves one with a feeling of disillusion just nothing and she went on to say dust and ashes in one's hand dead bones that look as if they would never rise and dance so she spilling poetic but also clearly fat about where she is she needs this woman who need something to do so in nineteen thirteen she was kind of presented with some new possibilities in june of that year archduke franz ferdinand who is heir to the throne of austria hungary was assassinated which helped set world were one into motion and the turks entered into a secret treaty with the germans and they became allies so son
gertrude singular knowledge of the arabian desert and its people became really invaluable to the british because they wanted to keep their influence in the middle east she'd explored as we mention and maps places that most westerners and never been so what she knew was then a hot commodity eyes and according to occur alice's history today article the british director of military operations in cairo did ask bell to get him out port including basically everything that she had ever learned on her travels in syria mesopotamia and arabia she had inner sheep she hadn't just observed all this time she had form some opinions of her own to and clearly with the world though in balance at this point she was ready to speak or mine right she believed in a strategy of organizing the arabs and a revolt against the ottoman turks because she knew that the ottomans were losing their influence with the air and so she shared her knowledge of this but she wanted to go beyond
she really thought that she could help with this with organizing the revolt and so she asked for an official posts in the middle east but she was denied that because it was thought to be too dangerous for women so she went off to france for awhile to volunteer with the red cross probably so pretty dangerous threat this episode of stuff you missed in history glasses brought to you by norton three sixty with life luck with your shopping online with your smartphone its super feels like ear personal information is just right there in your hand but that's not always the case because as soon as you hit submit your personal information could start going there are places in fact whenever you shop bank or browse online your personal invoking get out of your control and that can we be vulnerable to cyber criminals more threats demand more protection that's why norton and lifelong are now part of one company norton three
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for a small espionage team that they had their in the savoy hotel there were a couple of other archaeologist working for this little intelligence outfit too including leonard woolly who we mentioned recently i think and agatha de podcast and also lawrence and they were making maps and geological reports in gertrude was drafted to catalogue air of tribes which she had learned a lot about on her travels to so she was cataloguing these tribes in detail so that british officials could reach out to their leaders and form alliances and just into finally you just mentioned lawrence again missus where he and gertrude bell got to be really good friends relate they share meals together they would talk all the time in article while giving calls them quote soulmate so good buddies but though work that gertrude was doing during this time while clearly very valuable to the british till wasn't really in an official capacity it was
it all it was clear increasingly influential but it wasn't official just some examples they are the kind of stuff she was doing she was sent to india to convince the viceroy there to put up man in cash in support of the arab revolt in march of nineteen sixteen she was sent to mesopotamia to use her relationships with various tribes there to try to convince locals to cooperate the british effort so she's really on the ground getting people involved stirring up british loyalties lemon her maps to stormy let's just a very practical side of things her maps really helped the british army reach baghdad so as a result all these contributions her work in mesopotamia under the leadership of chief political off sir percy cox gertrude was given the title of liaison officer corresponded to cairo which made her official and according to ellis made her the sole female political officer in the british forces and then in nineteen seventeen after the british are
dad she was given a title of oriental secretary by late one thousand nine hundred and eighteen things change though the allies had made peace with germany and the ottoman empire had collapsed the arab world was pretty much in a total state of chaos has france and england try to figure out how they were going to divvy up their sphere of influence in the middle east and there was also the question of how these areas were going to be covered for example would the areas under british influence which at the time included with these be under british role or would they be allowed to govern themselves and of course as you can imagine bell had an opinion on mass in january of nineteen nineteen she was asked for a report that address this very question of which was a task that she was understandably quite passionate about having no and the people in work and studied and worked with them for so long and according to
this article it took her ten months to put something together though she was though thorough on it and the idea that it ultimately got across her report was her belief that the arab should be able to govern themselves she wrote quote an arab state in mesopotamia within a short period of yours is a possibility in the recognition or creation of a logical scheme of government on those lines in super session of those on which we are now working on mesopotamia would be practical and popular so very report kind of language thereabout clear what her what her view on on the situation and unfortunately though her superior at the time eighty wilson because coxe had been called away to another post war send didn't agree with her at all on this point he sent her report over with a cover letter that expressed how he felt her ideas were quote erroneous so wilson basically believe that the british should retain can
role there and he wasn't incidentally the only british officer in baghdad that bell didn't get along with and general she was pretty much disliked by her peers in those post war years according to wall ex article colleagues express this in a number of different ways for example they would keep her out of the loop on cables secret documents may be on a lighter note maybe not a serious they which her in in the dining hall they would make jokes about her and laugh behind her back so just an example here she's to throw these tease for british and arab dignitaries to get to there and sort of get to know each other a little better and the other officers referred to them mockingly as ps ays which stood for a pleasant sunday afternoons they also referred to her house as chastity chase which is pretty mean it is pretty me and i mean all of those shunning her in the dining mass that's pretty me in pretty childish and we certainly do not want to make it sound as if she invited this kind of behaviour because it just sounds like mean stuff to do
but in some cases she may have encouraged did a little bed with officers wives especially she was quite read to them she would make point remarks about what they wore you know if they were wearing things that she didn't consider very culturally appropriate like a low cut dress she would she would call em out on it she even further now that quote i do wish that our women would show some suitability in attire but but basically shouldn't do anything to try to be friendly to most of the people she worked well so meanwhile eighteen months after the ottoman empire collapsed there's still one an arab government in place in mesopotamia and the british were still in control so the arab tribes rebelled wilson basically tried to squash this uprising with brute force bombs in and the like but this only made things worse ten thousand arabs lost their lives during this time and
two hundred british did as well things change though by october 11th one thousand nine hundred and twenty by then wilson had been forced out and belle's old friend percy cox returned he shared her view that the arabs should govern themselves so this help to kind of set things in motion would also coincide in nicely with the fact that the then colonial secretary winston churchill was ready to put a stop to the enormous economic drain of these arab rebellions they were quite expensive so called his best experts on the middle east together to a conference in egypt to figure out how exactly they we're gonna make this new era government were key invited forty experts tone only one woman was their gertrude of course hurled lawrence was in attendance as well and while it describes her going up in cairo in her signature accessories which her at a hot and furs and we getting right down to business she help determine the border
of the new nation of iraq and the real tricky part though was vigour now not where the country would be where its borders would be but who is going to lead this new nation because there were so many different groups to consider just to name a few the shi ites the sudanese the kurds the jewish community as well who could they find this was the question who could they find who would be accepted by all of these people so they finally decided on making than a key but the sunni holy man of baghdad the prime minister and fur that king position that was so key they thought of prince vital whose family was said to be descendants of the prophet mohammed because of that connection he'd appeal to both the shiites and the sunni muslims but he also had military administrative experience that he'd proven during the war and during their rebellion both a bell and lawrence argued heavily in his favour they wanted vital is king
convinced churchill too but of course the real test was gonna be whether they could convince the iraqi people one major problem was that vital didn't have any routes in iraq he had never even been to the the future country but and according to ellis even spoke a different dialect of arabic really had a lot to learn but the arab states on a ruler who was just so obviously a puppet of the british wasn't about him learning things it was coming across authentic alma so after he arrived in baghdad gertrude really took him under her her wing and again she used her vast knowledge of the region to help bring about two speed in helping him learn about the different tribes and tribal geography too king him little things like how to deal with businessmen in baghdad and using her influence with tribal leader two to win them over i mean it's kind of ironic when you think about it if this british woman it's training this man to be king and
helping him really be authentic by bring all of her knowledge but it it seemed to work while she and faithful ultimately became good friends this episode of stuff you missed in history classes brought to you by w w previously watchers wait waters that most people have already given up on their resolutions thirteen days and the new year i'm really privacy dummy does not have to be you either first joint w w because i really wanted a plan that was going to encourage me to make healthier eating choices and w w formerly watchers has really done that great thing about the new my deputy we programme is that it really encourage you to stick with it it is their most groundbreaking and customize proven weight loss plan when you join the my deputy programme you'll take an assessment about you're eating habits in your behaviors and that will scientifically match you up to a customize weight loss plan one that can make it
here for you to stick to your head on over to debbie dot com that's w w dot com to joint debbie debbie today with a limited time offer it took a few months but faisal did win the widespread support of the rockies and he won the throne by a virtually unanimous about he was crowned king on august 23rd one thousand nine hundred and twenty one and after he took the throne gertrude remained one of his closest advisers both personally and politically for foursome i'm that's how she became known in england and in baghdad as the uncrowned queen of iraq so of course this whole process was a huge thrill for gertrude nation building in and being almost the personal tudor for the king of she wrote at one point quote i feel at times like the creator about the middle of the week he must have wondered what it was going to be like as i do i think that's kind of a little nod to
some of the earlier notes we made about gertrude being quite confident you should stop o as iraq's government strengthened under its new leadership while i writes that bell the came more of a social secretary device all than anything else he had learned what he needed to to function ass though percy cox retired so her duties there were so diminished in general a phasing out a little bed at this point for a while she went back into her routes and archaeology just kind of to have something to do because she was a little bit board she into the sumerian city of organic and found all of these relics and with vices permission she founded the country's first museum of antiquities temporarily housed in the palace at bagdad and that became her focus for a while she
supervised eggs and she would save and catalogue these treasures of ancient iraq that she found in june of nineteen twenty six her archaeological museum officially opened with a collection of more than three thousand items still though in and despite that accomplishment i mean opening a museum gertrude still felt really depressed and lonely and had become increasingly said the years leading up to to this point she's lost a lot of her influence in and bagged out as we mentioned and also many of her friends had left by this point to her health had to you re dead her family fortune had dwindled and they lost their home in england her brother died and she really regretted to not having married earlier and having a family of her own something she she was upset about some people seem to believe that its this combination of reasons
that on sunday july eleventh eighteen twenty six she went to bed and purposely took an extra dose of sleeping pills she'd never woke up but it is good to know that she was least fully honored in she was given a full military funeral by the british in baghdad she was buried there which seems quite fitting because at one point she even wrote quote i don't care to be in london much i like that dad and i like a rock it's the real east and it's stirring things are happening here in the romance of it all touches me and absorbs me so clearly she consider this her home and he wanted to be and others there seem to have connected with her as well arabs apparently line the streets to say goodbye to her and her influence was felt there while the regime that she helped to establish with thy soul was in power for thirty seven years before it finally felt revolutionaries again just really
seen especially because of the way iraq has made headlines in recent years that gertrude name is it more i ve known but it may be more widely and soon rumours of a movie project have been kind of swirling around for awhile one rumour i think connected are readily scott idea to angelina jolie who would have played gertrude bell but i don't know i think maybe that is hold out a little bit but there is a more recent rumour also involving jude law robert pattinson neo me watts as gertrude bell that set to begin fill me and i think in two thousand thirteen that may be more than a rumour that me sent may be removed he will know soon and out firstly it certainly seems like good movie material i think it is money i mean you're just mentioning it strange she hasn't made
i don't have made more news or been connected to more news stories are her name just isn't that widely known i always have thought of her as one of the lady travellers but clearly her so much more going i there's a lot i've been to her than just the lady travellers is probably not a great category to put her in a nation older pino something like that how many things and i still love that mountain climber aspect of her personality to its easy to forget with all this other stuff where that she has this stint in her youth climbing the alps and a mountain that's named after her yogurt gertrude and good sir pretty pretty great all around so very interesting to learn about her i'm glad that
we now know the bigger picture and i think it all certainly inform just how i see current events till i mean this is fairly recent history it's not that long ago it still pretty applicable in certain ways absolute i love how these podcast kind of in they give us more knowledge about how the world sort of came to its present state and we learn a lot more about areas thank you so much for joining us for this saturday classic since this is out of the archive if you heard an email address or facebook u r l or something similar during the course of the show that may be obsolete now so here is our current contact information we're at history podcast at how stuff stop com and then we're at missed in history all social media that is our name on facebook twitter tumblr pinterest and instagram thanks again for them
nothing for more on this and thousands of other topics visit how stuff works dot com this episode of stuff you must in history classes brought to you by w w formerly wait watchers did you know that most people have already given up on their resolutions thirteen days and of the new year i am proud to say that is not me doesn't have to be you either great thing about the new my deputy programme is that it really encourage you to stick with it it is their most groundbreaking and customize proven wait lost land because its taylor just to you which makes it easier to keep up with and stick to join w w to get matched with your very own customized proven weight loss plant had on overdue debbie debbie dot com that's w w dot com to join debbie debbie today with a limited time offer
Transcript generated on 2020-01-18.